Another Day at the Inlaws

Helped Brian bait up hooks to put out a skate today.  We went out in the morning to set the skate. We’d checked shrimp pots on Christmas Eve, and on the way saw a buck still with his antlers and I thought it would be a piece of cake.  Brian let me off on the beach, around the point from the deer.  The buck was feeding on kelp between a junked boat and an old barge.  I was walking in soft sand with snow on it and made little sound.  As I walked toward the deer, I thought maybe I should take a longer shot so as not to spook him.  I peeked around the end of the boat to look at a shot from some logs that would give me a good rest, but could only see the hind quarters of the deer, which looked like it was still feeding.  I thought it would be simple to get to the old boat, get a rest, and have a short short.  Then I saw the deer bound up across the beach grass and into the woods.  When I got back on the boat, Brian said something startled the deer
away from where I was approaching, so not sure what made him bolt.  He only could have winded me, but could not have seen me.

So today on our way out to set the long line, we cruised the same beach again.  We saw another deer and Brian said it was a buck.    I got into the punt, and could not get my weight centered because I’d sprained my knee and could not get my leg to work properly to get it over the seat bench. I was tipping to the left and just kept on going.  Right into the drink.  With my gun slung over my back.  As I went under water, I saw the ocean come back together over my eyes.  I came up with the shock of the cold water, in my neoprene coat, which pretty much floated me.  After thrashing a bit, I rolled from on my back to get my legs under me to swim, and then stood up.  I was only in 4 feet of water.  I tried climbing back on the boat, short of breath from the cold water.  After what seemed like a long time, but was likely less than a minute, I realized the simplest thing to do was walk to shore, empty the punt, and regroup.  I’d given Brian my gun
when I tried to climb back on, so retrieved my gun from him, and walked in the water to the beach, chambered another shell, and went into the woods to look for the deer. As the deer headed for the woods, I shot the deer right at the edge of the woods, and it lurched and then trotted into the woods. I looked for hair or blood and saw none.  I took a few more steps into the woods and saw the deer could have gone one of two ways.  Then I saw the deer, just a few yards away, wounded, and so slowly went up behind it and finished it.  I dragged him back to the punt, and rowed to the boat.  I thought I was okay to go pull the long line, but Brian insisted we go back home, so I agreed, and he dropped me off, I went in and changed while Brian put the deer in the punt and put the punt on the shore.  I then pulled out the deer, covered the deer with the punt, and we called Ellen to dress the deer when she and Sara returned, as the sun was setting and we had
an hour or more of gear pulling still left to do.  We cruised the beaches on the way to the gear, and saw some more deer but no bucks.   We pulled the gear, and got a pile of dogfish and a few halibut and a cod.  By the time we got home, Ellen and Sara had dressed and skinned the deer, and we were off to another get together – the fourth night of these in a row, and the first one that was not held at Brian and Ellens.  I’ll need to butcher the deer in the morning and deal with fish and maybe head home to Juneau in the afternoon to finally get my traps out this weekend as the wind finally is abating back home.  Brian said he can’t get the sight of me going under out of his head, and continues laughing everytime he thinks about it.

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

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