Chapter Seven

When we got into our sleeping bags each night, the switch went on, and my thoughts of murdering him in his sleep were soon forgotten.

There’s an old saying that goes something like this “Guests are like fish; they go off after three days. After four days, Worzel was more like week old barracuda. The only consolation was his story telling. Somewhere in his head, I’m sure there is a switch. When it’s turned off, he is an annoying, smelly, though slightly humorous individual. Turn it on, and he is transformed into a master story teller second to none.

When we got into our sleeping bags each night, the switch went on, and my thoughts of murdering him in his sleep were soon forgotten.

As you have probably gathered, Worzel and the truth have had a big falling out and have not been on speaking terms for a long time. So I have no idea how much truth there is in his stories, but to be honest I couldn’t care less. I also have no idea how much food and gear he has bludged and stolen from me over the years, and again I don’t really care as the stories he left me with are worth gold in my books.


Arty had never travelled overseas before and was mesmerised by the sights and sounds he saw and heard as he made his way to the States. By the time he got to Fairbanks, Alaska he had made several lifelong friends and thought Americans were the best thing since sliced bread.

He wrote several letters to his brother as he travelled and this story is based on what he wrote.

While he was waiting to meet Ernie in Fairbanks, he met a fellow called Heimo who left a big impression on him. Apparently, this Heimo bloke was a fur trapper who lived way out in the sticks with his wife Edna, making his living from trapping fur. Arty was so taken with him and the way he lived that he was ready to abandon his plans and go fur trapping. Heimo, however, had other ideas and disappeared without so much as saying goodbye.

Arty was a bit dejected, and dragged his feet around Fairbanks for the next few days, but was cheered up when Ernie Strong finally arrived. Ernie was in town to wet his whistle, top us supplies and pick up a client before heading back to his camp which was 2 hours by bush plane. Ernie and Arty hit it off straight away. As much as they liked the locals, it was hard to beat rubbing shoulders with a fellow kiwi who loved hunting.

When Ernie’s client turned up, however, it proved to be a different story. His name was Mac, and he looked like he’d eaten a few in his time. The folds of fat on his back so fascinated Arty that he even wrote to his brother about them. Mac had made a fortune putting old people in homes and ripping off the people he paid to look after them. He was used to getting his way and expected everyone to kowtow to him. He was in for a bit of a shock.

They first laid eyes on him standing outside the airport. He was sweating profusely, surrounded by enough luggage to sink the Queen Mary.

“How’d you be?” asked Arty getting out of the pick-up to shake his hand.

“You’re late,” said Mac, hoping into the seat that Arty had just vacated.

“Be careful with my luggage, especially the rifles.”

“Yeah, righto mate,” said Arty, throwing Mac’s luggage on the back of the pickup.

It’s amazing how fast a fat man can move when he wants to. Mac wobbled out of the pick up in a flash, looking none too pleased.


“Good as gold,” said Arty as he launched the last case into orbit.

Mac, now the colour of overripe beetroot, advanced on Arty with clenched fists,but when he saw the expression on Arty’s face it stopped him in his tracks.

He turned to Ernie, “Did you see what he did?”

Ernie shrugged. Things were not getting off to a good start. “Sorry about that Mac, I’ll have a word with him later.”

Arty almost said something, but the look Ernie gave him changed his mind.

The two and a half hour flight to Ernie’s camp on the Porcupine river was a bit on the strained side. Money and manners it seemed did not have that much in common, but Ernie was used to difficult clients and by the time they landed he had pacified Mac.

Ernie did have a few stern words with Arty that night. Arty found it a bit rich, considering how arrogant Mac was. He almost told Ernie what he could do with his fat client. Still, he was in Alaska, miles from anywhere and there were Grizzlies about.

He consoled himself that night by rereading Saxton Popes books on Archery.

By the time he fell asleep he was back to his old self.



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