(Note from Fran: This article is the first one submitted to my blog by a guest author. Kim Warren is from Gustavus, and is a member of our writer’s group.)
I have a friend whose name is Jim. He has lived in Southeast Alaska for nearly 30 years. He is a trapper, hunter, fisherman and bushman of the first order. I’ve known him for about 20 years. Normally Jim hunts alone, but from time to time he has agreed to take me along to share his natural world. Now, I am no newcomer to the Alaskan bush or to hunting, but I’m not in Jim’s class. He talks to the animals! Not only does he talk to them, but they talk to him and he understands. I was with him once when he talked to the moose. Cows would cautiously approach us to get a look at this bull they heard. When they saw us, they would stand and stare in confusion.
Jim and I went moose hunting awhile back. The weather was lousy; temperature around 40 degrees and raining. It was still dark that morning when we left his cabin and headed for the area he wanted to hunt. I had been to the area before and had way-points in my GPS so I could find the particular spruce tree we were headed for. Of course, Jim didn’t own a GPS or know how to use one.
We picked up the trail that would lead us to the area of the target tree. A limb knocked my hat off. Jim patiently waited while I put my hat and headlamp back on. He didn’t use a light. After about a mile of stumbling along with branches slapping my face, we moved into an open swampy area spotted with small patches of spruce trees and willows. The ground had a thick covering of moss and grass, with standing water. Stealth was out of the question, so we made noises like a moose and trudged on for another mile to our tree. Jim had led us straight to it. I don’t know how he is able to navigate like he does. He doesn’t even know how he does it. If you ask him, he’ll tell you, “I just know where I want to go.”
By the time we reached the tree it was just light enough to see outlines. While I was taking off my pack and fiddling with my gadgets, Jim scampered up the tree like a squirrel and began to call. I could hear him softly rattling and making moose sounds — AAUGGHHH! AAUGGHH! AUGH! AUGH! He even poured out some of his precious coffee, making a splashing sound like a moose taking a leak. He was serious today!
Just as I reached for a limb to begin my climb, Jim says, “There’s a bull!” “Where?” says I. “Straight out in front,” says he. Well, my front and his front were 90 degrees off, so confusion reigned for a couple of minutes. Finally, I saw the faint outline of a bull at 75 yards. “Shoot!” he whispers. The bull looked like he was standing quartering away from me. So I shot him in the middle of the ribs, expecting the 250 gr nosier partition from my .338WM to carry forward through the lungs and heart. At my shot the bull turned broadside to me. Jim whispered, “Shoot him through the shoulders!” I took a little more time looking at the bull through my scope and realized it had been quartering toward me, not away. The next shot caught him in the shoulder and he took off. Jim couldn’t stand it any longer. BANG! He dropped the bull with a neck shot.
Jim climbed down the tree and we headed for the bull. It was a nice, medium-sized animal. We looked it over and I found my two bullet holes and Jim’s neck shot. I complimented his shot in poor light at a running target. All he said was, “I was aiming for his heart.”
Jim did most of the dressing. I tried to help, but just got in the way. I carried out the back straps and Jim packed out a hind quarter. Back at my house, we rounded up family and friends to help with the rest of the moose. With a festive air, several of us spent the rest of the day packing out all of the meat. Over the next two days we all butchered it and packaged it. I shared the meat with everyone there. Anyone who kills a moose here shares in this manner. That way no one goes without winter meat.
Jim is always ready to go hunting. I’ll go deer hunting with him as soon as the weather breaks. You know, he is still more comfortable talking with the animals than he is talking with people. Nonetheless, I’m really glad I have a friend named Jim.