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A Hunter’s Heart- An Alaskan hunting Adventure Clarifies the soul of the Sport

STORY BY Reid Bryant
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Brian Grossenbacher

A Hunter’s Heart- An Alaskan hunting Adventure Clarifies the soul of the Sport

STORY BY Reid Bryant
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Brian Grossenbacher
‘‘

It was willow ptarmigan that did it…

…The plane spit us out on the edge of Heart Lake, so named on our first approach because – well, hell – it was shaped like a heart. We anchored the plane and schlepped guns and gear and dogs to the gravelly margins, and assembled ourselves as best we could. Maggie took a quick tour of the neighborhood. Brian was loaded with a camera in each hand, and Spud and I were loaded with more lethal stuff. Alex was armed with a dog whistle.

We crested the rise, up out of the wet stuff, and there spreading out was the biggest piece of sky I’d ever seen. It was big in the way that the ocean is big, or the aurora borealis on a 3-degree night, or that fluttering place your heart goes in the presence of a new love. It spread out in front of us like spilled maple syrup, and you could hear right away it was full of birds. A clucking wave of them was moving like an apparition over the rise a hundred yards out. They sure as hell weren’t waiting around for the likes of us, so we snicked the guns closed and Alex released Maggie. The birds sifted fast into the the willows…

A Hunter’s Heart- An Alaskan hunting Adventure Clarifies the soul of the Sport This article is published in the issue.
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A Hunter’s Heart- An Alaskan hunting Adventure Clarifies the soul of the Sport

It was willow ptarmigan that did it…

…The plane spit us out on the edge of Heart Lake, so named on our first approach because – well, hell – it was shaped like a heart. We anchored the plane and schlepped guns and gear and dogs to the gravelly margins, and assembled ourselves as best we could. Maggie took a quick tour of the neighborhood. Brian was loaded with a camera in each hand, and Spud and I were loaded with more lethal stuff. Alex was armed with a dog whistle.

We crested the rise, up out of the wet stuff, and there spreading out was the biggest piece of sky I’d ever seen. It was big in the way that the ocean is big, or the aurora borealis on a 3-degree night, or that fluttering place your heart goes in the presence of a new love. It spread out in front of us like spilled maple syrup, and you could hear right away it was full of birds. A clucking wave of them was moving like an apparition over the rise a hundred yards out. They sure as hell weren’t waiting around for the likes of us, so we snicked the guns closed and Alex released Maggie. The birds sifted fast into the the willows…

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