Jeff Lund is hoping to draw an elk tag in Wyoming for the fall, and that he’ll be able to use it. While he waits to see what happens next, he’s practicing his shots and fine-tuning his calls. (Courtesy Photo | Jeff Lund )

Jeff Lund is hoping to draw an elk tag in Wyoming for the fall, and that he’ll be able to use it. While he waits to see what happens next, he’s practicing his shots and fine-tuning his calls. (Courtesy Photo | Jeff Lund )

Seeing and hearing things while isolating outside

“I had to wonder if this was just usual Jeff Lund, or if this was COVID Lund.”

I was 20 yards away when I let out the call. It was horribly flat and unlike any animal that has roamed earth. I doubled down and spit out a quality tone. I waited for a second then heard, “C’mon.”

I turned and looked through the trees toward the road. There stood a dog, ears perked, while the kid who was walking it urged they move on.

I returned to my fantasy. I was 20 yards from a Wyoming elk. My arrow would have to pass through a tight window in the branches and bushes. I drew, held and touched the trigger. The arrow was true and the dumb, block target was stuck yet again.

I decided it’s not every day that a kid walking his dog on the street would encounter a grown male human pretending he’s on a Wyoming elk hunt. As a student of self-awareness, I had to wonder if this was just usual Lund, or if this was COVID Lund. You know, is this the type of thing I would normally do, or is this virus-induced activity? Of course, it is also Southeast Alaska, where earning the title of unique takes a lot.

I usually practice shooting my bow across the driveway which runs parallel to the road after a sharp hook. I can max out at a 50-yard shot and if something goes wrong and the arrow sails, there is a thick line of trees, then a steep embankment down to a non-recreational creek. The shooting is pretty easy. No distractions, just the opportunity to get repetitions the way I used to shoot free throws or jumpers after school to let go of the day.

[A new month brings vibrant colors to the outdoors]

But when I found a spot in Wyoming with reasonably good draw odds for an out-of-stater that I could hunt with my girlfriend, I applied, and figured I had to get serious. I bought a trio of cow calls and slobbered my way toward something that sounds like an animal. I adjusted my shooting lane to run parallel to the creek, through the line of trees, with my back to the road. A huge root wad as a back stop. Practice. Practice. Practice.

The whole thing is a bet, though, and not just that I’ll be in bow range of an elk. It’s a bet that I’ll draw the tag, I’ll be able to go, and that I’ll be able to get tested immediately upon returning home so I don’t put others at risk. But who knows what the world will look like in September. Who knows what it will look like next month? It’s impossible to get answers though we want nothing more.

There is news every day — and people still sharing articles from March — but much of it is vague and the most share-worthy is usually specific and regional. That is, it applies to there, not here. Some of the principles are universal, but what it looks like is different.

Opening up anywhere will increase cases because the virus didn’t go away, it’s out there waiting for us. But the health care system is better-equipped to handle it now that the curve has been flattened, right? We did a good job, now, or soon, we get to have some things back as long as we practice some new commonsense habits, knowing the potential risks?

All I know is that I haven’t seen that kid and his dog, who apparently feel that a new route will provide more distance between them the guy who hunts imaginary elk.

• Jeff Lund is a writer and teacher based in Ketchikan. “I Went To The Woods,” a reference to Henry David Thoreau, appears in Outdoors twice a month.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 25

Here’s what to expect this week.

Thunder Mountain High School graduates celebrate after moving their tassels to the left, their newly received diplomas in hand, at the end of Sunday’s commencement ceremony. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
‘Forever a Falcon’: Thunder Mountain High School celebrates final graduating class

147 seniors get soaring sendoff during 16th annual commencement full of heightened emotions.

Seniors at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé enter the gymnasium for their commencement ceremony on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
JDHS graduates celebrate journey from virtual ‘pajama class’ freshmen to virtuous camaraderie

Resolve in overcoming struggles a lifelong lesson for future, seniors told at commencement ceremony.

Sierra Guerro-Flores (right) listens to her advisor Electra Gardinier after being presented with her diploma at Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi High School’s graduation ceremony Sunday in the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé auditorium. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Alternatives are vast for Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi High School’s graduating class

31 students take center stage during ceremony revisiting their paths at the school and what’s next.

The LeConte state ferry in 2023. (Lex Treinen / Chilkat Valley News)
Stranded Beerfest travelers scramble to rebook after LeConte ferry breakdown

Loss of 225-passenger ferry leaves many Juneau-bound revelers looking for other ways home.

A photo taken from the terminal roof shows the extent of the first phase of paving to accommodate large aircraft. (Mike Greene / City and Borough of Juneau)
Large-scale repaving project plants itself at Juneau International Airport

Work may take two to three years, schedule seeks to limit impact on operations.

Capital Transit buses wait to depart from the downtown transit center on Thursday. Route number 8 was adjusted this spring. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
More service, visitor information helping Capital Transit to keep up with extra cruise passenger traffic

Remedies made after residents unable to board full buses last year seem to be working, officials say

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, May 23, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 22, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read