From Last to First

By Doug Rodgers
Alaska, 2011, Guided, Public Land

Doug Rodgers - From Last to FirstApril/May 2012 EHJ (Issue 130) - Flash back to Eastman’s Hunting Journal October/ November issue 2002 and you’ll see Yours Truly holding a giant 31-inch wide, 200-inch-class Mexico mule deer that I took after six long, tough days in the Sonora desert. On the seventh morning following my scheduled six-day hunt, my group and I were supposed to be heading toward the airport in Hermosillo. However, a last minute decision to stay and hunt that day would prove to be a good one and completely change my mule deer hunting career forever.

Later that very morning, we located and harvested a deer that we had previously seen and had eluded us six days earlier. Words cannot describe how I felt as I walked up to hold my "Mexico monster” or more importantly what all we had been through to arrive at this moment. After taking such an awesome deer, my buddies labeled me with the nickname "Last Day Doug,” which to their humor has stuck with me ever since. The Eastman’s editor at the time even used my newly appointed nickname as the title for that 2002 editorial. In all fairness, my reputation did precede me just a bit. You see, I was known to my hunting friends and family for being very selective. If I did decide to punch my tag, it usually always happened on the last day. Spring forward to 2011; my luck and reputation was finally about to change.

On Monday February 28, I noticed on my cell that my good friend and Alaska outfitter, Lance Kronberger (Freelance Outdoor Adventures), was calling me. I was in a business meeting, so I couldn’t take Lance’s call. I realized that the Alaska draw results where due out any day and that he was probably trying to contact me to hopefully give me good news. Minutes seemed like hours as I sat in anticipation until I was later able to call him back. Upon calling him, the first thing I said was, "Well, I’m guessing you’re calling to tell me I drew a sheep tag, right? Lance replied, "Buddy” you not only drew one of the most highly coveted sheep tags in Alaska, but a mountain goat tag to go with it!” I was in utter shock!

As we celebrated, reality slowly set in. I asked Lance and myself how at 50 years old was I mentally and physically going to be able to pull off two back-to-back backpack style mountain hunts. First, how can I the average working stiff financially afford to do both? Secondly, am I really in good enough shape to do both hunts? What exactly am I getting myself into here? I asked. Hunter’s Suicide? Nonetheless, years of faithfully applying had finally paid off and I wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity to pursue an "Alaskan Double.”

I remember Larry AItimus with Hunters Application Service telling me years ago to remain faithful and keep applying every year. Man, was he right. Thanks Larry for your great advice. With the support of my wife, final plans where made with Lance and the once-in-a-lifetime adventure was on. I could not wait to begin preparing and conditioning myself for these two great hunts.

The months of March, April and May proved to be very challenging ones. My days consisted of working, lifting weights, running and backpack hiking six days a week. Springtime tornados and thunderstorms made it difficult to stay on track with my workout routine. The bright spot was that our spring turkey season helped to buffer the time off between the past fall and my upcoming Alaskan trip. I couldn’t wait for summer to arrive. Or so I thought.

Doug Rodgers - From Last to First

For a full account of Doug's adventure, go to page 26 in the April/May 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.