Howard Delo

That December morning in 1984 dawned clear and crisp in Kitoi Bay, on Afognak Island, Alaska. There were still some crunchy patches of snow covering the ground, but not enough to cause me concern. The snow would help in checking for fresh deer sign and in following a big buck track made sometime during the night or early morning, if I happened to cross one. I had promised myself that if the weather was nice, I was going to take my grandfather’s rifle out and hunt Sitka Blacktail deer.

I gathered my gear and the rifle and headed out the front door of my house at the Kitoi Bay Fish Hatchery. I was planning to start hunting on a small ¼ mile-long peninsula of heavily timbered land jutting out into Kitoi Bay. The peninsula trail was only a few hundred yards from my house. As I approached the area to begin the hunt, I adjusted the shoulder straps on my daypack and loaded the magazine of the rifle. I closed the bolt-action on an empty chamber and started slowly still-hunting along a familiar game trail headed out one side of the peninsula.

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