Moose Hunt

Bob and I made it to the DNR cabin on the mainland to moose hunt. The forecast was for a gale on Thur and Friday and we thought that if we could make it over on Wed, we’d be in a hidey hole and out of the weather. It was pretty lumpy going over with the wind coming down Lynn Canal, and we were glad to get inside the bay and calmer waters. We arrived at the cabin, offloaded the gear, set the crab pot, and anchored the boat. Someone had been there earlier in the morning and they left a bag of ice in the firepit and unbroken clay pigeons they’d obviously shot at during high tide. We put away the gear and enjoyed the sunshine. I checked the level of oil in the stove tank, and Bob fired up the stove inside.

The cabin is a very tight all-log structure with both an oil and wood stove. We’d get hunting tomorrow. Bob broke out some salami and cheese and bread and I brought out the Ritz crackers. We had salad and king salmon for dinner. When I got up to relieve myself in the middle of the night, the northern lights were pulsing. As you lay in your bunk in this cabin, you look north to a skyline of mountains, and tonight, the northern lights. The gale came as forecast overnight. Our anchorage, however, was clearly not as sheltered as I thought it would be. The wind was howling down the three arms of the bay, and we knew it must really be rolling out in Lynn Canal proper. We decided to stay put for the day to watch the boat and neither of us was disappointed.

Moose hunting here for us is marginal at best, and a day of rest was just as good. We put a couple extra lines on the boat for security, and listened to NPR to the tribulations of Donald Trump as the number of women claiming he groped them seemed to increase by the hour. We had Sara’s venison meatloaf and salad for dinner. The next day the wind dropped a bit and we felt confident our tie-up set up was holding the boat in place so we packed our gear for the long hike from our island to the mainland. The islands are connected all the way to the river mouth during about 8 of a 12 hour tide cycle.

We crossed just before high tide would cover the land bridges and knew they’d be dry again by the time we returned. It was a pretty gnarly walk in as we went in on the wrong side of one of the islands, came to cliffs, and had to walk down the center of the island, which had a lot of blow downs and devils club. It took about an hour to make our way to the mainland, where we found bear sign everywhere. Fresh, dark black scat from their obvious consumption of roots from the digs we saw everywhere. Lots of mallards were in the area, and a few honkers. We made our way inland, and decided to hunt away from the river since there was another group camped near the river mouth who had jet boats and we assumed were hunting the area along the river. We headed west toward the mountain. We came upon moose tracks and followed these west. We never saw any scat, though, so we weren’t sure how old the tracks were. On one creek sand bar we saw wolf, bear, and otter tracks. I picked high bush cranberries as I could. When we reached the mountain, we came back out to the grassy meadow along the beach hoping a moose might come out to feed in the evening. We made our way back and didn’t see any moose.

We walked the opposite beach of the island back and it was free and easy walking. I noticed some black spots across the bay, and Bob confirmed they were two brown bears that looked like they were digging for roots along the distant beach. As we neared the cabin, we could see the PBR on the porch. My pace picked up in my mind, but my legs would not have it. We both cracked a beer and sat in the evening sun – the only time it hits the cabin at this time of the year. We decided to have sockeye salmon for dinner. I removed them from their packaging and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Bob restarted the oil stove which we shut down when we left for the day, and I started a wood fire for a more immediate warming of the cabin. Soon, the wood fire was roaring and the cabin was 90 degrees. Bob and I grew drowsy, soon both of us were lights out. We got up from our naps at 10 pm. Now wide awake, neither of us was hungry for dinner so we put the salmon back in the cooler and had snacks and listened to the radio for an hour. A famous Canadian politician had passed away – James Prentice – which was reported on the CBC show on our local NPR station, but never a peep on the US NPR.

They were too busy following Trumps antics. When the BBC came on an hour later, they had a story about a presidential write in candidate in Utah who had a chance to win the state. Again, no story about this on NPR. Only more Trump stories. It’s very sad the state of our public radio and the stories they choose to cover. It’s no wonder third party candidates can never get traction when no news agency covers them, and when they do, they always ask – why are you running when you have no chance to win. Maybe this election will change that, but I doubt it. Republican and Democrat are like Jewish and Catholic- they are religions to their followers.

The next morning the forecasted winds were to come down to 20 knots for the day and back to 30 later in the day. We decided to leave a day early and try to sneak home. Otherwise, we’d be stuck for several more days due to the winds, and that would be okay, too. We loaded up our gear, turned off the oil to the stove, stacked the firewood we brought for the next person, swept the cabin clean, and motored out of the bay. We had a following sea and not much chop in the bay. As we eased out into Lynn Canal, we could see big waves breaking to the north and east. We decided to head south and east so we’d be in the trough and not bucking into it. We decided to head south until we got in the lee of Lincoln Island, and then head north again on one side of Shelter Island or the other back to Amalga if we could. We made our way across and soon got into 4 foot seas. The waves were well spread apart so we could go up one side and down the other. The waves may have climbed to some 5 footers when we were in the thick of it, but we never got side washed or felt like we might breach forward. After about half an hour, we were through the thickest of it and now along the Lincoln Island shore.

We were home free. When we got around Lincoln Island, we could see the waves were really big in Lynn Canal at North Pass, so I decided to go around Shelter and we could dock at Auke Bay and then have someone take us by car to Amalga Harbor to get the truck and trailer and haul the boat out at Auke Bay. At South Shelter, there was hardly any chop now, and it was flat calm to the south. We headed for North Douglas Harbor instead. I called Sara, and she came to get us. She let us off at Bob’s and we drove out to get the truck and trailer. An hour later, we were back at North Douglas, loaded the boat, and headed for home. Another successful trip to one of my favorite spots. Nobody got hurt or drowned, I got a few high bush cranberries, and we saw the northern lights. Moose season ended yesterday, but there’s plenty of time to get more deer in before the end of the year.

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