Friday, December 24, 2010

Dear Dad,

Merry Christmas! I hope that with all of your traveling during this beautiful holiday season you and Mom get a few minutes to yourself.
As for me I just wanted to take a second and tell you thanks for the Christmas gift you gave me. When you came to visit you brought with you a very special gift, your shotgun, and my 30-06. Here in Alaska owning acouple of guns seems to be a very important thing. People talk guns and hunting as much as Wall Street talks bonds and bear markets.
I know that having to arrive two hours earlier than usual to have every person give you the once over to make sure you aren't some gun toting crazy man wasn't an easy thing. I am also sure it wasn't so comfortable having the TSA folks hand frisk you, well because you brought a gun to the airport. But you persevered and they arrived safely.
So with shotgun in hand and my duck stamps in pocket I loaded myself into a boat loaded with friends and headed for Port Houghton. Our first stop along the way was in Farrugut Bay. What a beautiful spot to enjoy the outdoors.
It is also a completely secluded land, or so Preston and I thought when we were dropped off on the beach to begin hunting ducks. Low and behold here we were held at gun point being asked to leave the premises. Who knew that our first stop was owned by a man who turned his 150 beautiful acres of prime duck hunting grounds into a land conservancy. So we waited for a couple of hours on the beach looking for our dinghy to arrive to take us off the not so secluded island.
No worries though because we were back on the F/V Liahona (our fishing vessel) and headed once again to our final destination. We spent the next couple of days pulling shrimp pots, deheading thousands of shrimp, Duck hunting, trapping Mink, Wolverine, River Otter, hunting wolves, skinning said animals, and pulling crab pots too.
So, even though I slipped and fell on the deck of the boat, bruised my right shoulder because I didn't hold the butt of the gun tight enough to my shoulder, sat in the freezing snow for a couple of days trying to hide my overgrown body from ducks and got super seasick on the trip home, it was all worth it because I had my gun. My 12 guage Browning was true on one shot, and that's all that matters. I shot my first duck and even though a 16 year old kid(who has grown up here his whole life and hunted for everything you could think of) out shot me all three days, I loved it.
That's right I loved it! I loved every second of it, I laughed a ton, felt the adrenaline run through my veins, learned a ton and I just down right had a fantastic time. A trip to remember, and although you were not there with me your Christmas gift kept giving, because it was with me all week long.
We love you and Mom, and wished we lived closer but during this Christmas season we feel your love and hope you feel ours.
Merry Christmas Dad! I love you.

Donnie Robert Hayes II
Evan making sure the Dinghy is full of air

Kurt(on right) Laughing after I showed up with everything including a box of cookies. Ryan on the right with his wolf cap.

Evan getting the frozen fish from under the boat.

Kurt and Ryan with three of their otters.

Poor Mallard-so frozen he had to be cut up with an axe for the mink traps.

Kurt showing his disgust with the stink of the Otter.


Me learning to scrape all the fat off of the Otter skin. Tougher than it looks.

Port Houghton by the Salt Chuck

Preston and his Lunch of Champions-I ate two bags hoping I could shoot better...

Preston and Yukon Cornelius

Shrimp Deheaded- Shrimp have a huge horned heads and their butts try to attack you when you rip their heads off.

The infamous Mallard Hen. My first Kill, oh look there's Bessie right by my side.

This is a Harlequin that Kurt shot.

Preston ate all of those all by himself.

King Crab and Preston- One of many.

That's one dirty dude with those King Crabs. Thank goodness he was headed home.

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