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Wilderness TNT Guiding And Outfitting team up with Alberta’s Chapter of the Motor Cycle Ride For Dads to raise money and awareness for a cure for prostate cancer. One day in 2010 Duane Parkin of  Wilderness TNT Guiding and Outfitting  and Barry Holt committee member for the Motorcycle Ride For Dads got together to come up with the Idea of selling tickets on a Alberta resident Cougar  hunt that Duane had donated to the cause to raise money for the research of  a cure for prostate cancer .The two parties decided that a ticket sales campaign would  be the best way to raise the most amount of money for the cause .Barry then set forth to acquire the appropriate licensing and get tickets printed and the sales began. Tickets were sold by sport shops, and individuals across the province this is where the story as told By Kelly Duks is about to unfold.

The first Hunt Fest in Alberta .Jim and  I decided we would go see what all the buzz was about so we headed to The River Cree Casino just west of Edmonton where the event was being  held. Once we arrived we found a lot of interesting stuff that related to one of our passions  hunting. We came to a booth with a poster of a Cougar on it being ran by the Motor Cycle Ride for Dads they were selling tickets to win a fully guided Cougar hunt that was donated by Wilderness TNT Guiding And Outfitting, we thought what’s the chances of one of us two smock’s winning was very unlikely but the cause was good either way so it was a no loss situation we bought the tickets and laughed at our chances of winning and went on our way. I had basically forgot about the tickets when lone and behold the phone rang and on the other end a voice said I am Duane Parkin and am looking to talk to Kelly, I said this is Kelly and he said well Kelly I am calling to tell you that you are the lucky winner of the cougar hunt on behalf of the Motor Cycle ride For dads and myself. I couldn’t believe it so I called Jim and said you will never guess what I just won. He said what did you win? I said remember the tickets on the Cougar hunt. Well of coarse he didn’t believe me as we are always pulling one another’s leg and playing jokes on each other. I figured since Jim and I do lots together it was only fair I invite him on the hunt so I called Duane and asked if that would be okay and he said certainly. We got talking and he said will you be using a bow and arrow or a rifle I said rifle and asked what he recommended he said his rifle of choice for Cougar is the 30/30 it is more than adequate in caliber and doesn’t leave a big hole in the hide. Duane asked if I could be there for Dec. 1st. opening day of Cougar season I said you bet.

Day 1 – Dec 1,2011

The first morning of my hunt I picked up Jim and we were off to meet Mike Rainer in Buck Lake we were to meet at 5am. We met Mike then head to Drayton Valley to meet Duane and the rest of the crew the Hounds Jasmine[Jazz],Buster, Reg,  Junior, Trigger and Magnum .The dogs all had their heads hanging out of a dog box on the back of the truck and looked ready to go. I noticed that they were all wearing 3 collars and that got me thinking what do they need all these collars for so I asked Duane and Mike replied they are tracking collars one is a GPS collar one is a telemetry collar and the other is a studded collar with Duane’s name and phone number on them in case they get lost . I said cool stuff .Duane chuckled and said yeah makes it easier to find them when things sometimes go wrong or they get out of hearing distance which also happens on a regular basis Duane said once you turn them loose on a track they are not coming back till you pull them off the tree. He also related a couple of stories where oilfield workers had come across a dog and thought because they were in the middle of nowhere they must be lost and pick them up he said you know right away when that happens because they get a long way in a big hurry. The reason he runs both collars is because the GPS is a new technology and he doesn’t trust it enough yet to not run the telemetry also the batteries last only 24 hrs. on the GPS units and the telemetry runs continuous for 16000 hrs. Duane has been chasing cougars with dogs for many years and has a unbelievable knowledge of these animals their habits and where to find them he has hunted and trapped all his life with his grand fathers and other family members and friends. Jim and I learned so much on this hunt both from Duane and Mike, Duane’s partner who is learning the trade of cougar hunting. We learned how to tell the difference between cougar tracks and wolf tracks and believe me it is not as easy as you think if you can see the claw marks in front of the toes it is easy cause a cougar does not leave this distinctive mark but on real hard pack a wolf does not always either. Duane has a fool proof method to tell the difference no matter what but he would have to show you so you could see it for yourself and it works every time as was proven day after day. Anyway day one was long we drove all over trying to cut a fresh track but only found old melted out ones .We got home around 830.pm. with the plan to meet again in the morning at 530 and try again.

Day 2

We were up early and met Mike again at Buck Lake and proceeded to Drayton to meet Duane, it took a lot of coffee and we rode with our windows down to stay awake for the first while. Again there was never a dull moment lots of hunting stories, and joking going on Mike and Duane were both saying it would be so good to get some fresh snow to cover up some of these old tracks and get stuff moving again a weather change does that .Well at about 3 in the afternoon it started to snow and Mike and Duane said this was good news tomorrow would be a better day for sure. Well the plan was formed to call day 2 to an end and get up extra early and get a head start to cut a fresh track the next day so we were to meet Mike at 1 AM the following day so we were heading home once again we asked each other wonder how long this would take because although we were having a blast it is very tiring and you go snow blind looking for tracks all day.

Day 3

I arrived to pick up Jim but he was sluggish and did not want to get out of bed so I coaxed him on and said today may be the day he reluctantly crawled out of bed and we were of .LOTS OF COFFEE we met Mike then Duane on this morning things were a bit different Duane had picked up another hunter Al and we were going to split up and go different places when someone found a track we would hook up and run it. Duane said it is a great day they would have moved last night its colder today and we have fresh snow to work with so we fueled up with more coffee and snacks and of we went around 4:30 Mike slams on the brakes and says here we go boys sure enough there was a fresh set of tracks crossing the road Mike said I am going to get Junior out just to see what he says well when that dog hit the ground it is a good thing he was on a leash and Mike had a good hold of it cause he went absolutely crazy Baying and dragging Mike on the leash Mike got him under control by now all the dogs are going off, Mike phones Duane to tell him we had found a good fresh track and he says it’s a bit early to let the dogs  go so just back up a bit so the dogs can’t smell it and wait for day break and  he would be there as soon as he could. Duane said if it got light out let the dogs go and they would bring the rest and catch up. At last Daylight Mike checked with Duane and he said we are getting real close to you so get ready and let them go we will be there soon. So we got ready and let the dogs go we listened until we couldn’t hear them anymore and started walking Mike said Junior had it treed by the GPS showed treed right on the screen how cool is that I said just then Duane was on the radio and said he could hear the dogs baying from where he was so he was going to dump his set of dogs Jim and I did not know it but these dogs really know what’s  going on and it was only seconds and the other dogs were flying by us. Mike says yeah don’t know how they pinpoint the baying cause it is echoing and everything but they do .Well we come to where they are baying and sure enough there is a cat in the tree just then it jumps out of the tree and I say man hope it don’t get away .Mike says don’t sweat it the dogs won’t let it get far .Wow it is unbelievable how fast they can run. They  went about 200 yards in what seemed to be a second then it went up a small tree Jim and I just looked dumb founded at each other we could not believe how fast such a big animal could get up the tree. It was not long when Duane and Al got there and just then you could see the cat slipping down the tree it could not stay in that tree any longer so it had to jump you could see it in mid-air looking down at the dogs getting closer as they were waiting for it to land and I am sure it was thinking jumping into a bunch of waiting cougar hounds was not a very smart idea but it landed at what seemed to be high gear and the chase was on again they all disappeared down to the bottom of a big ravine. Then once again you could hear the excited barks of hounds we also learned the different sounds the hounds made when trailing to when they were treed .

What a thrill this was I have no problem seeing why Duane says it is the funnest thing he does as far as hunting goes just to hear the hounds and see how the dogs figure out where the cat went even on the hillsides where there is no snow. It is amazing how easy they can follow a track with their noses at full speed they really are well trained and well-bred machines. Duane says you cannot buy the sound of trailing hounds on a juke box and once you experience a hunt you will know what he means trust me it is an unbelievable experience. We work our way down this steep ravine and there is the cougar up a great big spruce tree ,Duane says we can all relax get our wind back and take as long as we want now the cat will stay in this tree all day now so we take a bunch of pictures and videos ,Duane and Mike tie the dogs off with leashes to surrounding trees and Duane say well if that is the one you want it time to shoot it I said are you kidding it is an awesome cat. Duane puts a couple bullets into the 30/30 and says well it all up to you now take your time put in the middle of the engine room and let fly. Well that my friends is also much easier said  than it sounds with my adrenalin pumping and my heart in my throat all the emotions and the true thrill of the chase and all that had just transpired now and in the last 2 days was almost overwhelming but I said to myself as I drew a bead and took one last deep breath make this count and I squeezed the trigger, branches started breaking snow was falling then thud the cougar hit the ground the dogs just went crazy now Junior lunged ahead and broke the chain on his leash like it was butter and bailed on the cat I though wow these dogs  have no fear at all even though these cats are way bigger than them Duane said let the rest off the leases  for their  reward man they all bailed on the cat Duane says it is amazing but they will not even put a hole in the hide from all of this then he says to the dogs that’s enough and starts tying them off again we take a bunch more pictures and then the fun was over. Remember that ravine that I said they went into. Well with the cat in tow it  now looked like a mountain and believe me by the time we climbed up the snow covered slippery hillside it felt like it was a mountain. We loaded all the gear and dogs and were off to Mike’s dad’s farm to skin the cougar and celebrate what a day it had been already and it was only 10:30 am. Once we arrived at the farm we all bet what the cat would weigh and I can say that once again Duane’s experience and knowledge proved to be the winning bet. Duane said he figured that it would weigh about 125 lbs. All of us guessed much higher than that well once on the scale it weighed 128lbs.Duane said this was a very nice female and about as good as you will get. Duane made a joke at that time he said Kelly I don’t think anyone could knock that smile off your face with a scoop shovel and he was right about that. Well Duane said now you have to decide if you are life sizing this cat or making a rug out of it because we need to get the hide off of it and get it cleaned up. I said that is not even a question I am life sizing it without a doubt .I knew the job at hand was in capable hands of a professional  as in case none of you out there know Duane he is an international and national award winning Taxidermist. Duane will be also doing the mount on my cougar. Duane’s work is second to none and I know how seriously he takes his art, so I know it will be a top of the line piece of art when it is completed.

I cannot say in words what this hunt was it is not describable and truly was the hunt of a lifetime. I as well as Jim learned a lot and know now that it is not everyone who can run hounds successfully it is a lot of work and dedication and Duane says it is not all good sometimes you have to sew dogs up in the bush sometimes you spend a lot of time with a dog and it simply doesn’t make the grade. Sometimes they die of old age. Duane also told us about his best friend dyeing on a cougar hunt and how tough of a day that was. But he also said he is thankful for that day also as it changed the way he saw and valued life and realised how important doing the things you love to do is because you never know if there will be a tomorrow. I would like to thank Duane and Rae Parkin and Mike and Katt Rainer who are Wilderness TNT Guiding And Outfitting and THE MOTOR CYCLE RIDE FOR DADS for this opportunity I do have a memory that will last my lifetime and Hope that the money that was raised from these tickets and this great hunt help find the cure for prostate cancer and the answer and cure for all cancers.