A hunting we will go

Dear adventurous reader,

Sam follows caribou tracks along the bank.

During the weekend, my husband and I decided to take the family on a trip north. The purpose, ostensibly, was to go caribou hunting. We packed a tent, sleeping bags, food, rifles, and warm clothes for all of us. For our youngest daughter we brought full snow gear — snow pants, parka, boots, mittens. Although it hadn’t snowed yet, we suspected it would be well below freezing.

The Wrangell Mountains, topped with fresh snow.

We loaded everything into the back of our pickup truck, hitched our boat trailer, and drove north through river valleys and alpine tundra. Then we launched the boat into clear-running water, and headed up river.

My daughter's small hand beside a brown bear track in the river mud.

When I say we were “ostensibly” going on a caribou hunting trip, I mean to say that hunting trips are rarely about only the hunt itself. We  go in search of moose or bear or caribou. We hope, at the end of the trip, to have meat for the winter.

Wild swans take flight from the river.

But more than anything we hope to grab some last bit of autumn. We go in search of surprises, big and small. An eagle feather caught in a spruce branch. Brown bear tracks in the mud. Grayling darting beneath our boat. A small group of caribou passing by camp at dusk.

A young bull moose watches us from the birch trees.

A good book shared around the campfire. The sounds of the wilderness filling our ears as we sleep — coyotes yipping along the hillside, the river burbling over rocks and logs. Hot oatmeal in the morning, dotted with cranberries gathered from the tundra bushes behind our tent.

Our oldest daughter reads The Wizard of Oz aloud to the rest of us.

When we returned home last night, we brought caribou meat. But to say we had just been gone hunting doesn’t say enough.




  • Sue Mathis says:

    What a great family outing! The most “rustic” thing my family did when I was a kid was rent ‘housekeeping’ cottages at a resort upstate New York. Certainly not good books around a campfire, but fun all the same!

    • Eowyn Ivey says:

      I think you just pegged Grace’s perfect rustic vacation — she would LOVE a cottage in upstate New York vs. a freezing tent and cooking your dinner in a fire in the dirt. Ah well, you try to raise them right, but what can you do.

  • Christy Thomas says:

    You are a truely talented writer to make camping and hunting sound so romantic. You had me ready to pack up the house and move back to Alaska. I admire you and Sam and your commitment to making sure that your children are involved totally in the things you love. I’ll always remember how you took Grace in a backpack moose hunting when she was a baby. You’ve raised some pretty amazing girls.