Truly Alone

AloneI recommend every hunter go it alone in the wilds on at least one hunt in their lives.  I grew up in the 1970’s era of movies featuring solo outdoorsmen like Grizzly Adams andJeremiah Johnson, and I watched TV reruns of Daniel Boone.  All these guys had the lonesome wilderness in common and they passed on the idealism of being alone in the wilderness to hoards of impressionable young men. We are all aware of the classic literature denoting man vs. nature, so there is no reason to wax poetic about it; however, it is a timeless scenario that is worthy of your consideration if you like the outdoors.

As humans do, we tend to romanticize situations which we have not yet experienced. I know I did until I got to experience the isolation of being by myself on a nine day hunt in the Pueblo Mountains of eastern Oregon, in 1993.  My intention was chasing Mule Deer bucks, but after the first day, I realized that the journey for deer had turned into a journey of just being alone. I had sleepless nights of listening for strange sounds, and it did not help that I was in what is considered Bigfoot country.  I froze at times, I went thirsty for a couple of days, and I lost my hat at some point, but I had a great experience. I had also had enough, and I thought I put my solo ambitions behind me.

That is until my first solo adventure in Alaska, chasing sheep. I was going to be hunting with a companion eventually, but for the first few days of this trip I would be alone.  I boarded a Piper Super Cub and let a stranger fly me into the middle of nowhere Alaska. All was normal as I unloaded myself and my gear, and I felt nothing abnormal as the pilot taxied his plane into position and bounced down the tiny 400 foot airstrip. But, when that plane took off into the air and began to climb out of the valley that I was standing in, alone, I felt a sensation that I have never been able to put into words. I knew it was something memorable, so I hurriedly snapped a photo as the plane flew out of sight.

The emotion of knowing that all civilization was over a hundred miles away, and that I had no way of contacting anyone, was an intense reality. I was concerned and happy, but most of all I felt a sort of freedom. The rest of that trip was an epic escape, but the first few minutes alone are what I will always remember.