We were three hours by truck and back road up into the wooded west face of the Andes in the Araunica region of Chile, with our own chalet and wood stove glowing to match the active volcano across the lake. Every day Marian was up on a great mountain pony heading out for five or six hours with gauchos, and I was off chasing red stag, fallow deer, and wild boar up and down mountains. It was more than a fair pursuit. I shot well with bow and rifle, and was very happy with the game, the degree of difficulty, and the pure fun and challenge of it. Gonzalo and I have done this now in several countries and with an ease and joy that comes with friendship. It takes a little skill not just to track in these conditions, but also to manage a 71 year old at 6000 feet with the balance of independence and care required. He was terrific and I kept up, but pretty slowly at times.
The country was breathtaking. No one within miles; we were the first visitors to a private and very special preserve owned by a Chilean and a Spaniard. Unique and gorgeous. Some pics of fishing and hunting are on the right and below. To still be healthy enough to do this is a gift I do not take for granted. With the losses of Jack Rice and several others this year, I think of all the pieces of this very often. Each season is a marker for those of us who love to do this, and the planning now for turkeys in Missouri in the spring and Montana fishing in the summer pull me forward, punctuate the work pace and the flow of weeks and months, bring hope as well as sadness. Frost’s lines grow more melancholy with the years.
When to the heart of man, has it ever been less than a treason
To go with the drift of things, to yield with grace to reason
To bow and accept the end of a love or a season
Elburn, February, 2011
At present I am preparing for a bow hunt in Chile in March. May also get a chance at a red stag and boar, but the red stag would have to be very good to surpass the ones in Argentina.
The game will be fallow deer in the Andes foothills above Temuco and just short of Bariloche. The red stag on the left here I shot in Argentina two years ago. One never knows how long one can crawl for two hours and go up and down at 7000 feet so here I go again. Marian will be riding the high country surrounding as she usually does when I am attempting things like this. She will return early and I will continue to fly fish for trout in the same area.
Always trying to find enough time for these special seasons around the work. Sometimes it works and sometimes I lose most of the time. Turkey season at the farm in Missouri will start April 18th and continue through Easter week. We should have a small group in for these adventures as well.
As for the dogs, Smokie, the new shorthair is a project, but a very sweet if wild one. She will be off to training in the early summer so she will be be ready for the Fall hunts. Hershey, the lab/shorthair mix is the queen of the place, very loyal to Marian, and she is ready for the winter to be over, as are all of us. I am brushing snow off the target so I can practice some before I leave.
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