Lucky Deer

Kurt and I hunted South Douglas Island today. We left at sunrise, anchored the boat as I’d told him the tides were “perfect”, and headed up the spine to get up to the higher country. As usual, what looks like an “easy” hike never is so easy once you’re in the woods. The spine was actually several knobs with valleys in between, so it was up and down. We did get into lots of sign, but never saw a deer.

We decided to head down early in the afternoon. We knew we’d come out on one side of the point or the other, so were not all that concerned about where we came down. We made a steady walk down, but I did call here and there were I had a good area to see.

When we were fairly close to the bottom, I blew the call, and we both heard some animal take off in a hurry on the other side of a little valley. At first I thought the call scared it away. Then I see a head coming from the other side, down the gulley, and up our side. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was. The blueberry bushes are much higher on Douglas than where I hunt on Admiralty.

A lot of things went through my head – is it a dog? A wolverine? A squirrel (but knew it was too big for a squirrel. Finally, the deer broke out of the blueberry bushes and came right up the trail towards Kurt. When it was right next to me (maybe ten feet away, but not looking over at me, but up at Kurt), Kurt fired as I had my fingers in my ears.

We dressed the deer, tied it to Kurt’s pack, and had what we thought was a short pack to the beach. But the steepness of the hill fooled us. It was much further than it looked, and down some pretty steep areas, but nothing too bad.

When we got to the beach, we put the packs in the beach fringe in the woods so the eagles wouldn’t get at the deer, Kurt left his gun, and we started for the skiff. We planned to skiff around the point and get the gear and go home.

We were quite a ways from the skiff, so another long trek. By the time we got there the last thing I thought would happen, happened. The boat was tided. We tried to put some beach logs under to roll it, but it wouldn’t move. So, we knew after awhile we were there till somewhere around 8 pm.

Neither of us was up for the long walk back to the packs. We huddled in under the boat canvas thinking we could still go around with the full moon, but by the time the boat floated, we both knew it would not be safe to go out in the dark in the ocean and try to retrieve the packs.

So, we’ll try in the morning.

Mark Stopha
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801

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