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Women and Youth Hunters
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Craig

Hunt of a Lifetime

If you could have seen the smile on Craig's face that September day when we landed in Alaska and he saw his first moose, you would know that the pain and struggle was definitely worthwhile.

For more than four years, Craig has been battling Kidney Cancer. It was sheer joy to me as his father, to see Craig's face light up at the sight of those beautiful creatures. Craig has always lived his life to the fullest, regardless of how much he struggled with the pain of his treatments. Craig loved to hunt. We would take father/son trips to Potter County, PA for Whitetail Deer, or simply hunt small game in the fields of our hometown, Northampton, PA.

When Craig told me that he had always wanted to hunt moose in Alaska, my first priority was to make sure his wish came true. I learned through a friend about Hunt of a Lifetime and was immediately connected with Tina Pattison, who made all the arrangements for our trip with Bud Williard. Tina made sure that we had a list of all the supplies we would need from Gander Mountain. Not being a shopper, I'd have to say that this was the most excitable father/son-shopping spree I had ever had. After checking our list of supplies, we left on the morning of September 14, 2002.

Although the flight was long, it was the most beautiful scenery that Craig and I had ever seen. We finally landed in Fairbanks, Alaska for an overnight stay. The next morning we boarded a small plane at Air Wrights Air Service with six other hunters all going to the same campsite. After 3 hours, we landed in Cold Foot, Alaska for a brief rest before finally boarding the plane that was to take us to Bettles, Alaska where we boarded a floatplane. When we taxied on the lake, Craig's face really lit up.

From the air, we were able to see some moose below the treetops. After the 1 hour flight, we finally landed in the Hugatza River or (Hog River). Water sloshing off the pontoons was the only hint that we had landed. The river was about 100 yards wide and flowing pretty fast. We were now north of the Arctic Circle.

It was 5pm by the time we started to set up our two-man tents up against the evergreen trees. Because the campfire was our only source of heat, we ate all our meals around the fire.

The next morning, we woke up early, ate breakfast and started our first day of moose hunting. Although Craig never did get a moose, he was thrilled to be able to see them. Craig learned to grunt and rake for moose, to use a rubber raft with a motor and to call moose as we rode up and down the river.

We also learned about the fur trading in Alaska, and the cultural aspects of home schooling. We also got to see the Alaskan pipeline. It was truly a learning experience. Alaska is the last wild frontier. It is so beautiful and diverse.

For Craig, it wasn't the kill that was the reason for the trip; it was the time together to hunt for moose; to actually say he experienced what it was like to really hunt big game.

After our trip from camp we flew into Fairbanks, we were able to spend a few days in Fairbanks and Anchorage, enjoying the hot springs and learning of the fur industry as a way of trade and meeting some really nice folks.

This trip was really worth the effort it took Craig to get up everyday. During his last days on this trip, it was really quite a challenge for him. He expressed his gratefulness at being able to experience this most wonderful time in his life, never regretting one day of it.

Craig passed away on November 15, 2002. This gift will hold a lifetime of memories for me. And we miss him!