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Not even hunting and fishing are recession-proof

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POSTED April 1, 2009 4:02 a.m.
Big news on the home front.

In fact, this could qualify as breaking news from the land of polar bear and penguins. (There are no penguins in Alaska…just needed alliteration.)

“Bus was sayin’ there was a big slide up on Penny.”

Dad said this as if he was looking around the living room, making sure no one was listening, and I changed the real name of the mountain to ensure secrecy.

Big news indeed.

“Wow, when we went up there with Jay there were a couple places that were a little hairy with the 4-wheelers,” I replied, pondering the implications. “Now it’s going to make the hike a lot tougher.”

That’s the word on the street, for those that know where we are talking about and have the time and wear-with-all to make the trip to Penny Mountain for deer.

Last August when Don Busse (Bus), Jay and I were glassing its alpine slopes, we counted 32 deer, 20 or so were bucks milling about on the sunny side of the mountain, but none big enough for Jay or Don to spend a cartridge.

With the Sitka black-tail season a mere four months away, contingency plans must be put in place, otherwise the five month deer season where residents are allowed four bucks, could be a complete loss.

The second newsflash from the third largest island in the United States was the sluggish spawning habits of this year’s herring.

Due to unseasonably cold conditions, the herring aren’t sprinkling eggs as they should be.

Herring pounds are long rectangular planks, fastened into a square. In the middle is a net on which lie blades of kelp. Herring are captured and placed into the pounds where they spawn.

Being that herring roe are a delicacy, a single blade of egged kelp can be worth hundreds of dollars.

My buddy Justin has been doing herring pounds every spring since the first time he taped shut a knife wound with duct tape on a fishing boat, a solid 15 years ago.

Last year, he made enough to buy a Ford F-150 pretty much in cash, this year he hardly has enough to repair his broken window.

Apparently the fishing needs a stimulus package as well.

Back to herring, the first time mom had it was at a potluck at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall in Klawock when I was six. Mom spied an appetizing salad next to the dozens of different recipes for was-alive-this-afternoon-now-its-dinner fresh salmon.

She expected tapioca, got salty fish eggs.

Welcome to Alaska!

This might seem tongue-in-cheek and seemingly pale in comparison to the quandaries that face the budget-strapped fork force of the Central Valley, but with the vast majority of the local economy dependant on fish and eating habits linked to huntable food, that really is circulating with ferocity — in the grocery store, at the gas station, the restaurant, the staff lounge, the classroom and the docks.

It’s the annual cycle of the life of a fisherman, how will I get paid, and how will I get food.

The most important of all this intel came from mom.

“We had a kid move the rest of the wood from out by the propane tank to the porch.”

She means I’m getting a new fiberglass-handled ax for my birthday in May, and it will be waiting for me next to the truck loads of firewood rounds.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail aklund21@gmail.com.

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