Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dreaming of a Bear Hunt

Well, I finally did. After about 30 years of wishing, and about 10 years of actual planning, I went to Alaska and hunted bear. Here is the beginning of the story. I hope you enjoy it. I did.

One of my childhood memories was of the big brown bear rug at grandma Bailey's house. I heard it was a Kodiak Brown Bear shot by my uncle Urshel Bailey in the late '40s or early '50s. I do not know what happened to that rug, but I can still see those big teeth and claws that fascinated me as a young boy. I remember talking about bear hunting with my cousins as we played on the rug. Although I wasn't sure where Alaska was at the time, I knew I wanted to go there. So finally, I did.

Well, courtesy of the US Army, Kim and I got to actually live in Alaska from 1977 to 1980. Our third son, Matthew, was born there. I found time to do some fishing while we lived there, but I never hunted. I guess it had something to do with work, three small kids, and no money! After leaving Alaska, I became an Alaska "hobbiest." I read about Alaska. I dreamed about Alaska. Eventually, we traveled back to Alaska. We took an Alaska cruise. I went to fish. I went to snowmachine (that's snowmobiling for you Outsiders.) I went to see the sights. I kept dreaming about hunting in the Great Land. I was told to talk to people who had hunted in Alaska. I did.

For Christmas 2008, my wife gave me the book, "Wild Men, Wild Alaska", written by Rocky McElween, a Christian speaker and Alaskan big-game guide. Early in the book, he tells of an adventure he shared with a man named Ralph Meloon, Jr. Oh my goodness! What a surprise. I had attended church for more than ten years with Ralph Jr.'s father, Mr. Ralph Meloon. He is a grand old champion of the faith and a great business man. I am sure that everyone who meets Mr. Ralph feels just like I did; honored and humbled to have been able to speak with such a fine man. {You should google Ralph Meloon and Correct Craft to read the story of this man and his Christian witness in life and business.} Anyway, I immediately went online, found the website for Alaskan-Adventures, and contacted Rocky. I told him I was hoping to hunt, and he gave me some good pointers on how to make it happen. Did I get excited after reading his book? I did.

I sold my business in early 2009. One of the first things I did after that was to make the decision that I was going bear hunting in Alaska. I immediately started making plans. In order to hunt brown or grizzly bears in Alaska, you are required to use the services of a registered big-game guide. I called Rocky. The fall hunt of 2009 was out. How about spring 2010? Nope. How about opening week in August 2010? Right on. The hunt was on! I began the planning and training process. After all, the dream hunt was only sixteen months away. Do you think I bought any new gear? I did.

[Coming Soon: My next blog will tell the story of the Hunt]

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