Shooting at Tazlina, hunting boo and moose at the trap cabin

map of Tazlina Lake

Location of Tazlina Lodge

Friday, July 24, 1981—got to Tazlina at 5:00 a.m. The place is pretty littered with broken glass and bullet holes in the glass of one cabin. I felt sorry for Darrel. He was managing the lodge and alone there in that respect. This fella who had come to the lodge, got rowdy and (I don’t know the name of the guy) Darrel put him to sleep in one of the cabins and then this guy took to shooting out the windows and carrying on. When the owner comes back, it will be a mess, But Darrel did manage to get this fella under control.

Monday, August 10, 1981—went into Gulkana to the Alaska State Office, Bureau of Land Management and applied for a remote parcel of land. Henry and Tom Murdock are going to Delta for construction work. Thursday,

August 20, 1981—got gear ready for Doug and me to go caribou hunting. His dad wants Doug to go out with me to the trap cabin and hunt. He’d like to see Doug get a caribou. Prior to this, I had taken Doug out with my 20 gage shotgun and introduced him to shooting. He did real well with the shotgun; he could hit whatever he aimed at with it. He didn’t have cartridges for the rifle that he was going to use, so before we went in to hunt, I took him with me to Anchorage and got cartridges. Had a tire fail on the way into town.

Chris Ronning flew me out first and the hunting looked good around my cabin, saw a moose and caribou and a few good bulls. We got to the cabin about 5 p.m. Doug is real interested in the cabin and the area out here. We got a little rain, then it rained hard after dark. We’re grateful for the cabin as opposed to camping in a tent tonight. The cabin is in fine shape, no varmint damage at all.

Friday, August 21, 1981—we got up early, had a good breakfast, hunted to the south, came back for lunch and then we went north and I showed Doug an old bear den. A while later we saw a caribou at 500 yards—only for a second. Too far and no chance for a shot. We saw one nice flock of ducks on a lake. Then we came back to the cabin and Doug fixed some blueberries. Dan and Chris both flew their planes over the cabin this evening and we went out again for an evening hunt. No luck. Did some cabin chores and cleaned up around the place—covered some old sawdust piles. Doug fixed his own chocolate drinks. He does well for a boy his age.

Saturday, August 22, 1981—we got a good night’s sleep, got up early, it’s a beautiful day. Ate a big breakfast and started walking up to Nye Lake. The climb from Hole Lake up to Nye Lake is steep. I showed Doug how to take deep breaths to get more oxygen into his lungs. Thus, more power in his legs.

When we got there, we spotted four caribou and two legal moose bulls, one was 40+ inches at a hundred yards and another boo that I wasn’t quite able to get Doug in position to shoot. There is a gravel esker in that area that wolves use for whelping pups in the spring. I put Doug on top of one end of the esker and I went to the other end. We hope the height will help in spotting game. After some time, a nice bull caribou appears out of the brush walking in our direction. I wanted Doug to have the shot, so I slipped down the other side of the esker and over to Doug. He gets ready for the caribou but it doesn’t show up! Evidently a current of air had taken our scent to the caribou and he just disappeared into the brush. That afternoon, Doug didn’t get a chance for a shot. Then we saw another moose that was too far for shooting and then a light colored moose cow and another moose nearby—they weren’t legal.

Walked back to Hole Lake, just as Chris was looking for us to see how we were doing. He over-flies people to see if they’re okay. He stopped and told us of several moose that he had seen that day. We got back about 4:00 in the afternoon and did some cabin chores. Then a medium-sized bull caribou and two others came up to the cabin and laid down 12 feet away from the back side of the cabin. I just happened to go outside and saw them. I quietly went back in the cabin and we got the guns and got out of the cabin and got Doug in position. They got up and ran so I took a shot at the running bull but missed him. Doug didn’t get a chance to shoot.

Sunday, August 23, 1981—got up, ate breakfast, took off for Nye Lake—first I walked down to Hole Lake and left a note for Chris there. Then went on to Nye Lake to hunt. Saw six cows and a bull caribou soon after we got there. They were passing the spot where I wanted to hunt. We stayed at that spot a long time, then climbed a knoll—20 minutes later, a big, bull boo walked by right where we had been previously. Doug didn’t get a chance to shoot at that one either. We aren’t having very good luck.

Chris was to meet us at 3:15 p.m., but he didn’t stop. Something he must have had to do. We went to another knoll at the other end of the lake and no luck there. Saw another bull go by (one horn) that good crossing. Chris flew by again. Then we started for Hole Lake and he flew over again. Doug was ready to go home by this time. I twisted my knee going down to Hole Lake. We waited there for Chris for quite some time. We saw a loon take off the lake and circle it and a hawk that was hunting and lots of fish rising in that lake. Chris didn’t show up so then on to the cabin. We were really tired tonight. It had been a beautiful day though. Then Chris and Brent Myer flew in just at dusk and dropped a smoke signal canister. They landed and parked the plane down on the lake and came up from Hole Lake to the cabin and had coffee with us.

Monday, August 24, 1981—Chris had Doug and me out to Tazlina by noon and we stopped at the outlet of Old Man Lake to watch the red salmon spawn. Saw lots of ducks and swans from the air too. Chris is a really good pilot. When he came to pick us up this morning, the temperature was warming up fast. He was going to be taking off out of Hole Lake so he thought it would be better to take Doug down to Blue Lake and come back and pick me up to get out—too much weight with both of us. Doug was a little apprehensive about being at Blue Lake all alone. I told him that it wasn’t likely that a bear would be around there and we would be there shortly.

Chris came back and I got in the plane. Chris started down Blue Lake and the temperature had warmed up even more—with warm air, the plane doesn’t get the lift that it needs to take off. We’re getting down there towards the end of the lake and it’s not looking good. Chris aborts the take-off. We turned around and went down to the other end of the lake and he went deeper into the lilies and turns the plane and we start down the lake again and it’s looking like we’re going to make it and the plane DOES lift off the water. Chris then lands at Blue Lake and we pick up Doug (that’s when we stopped at the outlet of the lake to watch the red salmon spawn). There’s lots of ducks and swans on Old Man Lake, really a neat area. There are a number of old cabins around there and we know three owners that have cabins there.

Broken leg, -25° and 20 miles from help

man down with broken leg in snow

Norman breaks his leg miles from anywhere

Monday, March 23, 1981—still a little sick, got some things ready to go back to the trapping cabin. I think I sold the Taymond Hanson 160 acres in Minnesota to a neighbor.

Tuesday, March 24, 1981—Mike came over and we left for trap cabin to get traps for the ratting expedition in another area. Ski-Doo is giving me engine trouble. Hauled wood. Put two 55-gallon drums up on the platform Cache. I will store things in them over summer. Put sharp spikes around both cabin windows to discourage bears from trying to get in. Quite tired tonight. It’s really great to be out here at the trap cabin. I think Mike likes it out here too, he is a woodsman at heart.

Wednesday, March 25, 1981—after breakfast, we went to the trap cache and brought the rat traps back here to the cabin. Had lunch and loaded everything we needed to take out to the highway on our sleds. Left the cabin after dinner some time—I was leading on my Ski-Doo pulling a heavy load on the sled behind me.

About four miles out, I was going up a short rise in the trail and gave it more gas. I don’t know how it happened, but I got knocked off my snow machine and landed butt down on a 5-gallon can of gas. My right leg was dragging in the trail in front of the runner of the sled I was pulling when the runner caught on a tree, pinning my leg in between. The Ski-Doo and sled dragged on around the tree and I went airborne and landed in a low place six or eight feet down off the trail.

When Mike arrived, we took my Sorel boot off and all the socks so I can feel my lower leg and find out how badly I was hurt. The right leg lower small bone was broken, knee twisted, and same for the ankle. It was -25° or thereabouts so we wasted no time getting the socks and boot back on. We decided Mike would drive my outfit and I would drive his smaller machine with no load. I got my right foot tucked on the running board and it wasn’t too bad until we got close to Old Man Lake. Mike couldn’t get my Ski-Doo to pull the sled up a short, but steep rise up off a small lake we were crossing. He worked hard and tried everything he knew. The sun slipped down below the trees taking the temperature even lower.

Mike came out to me on the lake to see what I wanted to do. He was concerned about leaving a sled load of gear sitting here. I told him I was cold from just sitting and he should move the sled out of the way so I can drive by and we would go on to Dan and Patti’s, which was about 18 miles from where we were. He did that and we had just gotten out onto Old Man Lake when a local pilot spotted us and taxied over. Mike walked over to him and told him what was up. This pilot offered to fly me to the airport at Gulkana. It was a small two passenger plane and I dreaded trying to get that bum leg stuffed into the close quarters of that plane, and then out again at Gulkana so I refused his kind offer.

When I got to Billman’s place, Patti saw me drive up and came out, took my left arm over her shoulder and helped me into the house. Mike came in on my Ski-Doo a little later and drove me to the little hospital in Glennallen. I have one broken bone, crushed muscle and a wrenched knee and ankle. This of course, wrecked the rat (muskrat) trapping expedition.

Thursday, March 26, 1981—I sure don’t like being in the hospital. Mike and Sylvia came to get me in the evening and when we got home, Charlie came to visit for a while.

Friday, March 27, 1981—Peter and Sam came to visit. It’s sunny today and I’m recuperating, but slow. Sylvia went to a movie with Betty and the kids in Glennallen. There isn’t much for TV here and the movie house in Glennallen is about all we have.

Saturday, March 28, 1981—my knee is red so we went to the doctor and he said it’s okay. He put a walking splint on my leg and I’m walking now—carefully. Went to KROA at Mendeltna for an Italian feed. The lady that owns it is Italian and a good cook. We had a good time there that evening.

Sunday, March 29, 1981—I hobbled up to the lodge once and back home I slept a little and read one book—I read lots of books. It’s a favorite pastime for me.

Monday, March 30, 1981—I laid around most of the day, babying my leg.

Tuesday, March 31, 1981—went to the doctor to take the splint off.