‘’Thirty seconds left in the game…Detroit leads 3-2 in the final seconds. The Penguins are going berserk. They are panicking…20 seconds remaining on the clock. Crosby skates up for a shot , misses wide; that’s followed up by Makin and is saved…. and the time runs out. The Detroit Red Wings have won the ultimate prize: The Stanley Cup. The Penguins are in tears folks! All their hard work has led up to a major loss. What could’ve gone wrong for the Penguins here tonight?’’
If you look deeper into the outcome of any hockey game, there is a lot to tell about each team: What they need to work on, how they failed to win, or what strategy the team used to win. Some coaches or even players sometimes say it’s not all about winning. They are partially right, but when you are building the skill of the team winning isn’t the top priority. Although, when the skill is built, the tournament is set, and when the whistle is blown, all the other ingredients start to take over. The main goal is to win, to apply the built up skill that you have practiced for months to frazzle your opponents. There is no time for having fun when you’re in a war. You have to put everything on the line, life included, to fight and WIN!
It takes a lot to win or to become a winner. Determination, skill, spirit, and belief, are the four main factors found in every Stanley Cup champion. A few teams have used these traits and are now legendary such as the following: 1980 USA Olympic team, 2012 LA Kings, Alaska Aces, 2013 Pee-wee tier 3 champions Fairbanks Knights. Miracle teams as you would call them, the ones who were the expected to win like The Soviet Union, NJ Devils, Kalamazoo Wings, and AHA Comets Vandenbos. They were the almighty teams expected to rein above all others in the tournament.
On one night at Lake Placid in 1980 one game changed the hockey world forever. It was known as “The Miracle on Ice,” where the underdog USA Olympic team made up of college kids faced the undefeated Soviet Union. The Soviet Union team was comprised of players who have been together for up to 15 years, and before Lake Placid had beat the NHL All-stars 6-0. Because intimidation was at its highest, it was believed that no team could beat the Soviets. So here came this college team that had been losing throughout the year to many weak teams, then went on and faced the best hockey team on earth. Who do you think would win this game? Although this is hockey, anything is possible. The USA team had all four traits plus several more. They took their game and shoved it back in the Soviets’ face. They knew how to win, how to fight, and how to score. They put all effort in and changed the hockey world forever.
To become a team such as Miracle USA, you have to build the following traits: Going to the gym, working on weaknesses at the rink, and getting a mindset to play like champions. Not everything is about skill; the college kids from Team USA had no skill compared to the Soviets. They had the traits that their opponents did not, and they did the impossible in beating the world’s best team to become winners.
Soon I will reach into my finely worn, leather wallet to pay the massive fee needed to receive hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses; a bounty of $77 in hard cash will be required to do these regular outdoor activities. This license fee increase needs to change. A lot of people in Alaska will be fined for not having their permits because of the steep price. For people that rely on hunting, trapping, and fishing to make a living, license fees should not be raised.
At age 16 many kids don’t have the money to afford the licenses, so they are discouraged from attempting to buy at least one of the permits to hunt, trap, or even fish. And if that discourages 16 year-olds, then people who move to Alaska are going to be even more discouraged from these price rates. Think about it, if you just moved to a state where hunting, trapping, and fishing is a way of life, you would want to incorporate those hobbies into your schedule. The prices for the permits might discourage you from living in Alaska, and people wonder why this state is so unpopulated.
Non-residents travel to Alaska to experience the way we live, and they end up breaking our hunting laws, snow machining on our trap lines, and ruining our fish population; this also needs to stop. The prices on the permits should be raised a reasonable amount for non-residents, for the reason that some non-Alaskans invade the state with their big army guns blowing up the country. We Alaskans use our hunting rifles to shoot a moose for the winter, and at the same time try to avoid getting shot by the visitors. The big game in Alaska is definitely decreasing; there are only 175,000 moose, 60 bison in south central Alaska, and 750,000 caribou. If the out of state hunters’ access to hunting in Alaska were to be limited, the amount of big game animals for all species would be well over 2 million, like when the native tribes were the only dwellers in the state. Uninhabited, the true Alaska.
If the price hike isn’t eliminated, a lot more people are going to be fined, for the reason that people don’t want to pay the amount of money to do these activities. A lot of Natives and even other people who have lived here all their lives aren’t going to pay that amount of cash to participate. As a result, the Troopers are going to be giving out an unusually high number of tickets.
Alaska, a vast, spacious state that was once had an abundant source of wildlife is no more. Bison roamed the river sides; millions of caribou roamed the tundra. Fish crowded the lakes, rivers, and streams. Although what was once then, is now lost. I was here when the wildlife was everywhere, and I was here when it left. I hope soon the animals will return and the fish will again swim. Soon Alaska will again be complete.
Wind sweeps across the lake, blowing snow on my face as I sit as still as a rock waiting…Soon I jerk upright from a sudden pull on my fishing rod. The fish pulls with all its power to free itself from the metal hook, with no success. The trout gives up, staring in a dazed state at the icy sky above it as I easily reel it in. “Seven,” I say to myself, as I glare at the elegant line of rainbow trout that I have surfaced. None of any size, the biggest being around 13 inches; when the sun slowly falls, and the stars expose their eyes and awaken, I again lower my baited hook into the water. As I sit there at around 11 p.m., I fall gently asleep. Soon a crash awakes me. My rod falls to the ground, lying across the ice hole. Line screams bloody murder from the pole, seeming to yell “Help me!”
In dazed confusion, I lift the rod upright, where it is pulled down again by the force of this mysterious beast under the ice. I have something large on the end of the line now. “What could it be?” I ask myself? Salmon is out of the question because it is winter and all. The only known species to inhabit this lake is trout. As I sit there wondering what this creature could be, I hear a snap! The line breaks, although I wasn’t letting this fish go so easily. I lunge for the line as it skids across the ice, just barely grasping it. The pull from the fish is almost too much; I then tie the line several times around a stick I use for dispatching the fish. The war was on! However how do you think I could’ve made it this far without knowing the basics of this type of fishing?
First to become an ice fisher you need patience. To be able to sit in one spot for hours on end takes a lot of effort. The second skill you need to master is finding the right lures. Like in predator calling, it all depends on location. Single hooks with salmon eggs, jigs that resemble squid or shrimp, and glow in the dark lures are just some of the attractors used. Bait is what I commonly use. There are several different types of bait: shrimp, salmon eggs, powerbait, corn, etc… Once you learn about bait, lures, and hooks, you’re one step closer to becoming an avid ice fisher.
So here I am struggling with this monster fish under the ice. My pole is useless against this beast. The 30lb test line is also inoperable, breaking against the fish’s strength. With my new found skill, this is to be my first big trophy. I am not going to let this fish get the best of me. So with my building adrenaline I pull the line to the top. The fish almost doesn’t fit through the hole. Our eyes then meet -- those big, black, glazy eyes stared deep into my soul. I have the feeling I am not going to let go of the line and lose the fish once I see the size. Thirty-four inches – an astounding size. This is definitely the Goliath of my pile of fish. A great way to end an Ice fishing experience under the stars.
A dying rabbit pleads for help in the woods, but no help arrives. Suddenly there is movement in the field: a sneaky and sly fox creeps along the side of a field scouring the earth for the morsel that uttered its dying cry. Astounding as it sounds, this cry was not made by any animal, but from a predator caller. Awaiting the arrival of the fox, I raise my 243 Winchester rifle out from the bushes. Abruptly the sound stops, then BOOM!!! The fox drops dead on the snowy ground from the bullet. Removing the empty cartridge, I approach the lifeless red fox. I stare for a minute in awe of the beauty of its pelt. Brilliant red covers its back and a snowy white colors its belly. “This beauty is gonna make me some money,” I say to myself before slinging the animal over my shoulder.
In a way, predator calling is an easier way of hunting. In some ways people would say it’s cheating. Apparently they haven’t predator called before, because it is the opposite of cheating. Many reasons show why this isn’t as easy as road hunting or fly-in hunting. The first is the fact you have to remain almost completely motionless to ensure that the creature doesn’t hear you when they approach. Another is you have to find the right location, making sure there are even animals in the area. If there isn’t then best choose a different location. In my opinion the best place to predator hunt is in fields, an open riverside, or a view from off a cliff. Also a big matter in calling in is using the right calls, and again it depends on location. For example, if it’s a field you would use a mouse call or something that would normally be in a field. And if it’s a large view of a valley from off a cliff, you would use some loud dying animal that will drag animals from all across the valley.
To know what calls to use, you have to know the types of animals to attract. I live in Alaska so what I hunt might be different from what many people hunt in Africa. The main species I call are Coyotes, Timber Wolves, Red Fox, Cross Fox, Silver Fox, Arctic Fox, lynx, wolverine, and occasionally bears. As a bonus, every animal you shoot can be sold to a fur buyer for a wad of cash ranging from $30-$300 apiece. Remember all animals you hunt respond to the call of the wild; anyone can become an avid predator caller.
By now it was three in the afternoon; the sun was high in the sky, although that did not deter the cold. I figured it was around 20 below zero; my feet numb from the cold laid still on the foot holders of my snow machine. I needed to warm up; one of the worst things that can happen out in the barren Alaska wilderness is to freeze to death. Frostbite is fatal out here. First your feet become cold, then they turn white, as ice crystals develop in your feet, and before you know it they’re black as a winter night, frozen solid as ice cubes. You then risk having your feet amputated, which isn’t a pleasant thought. So my dad collected the wood that was stored under the cabin and created a heaping fire that thawed us entirely.
After being warmed up, I was starving. I grabbed two of the burritos we brought for lunch and put them on the stove to cook. While the lunch cooked, I took the fishing rod and headed out to the river. It isn’t a fast river like the Zambezi or anything, just kind of slow moving. So as I started fishing, I reeled in a small trout. It flopped around on the snowy ground, disappearing under the snow. I reached my hand down to pick up my prize when something caught my eye. A black ferret looking creature hopped along the bank towards me. It was a mink, one of the animals we rarely try to trap, mostly because they are worth merely $5-$10. I grabbed the fish and tossed it to the creature. It wandered up to the trout, sniffed at it for awhile, and then sunk its teeth into the flesh of the fish. It then dragged the fish away out of sight to enjoy its lunch.
As I was about to make another cast, I heard my stomach growl. I had forgotten about my lunch. I then made a mad dash to the toasty cabin and took my bean burrito. My dad sat in a chair next to me eating his meal as the snow that covered him melted, soaking his coat. After we finished drying our gear and eating our luxury meal, we decided it was time to begin trapping again. My dad and I were now going to check the traps along the other side of the river, where we set our most effective coyote, fox, and wolf sets. So we loaded up on our snow machines that we noticed it had half a tank of fuel left; just enough to make the trip.
After we checked the traps along the river, we ended up with a coyote and a beautifully colored cross fox. So that night we ate a scrumptious pot of Denty Moore Beef stew and hunkered in for the night. The next day we ate a huge spread of pancakes and bacon, and headed out around the lake to finish off our trip. As we skimmed across the sparkling snow, it started to gently fall from the sky. After about half way around the lake at the south side, snow started to dump from the sky at an incredible pace. We pulled to a stop and saw a lynx sneering deep into my soul, waiting for its chance to latch at me. My dad popped it with a pistol and threw it into the metal, snow covered sled. The weather was starting to head south, and we were around 30-40 miles away from our cabin. My dad and I had no choice but continue, so we kept on going. Suddenly our vision was blocked by a white out. This could result in getting lost and disoriented.
The snow was four-feet deep and was gaining fast, and the GPS that was our guideline along the trapline was malfunctioning. My dad and I were in a fix. We kept driving, looking for the tree line so we could find our cabin and retreat from this storm. What we didn’t know was that we were in the middle of the lake where the white out shadowed out everything but the white of the snow. I remembered nightmarish wind, completely white everywhere and the sound of wind sweeping snow across the vast lake. So after around an hour or two we were out of gas. To add to the matter, a belt broke on our snow machine. I had to hold up the engine cover so it wouldn’t blow away while my dad equipped another belt inside the machine. I thought that we would never make it off the lake, but suddenly we saw a little trail leading off into the trees. Trees! We had finally found the tree line. My dad told me another of his friend’s cabins was supposed to be nearby. So we struggled to make it to the lodge sized cabin with the small amount of gas left in our snow mobile.
We got the key and crashed with exhaustion on the bed. The next morning the sky was clear, the mountains were in full view, and we were heading home. Once my dad and I got back home, I was relieved that we were finally back from the wilderness.“I’ve had enough trapping for now” I said to myself.
When I brought in the GPS from the snow machine, the battery was dead, but when I plugged it back in, it said we drove 130 miles, and it showed that we drove around four large circles in the middle of the lake. This is what could happen in these situations, although our experience was mild. Some people never do find their way back. They freeze or get lost and die of the bitter cold, however only the true trappers survive.
Wind blows, snow falls, and a wolf with its teeth showing lurches forward to defend itself from a man approaching with a pistol. The wolf’s eyes lock on this man, anticipating his next move. When “BANG” a bullet enters the animal and it falls immediately to the snowy, frozen ground. As blood leaks from the creature’s nostrils, the man takes a very rustic looking trap off the wolf’s foot. He lifts the animal over his shoulder and lays it carefully on a blanket in a sled. A lynx and a weasel lie limp next to the wolf’s body. The man then drives away on a snow machine with the sled trailing behind.
This is the life of trapping. There is a group of people in the world who not only live in the frozen state of Alaska, but brave the elements and trap here. For those of you who don’t know what trapping is, it is kind of like the show “Deadliest Catch.” In this show, the fishermen set pots where they think the crab are. Trappers set traps where we think animals are. But the landscape is very different between crabbing and trapping. In Deadliest Catch, they have 40 foot icy seas, and in trapping we have blinding blizzards, 60 below weather, and the risk of falling in a river and freezing to death. Where I trap it is very prone to blizzards and wind storms because of all the canyons and large vast lakes that scatter the landscape. So if you’re stuck out in the middle of a lake during a blizzard, then you’re in a deadly fix. Now I’ve had some crazy trapping adventures, but this one tops them all.
It all started out on a day like any other winter day. Snow covered the ground, the moon shined on the snow making it sparkle, and a magpie let out a shrill, warning birds of a nearby squirrel. It’s 5 a.m. ; time to go trapping, so my dad and I load up our two snow machines and lift our big sled onto the back of my his pickup truck. We then drive to our trapline, unload and then we start trapping. My dad runs a 110-mile trap line which skims alongside a river, circles a lake, goes through many steep trails, jumps into some tundra, and then it ends. My dad and I also use a cabin along the river; a nice comfortable cabin that has amazing views of the river. So as we turn the next bend along the trail, an object appears in my vision; a wooden box mounted to a tree. As we approach it and peer inside a weasel like creature scurries around inside the cubby. It jumps forward and almost lands on me, but the trap chains it to the box. What my dad and I caught is a marten that has dirt brown fur with a nice orange furred chest. Their furs go for around $80-$100. My dad chokes the animal to death, dispatches it from the trap, and sets it in the metal sled attached to the snowmachine. Once we reach the cabin, we hd caught five more marten and a beautiful colored coyote. Coyotes are light brown and gray furred animals and go for around $50-$60.
If I could have foresaw the nasty dilemma that would soon come, I would have rather not caught anything that day. Even though my dad and I knew nothing of what the future held, we continued our trapping adventure. This mistake would put us in a deadly scenario.
My name is Trayl Wilson and I’ve lived in Kenny Lake, Alaska, my entire life. My family is a big group of trappers, so I was bound to be one. I also grew to enjoy fishing and hunting as well, basically any sportsman-like activity I am into it. Also, I am a big fan of the NHL and playing hockey in general.
That covers my background, so let’s talk about my summer. This summer was probably the best in my life. For starters we spent three and a half weeks in Hawaii during my birthday. It’s so amazing how much different Hawaii is from Alaska. It’s above 75 degrees and hardly gets hotter than 85, so it’s just the right temperature. Also the water is a lot warmer than in Alaska. Here if you go in the water it’s iceberg cold and in Hawaii it is like an indoor swimming pool, also if you put goggles on and dive under the water it’s like an aquarium because all sorts of colors appear in front of you. Fish of all different types swim around you, and coral decorates the ocean floor. We fished a lot which it is also different from Alaska fishing, too. First they don’t do any casting or bottom fishing. It’s all trolling which can be pretty boring if you catch nothing. One day we went fishing and my brother and I were sleeping on a platform with our heads inches away from one of the poles. So as we were sleeping we were awakened to a screaming pole. My dad grabbed the pole and started maneuvering the monster fish from the depths, as it got closer and closer the Yellowfin tuna rose to the surface where a harpoon was shot into its cheek. My dad’s friend then lifted the fish into the 24ft sea sport boat. The boat rocked back and forth between the eight-foot waves, causing my dad to vomit over the side of the boat. When we returned to the harbor later that day the fish weighed in at a whopping 175 lbs.!
I also went to three hockey camps, and I improved. I can’t wait for the season to begin. My summer was very eventful. I’m glad I’m taking Writers’ Workshop so I can share my amazing adventures.
- Voley Blog