Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire                                 There’s always another mountain to see, but there’s one in particular the author is currently obsessed with.

Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire There’s always another mountain to see, but there’s one in particular the author is currently obsessed with.

There might be goats… just over the hill

There’s always a fish or deer or quorum of widgeon that peck at you during the off season.

There’s always a fish or deer or quorum of widgeon that peck at you during the off season. If not, then it’s a lake, mountain or muskeg.

This off season was a bonus. Not only was it a flock of geese that flew too high for my 12-gauge to reach, but also that 4-point buck that spooked before clearing brush as I stood 17-yards away at full draw. They aren’t bad memories, but they are reminders that you’re never as good as you think you are when it comes to hunting, fishing or outdoorsing, even if you’re admittedly an intermediate at best.

I had a mountain in mind when this alpine deer season started. I bought a 21-foot North River in October of last year which extended my range and put this mountain on my list. But logistics and weather got in the way during August. I figured not putting boots on that mountain would figure into my off-season regrets. Then, September dawned sunny and warm. I was granted a reprieve and helped my buddy, Dave, pack off a 4×3 from the mountain I thought I’d have to wait another year to see.

[Traveling to fish amid the pandemic]

Sure, it would have been cool if I got the buck, but two of my close friends have taught me that a good hunt is a good hunt, and being content packing meat or even at peace with it not working out, is a necessary mindset.

So one would think that I am in the clear so far. That I have navigated nearly two months of hunting season without regret. Not true.

There is another mountain. (There always will be).

I call it Proposal Hill because during a hunt in August, it’s where I asked my girlfriend to be my wife. She said yes, then we hiked off the mountain with the deer we had just processed split between our two packs.

That’s not the problem. The problem is I want to go back because I am sure there are goats on the back side of it. The weather was terrible in August, so I was just happy it broke enough that I could get a buck and propose. No need to get too greedy, right?

I went back last weekend and the weather broke again, and again, there were no goats. But there has to be. There have to be white spots on the faces of the ridges that shoot off from the side of the peak I haven’t seen. The terrain is rocky, the elevation is higher than 3,000 feet and I have buddies who have taken goats on neighboring mountains.

The third time will have to be the charm, but until then, I will experience the haunting feeling of hope, paired with waiting. There is no doubt I will continue to love the mountain even if it ends up being goat-less, however, part of the charm of the outdoors is that you can never reach the point to where you feel accomplished, experienced, or otherwise successful enough to let it go. I e-scouted this mountain over the summer and it is everything I had hoped it would be in the two times I’ve been up it. But what lies beyond the peak is still a mystery. For now.

• 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

Tone and Charles Deehr in Fairbanks, October 2021. Both photos courtesy Charles Deehr. 3. (Courtesy Photo / Charles Deehr)
Alaska Science Forum: Red aurora rare enough to be special

In decades of sky-watching in the north, he has seen a few red auroras, but not many.

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
COVID at a glance for Thursday, Oct. 14

The most recent state and local figures

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday, Oct. 15, 2021

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

The Juneau Police Department will hold a drug take-back day on Oct. 23, 2021 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., said the police in a news release. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Police to hold drug take-back day on Oct. 23

Last take-back event, the DEA collected 420 tons of unused or unwanted prescription medication.

Then-Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho, left, and former Juneau Representative Bill Hudson, right, speak with John Torgerson, chairman of the Alaska Redistricting Board during a break in hearing public testimony at the Capitol Wednesday, April 20, 2011.  Alaska’s state flags were lowered Thursday for longtime Alaska lawmaker, Hudson, who died Oct. 11. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
‘A large legacy’: Hudson remembered for dedication to Juneau and the state

Alaska’s state flags were lowered Thursday for longtime Alaska lawmaker Bill Hudson.

The author photographs one of the numerous bull moose he and his wife saw on an elk hunt in Wyoming. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
I Went to the Woods: Desired vs. realized success

No elk taken, but it’s nothing to grouse about.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021

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

This photo shows gray currents, also called stink currants, Vivian Mork photographer. (Vivian Mork Yeilk’ / For the Capital City Weekly)
Planet Alaska: Picking currants and riding currents

We give respect and thanks to the berries and the birds as we harvest the last of the berries.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File
A Coast Guard aircrew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk, like the one shown in this June photo, rescued a man from a stricken vessel in the Gulf of Alaska on Oct. 11, 2021.
Coast Guard rescues man from disabled vessel

The sailboat was southbound in the Gulf of Alaska

Most Read