Monday, February 25, 2008


Last Thursday I drove to Princeton, Idaho and spoke at their annual hunting and fishing banquet. It was great driving down there through the rolling hills of farmland and timber as the sun warmed the day with a hint of spring. I saw several herds of deer feeding on the open hillsides and was greeted by a chorus of red wing blackbirds at the church. They still have quite a few old barns that are nice to see from an era gone by.

I met Pastor Jim and found him to be a warm and caring person which was reflected in his congregation. The people were very friendly and can cook up some great game dishes and desserts. It was good to see them bring in antlers and head mounts to decorate the banquet room which is going to be a new gymnasium. Some of their best hunters are women which doesn't surprise me since I'm married to one that is a very good shot.

My talk to them was about using the outdoors to reach people for Christ. They live in a perfect area to do that. Nearly everyone living in that area is tied to the land and wildlife. I believe this loving church can impact their area in many ways as they offer the hand of fellowship to their community.

My advice to them is keep shooting those big deer and elk and keep loving each other and your community. You have a great church!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dangerous Times

Greg and I were sitting against a big rock, the size of a small garage, waiting for a caribou or moose to wander past us. Greg was an archery hunter so he needed to be within thirty five yards for a shot. A cow moose appeared about one hundred yards away and we were hoping a bull was around. Two bulls soon showed up; unfortunately they were two small caribou bulls. The cow decided she didn't like them and charged the bulls and drove them off. A short time later the bulls came back and the old cow was waiting ; she drove them back down the trail . We never did figure what had put the girl in a bad mood but it may have been a bear in the area or maybe she just didn't intend to share her domain with any caribou.

Later in the morning we spotted a nice caribou bull about six hundred yards away on a rock outcrop. We plotted a way to sneak to him so off the two of us went in pursuit. Greg and I took advantage of the timber to reach the bottom of the huge rock. We found a game trail that would take us up where the bull should be feeding , so Greg went first slowly climbing to the top of the rock , but the bull had disappeared. There was a rock about four feet in diameter that we hid behind hoping the caribou would feed back into the open . Forty yards in front of us was a mix of blueberries and low brush, after that the thick timber and alder brush made it impossible to see anything. Suddenly a large brown bear appeared feeding toward us on the lush blueberries; it was joined by two small furballs . The cubs were having fun playing and running around. Mom kept her head down lapping up the big berries with her tongue and was walking directly toward Greg and I. The cubs ran ahead of her and were approaching us fast. I slowly put a shell into my .338 magnum hoping I wouldn't have to use it. One cub was only thirty feet away and the sow was now about sixty feet from us. I looked around and behind us the rock dropped about thirty feet straight down to a patch off green grass. I whispered to Greg to slowly back up and I would join him when he got to the drop off. Everything seemed to freeze in time. This was like a bad nightmare; I knew at this close distance the bear would instintly charge us to protect the cubs. One cub stood up on its hind legs to get a better look at us. I slowly joined Greg and told him to slide off the rock and hope for the best. He quickly slid from sight and reappeared in a few seconds smiling in the grass below. I took one last look at the bears and the sow was still busy feeding and had not seen the her cubs were intent on watching two funny looking creatures sliding backwards and dropping out of sight. We were elated that a disaster had been avoided.

Greg and I took off for another rock ridge a half mile to the south of us only to run into another brown bear eating berries but this young bear took off at the sight off us. When we reached the ridge lunch was eaten and we rested trying to plan the rest of the day. Later I stood up to glass the area to the west and saw something reflecting in the bright sunshine. It was the palm off a moose antler; a very big bull moose. Then I spotted another bull a few yards from the first one. Both bulls were in the sixty inch class but were over a mile away in a grass filled meadow. We took off after them hoping to find the meadow. The first thing we found was a small creek that would lead us to the bulls and help hide our movements. We soon found fresh moose tracks and areas where moose had recently fed on willows. I picked up a large stick and started rubbing on a spruce tree and grunting but there was no repsonse from the bulls as the rut had not started yet . Greg and I stayed there until late afternoon and being three miles from camp reluctantly left the area and started working our way through the heavy birch and spruce timber. We had made a semicircle around the spot where the sow and cubs were in the morning and were trying to stay to the right in the timber to avoid them. I found a game trail and thought we might as well follow that instead off fighting the brush. The trail finally ended and we were looking at a wall of alder brush,except for one that entered the brush field and there was a tunnel about four feet high that we could take instead of back tracking. I looked at my watch and it was getting late; I wanted to be back in camp before dark. So we bent over and went into the tunnel- a tunnel made by brown bears. I reloaded my rifle again. Soon we were finding very fresh bear scat and bear beds. There were beds made by a big bear and beds made by small bears; we had entered the bedroom of the old sow and her cubs. The hair stood up on my neck just thinking about our predictiment and I told Greg we needed to start talking to let her know she had company. Eventually we entered an open area filled with blueberries and spotted the rock we had hid behind that morning. We quickly took the trail off the rock and hurried on to camp . It was a relief to see the safety of the tents.

Life can be dangerous , especially for christians. We are looked down upon by many in the world, even in this country. In some countries, worshipping Jesus can mean death. The Apostle Paul faced beatings, ship wrecks, snake bites, and imprisonment for his beliefs but he never wavered. Paul had met Jesus face to face on the Damascus road and completely turned his life from a persecutor to being persecuted.

God will help us walk through the dangerous times. Psalm 91 is a great message for us when trials and tribulations come our way. Two people can also face danger better so make sure you have a brother or sister in Christ .

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Breaking Trail

Last Saturday my son-in-law, Vance and I snowshoed into his cabin to shovel the roof . We accessed some private property so there was about a mile an a half to walk. The snow level was over forty eight inches and it had warmed up so the snow was soft. With each step on the snowshoes , I sunk in about six inches. My legs were soon telling me that they were not in the same great shape as last fall. Vance was pulling a sled with gear and shovels so he was struggling too. We would go about one hundred yards and take a break. This allowed for us to enjoy the snow laden scenery. We found some fresh coyote tracks, grouse and snowshoe hare tracks. When we were nearly to the cabin some recent moose tracks cut through the deep snow. The moose were staying near the creek bottom to avoid the deepest snow. We were relieved not to find a moose as they can be bad tempered this time of year. I carried a rifle as cougar season is still open and we have encountered the big cats around the cabin.

Once at the cabin we enjoyed a lunch and drank water to hydrate our bodies. It took about one and a half hours to clear the roof then we retraced our tracks back to the truck. Because we had a packed trail the way out was easy going. We glided over the snow with little effort.

Our trails in life can be difficult and drag us down. Letting Jesus break the trail for us makes the walking easier. He is ready to head out in front to help us in our troubles . It doesn't mean we won't encounter bad roads and steep trails, but He will guide us through them. Psalm 23 says He will guide us in the paths and even when we walk through dangerous valleys we will fear no evil. Jesus not only broke the trail for us on the cross, He conquered death for anyone who will believe in Him.

So strap those snowshoes on and follow Jesus ; the trail will be much easier than doing it alone.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Which Way's Camp

During my second year of guiding in Alaska, the outfitter and I were dropped into a remote lake about sixty miles north of Dillingham. It was a beautiful lake surrounded by fir and birch timber. To the north , huge granite ridges jutted from the landscape and were called the Guardians. Some nice caribou bulls were grazing on the granite ridges as we set up the tents for the two clients that would fly in the next day. One bull was a record book animal with heavy antlers and massive double shovels. We felt getting a bou wouldn't be much trouble but didn't see any moose as night descended on us.

The next day the clients; two doctors arrived at camp. Their names were Don and Greg, both hoped to get a moose and a caribou . Don was nervous sort of guy and I could see he might be a handful to guide. Don immediately questioned Justin, the outfitter, about my capabilities. I could sense some doubt on his part about my guiding ability. Justin assured him I was qualified and one of his best guides. I was hoping to guide Greg the next day as he was an archer and so am I. But Justin turned to Don and said, "Larry will take you to the meadow behind camp for the day." So off we went and worked our way up on the side of an outcrop to get a good view of the meadow. The insects were horrendous and a head net was the order of the day. Don and I settled in and glassed for any movements in the timber below us. Late in the afternoon a cow and calf moose wandered by but no bull moose or caribou.

The second day found us at the same place at Justin's suggestion. I could see that Don wasn't too happy with that decison as he wanted to explore some other areas nearby. We sat there a few hours when a giant caribou bull appeared about three hundred yards away . I got Don fifty yards closer then we ran out of cover. I told him to hold his .270 just behind the bull's shoulder so Don took a rest on a small tree. I waited and waited for the shot and finally Don turned to me and said he had never shot at anything that far. I understood and said "okay". The big bull soon melted into the trees. This event really made Don want to walk and he pointed to some water we could see through a saddle about a mile away. I said let's go, thinking a walk might calm him down. We fought our way to the small lake through thick brush and found some fresh moose sign and way to much brown bear activity due to a heavy crop of blueberries. After slowly circling the lake Don said let's call it a day and go to camp. He was getting worn down. I said fine and told him if we turned left into the heavy timber we could save a mile of walking. I thought the timber would be easier than the thick brush. Don didn't see it that way and wanted to go back the way we came. I held firm and and said "Load your gun in case we suprise a bear." Don still objected and said we would not find camp that direction. That's when I said "Let's check my compass." I unzipped the compartment on my pack only to find it empty; then remembered having it out that morning in the tent when I was checking the map of the area. I felt sort of embarrassed and could see big concerns in Don's eyes. He was doubting my ability as a guide.

Eventually I won the debate and we took off through the spruce and birch . In about a half an hour we broke out on the lake shore one hundred yards from camp. Don was very quiet and said he needed to lay down a while. Later that night Don told Justin about our day and said I did a good job getting them back without a compass. Don shot two caribou and a large black bear that week and by the time he left camp I had a new friend.

Our lives are sort of like that hunt. Sometimes we forget the compass and wander around aimlessly in life. When we remember the compass for our life is Jesus , things go much better. We can always count on him to get us through the thick brush and trees that life throws in our path. All it takes is to invite Him into our lives. Do it today and he will show you the way to camp.