As many guides know it is hard to find a balance between work and play. The season is only so long, and sacrificing a week or two for some personal time in the field can be a difficult decision financially speaking. Last season, I managed to take off a few weeks at the end of the rifle season here in Montana as I had some new guiding opportunities open up in Sonora, Mexico that would make up for the lost wages. To be honest, I needed the break, and was excited to get some personal time on the mountain, to hunt how and where I wanted, and not be held back by anything or anyone.
It was September, and the mountains stood perfectly calm around us. The silence broken only by the intermittent croak of a ptarmigan. A ceiling of light clouds hovered above us in the brisk morning air. As I rolled up the tent, I continued to take stock of our surroundings. The snow that had welcomed us three days prior had receded generously toward the peaks. I shifted my vision to the east just in time to catch Emery emerging out of the narrow creek valley with a full bottle of water in each fist.
At some point you leave the nest. In my case, it was post-college, after I took a teaching job in California. When I say leaving the nest, I don’t mean in the traditional sense — moving away from home, making my own way. No, leaving the nest for me meant giving up the safety blanket of hunting with others. I had no one else to go with me, but my drive was there so I hiked the mountain to hunt alone.
Three years ago, my lifelong hunting mentor and — conveniently — my Father, George Lampreau, asked me if I wanted to put a Limited Entry Hunt (LEH) application in for any specific unit in B.C. for sheep. I had first set foot in the sheep mountains in 2009, though I had always hunted the general open seasons for mountain sheep. Needless to say, the excitement began to build at the thought of hunting a LEH zone for the first time.
Australian deer hunters consider the Wonnangatta Valley to be the Mecca of the Australian hunting world, the Home of the Sambar Deer. The famed and historic valley of the Sambar lies below the highest mountain peaks of the Great Alpine National Park. The National Park is situated in the South East of the continent comprising of 646,000 hectares — 1.6 million acres. It is the largest National Park in the state of Victoria and covers much of the higher areas of the Great Dividing Range, including Victoria’s highest point, Mount Bogong at 1,986 metres (6,516 ft).
British Columbia, as most of you know, is a mountain hunters dream come true. Covering a vast 944,735 km2, and made up of 94% public land the options are seemingly endless come hunting season. Yet, even in the backcountry of Northern B.C. there can be crowds of hunters. Popular lakes and rivers can see quite a bit of traffic during certain portions of the hunting season, no matter how remote. Last season my hunting buddy, “Ole,” and I wanted to avoid the hoards of hunters and hunt well away from the conventional access points for hunters in B.C.
I sit idly, and thankfully restful in the Christchurch airport before a long flight home having visited, and hunted, New Zealand for the first time. This trip came together after winning the hunt of a lifetime with Joseph Peter of Hard Yards Hunting, through a subscription contest The Journal of Mountain Hunting held. My good friend, Erik Mitchell, joined me and Joseph gladly accommodated our request to hunt red stag during the roar. We would later learn that the roar is often slightly embellished through dramatic hunt reenactments shown on television, with farm-raised stag playing the part of a wild stag.
The anticipation was growing as September approached. 2016 was to be my fifth year of DIY archery elk hunting in Colorado. My decision to pass on a cow at fifteen yards and full draw, on the third day of my 2015 hunt had haunted me for the past eleven months.
The stereotypical picture of hunting isn’t always the most truthful one. There is a perceived idea in the hunting and non-hunting communities of what hunting is — that hunting is about killing. This label is supposedly the culture of who we are meant to be, what we represent, and why we hunt.
I’ve always felt a deep connection with mountain hunting; you may even call it a love. The mountains provide the perfect environment for the adventurous hunter, as some of the most incredible big game species call them home. Few places embody the spirit of mountain hunting like that of the Tian Shan Mountains of Central Asia.