Rainy Pass Lodge is the oldest hunting lodge in Alaska. It was founded by a man named Bud Branham in 1937 and since then it has been a paradise for hunters from around the world looking for adventure in the Alaskan wilderness. As I write this I am surrounded by the trophies of hunters past. Above me is a 64 inch moose head. I could fit my whole body across this moose’s antlers. On the wall is the skin of a black bear, next to the bear is a mountain goat and a Dall sheep and behind me is the head of a caribou. There is also a mount of a white bird called a ptarmigan and a Canadian goose. So needless to say, hunting is in the soul of this place, it is what the lodge was built for.
The current owners are enthusiastic hunters. They have been all over the world themselves hunting including all over North America for deer, bears and mountain sheep, the arctic for polar bears and in Africa. The trophies on their walls remind them of these many adventures. The zebra head in their cabin always takes me by surprise as I walk up the hill to their house. I always think “oh no, is that one of the horses in there?” and then I remember it is just their zebra head.
The owners here have five sons who are all just beginning families of their own. It was fun this past week to meet some of the grandchildren and watch them enjoy the lodge. It was great to see them spend the whole day outside and fight to stay out even when then windchill was -20 and we were afraid they might get frostbite. They built snowmen, threw snowballs, whisked around the lake on snow machines and even helped haul firewood. But the thing that surprised me was when little Lila came in and shouted for me to come look. I turned the corner and this cute little 5 year old girl was holding up a plastic bag. Inside was a pure white bird about the size of a grouse.
“I got my first ptarmigan” she said with a huge grin on her face.
As I took a closer look I could see the red stain where the bullet from her pink 22 rifle had pierced the bird. She told her mother later that she was going to be daddy’s little hunting girl.