A Conversation with Author Tim Ferriss /
Part I: HUNTING 101
Author Timothy Ferriss sat down with the folks at Zero Point Zero Production in NYC to discuss his recent hunt in Northern Alaska with Steve. You can watch the hunt on the season premiere of MeatEater on Sunday, January 6 at 9PM E/P on Sportsman Channel. This is part 1 of 3 of a Q & A session with Tim about his experiences in the far northern reaches of Alaska in search of caribou.
ZERO POINT ZERO: How much hunting and rifle experience did you have before your caribou hunt?
TIMOTHY: When it comes to hunting, I had next to no experience. My only prior experience was also with Steve: whitetail deer in South Carolina. Regarding rifles in general, I had a bit of shooting experience from maybe twelve to fourteen at summer camp where I went from pro-marksman, to marksman, to sharpshooter with NRA certifications… but nothing beyond that.
ZPZ: How about fishing experience?
TIMOTHY: Absolutely zero experience. I’d certainly never caught anything by fly, and I can’t remember the last time I caught anything on reel. So, having the chance to hop, skip, and jump right behind camp to catch grayling was really awesome.
It was extremely frustrating to learn how to fly fish, but I think that’s part of the meditative process. In the end, I really enjoyed it — and if you look at even the difference between catching and gutting that first fish and the last, it’s night and day improvement. I was very awkward with the first fish because I’d never gutted any fish before. Talk about three-finger monkey fumbling!
ZPZ: You guys flew pretty far off the grid… how did it feel to be so deep in the Arctic?
TIMOTHY: I’d never been to Alaska before, let alone five hours total flight time north of Fairbanks. To call it “remote” is a bit of an understatement. On the north slope of the Brooks Range, dropped off on the side of a lake with a satellite phone that you probably would never use with a, “Have fun, boys. See you in a week.” That is as remote as it gets.
I would say that having this “break glass in case of emergency” satellite phone, is not a joke…but it’s a bit of a joke. It’s like the airplane safety instructions “In case of a water landing, brace on the chair in front of you,” as if that would help even if you’re going twenty miles an hour on a scooter and ran into a fire hydrant.
Similarly, you can call someone if a grizzly bear is gnawing on your leg, but it’s gonna take five, six hours, maybe a couple days, for them to get to you. So, you have to be careful. If you twist an ankle, break a hip, whatever it might be, you’re gonna be in dire straits until help gets there, which could be a long time. I mean, we were grounded for days due to weather, and the same thing can happen with anyone coming to see you, coming to find you.
ZPZ: What else made this caribou hunt stand out from your first experience hunting with Steve?
TIMOTHY: I’d never stalked anything before. I’d read about it and I’d heard Steve talk about it. The experience of “glassing” was eye-opening: looking from high point to low point, high point to high point, planning the route almost like two armies convening to try and predict where the caribou will appear, where you stay below their field of view to avoid spooking them. That was all fascinating to me and Steve is really, really good at it. Steve called it perfectly, and we just ended up in an ideal spot to shoot.
The pulling of the trigger itself, for whatever reason, I don’t get too excited about.
I’m calm when I shoot, but I was less calm this time around because caribou are so much larger than the deer [on the first hunt with Steve], and it was further away. In my mind, at least, the bull seemed to never stop moving, which was very frustrating. I didn’t want to have an injured animal; I didn’t want to hurt the caribou or maim it. That was my biggest fear. I wanted a good shot and a clean kill.
ZPZ: Tell me more about the shot, and what happened after.
TIMOTHY: When I finally took the shot and saw that it was clean, I was really relieved. That’s when everything else started. The field dressing and the butchering and whatnot, which is really the most interesting part of the entire process to me.
Most people have only had the experience of seeing large wildlife on television. To get that up close and personal with an animal is, I think, something that most people never experience. I was and am very grateful for it.