Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Home from Hunting

The great hunter has returned.

On Monday of last week Jeff got a call from Danny Presley, a local hunter and good friend. Danny invited Jeff on a late season hunt last year, but the moose were run off due to a rapid change in weather and wolves. This year Jeff got another opportunity to go with Danny when his hunting partner had a heart attack the night before their hunt. They left with the horses and four wheeler to hunt a 70" moose that Danny had spotted via his air plane in Willard Canyon.

From Danny's explanation and the viewing of maps, Willard Canyon is a day's ride into the Caribou Hills. This is also a day's ride past all other hunting camps further into the bush. The first evening they called in a 58" male that was traveling with two honeys and was in full rut. They passed on this guy in hopes of seeing the 70" bull Danny had spotted two days prior.The second day in, Jeff spotted a group of moose on his way to the horses early in the morning. They scoped out a 67" male bull that was large bodied. Even though the spread was smaller than the bull they were gunning for, Danny said he was a good looking male with wide palms. To explain to all the non-moose hunters: a legal moose is 50", a good moose is 58-62", with most Boone and Crockett moose beginning around the upper 60s" (depending on many rules, drop tines, points, etc.). Danny is a big time trophy hunter with a half dozen B & C moose in his garage alone. They hiked about a mile and 1/2 down to the moose. Jeff rattled with some moose scapula, Danny cow called and up he came rearing and ready to fight. Danny took the moose on the morning of the 13th. Jeff said he was a fat boy that was still sweet smelling. It took the rest of the day for them to skin out the bull (in the pouring rain), and hack out a trail for the horses. At dark they had to tarp the moose and pray that nothing got him during the night. Jeff took some of the backstrap and fried it up for dinner. He said it was delicious even before it was aged. Back at camp they listened as a pack of wolves sounded like they were having a hey day in the valley below. Resolved that they wouldn't find much the next morning, they took the horses down to the bull. Amazingly, the moose was there all in one piece! They spent the next two days packing him out. The neck alone weighed 75 pounds and one of the back hindquarters weighed almost 200 lbs. Needless to say, Jeff is a little sore.

After 6 days Jeff and Danny returned from the Caribou Hills yesterday. We now have half of 600+ lbs. of meat hanging in a cooler at McNeill Canyon. It is a privilege and honor for Jeff to go on a hunt with such a seasoned hunter. Thank you, Danny! Thank you God for bringing us to such a wonderful place!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dear Leif

To my dearest Leif,

As I write this letter the rain falls softly outside. There is a nip in the air as fall is approaching. The leaves of the deciduous trees have all turned yellow and the fireweed is a deep umber. I expect the snow in a month’s time.

Your daddy is out on a moose hunt with Danny Presley. They left on horse back two days ago. I hope to see him in another 2-3 days. I sure do miss him. I guess I don’t realize how he is the center of my universe until he is away. He is a wonderful husband and father. I hope you learn well from him how to love and cherish your wife.

You have grown by leaps and bounds since my last letter. This spring we went to Hawaii with daddy for his military training. It was such fun to get away from the cold weather for a while. You experienced sand, sun and the water. You enjoyed it all after getting used to it. The sand in particular offered you a challenge, but before long you were eating it like it was brown sugar. We went to the island of Oahu and stayed at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base. We particularly loved the North Shore. We love to travel and have adventures and with you in tow it is an added plus. We saw great big monk seals, sea turtles, and lots of fish. We took you to the Dole Pineapple Plantation and went through the world’s largest maze. The day we went it was raining, so we got a coffee and waited for the rain to let up. It never did! So, we put you in your car seat pulled the canopy up to meet the canopy on the stroller and took off in the rain. It was a timed course with stops along the way. We slogged through the puddles and the rain and had a great time. You stayed nice and dry and slept the whole way! We also hiked up Diamond Head with you on daddy's back. It was a beautiful place and you are such a great traveler. You have already been on 6 plane rides and you’re not even two, yet. Daddy had to fly to and from Hawaii on the C-130 and we flew commercially. What an adventure getting through the airport just the two of us. If you can help it son, NEVER let your wife travel alone with the kids. I was very thankful for the helpful individuals that helped us out. You made friends with a man on the plane that had grandkids in the lower 48. He played with you almost the entire 5 hour flight.

On May 19th you celebrated your first birthday with an applesauce cake and a present of a Tonka dump truck. We had your cake at Sarah and Jesse Cress’s house. Their daughter, Auden (5 months your senior) and you ate your cake with great relish. You were quite neat, barely getting any icing on your face or hands. Auden dove right in, face and all. I also celebrated my 30th birthday on the 21st. What a special present for me that every year on my birthday I can remember the day we came home from the hospital with you. By your first birthday you had all but 6 of your teeth in, you were running, and just learning to use a fork.

We had many visitors this summer and did many exciting things. In June, Gary Musgrave came for his yearly visit and brought his brother- in- law and nephew. I went halibut fishing with these three men and ended up puking over the side of the boat. I wasn't alone as Dan (the brother-in-law and elder in the church) was right beside me. I am sure you too will someday experience sea sickness. The important thing is that we still all caught our limits.

In July, your Marme came to visit for a month. While she was here we took walks, went dip netting for red salmon, worked in the garden, put up and canned produce from the garden, fished, and went clamming. You enjoy all experiences if they involve being outside. You are so compliant and easy to take along. We put you in a special backpack on our back and you can ride along for hours. You even sit in your backpack while your daddy fly fishes. At the beginning of the summer you were unsure of the green grass. For much of your life the grass has been covered in snow, so the green “stuff” was new to you. You would quickly walk across the parking lot, get right up to the grass and cry for one of us to come and get you. But by the end of the summer you were quite acclimated. In fact yesterday, we were out with the dog. Link was scratching his back and rolling in the grass. You decided that looked fun and lay down to try it out. It was so cute watching you mimic Link.

In August, the Watson family came to visit. You loved playing with Hudson and Hannah Presley. At the first of September, Glenn and Elaine Fischer came to see us a few days before they went on a cruise. With each new guest you adjusted well to your schedule disruptions. You are a real flirt and once you get used to some one you wrinkle your nose, tilt your head and smile…especially to the ladies!

We recently went to the Bracht’s for the annual raspberry picking. You had a great time. This year you were mobile, so you went along following me or your dad, while stealing berries from our buckets. After a while we decided you had enough and told you to stop eating from our buckets. You then discovered you could pick the berries yourself and would escape from our sight and pick and pick. I am surprised you weren’t sick that evening. Your face and hands were stained red for the next two days. I put up 6 batches of jam with Sarah Cress, and then continued making jam and pancake syrup throughout the next week. With each batch of jam came a layer of foam. You loved eating the foam on bread.

This evening we went down to see the Firths. Since it was raining I decided we should take the jeep. I put you over in the passenger seat, but didn’t buckle you up since it is such a short drive. However, as we were pulling out of the drive the jeep lurched forward as I was turning and shifting gears. Automatically, I shot my arm out and put my hand on your chest (just like my mother use to do to me). You looked down at my hand and gently pulled my fingers up one at a time and shook your head ‘no’, as if to say, ‘I am a big boy and don’t need your protecting, thank you.’ Son, you are already independent and confident. Already the end is in sight. You will leave our home one day and start your own life. In the meantime, I cherish every smile, laugh, utterance (so far you say, “Dada, Momma, ‘this’, ‘yes’, and ‘essss’ for “please”), hug and kiss (they come in the open-mouthed slobbery variety). I thank God for blessing us with you. You are special and uniquely made.

I love and adore you son,