I decided to try hooter hunting on the hill behind my house on Douglas Island. I headed out under mostly blue skies about 730 am. On my way up the hill, I saw things had changed. Right behind out garage at the edge of our acre of property was a big spruce or hemlock tree that had blown down, taking a couple trees with it. Several other fresh blowdowns were seen on the way up. Must have been a big blow to do that.

I heard a hooter not too far into the climb, and headed its way. Up and up I went. I realized for the first time, maybe, the slope was steeper here than on Admiralty where I hunt. Could be age 50 creeping up.

I got up to the trees and started the circle. This should be an easy one, I thought, since I can climb up the hill behind the trees for a clear view. The bird seemed in the very top, so I kept moving up behind the trees, taking a look, and then moving up. One one of the moves, I heard some sort of racket uphill. I wasn’t sure what it was until I realized that there was no more hooting from the trees. And as I got up and could see pretty much the whole tree, I realized the bird had flown off!

I waited and waited, hoping I was wrong. Then I kept climbing up hoping the bird had gone down to the ground, as they often times will hold tight and let you walk up to them without flushing. But I never saw this bird.

I went up and over the knob, but then there was snow everywhere, and no hooters hooting nearby. I realized that had been probably my only shot at a bird for the day, so I picked my way back down. Lots of deer sign on the way home, and every skunk cabbage sprout nipped to the ground. The blowdowns caused a detour here and there, too.

As I neared home, I saw that the black bears were up, too, as there were 2 large prints in the mud a few hundred yards up from our houses. No birds, but my sweat drenched tee shirt told me it was a good day none the less.

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