Ever since my father took me trout fishing in a local stream after my first day as a kindergartner at Pioneer Peak Elementry School, I was hooked for life. I had recieved a new telescopic (totally BA) trout fishing rod set up and I could not wait to test my new implements of attack upon the majestic rainbow trout. My dad picked me up after school and we headed to Wasilla Creek. It wasn’t too long before we found ourselves 50 yards from the road, in a perfect trout hole. My Dad rigged me up with a small spoon lure and told me to cast in the dark, deep hole behind the log…. I did so expertly, as if I had been a bass master my entire 5 year old life, after my third of fourth perfect cast I felt my pole tip jerk directly toward my line..
What happened next was almost unexplainable, to this day I still have a hard time finding words for it. My tiny stomach lurched forward and downward at the same time, and for a split second I swore I was levitating. For a brief moment, my body seemed to have defied gravity. I did not know what was happening but I knew I had a trout or something on my line and I did not want it to get away. After landing the trout my dad and I shared a moment of silence and awe at that little trout flopping on the bank. My body let me feel the ground once I got a hold of my very first self caught trout. My body experienced one of my first adrenal highs. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but if fishing could give me that knee shaking experience….then I would catch more fish!!!! At a very young age I knew I was a thrill seeker, and believe it or not fishing gave me that thrill. It was only later that I experience hunting for the very first time, which brought the thrill to a completely different level.
Everyday after school, between sports and home work, I would head to the woods or the streams carrying my fishing pole on my mountain bike. Later that bike would become an ATV.. Yeah sure I had video games, but getting to the next level was not gratifying for me because I knew the next level would always be there and I would always be able to beat the game. There wasn’t too much fun in video games for me, deep down when I played them, I knew there would be a monster trout sitting under that log that I wasn’t fishing. The outdoors was a challenge for me, every time I left the house I knew I would have to be clever enough to outsmart a fish or a squirrel. My next personal metaphoric “video game level” would be my next small animal target, or my next dream hunt for Moose or Dall sheep. After many years of small game hunting, I wanted to challenge myself, I wanted to to start hunting big game animals.
I will not tell a lie, the outdoors gratifies me beyond words. The only way to break the experience with nature down such as catching a fish, harvesting an animal, or even seeing an animal, is the chemical response in the brain linked to adrenal release. Adrenaline so to speak is what I chase, this chemical is released when your “rod tip jerks” or when you spot a grey squirrel and you’re hunting for dinner, or when you’re hunting for bull moose and a trophy 60 plus incher walks out with a rack thats wider than a door frame. Your body’s natural instinct is to release this super human chemical giving you seemingless power, you must seek a thrill to experience it. The harvesting of an animal is not the thrill, I get just as much satisfaction releasing a 26 inch rainbow trout as I would harvesting and eating the fish. The kill is not as important as outsmarting the game animal, for instance letting a legal but small antlered animal walk by you instead of needlessly taking a life just because you can. The taker of a life involves maturity and respect for the animals as well, close relationships are formed with the animals we pursue. A last second buzzer beater, a half court 3 pointer shot with no time left to beat the other team, that feeling as the ball goes in the hoop is a similar feeling to the experience of catching or harvesting an animal.
I don’t discriminate. I follow each U.S. state Fish and Wildlife regulations and within law, pick several legal game animals to pursue whether it’s big game or small game the thrill is the same. I have been an accomplished big game hunter most of life, in part to a father who at one time was a Master Alaska Guide. We have hunted both big and small game together and to me the adrenaline rush is nearly the same. More exciting to me than hunting or fishing for myself, is sharing the sport with someone new, sharing the experience (the rush) of animal encounter with someone who is interested. This last winter I decided to take my best friend and high school sweetheart Jordan Pokryfki small game hunting.
In high school her father, Vince, would teach us how to make port orford cedar arrows and osage orange self made D-bows. We both had a love for the bow and making beautiful arrows, it was now time to put these arrows to action in the next challenge. Noticing that Jordan was deadly with a bow I suggested we purchase a hunting license together, she asked me if we could actually hunt legally if she had purchased the license. I told her yes we could hunt small game (Snow shoe hare, ptarmigan, red squirrel, and spruce hen)because thats the small game open this season and off we went.
Our first time out, we definitely looked deadly, however we spotted no bunnies during our snow shoe adventure. Un-deterred we decided we would head back out to a different bunny hunting location the following weekend, and this time we would use snow machines to get further from the road and deeper into bunny country.
Our new game plan, using snow machines to get further into bunny country worked! Jordan and I would succesfully harvest several bunnies this day, and had a blast doing it. Jordan liked it so much we decided to go the following weekend to the same place, this time we would bring her dad and have equal success.
Like I said, I don’t discriminate in the adventures I go on, the satisfaction I received would only be comparable to the happiness of Jordan and her first successful hunting experience. Seeing Jordan come to full draw with her home made refinished bow as bunnies zoomed through the willows, would bring me to a full draw smile and many awesome memories.