Please allow me a few minutes this week to reflect on my past and to think about my “now” and my future.
As a kid growing up in a coal camp — McRoberts — I was born to hunt and fish. Camping those days expanded our hunts for days. My dad gave me a book on hunting when I was around eight years old. I was shocked. There were animals in that book of things to hunt that I had never heard of, let alone seen.
There was deer — a common sight now, but they were gone from our area in the 1950’s as I grew up. You had to travel to western Kentucky if you wanted to hunt deer. I saw pictures of two cousins of the deer family that drew me to them, an elk and a moose.
I rode with my dad one day to the foot of Pine Mountain, just outside of Whitesburg. Dad had a friend who had a shop there and Dad was visiting him. I never knew his name, and it never made any difference, as I was interested in a set of elk antlers that hung on the outside of his shop. I couldn’t believe my eyes and promised myself that someday, somehow, I would get me one of those animals. That was in 1956. Those antlers hung there well into the 1980’s, and then one day they where gone.
In the 1990’s, I was excited to learn that elk once again would roam the mountains of Letcher County. I applied every year for 10 straight years for an elk hunting tag, but never got one so I went to plan B and applied in New Mexico, where my name was drawn on my fifth year. New Mexico has a point system that helps your name get drawn. Today, the big mounted head of my New Mexico elk adorns the wall of my man cave. I never limited my dreams as a child to just deer and elk. My dream included a grizzly bear and a moose.
This year I was supposed to go to Alaska on a grizzly bear hunt. I paid my deposit in 2016, three years in advance. Between then and now, my outfitter passed away and his family sent me back my money. I would much rather have made the hunt than gotten the money back.
I hope to wake up from my dream when, on September 30 of this year, I step into the woods in Canada to try and make my lifelong dream come true. I will be hunting moose. I take the blame for not going moose hunting before now, but I was foolish enough to keep applying in Vermont and Maine to get a tag. Finally after 30 years of applying in both states, Vermont closed its moose season to non-residents and after applying 33 years in Maine, I knew my time was running out. I am well into my 70’s so I did what I should have done 30 years ago and hired a guide and outfitter, and I’m going to a place where you don’t need to have your name drawn.
Thank you for letting me take this time to encourage you to stay with your dreams, they can come true. My grizzly bear hunt is now back in the planning stage. Wish me luck in getting it together.