“Grab your gear! We’ve got a sixty-minute window to get you into fly camp and me back here before the storm hits!” shouted the bush pilot. “The weather is supposed to really deteriorate after that for a couple of days. If we can get you into camp, you can ride it out there, then hit the hills soon it lets up!” As I was grabbing rifle, sleeping bag, camera, three changes of clothes, he continued, “Charlie will be waiting on you. Soon as we land, jump out, beware of the prop, so I can get back here. Then I’ll pick you up in seven days, weather permitting!”
Moments later we were in the air headed to camp, on the edge of Alaska’s Brooks Range to hunt moose and caribou. For the past three days I had been in the base camp “riding out a storm”. During those three days each morning I headed to the cook tent for coffee but also to query if today I might make it into hunting camp. Each time the outfitter simply looked my way, “We’ll get you in today, weather permitting”!
The bush pilot did an admirable job of getting me into the drop camp about 20 miles distant dodging heavy rain showers, and occasionally flying low just above the tree tops in creek bottoms.
Balloon tires made for a smooth landing, stopping in what seemed like 20 yards of touching down. I jumped out grabbed my gear. The pilot quickly revved up the J-3 Cub and was gone.
Charlie and I barely got under the cook tent fly when the rain started. In my two-man tent under the cook tent fly is where I spent the next twelve hours watching torrential rains. I suppose that was good because I could not hunt until the next morning, as per Alaskan law.
Next morning it was still raining. I donned my brown felt hat and grabbed my rain slicker. In retrospect, I dearly wished it had been raingear from Drake. Had it been I would have remained dry.
In the cook tent I reached for a cup of coffee extended my way, “Hunting today?’
“Weather permitting,” Charlie replied, smiling.
Over the past many years I have hunted Alaska and Canada many times. There were times when “weather permitted” hunting and traveling and times when “weather prevented”!
Recently hunting with Keegan McCarthy’s Coastal Alaska Adventures for spring black bear to film an episode for my “DSC’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” which airs year around on Sportsman Chanel, we had a couple of days where having Keegan’s large and comfortable boat, the Sikumi, truly paid off. Had we simply been camping on land we would not have been able to hunt due to the local weather.
In the past I have spent numerous days, up to four days running in a small one-man tent, weathering the storms. “Handling” such non-hunting “weather prevented” days takes a great deal of patience and a good mind set.
When I travel to where there might even be the remote possibility of being weathered in, I take a minimum of four paperback books, as well as a deck of cards, and of course my hunting journal to write in each day. These help pass time that otherwise would drive me crazy!
I don’t really mind hunting in the rain, if I can safely do so. These “wet days” too, are when you really appreciate Drake’s raingear. It’s also great if you are camped where you can do some fishing or try calling predators.
I love to fish and I enjoy eating fish, so part of my gear if I am going to be hunting in a “weather permitting” area. I always take a spinning rod and reel, no less than four spoon fishing lures and eight small spinners, and, of course a fishing license. If in an area where only barbless hooks are allowed I use a plier to push the barb down so the hook becomes barbless.
One of the things I always carry when hunting regardless if in “weather permitting” areas or not, is a mouth blown predator call, one or more of Convergent Hunting Solutions’ calls.
Just checked the latest weather forecast for my upcoming trip, packing my “usuals”, my .375 Ruger with a weather impervious stock, a couple of boxes of Hornady 250-grain GMX, and my Wildlife Gallery taxidermy tags, one each for skull, cape and back skin, and of course my RipCord card!
I’ll write about that hunt soon, “weather permitting”!