This is the week the hunting season opens in The Great Land, which is how the Aleuts thought of Al-ay-ek-sa. And this week SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Virginia Kraft reveals the kind of hunting the great land has to offer—as more hunters than ever seek adventure and fulfillment in the 49th state.
Hunting, appropriately enough, seems to have inspired Alaska's discovery some two centuries ago. When Peter the Great commissioned Vitus Bering to find out if Asia and America were separate, Russian fur wearers, moving east, had already begun the depletion of Siberian fur bearers. Looking farther east, the Czar really wanted to know, "How's the hunting over there?"
The answer is no secret today. The hunting is as great as the land itself. It still takes an expedition to enjoy it, but difficulties have abated somewhat since Bering led his. The expedition Virginia Kraft describes has, to be sure, some of those common to Alaska, common to expeditions, common to hunting and, perhaps, to hear Virginia tell of them, common to huntresses.
Call them all adventure and admit that for those who hunt there are really no difficulties, only challenges. And Alaska's fulfillments more than compensate for accepting them, as her story amply proves.
The trophies Virginia Kraft took are part of the suspense of her account. Without revealing them, I'd like to recall some other game she has taken, about as far from Alaska as a hunter can get, in Kenya: a rhinoceros, a Masai lion, an elephant and a Cape buffalo, for instance (This Was My Africa, SI, March 10, 1958).
Endangered as she has been by a number of the more aggressive members of the animal kingdom, Miss Kraft has been injured only once. It took a rabbit to do it—one of her own, which she contributed to the research on how to train trailing hounds (SI, June 29). What the rabbit minded was illustrated on page 52—just about where it says, "Dog sniffs rabbit," and Virginia holds rabbit for dog to sniff. The caption omitted the sequel: "Rabbit bites fingers."
There is a happy footnote to the story in this issue. Miss Kraft, who is Mrs. Robert Grimm of New York City, on May 8 gave birth to Tana Aurland Grimm. Tana has not shouldered a rifle yet, but she's almost bound to in due course: her name comes from the river in Kenya where her mother made her first safari.