Neither one of them was a pilot, so they chartered Wy Chouinard to fly them into their preferred hunting area, the long, level plateau between the broad plain that sloped down into the Nushagak River on the east and the Wood River Mountains on the west, where a small but fecund herd of caribou fattened on lichen, where the occasional moose wandered up the narrow chasms and canyons from the mountains from the streams on the plain. Bird life was plentiful, and one year Teddy even brought down a brown bear with a beautiful coat, which now hung in a place of honor on his mother’s living room wall.
So long as they stayed sober they were responsible hunters, harvesting what they killed, packing out the meat, taking no more than they could eat in a winter, in no way giving Newenham’s Fish and Game Trooper Charlene Taylor cause to arrest them for violating the wanton waste law.
They had come to feel proprietary about the bluff. The Kvichak-Engebretsen Private Hunting Preserve. Hikers and campers, thinking they were well within the boundaries of the Wood River-Tikchik State Park, had occasionally run across John and Teddy’s path and been apprised of their error. Once a couple had returned from a hike up Kanuktik Ridge to find their tent slashed and all their belongings scattered in the creek. “Could have been a bear,” Charlene told Liam. Two others had had their canoe shot out from under them on Three Lake. “Probably not a bear,” Liam told Charlene. A group of Great White Hunters in the tender care of Dagfinn Grant had been in hot pursuit of a bull moose sporting what looked like a record rack, when suddenly gunshots fired from an unknown source had spooked the bull, who was last seen heading across the Middle Fork at a clip that would put a four-wheeler to shame.
Spoils of the Dead, the fifth Liam Campbell novel, publishes on February 6, 2021
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