If you don't already know, I'm an attorney - a combat attorney, to be precise. It helps that my partners are my most trusted friends, but it also helps to get away to discharge firearms with them. We do this several times a year on the Island of Lanai, where we go after deer or mouflon sheep, which are similar to bighorn. Also after Thanksgiving, we institute what we call the No Fly Zone, a high-spirited bird hunt with game as wide ranging as pheasant, grouse, and pigeon.
This year we changed it up and went to the Kenai Peninsula in southern Alaska for a moose hunt and salmon fish. To put it bluntly, we collectively threw up a brick, shooting no moose and catching no salmon worth keeping. But we sure did achieve our goals: maximum fun far from the nerve-jangling courtrooms. We ranged far and wide for moose, even finagling a hot tip from a local as to where best to find them. The tip proved honest as we spotted lots of moose and caribou, but none that were legal to harvest. We also bent lots of fishing rods and reeled in lots of pink salmon, but this late in the season and that far from salt water, they weren't particularly grill-worthy. We were after the silver salmon, which were very rare indeed but prized for their tasty flesh at this time of season. This OnceABachelor did manage an amazing feat: hooking a 30lb king salmon, also out of season, which I had to return to the fast running river on which our cabin was located.
The cabin itself was the vacation home of an Anchorage attorney who generously loaned it to us for a week, through his aunt, who is married to the friend of one of our party. She gamely stayed with us to act as den mother, doing the cooking and cleaning. This turned out to be a good stroke of luck because she was able to coordinate the emergency tow with heavy equipment when our rental 4-wheel-drive got stuck 12 miles from the main road in a bog. If it wasn't for her, we might have been forced to spend the night in 40 degree weather or walk out in the dark.
Additional thanks go to Clint from Sterling Towing for bringing his impressive flatbed tow vehicle out through the mud and rain and then driving it backwards up two slick hills to tie up to our truck at 1:00 a.m.
And permeating the whole trip was the possible encounter with Alaskan brown bears. Everywhere we went we were grimly reminded by the locals of the increase in bear encounters, sightings, and attacks. The week we arrived in fact, a brown bear found its way into traffic in downtown Anchorage (near the courthouse, ironically) where it was struck by a car. Joggers and hikers have been mauled. Because of this sobering reality, Alaskans more often than not can be found armed. We spotted joggers wearing holsters, and people walking their dogs with rifles slung on their backs. No one looked twice when one of us walked into a Home Depot wearing his .357 on his hip. Luckily, we saw no browns, although I did spot two black bears. My partner even took a shot at one from an impossibly long range on Skyline Trail after a harrowing hike one mile up.
So my son was thrilled to hear about all of the guns we brought along, and peppered me with questions during each phone call home. He was uncontrollably curious when he saw my gun case loaded into the back of mom's vehicle when she picked me up at the airport. Once at home, he insisted that I identify each weapon and describe it in detail. This is Uncle Jeff's 30-06 with variable scope, this is Uncle Rick's magnum, which he calls the Hog (and which we fired in a redneck "holler" out in the woods). And this is daddy's trusty 30-30 lever action, which is not big enough for hunting in Alaska but plenty good for personal protection there. It is black and brown and has a thumb operated hammer, just like the "practice" gun I brought home for you from the Sportsmen's Warehouse in Anchorage. You can imagine how happy he was to be given this gun, especially when I pulled it out of the same gun case that transported all the grown-up weapons. And you can also imagine how much I look forward to teaching him proper firearms safety with it. No joke.
Incidentally, think twice about leaving your wife and son for a 10 day trip. It had better be worth it, because you will miss them uncontrollably.
Images from top to bottom: (1) an Alaskan Amber ale on the back deck of our cabin; (2) moose cow in Soldotna, AK at a popular though undisclosed hunting spot; (3) the same herdlet of caribou we spotted 2 mornings in a row; (4) spincasting psychiatrist on the Russian River (he'd rather be fly casting, but TSA broke that rod); (5) fishing off our own backyard; (6) flatbed towtruck belonging to Sterling Towing, off road on Mystery Creek after midnight; (7) spotting from our truck before hiking in; (8) target practice with the Hog in Soldotna; (9) my son with his new practice gun.