This is not an easy selection! My thinking is the “best of the best” need to have some combination of a great hunt, preferably with good friends; a difficult hunt and maybe an interesting stalk or shot; and, quality aside, the animal itself needs to be an animal of special interest. For example, I’ve taken some excellent moose and caribou over the years…but (to each his own) these animals have never turned my crank. Elk definitely do, but there’s no elk on the list because I haven’t yet taken the kind of bull I’ve dreamed of! You will see that deer figure prominently in this list, so I guess I’m first and foremost a deer hunter. I love the mountains, so sheep are also there. And I love bear hunting. I was tempted to put more bears in the list, but some of my biggest bears were taken through luck…and that doesn’t count! There is no way I could properly rank these animals one against another, so instead I’ll keep them in chronological order.
Technically and arguably, this is my very best deer by "record book placement." I was hunting unguided with friends, and in 1992 the deer on southern Kodiak were at the very top of the cycle. We looked over hundreds of bucks, and I took a couple of good ones. This buck was my last tag, taken at the end of the hunt. I missed him running at close range, and when we relocated him he was facing us high on a windy ridge. I held just off the animal to the right, and the bullet centered his white throat patch.