New Year’s Bucket List

Daryl Gay's Back Page, January 2019

Daryl Gay | January 4, 2019

It’s going to be a great year!

Because I’m upright. As opposed to prone. I was prone for a brief bit in 2018. And prone, in case you’re wondering, ain’t much fun.

Upright once more, it’s time to look forward to what we’ll be harrying, harvesting and dining upon over the course of the next 12 months.

Yeah, boy!

Throughout new years past, I’ve managed to go a few places and do a few things since the early days of subsistence living in Dodge County.

(I still miss them…)

I’d sit at the feet of the huntingest and fishingest family in Creation and promise myself that I’d visit every single one of the places they told stories about over and over.

Did, too, and far beyond. Wish they all could have tagged along.

Been south to Miami and out on that big pond south of it, and north inside the Arctic Circle. (Long drive if you’re tallying…)

My choice of continents is the one I happen to reside on. That’s mostly because, as my old compadre Charlie Elliott once explained to Outdoor Life editor Ben East when asked why he wouldn’t go to Africa on safari, “I can’t walk home from there!”

I learned how to walk, learned how to swim but never quite got the hang of how to fly.


In 2019, I want to kill one of them mooses. Y’all know where any is?

I tend not to spend much time north of Atlanta—other than driving at every opportunity to Canada for a bear hunt—but  if them mooses hang out in south Georgia, well, they keep out of sight.

A man would think that if mooses (meese?) was going to be anywheres at all, it would be in the Okefenokee. But I’ve covered that east, west, north and south and come up with nary hide nor hair. Plus, if a bear dog can’t run one out into the open—as if there was “open” in the Oke—nothing can.

After years of figgerin’ on why they was none around, it finally hit me: mooses don’t bite, claw, poke, lacerate or maim on a routine basis. They just wouldn’t fit in.

But I want one. And I got a ace up my sleeve. His name is Dylan.

Yeah, that Dylan. He’s after one of them mooses too. And maybe a coupla them grizzly bears. And a elk or 12…

(He’s been at my feet since the day he was born; I have no idea where these notions come from…)

If anybody could get me on a plane—sober—Dylan could. He flew to California—and back!—a couple of years ago. Went to visit his inlaws. (That’s true love, boys!)

Says the best thing about California is that it’s on the left coast and ain’t getting no closer to the right. Also says there’s elks there. They got a home as far as I’m concerned.

Canada, though, is a different story. I happen to love Canada, as opposed, mostly, to Canadians. But then, there’s a whole lot more Canada than there is Canadians. Our last camp was 110 miles from the nearest town. Unfortunately, you gotta find the right Canadian to tell you where all the mooses is.


My suggestion to Dylan is that we drive the trail through Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota—and cross the border north of Duluth, like last time. And, to use Ma’s word, “Plunder.”

As in, “Get yore yonkus in the yard and don’t plunder around in this house no more…”

Drive 2,000 miles in three days (and nights), park the camper, load a rifle, and plunder. Simple.

His suggestion was: Medication.

Which is what I will need in large quantities before I board anything that’s going up to 30,000 feet!

But then, he knows my deep-down, most secretest weakness and can be fairly diabolical when it comes to exploiting it: “Just think about a big ol’ moose steak sizzling over an open fire amongst the aspens… And you want to waste time driving?”

Cold-blooded, ain’t he?

Got a point, though.

Down a dozen or so of them moose haunches and you’ll be ready to traipse after a griz. I’m just hopin’ the griz ain’t fueled up and et more than I have. Too, we can’t tote no dogs.

Mebbe we best look fer elks…

I seen elks. Thirty miles from my home in Dublin. Inside a high fence. I don’t want to tell you more about that situation than you want to know, but they appeared fairly scrumptious.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t chase a chicken inside a high fence, much less a elk. My lifelong philosophy is that if you don’t know how to hunt, just admit that you don’t know how to hunt.

Not one thing wrong with fishing.

Maybe the best thing about Canada is that within a coupla million heavily timbered acres, you can get lost in 47 different directions. And then just go plunder.

Hongry? Shoot something. Build a fire. Cook. It’s called hunting. It is the essence of living.

In the end, Dylan will win. Always has. He’ll show up one morning with a couple of plane tickets and say we’re headed off to Moosejaw, Saskatchewan or some other quaintly monickered spot.

Me? I just want to go to the woods. Where them mooses is. And griz and elks. Drop me in anywhere amongst them, and I’m good to go until the ammo runs out.

Which ain’t likely.

Oh yeah, my bud will surely snooker me into boarding one of them noisy jets on the trip north. But just in case I dislike it enough, I can always walk home from there! Besides, who’s gonna tote all that meat?


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