Dylan, Jen, and I were quick to share many fishing and ski trips together. Jen and I became regulars at Dylan’s annual fishing derby on Vancouver Island, which puts him in the position of awarding tournament prizes for the Biggest Fish, the Most Fish, and the Skunkaroo Trophy for the most unlucky boat. One particularly tough fishing year our boat was struggling and it was obvious that we were the going to be the winners of the Skunkaroo trophy. This year the Skunkaroo prize was a weekend of aventures and an hunting orientation with Larri.
For at least two years Dylan had been encouraging us to pick up guns and get into hunting. I’d been resisting thinking that adding another hobby to our already extensive list interests was unnecessary. Time and money were my main concerns. To get started we would need two courses, many guns, clothing and time off work, so I was not that interested. My wife and I live suburban lives and each come from cites, neither of our families had ever hunted before. However Jen and I do enjoy food, and our professional background is food and beverage management. We loosely embrace the 100 mile diet idea, and we like to cook together most nights. We are also always up for an adventure, so adventures and food together, we were interested. Dylan knew that Jen was the chief planner and motivator in our relationship, so he went to work on her, she worked on me, I spent much energy working against both of them.
As the” winners” of the derby’s Skunkaroo trophy Dylan cleverly handed Jen a gift certificate which read something like this;
“A weekend of hunting in the Gulf Islands with Larri.”
I thought it was a gag gift, but Jen assured me it was legitimate. She pressed on and got in touch with Larri, they set dates, we invited a new hunter friend of ours Adrian, who had been licensed for more than a year and was still looking for his first hunting opertunity. He needed a mentor, Larri was to be some kind of enthusiast interested in extending his knowledge of hunting. Larri was 73 years old at that time and of “the more the merrier” attitude.
As it turns out, Larri has a amazing oceanfront cabin on a sparsely populated Gulf Island. The island is mostly Crown land and is home to a healthy population of Blacktail deer. But we didn’t know that just yet.
So I’m thinking we are going to meet this man and he is going to take us to his farm where it would be easy pickings. We would walk out to a field and he put a gun in our hands some coaching and then blam we blast a few deer cut em up bring home, fresh meat right. Wrong! I could not have been more wrong.
As we were boarding the ferry over to the island Larri called Jen. I thought: yeah here we go this is not going to happen. Wrong again! Larri was calling to inform her that he had just bagged a deer on his way from his cabin to the ferry to pick us up. He was exited and wanted to tell us the news and that he was going to leave the deer where he shot it so he could teach us how to clean and skin an animal. When would we be arriving? Jen was really anxious to meet Larri. She said he was very happy and excited every time they had spoken, and more so just then. He picked us up and we filled the SUV no room for anything else in fact we tied bags to the roof, Adrian’s guns were buried deep in the back.
Jen, Adrian and I were quite inquisitive peppering Larri with question on the drive to his cabin. We quickly discerned that we were not going to a farm, and that perhaps the locals may not be too keen to see us walking around shooting the local wildlife. So as Larri drove he enlightened with his hunting ethics. He was talking about the perception of hunting at the grocery store vs. the forest. While I completely agreed with Larri I was silently concerned that what we were about to do might not be legal.
Five minutes into the drive Adrian spotted some goats on a hill and asked Lari if those were what we were looking for? Lari at 73 was quick on his feet and even quicker with his wit: he noted that those goats were wearing collars and perhaps the owner wouldn’t take too kindly to us shooting his pets. Lesson #1: No shooting pets; noted. A few kilometres up the dirt road Larri brought the truck to a stop, and said “hmm look at that” about 50 feet in front of stood a deer “nice buck, guess we should shoot it” he looked at Adrian the one with the gun and deer tag. “Where’s your gun?” By the time Adrian got it out, unlocked and loaded the deer was gone. Lesson #2: Be ready, always be ready.
We drove on, not 3 minutes had passed when Larri brought the truck to a stop again. Just off to the left stood a lone deer grazing in a meadow. It was decided to be easily within range for Adrian and his inexperienced gun. So Adrian calmly walked over to the shoulder of the dirt road dropped to a knee pressed his cheek to the stock, peered through the scope, and squeezed the trigger. A loud crack of the gun made me jump as stood behind him watching the animal. His shot was good, the deer dropped instantly. He and I ran to the downed animal as Jen and Larri walked over to join us. The adrenalin was pumping in me I could only imagine what was going on inside Adrian. Jen was equally excited.
After a few moments of discussion as to what the next steps should be knives were drawn and lesson #3 would begin. Field dressing.
Remember that Larri had already shot a deer and now we had second deer as well.
The truck was rammed tight and we were certainly not able to pick up the animals, so off we went to the camp. The rest of the ride was uneventful, in regard to animal spotting but I was soon to get lesson #4 when I asked Larri if shooting the deer was even legal? His answer was “Now you ask!” Know the law before you pull the trigger.
And yes it was legal. We arrived at the cabin which was on a hill above its own Bay overlooking the Straight. The building was built by Larri from wood that he salvage from Vancouver’s original terminal two airport. Larri really made an impression, on me that weekend.
We were treated to many more lessons in our short time with Larri, and by the time we were leaving we had learned to shoot guns, skin animals, hunt for clams and pick oysters from the beach. In total we were heading home with 2 deer and a bunch of clams and oysters. Plus tons of adventure and hunting knowledge. We met our 100 mile diet rule and took full advantage of Larri’s kitchen.