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When They’re Big, You Just Know!

I started my outdoor adventures young. Both of my parents are avid outdoors people who enjoy hunting, fishing, and camping. When they were growing up, hunting was necessary to put food on the table, so naturally, they taught my sister and me to hunt and fish. They packed us around with them, hunting and fishing, from very young ages. I remember salmon fishing trips when I was four years old! However, hunting really felt natural.

When we’d go hunting together, it wasn’t easy for my parents to corral us and the dog. I remember one time hiking in to hunt grouse and deer. I must’ve been small because I was holding onto Mom. Our dog was good at flushing grouse, but when a group of deer came into view, she got away from my mom, and scared the deer off. My dad was quite disappointed, and I remember saying, “Oh no, Daddy, the deer are getting away!”

When I got older, I really enjoyed hiking around the deer woods with Dad. Sitting in the woods, quiet and still, to see deer come out, was very grounding and calming. Dad and I have very similar temperaments and personalities, so I really enjoyed these quiet, fully immersed times together.

I missed, and lost, time hunting during university. Occasionally, I had a day to go out during the fall, since I went to school fairly close to my hometown. However, my own independent hunting spark ignited when I graduated and started my own career with actual days off and pay. I shot my first bull moose by myself the second fall I was out of school. That’s a day I remember from start to finish, another core memory that really solidified my love of hunting and my self-esteem.

I have many hunting memories now; more recently was last spring bear season. I was pretty sick early in May, and the last week of May I had one evening free when I was feeling well and the weather was favorable. Mom said, “The weather is nice and cool for hunting now.” We went out, and I’m glad we did. I had tagged a small bear earlier and wasn’t quite satisfied. I usually save a tag for fall, but after reading everyone’s comments and encouragement on my social media post, I decided to follow their advice. Why not try for the big boar I wanted? We saw two that were a decent size. But then, this big guy stepped out of a side trail in front of us, and I said, “holy @#%*!” When they’re big, you just know! One shot from my late uncle’s .444 Marlin with a 240gr core-lokt through the top of the heart downed him.

Two women by ourselves, Mom and I had quite a time loading it. Towing it out with the truck and rope was no problem, but I had to cut it in half to get it into the box. The front end was especially heavy, and we had to use the hand winch. I’m not sure about weight, but I have shot 350- and 400-pounders before. This felt a bit heavier. I don’t have a scale at home, but I brought in 154 pounds of boned and trimmed meat to the butcher and had already trimmed off 15 to 20 pounds of bloodshot, dirty meat and gristle. I was told it’s the largest one brought in to Chilako Meats to date. Needless to say, I gave some meat to the meat donation program. I am fortunate to have gotten more than I needed and had lots of highly nutritious meat to share with others who can’t get out and can’t afford groceries.

I recently got his skull scored for the Wildlife Records of BC, and it came in at 19 and 9/16. I just put my certificate up on the wall. I’m a Registered Nurse, and I also fish, garden, camp, hike, and cook. My year and my days off revolve around my outdoor activities and my gardening. I want an organization that is a voice for hunters and maintaining opportunities. – Mandy Starnes

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Father's Day 2024