Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lost Opportunities



















  I took these pictures out back this morning. For those of you who can't tell or aren't familiar with the flora of Southeast Alaska, these are blueberry bushes. As you can see, there aren't any blueberries on them. In years past, I wouldn't even bother to pick any berries until now because of all the leaves. I kind of like to wait until after a frost so that in the process of picking I don't end up with more leaves than berries, plus there is a little white worm that inhabits some of the fruit, and I think the frost drives them out or at least kills them. In any event, I had planned on going out picking several weeks ago, but the fishing season was extended, which was a good thing, and the weather was really foul with lots of wind and rain, which wasn't such a good thing, and I missed my opportunity to go picking. Blast it! I really wanted to have a gallon or so of blueberries so I could make a few, or I guess more than a few, batches of those blueberry sour cream muffins. I still can, but now I'll have to buy what I want, at a fairly steep price. If you snooze you lose.
  I've been thinking more about the limited time we have on this earth lately, and how everything has a season, just like it says in the book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 To everything there is  a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. It's not just berry picking or fishing that has a season. Obviously you won't find farmers in northern climates out trying to plow the fields when there is six inches of snow on the ground, it doesn't make sense. You plow in the spring when the ground is ready. Here in Southeast, most people try to take care of outdoor projects when the sun is shining. You can paint in the rain I guess, but it probably won't turn out too well. Same with mowing the lawn or washing the car.
  Without a regular job to go to, I have a lot of flexibility in my day. I can go work on the boat or do a load of laundry or spend the whole day watching television. For one reason or another I missed out on a chance to put in a winter's supply of halibut. Usually I catch a few incidentally when I'm trolling, but it didn't happen this year. I should have set a subsistence long line earlier in the summer when the halibut were more abundant, but I didn't, so I missed out. The same thing with the berries. I don't think I was goofing off when these opportunities arose, I just didn't take advantage of the chance when it came up. With that in mind, I figured I'd go hunting yesterday. I don't usually go this time of year because the brush is so thick, and frankly, I'm scared of running into bears in the woods. I asked a friend to go with me, but he had other things to do, so I just figured I'd go out and hunt the road system. It won't be long and the roads will be filled with hunters from Juneau and other places bringing their campers and four wheelers and running all over tarnation shooting everything in sight. When that happens the deer become a lot more scarce and harder to find, so I kind of wanted to beat them to the punch. As I was driving past a wooded area I saw a small deer cross the road and walk into the woods, so I parked the truck in the area and went to see if there was a bigger one hanging around. There wasn't, but the day was so pleasant- sunny and warm, that I didn't care. As I walked I was just enjoying the sounds of nature- the Junko's and Chickadees in the brush, a squirrel up in a Spruce cutting the cones and letting them drop to the ground, and all the little rivulets of water running down the hill. It was all very serene and peaceful, and I was really enjoying myself. However, as much as I liked the hike, I was hoping for a deer, so I got in the truck and traveled down the road a little further to a spot that I hoped might harbor a few decent sized deer. I parked the truck and started walking. There was muskeg on either side of the road and clumps of trees and scrub brush scattered along the muskeg. I didn't go far, maybe a half mile or so. I was coming up a small rise   when I looked down the road and saw a rather large brown bear with it's head down walking up the road directly towards me, maybe fifty yards away. I know the bible says that a spring can't produce salt water and fresh, I guess referring to your spiritual condition, but I'm here to tell you, I produced a little of both yesterday. I don't know if my first words were "Jesus!' or "Oh Shit!" but I know I spoke both in rapid succession and then started backing down the road. Once the rise hid the bear from my view I turned and rapidly started walking towards the truck. I kept looking back and saw that the brownie had topped the rise and was still coming. Brown bears can cover a lot of territory in a short time. They have a very purposeful stride and if they should decide to attack you, they can run like the wind. You can't out run one. As it was, my heart was pounding in my chest just with the rapid pace I was walking. I wouldn't have been able to run if my life had depended on it.   When the bear came into view again and didn't show any signs of changing course I turned and yelled at it. Fortunately for me he stopped and looked in my direction and chose to amble off into the muskeg. Had he decided to charge I'm not sure my .270 would have made much difference. I might have gotten one shot off, maybe two before he would be on me. I'm so happy that I didn't have to find out. Today would have been a good day to go hunting. It's kind of sunny and warm, but I don't think I'll go. There are other things that need done while the weather is good, and I don't want to miss the opportunity to do them.







9 comments:

  1. Hi Mike, I somehow managed to delete your comment- what a surprise! Anyway, I don't especially enjoy the cold either . In fact I'm looking to spend winters somewhere warmer in a few years. I can't say that I enjoy the brown bears so much- they're fun to look at from a distance, but up close and personal is a different story. Everyone who lives here and spends any time in the woods has had at least one encounter with one. Last year my friend Fagan Skafelstad shot a huge brownie with a 30-06 that he's had since 1958. He killed it with one shot to the neck- it broke the bone and when he went to skin it out (as required by law) the head almost fell off. Four fellows and a come-a- long were necessary to turn that bear over. Fagan said it was making a bee-line for him. When there isn't much fish in the creeks they have to resort to some sort of protein I guess.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good blog Dad, glad you are safe. Love you

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Camille- never a dull moment! love you too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well...it makes for an interesting story! Glad you're safe! Love you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's true Autumn- there are any number of folks who have to go to amusement parks or on wild adventures somewhere to break up the monotony of their lives. My life, on the other hand, is a constant roller coaster of events that on a scale of one to ten on a fright scale, usually hangs around eight or nine. Woo Hoo!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow, your life is certainly never dull, Tom. Glad you're safe, and good luck getting a deer soon.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Jill. I spoke to Fagan at the post office today- he ran into a bear that had killed a big doe twelve or fifteen miles from where I saw the bear. He said it was burying the deer along side the road and was chased off by a smaller sow who commandeered his deer. What a rip off! I hope she left him a little snack.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Really liked that one. But get back up on the horse, or time will kick your ass. Great blog. Thanks Tom.
    TDH

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Terry. I'll probably go out hunting this next week. It's best to go with someone if possible, and I have a friend coming who has lived here for years, so I'm sure I'll get back out there. We've had a really warm fall so far and the bears are probably going to be reluctant to den up, but as food becomes less available I imagine they'll get the urge to sleep and save their energy.

    ReplyDelete