ROD COLLIN, a veteran Yukon sheep guide (“Can Sheep Hunting in the Yukon Survive Another Century?”), has spent the last 40 years of his li
ROD COLLIN, a veteran Yukon sheep guide (“Can Sheep Hunting in the Yukon Survive Another Century?”), has spent the last 40 years of his life migrating to the mountains every fall. Each August he leaves his home, his wife, and all their dogs to lead hunters into the high country, and he doesn’t come home until October, when he’s finished grunting in rutting bulls.
“I hunt and guide so that I can live this kind of life,” he told me as we hunted together. “So I can lead a pack string into the bush. So I can climb the mountains.”
When most hunters think about annual migrations, they conjure images of southbound ducks, or elk headed for their wintering grounds. It’s easy to overlook the fact that we’re migrating too, as we head to our deer camps, backcountry wall tents, and front-country cabins. And those instincts to go—when the breeze turns crisp and the leaves start to yellow—are just as sharp as those of the game we pursue.
That’s just what this issue is about: the forces that drive us, along with the animals we hunt, to head for new country. We follow a duck-hunting addict who has dedicated his life to chasing the waterfowl migration (“The Never-Ending Season”), we trace the bloodlines of America’s favorite bird dog (“The British Invasion”), and we hike into the high country to fish the last bastion of cold-water trout (“Testing the Waters”).
I hope that you see some of your own annual journeys in these stories, and that you enjoy wherever you end up this fall. Because, endless as they may seem, all migrations eventually come to an end.
This fall might be Collin’s last season guiding. After years of packing out sheep, his back is giving up on him—though he does his best to hide his pain from clients. He’s never killed a ram himself, and he knows his years of climbing into their country are numbered.
“I sure would like to take a big, old, broomed-off ram,” Collin said. “Before I get too old.”
I’m almost certain that he’s got one more trip in him.