Loretta and Ted Van Thiel, who are shown on the following pages hunting Alaska's big game, are typical of 14 million Americans who will take to the woods this fall. As the 1958 season opens across the country, this army of outdoorsmen will hunt more than 50 kinds of big and small game—with shotguns, rifles and bows and arrows—over every kind of terrain from the swampy bays of the East Coast to the snow-capped mountains of the West.
The outlook for hunters this year is better than ever. Game populations in most of the country continue to increase slowly but steadily. Under enlightened conservation programs throughout the U.S. and Canada's network of game departments, even more improved game conditions can be predicted in the years to come.
The most significant change on the hunting scene this year, however, is not in game but in hunters. More women than ever before will take an active part—with their men or without them—in the nation's second most popular sport. Some of them, like Loretta Van Thiel, will be old hands with a rifle; others will sight down barrels for the first time. All will experience, at least in part, what Mrs. Van Thiel describes as "the incredible challenge of outfoxing the wild."
Loretta Van Thiel has been "outfoxing the wild" ever since she was a teen-ager in Bend, Oregon. "I wasn't a tomboy," she says, "just an outdoor girl." When central Oregon's deer became too tame a quarry for her adventurous spirit, she headed north to Alaska and bigger game. In Anchorage she met her husband, a sporting goods dealer and an equally enthusiastic outdoorsman. In the years between their first encounter and the Van Thiels' recent move to Lewistown, Montana, they have hunted grouse in Alberta, ducks and geese in Washington, more deer in Oregon, upland birds in Mexico and mountain sheep, big browns, grizzly bears, wolves, caribou and moose in Alaska.
"That moose (see page 42) was really a challenge," Loretta recalls. "We had to beat our way through two hilly miles of what can only be called rough, cotton-pickin' brush. Most of it was nine to 11 feet high, and when we finally got close enough to fire, the moose was perched on the side of a steep mountain grade. My first shot was off, but the second was definitely on. He came rolling down the mountain as if he'd been poleaxed." An early injury had impaired the growth of one antler, but even so, Loretta's moose had a 67�-inch spread—a lot of trophy to pack back over the rugged Alaskan countryside.
"If you expect to be welcome on hunts with the men," Loretta said with a wry smile, "you just have to do your darnedest to keep up. Besides, hunting is more fun that way."
Almost a million women will be following Mrs. Van Thiel's lead this year, and whether they decide to go after big game or upland birds, it is safe to assume that 1958 will be a great season afield.
Moment of hope for Ted Van Thiel caps long stalk for shot at two moose in Tazlina country of Alaska. Van Thiel picked bull at left, successfully downed it.
Moment of action follows painstaking hour and a half stalk through heavy brush in lake country north of Anchorage. Guide (right) watches as Ted Van Thiel drops a bull caribou with single shot.
Moment of triumph for Loretta Van Thiel follows successful hunt as guide packs out antlers of her trophy.