Readers will recall last Saturday's column when I wrote about a trip to Alaska taken some years ago with some great hunting companions. I decided to let each of them tell about one of the highlights of the hunt, in their own words.
I recalled one of Steve Merlo's best memories, and then my son, Steve, related one of his fondest stories. Today, we will let the other two guys finish this tale.
Let's start with Adam Stull:
"I remember driving in the snow to Homer from the airport in Anchorage. The country was massive, and almost overwhelming when compared to the landscape in California. At one point, we saw several cars pulled off alongside the road and people were standing outside their vehicles staring and pointing up the side of a shear rock cliff.
"We stopped, and got out to see what the excitement was about, and noticed some white specks scattered on the edge of the above cliff. At first, we thought it was patches of snow. But then the spots began to move. Finally, we determined the spots were Rocky Mountain goats directly above us moving from one rock to another. They were right over us, and I honestly thought if one of these goats fell, they would land on our van. It was an unbelievable site. Yep, we were in Alaska."
Now, let's hear from Rocky Lacertoso:
"One morning our guide, Ben, dropped me and my buddy Steve Barnes off on a 20 foot wide rock pile in the middle of the bay. Land was about 100 yards away, and I had been told by the guide that the water temperature was near freezing despite the fact there was no ice forming. Ben said the sea ducks flew over this spot traveling from one cove to another and that we should 'get some good shooting.'
"He told us the tide was rising and he'd be back in about 45 minutes to pick us up. I looked down and could see the waterline was about 18" to 2' below our feet.
"No problem. The birds began to fly past, and Steve and I started dropping them into the ocean one after another. Many of the birds floated into the rock pile by the incoming tide which allowed us to gather them while others floated in the water in front of us. Suddenly, during all the excitement of shooting bird after bird, I felt my feet splashing the water. The tide had come in and we were now standing in the ocean.
"I told Steve I hoped the guide didn't forget us, because I doubted that we could swim to shore with the strong current. About that time, we saw Ben and his boat headed our way. He gathered the ducks that had fallen in the ocean away from us, and as he approached us commented that we had a good shoot, noting the birds he had picked up.
"I told him we had better than a good shoot, and reached behind the only rocks still protruding from the water and handed him several more ducks we had bagged. He shook his head and said, 'Kenny said he was bringing some good shooters. I don't think I have ever had a group of guys who have bagged as many ducks as you fellows have.'
"On the last hunt day we were all feeling a little bad for being so successful in our prior days hunting, so we volunteered not to shoot any birds that day, but instead had the guide take us around in his boat to see the beautiful homes on the coast line. The scenery was breathtaking. We've all heard the phrase, 'God's country.'
"If you want to see what that looks like, take a trip to the wilderness of Alaska. The beauty will cause you to curiously ponder how all this magnificent beauty came to be."
I want to thank all of these good shooting friends for their input in this article. Greatly appreciated. And, one last note. One of the Goldeneye ducks that Rocky bagged had a band on its leg. When he got home and sent in the information on it, he discovered that it had been banded in the Netherlands!! That duck had flown from one side of the earth to the other side, directly over the Arctic. Totally awesome.