To understand why I like hunting Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska so much, you have to understand a little bit about where I grew up. I grew up in Western Michigan, and hunting there is ninety percent about managing competition from other people — other human hunters — and dealing with land ownership and ten percent is about actually hunting. If you’re going to get a deer — like, with your rifle where I grew up — there’s about — like — seventy-five percent of the deer you’re going to get, you’re going to get on opening day, and on opening morning, it’s going to be like a shooting gallery, and everywhere, you’re just going to hear, “boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.” And, if you get a shot at a deer, it’s going to be some buck that’s been spooked by another guy and he’s running by. When I started hunting on big tracks of national forests, where the difficulty of access winds up giving you chances for exclusive opportunities on animals — it was a watershed moment in my life. Because, you can come here and you have deer season that runs for months and months up here, and there’s a good chance that you can come up and experience what it’s like to hunt for animals that maybe haven’t encountered people before, haven’t seen humans before, and are behaving in their natural patterns and their natural ways, and you can hunt and observe deer that are just doing deer-type stuff. Also, I think that an area like this — if we’re careful — I feel like this is a hunting opportunity that will be preserved for generations to come because you have the issue of low accessibility. There’s a lot of these alpine zones in Tongass that are not accessible by air because there’s no lakes to land on, and the only way to get up there is like boots, man. You got to climb, and you got to climb through nasty weather, deal with a lot of cloud cover, climb at uncertainty, you might get up there and be held up for a couple days waiting — and it’s those kind of conditions that really rule out a lot of competition. It’s a place where, if you’ve got — like — the fortitude and the gumption and just, kind of, like, the “grrr”, you’re going to get into some sweet hunting in a place like this. If you want to see what it’s like to chase black-tailed deer in this kind of country, check out our episode from Southeast Alaska in Tongass National Forest.