Shalene Moller is a senior at Kake City School District and one of the few female students who regularly hunts. (Jordana Grant/KCAW Photo)

The following personal essay was written by a student in Kake, as part of a special project between the Kake City School media class and Raven Radio. 

Hi, my name is Shaelene Moller and I’m a senior at Kake City School District. Six years old. I am stumbling on the ground as I try to follow my dad’s lead. I see some dug up ground just up ahead and I quicken towards it. It’s a moose print.

I was only six years old, but I knew this was something I loved. I grew up in an outgoing family with a very unique lifestyle compared to other people around the nation.

I grew up on the water, harvesting fish like halibut and salmon. I grew up in the bushes, picking delicacies such as blueberries and huckleberries. And the most important to me: I grew up in the woods and hunting, in search of making more memories.

One of my favorites of these memories was when I was about 15 years old. It was about 4 a.m. when my dad and I woke up to get ready for the day ahead of us. I was very excited. I grabbed my compass, bullets, rifle, and backpack quickly to make sure to make it before the sun rises. As usual before every hunt, we wake up my mom so she can take our picture together and wish us luck before we head out the door. She asks us to do this because she always wants to see us off.

Listen to Shalene’s essay, in her own words:

Downloadable audio.

My dad and I then get in the truck and begin our drive there. I plug my dad’s iPod into the speakers and put on the playlist we usually listen to on our way out hunting, which is mostly country music. When we reach a spot, we pull off the road and wait until it’s just light enough to hike back into the brush.

Then we gather our items and follow the trail back through the muskeg. The branches were damp with dew and the ground was stiff from the cold night. So it wasn’t a very comfortable hike back, but it would definitely be a memorable one.

We ran into a couple grouse crossing the path along the way and also a cow moose in a raspberry patch about 35 yards from us. When we got to our spot, we sat down and called for moose. After waiting about 30 minutes, of continually trying, we decided to hike even further back. We didn’t know the area very well, but we decided to experiment since the ground was chewed up on this trail we came across. So we crept slowly and quietly as he hiked, watching our surroundings.

All of a sudden, we heard branches breaking and moving rapidly ahead of us. This huge brown mass with wide antlers stood up and looked in our direction. My dad quickly loaded his rifle and lifts it to focus, but the bull takes off further back and we follow. My dad does a cow call and stops the bull in this tracks. He then takes the first shot, but it didn’t work. The bull continues walking. I look at my dad with wide eyes, scared the bull would walk even further. We were awfully far back to pack such a gigantic animal already. My dad takes his second shot, stunning the bull, but even yet this didn’t work. My dad takes a third one and he is still walking, so my dad rushes back to his bag to get more ammo.

By the time we look back, the moose isn’t there anymore. And we sigh at the thought of it going further. After all, he was the largest bull we ever harvested. We hike in the direction we think he went and my dad stops. He yells in excitement and calls me over. Our moose is down.

I call my mom as soon as I can find my dad’s phone and tell her, opening the conversation with my favorite phrase, “The moose is down.” The next thirteen hours were spent taking pictures, cutting and cleaning the meat and packing it out. Halfway out, we had help from my dad’s friend Ben, which helped a lot. If he didn’t help we wouldn’t have been done until around 3 a.m.

We pack through swamp, creeks, beaver dams, and muds before reaching the truck where my family was gathered. Everyone was excited. Succeeding this marked our fourth successful hunt for moose together, as a father and daughter.

Shalene’s media teacher is Jordana Grant in Kake. With production help from Emily Kwong.