29 Days: Alaska, here we come!

25 Jul

I crave the remote and wild places. It’s something that burns in my blood and creates a wistful feeling that haunts me throughout my days. This picture was taken while on a spring Bear hunt in North Idaho early this year.

It’s been a dream of mine…for as long as I can remember. It seems that everything “North” curdles and surges in my blood. My body and soul CRAVE the remote and rugged country as much as they do food and water. sustenance for the primeval DNA that is buried deep in my genetic makeup; I have been waiting to satiate this appetite for far too long. This wait became too much to bear…I had to do something before it was too late!

Planning a trip to the North country has always seemed like a very daunting and almost insurmountable task. So finally I just sat down and figured out what it would take to get it done and then just started crunching numbers, pecking away at the details and taking steps to make it happen. The planning started mid last year and then finally started to seem to solidify, as the early December snow started to coat my hometown mountains.

I decided to pitch the idea to my best friend and hunting partner, not really sure of what he’d think. When I say “best friend”…I should explain that, Darin is more like a brother to me. We have been “best friends” ever since…well birth, basically. We have tackled  almost every major life obstacle together and I was elated when he picked up a bow and joined me in the woods six seasons ago. So when he seemed as excited as I was, the hunt was on and the planning had begun!

My Toelke Whip gets first crack at a Caribou, come next month! I’ll be shooting Grizzly Stiks (by Alasks Bowhunting Supply) tipped with the new 125 gr. broadheads from The Solid Broadhead Company.

At first this was going to be a DIY Caribou  hunt along the Dalton Highway; better known as “The Haul Road”. But then somehow it morphed and it was decided that it would be a “drop” hunt instead. We were to fly in with a outfit that had been highly recommended (70 North) and then just like it sounds…dropped! They would provide the major camp essentials: a tent, cots and kitchen etceteras. But we would provide everything else. It seemed like the perfect adventure; out in the middle of the wilds of Alaska…just us two against the “Land of the Midnight Sun” and stalking caribou with bows in hand!

We stuck to this plan for a while and it even went as far as corresponding with Mike, the owner/operator of 70 North and reserving a time slot. Just when the trigger was about to be pulled and money paid…reality smacked us good. Upon checking flight info; Darin noticed something very important that we had previously missed. This “small” detail; was that airfare doubles when you are flying all the way into Deadhorse, instead of stopping in Anchorage or Fairbanks. The cash register was already clanging out of control and my butt was in major pucker mode…becuase I was wondering if I would be able to come up with the funds to make this happen.

About that time; the Outdoor Photo Contest was going on here at the Back Trail. One of the winners, Brandon Lefebvre just happened to be a Fairbanks local. A couple of emails later; it became apparent  to me, that my dreams were far from being dashed! Brandon turned out to be a solid guy and offered to help us; if we wanted to make a go at the Haul Road hunt. Plans quickly began for us to meet Brandon in Fairbanks, rent a truck and camper, stock up and head North, hoping to cross paths with some migrating Caribou.  It turns out that Brandon owns a production company; SISU Productions and he was all over the idea of documenting this trip for us. This is another detail that I could have never dreamed of! Darin and I had already decided to “make a production” of the trip…we even went so far as to approach Vortex Optics and G5 with our plans; hoping that maybe they would see our dream in the same mind frame that we did and want to help us out with some gear.

Vortex was kind enough to loan us some key pieces of “glass” for this trip (thank you Scott Parks!). Of course I had to immediately get out and become aquainted with the Viper HD 20-60×80 spotter and Viper 10×42 HD binos!

I like to set goals that are outside of my comfort zone; to push myself harder than I might have pushed before. By approaching these two outdoor companies with our plans of documenting our trip and delivering content that “all could use”…well, this was setting the bar high enough. And  I knew this trip could only be epic and nothing less. I often have “grand visions”, but just don’t know how to make them come to fruition. And I’ve come to realize that to make things come to fruition; sometimes you have to think outside of the box and approach things  in a manner (or angle) that you would never consider approaching. These situations, where you limit yourself and therefore get stuck against the same walls…all come down to comfort zones and “angles”. In this case I am hitting angles and breaching almost every comfort zone I’ve ever set for myself.

Another key piece of my AK gear: My LWD built, Glock 20SF (10mm). This will serve as my “Bear Spray”. In the background you can see what gets second up at some Caribou; my Bowtech Destroyer 340.

So, it is only 29 days until I get to realize a dream and hunt Caribou in Alaska…in a manner that Fred Bear, Glenn St. Charles and many other of my archery heroes have done in years past. This is something that my father and I had talked about in the years before he passed away. Every season with a bow in my hand holds an emotional edge and is linked to my Father. Now I get to fulfill a dream that he had, long before he had ever planted the seed of the same dream into my head.

29 days until Alaska…29 days until the realization of a dream that’s more than one generation old. 29 days until that starved part of my soul gets to feed and drink in deep, of what it has been craving for far too long.

Stay tuned!


8 Responses to “29 Days: Alaska, here we come!”

  1. The Starving Outdoorsman July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Can not wait to hear about this hunt Luke! Sounds like its gonna be an awesome time.

    • Luke Johnson July 26, 2012 at 1:50 am #

      Hey thanks! The hunt should be well documented…and I think that I’ll have plenty of stories to relate afterwards!

  2. Brandon July 25, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    Great write up Luke, and I look forward to this adventure. We shall make it one for the books!

    • Luke Johnson July 26, 2012 at 1:48 am #

      Thanks Brandon; I appreciate it! And here I didn’t think anyone read my ramblings! LOL. Yes; I think that this will be “epic” in every sense of the word!

  3. Black Widow Tackle and Hunting July 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    Glad to see you going trad first. How are the 125gr solids shooting out of your setup?

    • Luke Johnson July 26, 2012 at 1:46 am #

      I don’t know yet! The 125 Solid’s are supposed to be hitting my mailbox any day now! I’ve had them on order for a few weeks; I think that Steve Speck is working overtime packaging these himself. I’m really excited to put these to the test; but if they don’t fly well enough…then I’ll go back to my old standby’s: Magnus Stinger Buzzcuts.

  4. Todd Erlewine July 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    My son, Jacob and I are heading up there from Georgia to hunt the Haul Road also and we will be there about the same time. Best of luck to you and maybe we’ll run across you on the road.

    • Luke Johnson July 31, 2012 at 5:31 am #

      Maybe so! We’ll be in a two rig caravan…trying to stay out of the trucker’s way! The best of luck to you guys too!

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