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Sportsman’s Quest: The Story Teller

Updated June 6, 2024 - 8:36 am

The time of hunting and fishing conventions has come to an end and the hunting guides-outfitters have returned home to prepare for another season. I’m left with my head full of new stories and my sides still aching from laughing at the crazy tales and humorous, if sometimes dangerous, adventures we’ve shared at vendor booths, in the hallways, hotel rooms and yes, while sipping a beverage in the local “watering holes.”

As is often the case — a few individuals stand out and their stories are most memorable. This year it was guide and outfitter, Keith Connors, from the far north of British Columbia, Canada. Keith and I have shared many stories and experiences over the years and this year was no exception.

Like many of his compatriots he is well-educated, having studied Wildlife Management, has traveled extensively, and is at home in a river boat, climbing mountains or flying his own bush plane. He is also at home at formal banquets or around the campfire.

One of my favorite stories this year was about an eighty-year-old native woman who lives on Tagish Lake in the Yukon. Her name is Mary James and she is a legend in the area, having lived her life in a cabin on the lake. She still runs a trap line and still knows her way with a dog team.

One cold and rainy day, while guiding a grizzly bear hunter, Keith pulled to shore to visit Mary and warm up. She was on the shore as he came closer and was glad to see him. “I need some help getting this griz out of my boat,” she said to the men’s amazement.

It seems she had been netting whitefish the day before and when she got up the next morning the bear was in the boat, “digging around in the net,” and he didn’t respond well to her asking him to leave. Now these fishing nets are costly and a valuable resource and she thought it poor manners of the bear, so she went back to her cabin and got her .243 caliber trapper’s carbine she had bought many years earlier from the Sears catalog. She then returned back through the willows and with one shot, at 15 feet, the bear was stone dead. She then skinned it herself, but couldn’t get it out of the boat.

The hunter was standing there with his .375 Magnum H&H rifle and just shook his head at what he was seeing. Keith was amazed, but having known Mary for several years was not surprised. It was the way of the north.

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