My oldest daughter Hayley and I have spent her whole life in the outdoors together; we hunt geese, ducks, moose, and caribou.
We started hunting together before she was born — Heather, her mother, was three months pregnant with Hayley when she came to rescue me on the shores of the Hudson Bay. I was a day overdue and 20 km off coarse.
On another trip, Heather was seven-months pregnant. She kept the fire going while we field-dressed a few caribou.
Heather and I have spent hours fishing for who-cares-what. We have traveled many lakes and rivers from frozen solid to four-foot high whitecaps — we’ve put our boat, and my nerve, to the test. The only time we aren’t fishing is during the freeze-up and thaw.
Our second daughter, Janessa, will occasionally join us on our fishing trips, mostly to tan on the warm leather cushions. Catching one fish was enough for her. Hayley has never liked fishing, especially the eating-it part.
Everyone likes different things, and it’s no different within a family. My family has participated in various activities and outdoor sports over the years. The girls lose interest in one thing and gain interest in another regularly.
Heather and I have tried to keep a focus on the outdoors with them. They don’t like being forced to join us in camping trips as often as we’d like, but when they do come it’s with minimal complaining.
I’ve recently developed an addiction for sheep hunting. Climbing through buck brush and wading waist-high glacier-fed creeks doesn’t appeal to most, but sheep hunters out there understand completely. When you finally arrive in places accessible only by foot, the scenery is like looking at a photo all day long. The mountain peaks stretch as far as the eye can see, and some days it’s hard to believe you’re there in person.
You can’t lay around on the couch all year if you want to stay in “sheep shape”. You have to stay active and train to prevent injuries during the hunt. Sheep hunting means you’ll be in remote places, a long way from help, and with increased risks.
Janessa loves to hike and be outdoors. She helps me train for the rigorous hunt, and has been on a few scouting trips in preparation. Every time I ask if she is tired she makes me seem like an old man with her quick, almost provocative “nope.”
I feel I’m in great shape at 36, until I hear she isn’t breathing hard, even on vertical assents.
She is a supporter of hunting and eating wild game, but she isn’t fond of the hunt. She prefers the quality time we have on our hikes around town and through the mountains. Hunting is not for everyone, but I am privileged to have a family who supports and joins my trips to the wilderness where they can.
Wild game is very plentiful in the Yukon and is not processed in some unknown way with who-knows-what for antibiotics and hormones. We prefer to not eat meat from the store for these very reasons.
The Yukon wilderness awaits us all. Enjoy the little summer we have left and take advantage of it. Maybe we’ll see you on the mountain this fall, but there is a good chance you won’t see me.