It was the kind of cold that sunk into your bones. A wetness that crept under your skin. The front had dropped in fast and hard, but the day was young and there was no way we were going to leave the call of bugling bulls unanswered, so we kept moving along that steep and craggy mountainside in the unforgiving Idaho backcountry.
Few activities are as ancient and inexorably linked to our humanity as the sharing of food. It needn’t be overly sophisticated or designed to illicit wonder. In fact, most times the simpler the better. In these times we crave food that is comforting, familiar, even fun. We can laugh and tell stories as we nibble tasty morsels, licking sauce from our fingertips and playing “roshambo” for the last crunchy thing.
This is the time of year for gathering with friends and family and enjoying the bounty of our harvests. Its’ a time to make room in our freezers, celebrate and share our success in the field, and enjoy some warm comfort food with loved ones as the temperatures drop and fires start to warm the hearth.
From day one, the very idea of SITKA has been to outengineer every obstacle in the path to fully connecting with the natural world. And while it might seem audacious to think the forces of nature can ever be fully tamed, we look at it as a pursuit where our work will never be done.
I can’t count the number of times that I have sworn off winter goat hunting while shivering on the side of a white mountain. There is very little enjoyment to be had chasing late season mountain goats. The hunt is a test of your will.
I remember the day I first saw Joe Riis’s portfolio of migration photography. He’d spent over six years hiking to remote places, installing and managing motion-sensored cameras, and concealing himself in blinds to capture a body of work that told the story of migration.
Control is an illusion. Nothing proves that more than our relationship with water. Too much and there are floods; homes are destroyed and crops are ruined. Too little and agricultural fields become stunted and withered; people go hungry and the land burns.
I am drawn to the allure of the big woods, the mountainous environment in parts of the Appalachians. In the Eastern United States, it’s the closest thing that I’ve found to adventure deep in the wilderness away from lights and sounds. Much of this area is public land for all to explore, camp, hunt, and fish. The valley floors are scattered with hemlock trees, beaver dams, and meandering streams.
If someone had told me in my early twenties that hunting would lead me to some of my biggest learnings, my most gratifying experiences and give me a profound perspective about the world, I would have laughed them off.
A remarkable devotion exists with each of my Labradors, curated around the ideal of the perfect retrieve. When I reminisce on my past, each pup has bestowed me with a great balance, all while I endeavor to provide them with the best life possible.
Dark Hollow was uninviting at 5:00 AM on the cold predawn of November 7th. I'd given the neglected pasture that name as it had transformed over two decades into a labyrinth of thorn-infested honey locust and multiflora rose. If the devil designed a forest, this was it, and I sure as hell wasn’t welcome.