December is a down month for me. Short days, extra bills, and a long time until next hunting season make the 12th month a hard one for me. I try and remember the words of Merle Haggard, “If we make it through December, everything’s gonna be all right.”
I usually start the month with a list of “honey-dos” long neglected. Within a few weeks, I have those wrapped up, a happy wife, and some time to get caught up on my reading.
I’m not much of a book worm, but if I find a book that I think might improve my mule deer game, I’m on it. I’ve read books on everything from still-hunting coastal blacktails to tracking northeastern whitetails to learning spanish (that’s another blog post.) I’ve walked away with something helpful from each one of them.
Enter Billy Molls, a premiere- if not thee premiere- Alaskan guide of the modern age. Who else lets you peek over his shoulder at a Dall sheep hunt in the Brooks range? What about a close-up encounter with a giant Brown Bear? None other than Billy Molls.
I reviewed one of his excellent DVD’s, “The Modern Day Mountain Man, Season IV” earlier this year (see the Rokslide store if you’re interested in a copy). I really enjoyed a glimpse of the real Alaska. Billy told me that I might enjoy his book, “Alaska and Me”. I was swamped at the time and soon forgot about it. Then in early August, I found a signed copy in my mailbox (thanks Billy!). The beautiful hard-covered book held 303 pages of prose and pics (many in color) of wild Alaska. I vowed to read it as soon as hunting season was over.
Like most good books, I’ll read them in a week and this was no different. Billy’s writing style is one mixed with adventure and lore intertwined with the interesting doldrum of a guide’s daily life. While I love his DVD series, the book painted a picture of Alaska in my mind complete with me in it.
I watched a 10-foot Brown Bear stand from the alders at 30 yards as I raised my rifle almost in self-defense. I could see herds of caribou dotted across tundra-covered valleys as I glassed for a “Booner”. The roar of a Super Cub overhead filled my ears as it dropped below the clouds to pick me up after 13 days in the wild.
The first chapter “Mule for Hire,” details a young Billy’s first season as a packer in Alaska- from the guides who influenced him, to earning the respect of his peers and the hunters. Finding out that he had what it takes to advance to a guide impacted Billy for a lifetime.
From there, Billy takes his reader to the remote headwaters of the Chichitnok River in “The Logjam.” The story teases our imagination with hunting truly remote country alone where the chance at a 70″ Alaskan moose is a reality.
If you like sheep hunting, the book will not disappoint. Billy dedicates several chapters, including “The Seventy-Mile Ram” to hunting Dall Sheep. The open country these sheep call home lures this mule deer hunter like a moth to a flame.
Stories and pictures of Big Brown Bears and Grizzlies grace the pages. These hunts are some of the most exciting in the book. The brutality of these boars keeps the reader rooting for the hunter as Billy closes the gap for a shot.
Billy also writes about the gear, the camps, the logistics-everything Alaska- in his stories. You will feel the tension as Billy navigates a small jet boat down an ice-choked river before the coldest September in Alaskan history traps him and his hunter. Read how one miscalculation by a bush pilot puts a Super Cub prop down in an Alaskan river.
If you ever long to hunt solo in the backcountry, the chapter “Seven Days and a Six-Pack” will give you a real taste of lonesome.
Billy also shares the friendships he’s made north of the 59th Parallel – Reno the guide, Dave Casten the Alaskan Assassin, and Kraig, the guide who gave him the confidence needed to make it in Alaska.
As an outfitter myslef, I laughed out loud as I read the chapter “Ramblings of a Siwash” where Billy creates metaphors for the outfitter/guide relationship.
Billy closes his book with a “A Dream Shared by Many.” He writes about his grandfather who sparked the dream of Alaska in a young Billy’s heart and his mother who spurred Billy to escape the farm and live his dream.
I’d highly recommend the book whether or not you ever plan to hunt Alaska. Checking my wallet, I’m pretty sure I won’t be hunting there any time soon but thanks to Billy Molls, the dream has been kindled.
If you’d like a copy of “Alaska and Me”, check out Billy’s website: The Modern Day Mountain Man.
Or, in the spirit of the Rok Blog, I’m giving away a copy, signed by the author, to one lucky Rok Blog subscriber. To win, just post in the comments if you’ve ever hunted or intend to hunt the Last Frontier AND subscribe to the Rok Blog (please use the same name to post comments as you do to subscribe so I can find you on the draw list). I’ll draw for a winner on January 8th, so don’t delay.
I want to clarify what it means to “subscribe” to the blog, as some people aren’t getting that step right. Depending on your browser, you should see “Subscribe to blog” upper right just under the links “Fitness/Other.” That is the right link to subscribe. When you subscribe that way, you will receive an email notification every time I post to the Rok Blog and be eligible for the giveaways.
You may also see “Subscribe to this entry” on each individual blog post. By subscribing this way, you will receive an email if anyone posts in the comments of an individual blog post. That is a great way to see the conversation, but it doesn’t make you eligible to win. My recommendation is that if you like the Rok Blog, then “Subscribe to blog” so you never miss a blog post. However, only “Subscribe to this entry” when you want to read comments on an individual blog post.
Best of luck in the drawing for “Alaska and Me”.