Two men brave the Yukon wilderness in search of moose, grayling and adventure. They find more…and almost lose everything in the process.
Sparked by the memory of a dear friend who passed away, childhood friends Aaron Hitchins and Will O’Brien join together in a wilderness adventure that will test them severely. They head into the Yukon wilderness to hunt for moose and canoe a dangerous and uncertain river.
The McNeil River gives them all they can handle and more.
The untimely death of their friend, Andrew Brose, has shaken the two friends. They finally decide to make good on all of their previous plans to go on an adventure. They do a moose hunt in unfamiliar territory, unguided and by canoeing a wild and unpredictable river.
The two fly deep into the Yukon Territory, calling moose, fishing for grayling, canoeing rapids and reveling in the wildness around them. Then, on their return, the river has its way.
First, Will takes a fine bull moose with a rifle, his first big game animal. He gets a case of post-kill buck fever, and is overwhelmed with his success. But it’s late in the day and the two decide not to camp on the site of the moose kill for fear of a grizzly bear visit. Instead they will risk a night-time canoe trip back to camp. A very dangerous proposition.
It turns out to be a choice they regret and, after some tense paddling in the darkness, they somehow find a spot on the river to set up camp for the night.
Then, later, it’s Will’s turn to score a moose with his bow, which he does in thrilling fashion. The big bull comes to within just a few yards of him, and he makes a good through the-eye-of-a-needle shot.
He too is overjoyed. It’s a been a good week for the two friends.
On their return, paddling downstream with a canoe loaded to the brim with meat and antlers, disaster strikes. They crash into a boulder in the river rapids. Thrown from the boat the two men flail to shore, managing to grab hold of the boat safety lines in the process. It’s an intense few minutes, as the boat continues to move downstream, overturned and leaden.
Finally, a tine from one set of antlers grabs hold of a rock and stalls the craft, giving them time to heave the boat to shore, where they can unload and dry everything out.
All’s well that ends well.
As their trip nears its end, Aaron fires a shotgun shell filled with Andrew’s ashes into the Yukon air. As the ashes slowly fall back onto the water of the river, Aaron and Will take a moment to remember their departed friend and the river adventure he inspired.
A river where memories were made, adventure was discovered, and inspiration was found.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.