Passing The Torch
By Dave Wood

... From the edge of the meadow I counted one, two, three deer and the fourth had horns! They made such a picture…out feeding in the fresh powdered snow. Carefully I snuck back to our shelter and woke Heidi. “Sis…Sis!”…As she woke I whispered “ there is a buck right above camp!” “Roll out and grab your gun, I’ll be at the edge of the meadow keeping an eye on him.” In the gray dawn I slipped back to watch…
... This hunt is one of my most precious memories of our hunting camp. Up in that special ‘honey hole’ we had the makings of a great adventure. It was the last weekend of regular hunting season and my oldest daughter’s second season in the high country. Last year had been a season of patience and learning. Isn’t it great that no matter how old we get every season brings new excitement, new adventure? This year we had practiced for weeks. For us, practice was shooting the big buck pictures leaning against the door at the end of the hallway. You know, the hunting magazines we all toss when we are done with them, they make excellent air gun targets. To top it all, the air gun had the same sights as Heidi’s 6.5 Swede Mauser. She practiced her bullet placement with all the different pages of animal pictures, it was a great confidence booster (and fun for me too). Soon it was Friday and we were off to hunting camp and our favorite high mountain basin.
... We took our time hiking up the mountain, so we would have plenty of ‘reserve’ for the weekend. After setting up our tarp shelter we did a little scouting around camp. Visiting hunting camp is like seeing an old friend; we ‘snooped’ here and there checking for sign of other hunters from the previous weeks. All of us that use this spot are faithful to leave it like we found it…clean and natural. Heidi thought it was the most peaceful place she had been, I agreed. We were in the heart of ‘deer country’, so all of these camp activities were in the silent mode.
... The sky was graying with the break of day as I got up and left our shelter. To my surprise and delight a 2” blanket of snow greeted me. I would check the meadow and let it get a little lighter before waking Sis. Now of course this takes us to the start of her story…
... The deer were feeding about 500 yards away and up the hill from our little meadow. We would need to cut the distance by at least two thirds I thought as I waited for Heidi to show. As she slipped up beside me I could see the excitement in her eyes…also a little uncertainty. This was only natural for her or any of us on the threshold of taking our first deer. The deer were in a shale slide so were easy enough to spot. We whispered over the different possibilities of a stalk. The same snow that made the deer standout so well now made a stalk difficult. We decided to work our way up a draw and get into a patch of evergreens we could use as cover. From there we would re-evaluate the situation and make our next move.
Heidi with two of her bucks. I consider myself very fortunate to be blessed with
two Daughters who enjoy the outdoors as much as I do.

... I could see the excitement in Heidi’s eyes; she was taking me back to my childhood and first hunt! Often, when we rested during the stalk, we would whisper about the things she had practiced. Reflecting back, it was so much fun! We neared the edge of the thicket and could see the deer still over a hundred yards away. I was hoping to get a little closer, so we studied another route for a second stalk. Dropping into a shallow draw we popped up near the deer and were surprised to see them gone! Not wanting to loose any of the adrenaline we had just worked up, we quickly hit the tracks. We went not far at all when “thump, thump!” Out popped the deer and sure enough…there stood the 2x3! Boom! Boom! The deer were going everywhere! Just as quickly we were standing alone again…no deer. She had done well, and the 3 point was soon tracked to his bed and with a final shot, became venison! The patience and hard work had paid off; she had her first deer! Yes, you guessed it; I needed new buttons for my shirt! The camera came out of the pack and as I took the picture I asked her, “are you happy?” The picture was the answer!
... What a blessing this picture has been to help relive this special hunt. Sometimes it seems so long ago, and at others it is like she should be just in the other room. I get a kick thinking of the little Swede carbine and how so many of the young kids would borrow it. The nice peep sights made it a great stepping stone for the kids and they couldn’t hurt it, a great little gun. The following year Heidi took another buck in the same general area. If memory serves me well, I believe that old carbine accounted for a few more besides.
... Now in Alaska with her own family, I am confident her husband James and her will pass the torch down to a new generation of hunters. Isn’t it great to set back and see it work!
...Debbie, my youngest daughter (a couple years behind Heidi) loves the high country also. She does not share my passion for the hunt, but truly enjoys the hike. She has been old dad’s partner on some bobcat hunts with my beloved hounds. I have to chuckle a little when I think of it…her hunting grounds are in the malls and bistros. Yes, I would need my compass in my hand in those places; I take my hat off to her! It has been very important to me to share my love of the hunt with my girls; if they choose to not hunt… they will surely understand those that do.

August 1, 2001
Dave Wood Ketchikan, AK
Date: 1994 Washington State

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