In Alaska, it’s all about moose hunting. It’s good times. My last moose hunting trip before the Feds took me out was a good one. I took my three year old son, Seth, with me. He’s nine now.
We loaded four-wheelers in the plane and flew out to the mine. It’s in the foothills of the Alaska range, south of Fairbanks, where I lived. The runway is grass. When we built it and put a curve in it so claim jumpers would be scared to try to land there. Landing there is no big deal for a seasoned bush pilot but it always feels more like a controlled crash than a landing.
Seth loved it. He would be bouncing up and down with excitement, making airplane noises. We shot a bunch of moose, then flew them back to the hanger in town where the whole family processed it into thousands of pounds of steak and burger.
We only hunted from dusk to dawn, so during the day we went berry picking. We got 10 to 15 gallons of blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries. We probably ate as much too. We were hundreds of miles from the nearest road in the beautiful cabin that sat on top of 60 foot cliffs that hung over the river.
It was September, so the birch trees and alder were turning. The air had that damp chill of departing summer. The sweet smell of once frosted berries hung in the forest. It was a great trip. My son almost never left my side. It’s hard to hunt with a three year old in tow but I wanted to watch my boy discovering the world more than I wanted to bag every last moose we saw. As it turns out, three year olds learn really fast how to be perfectly quiet when they see the moose. He would cover his ears with both hands and waller around my back while I tried to get some shots off at the moose.
When we walked up on the downed 1800 pound moose, it was like walking up on the dinosaur for him. Seth was all-struck but he was one of the guys. He worked with me and the other men in the hunting party to field dress a moose. He held the game bags open as we filled them with meat. He wanted to help cut the tendons as we quartered it up so we let him. He fell asleep on the four wheelers as we rode back to the cabin that day. Then he slept like a tired lumber jack that night.
The sight of him sleeping in the glow of the Coleman lantern is stuck in my mind. He had gotten his first taste of frontier life that day and there was so much more for him to explore and discover and because it was all brand new for him, it was new all over again for me. It snowed 8 inches that night which would keep us from taking off until the runway melted on its own or until we cleared it.
As I watched the big silent flakes float down, I knew we would be stuck for a few days and that was fine because it would be one more adventure to overcome with my little pal, Seth, by my side. I went over to him and ran my hand over his silky blonde hair and I kissed his little forehead and smelled that warm, cuddly smell of a sleeping child who has played outside all day.
I slipped him out of his little brown carhart overalls and tucked him into a down sleeping bag and hung his overalls by the wood stove. I found that his pockets were loaded with berries. I chucked softly as I looked back at him sleeping. That’s my boy, I thought to myself. He probably picked half a gallon of berries all by himself. He ate all he could but he still filled both pockets full. He must be planning for a rainy day.
I didn’t dare steal his berries. I rinsed them and dried them with a towel, then put them back in his pockets and hung them by the stove. the next morning. I explained to him that we were stuck because of the snow but that it would be fun. We made pancakes and i asked him if he wanted to dump his blueberries in the batter. he did, so I got him his overalls, before I could stop him, he just dumped the pocket full of blueberries straight into the batter. I bit my tongue rather than scold him as leaves and pine needles went into the mix along with the berries. If he didn’t mind, neither did I. Blueberry pine needle pancakes is was! We both ate a big stack and watched the snow fall the rest of the morning.
I had no idea that would be my last hunting season with my son. When that jury got back to returning a guilty verdict, my heart just turned into smoke and left my body. It was like watching all I held dear suddenly die in an accident. That was the point when I realized that even if I won eventually, it would not happen until my children were grown.
Our family got robbed that day. we had our ability to be together taken away by the Feds who have nothing but seating jealousy and spite for wholesome, God-fearing people. I’d give anything to spare other families of the pain that mine has been through at the hands of these vicious liars. My son is so grown up now and I have only seen my daughter once in her life. I only hope that my story can serve as an alarm to my fellow countrymen. We are being eaten by a sneaky evil but it’s within our power to right the wrongs and keep families safe. Thank you for writing. It lifts my spirits.
This too shall pass.