Unification News for November 1998

Alaskan Adventure: Moose Hunting with Hyun Jin Nim

by Jinhyo Kwak-New York

This article is reprinted courtesy of Todayís World magazine.

On the evening of Aug. 9, Hyun Jin Nim and eleven second-generation members, including the heads of the Second Generation Departments from Korea, Japan and Europe, left East Garden for special training in Alaska. It was Hyun Jin Nimís desire to train and educate those in responsible positions to fully recognize the desire and direction of True Parents and True Family so that they will be better prepared to guide all other blessed children. And he hoped that this physically and mentally challenging experience of hunting and fishing in Alaska would be a means through which to build the internal qualities required for young people to become qualified future leaders.

It took seven days of hard driving for our two vehicles to reach Anchorage. Every day of the trip was a valuable time of learning and reflection, through Hyun Jin Nimís guidance and following the Hoon Dok Hae tradition, among other things. Once we arrived at Kodiak, we spent the next 40 days fishing and hunting, where we were continuously guided by Hyun Jin Nim as well as True Parents.

Hyun Jin Nim spent part of the training time to hunt for a Yukon moose, the largest species of the deer family. He invited three people on this trip to yet another part of Alaska called Ilyamna: Ian Reid, an American member with much hunting experience, In Bong Lee, a second-generation member from the Korean Headquartersí Culture Department who was to videotape the trip, and myself.

After preparation of food and gear, the four of us first flew to Anchorage and then to Ilyamna. From there we were to reach our campsite on the southern part of Ilyamna Lake in a small single-propeller, four-seater Cessna. To our dismay, however, we were informed by the pilot just minutes before our flight that we would have to leave behind a significant amount of weight and volume from our supplies. We scrambled madly through the ten dayís supply of food and gear to reduce its volume, and to stuff as much as possible in the boxes. After the initial chaos was over and everyone had reached the base camp by the beach, what had originally been eleven boxes was reduced to only three. Furthermore, we realized that one of the boxes with smaller pieces of equipment on top was filled with chocolates and candies underneath.

After such a rough start, Hyun Jin Nim and the three of us headed inland, and from early the next morning began the extremely challenging process of hunting for the trophy moose the local hunter had told us about. And for the next seven days, we would leave the camp as early as 3am and return to base as late as 2:30am.

One of the reasons this hunt was very tough was the terrain. The area was filled with patches of marsh, lakes, hills and valleys of soft mossy ground, and heavily wooded brush. And because there were no tall mountains to give us a high-elevation vantage point to scan and shoot, it was necessary to constantly walk around in search of the moose. It was typical for us to walk 10 to 15 miles a day in that rough terrain with equipment on our back. A moose has keen hearing and sense of smell, and sharp vision, and is very adept at hiding itself in the thick brush.

Despite every dayís ceaseless effort, each dayís hard hunt resulted in futility, as we could not even sight a single bull moose. Various techniques such as bull- and cow-calls as well as hiding out in a covered area also did not seem to work. It was even more physically challenging because of our extremely short food supply, not to mention hordes of mosquitoes and blood-sucking gnats, and being constantly soaked because of the marshy terrain. We could only afford to have a packet of oatmeal in the mornings, chocolates and beef-jerky for lunch, and some canned food for dinner.

As our food supply dwindled to only bread and some butter, and as the last day of the moose season drew near, Hyun Jin Nim seemed very disappointed-and the three of us had almost concluded that there was probably no moose in the area and that we should just end the seemingly fruitless effort. Yet, Hyun Jin Nim told us that he was not about to quit and he would stay to find that trophy moose even by himself.

When the pilot arrived to pick us up the next day, which was the last day of the moose-hunting season, Hyun Jin Nim told him to fly back in the following day so that he could hunt until the day was over. We set out for one final attempt at finding the moose at 4:30pm. We had only about three hours to find and shoot the moose before sunset.

Having walked for about 45 minutes, Hyun Jin Nim told In Bong and myself to wait while he and Ian searched for the moose. We sat and waited for about two hours. As it was beginning to get dark, we began to wonder why they were not coming back. Then at that moment we heard the first gun shot. There followed a second, a third and a final shot. Not knowing what to make of those shots we waited a long 30 minutes for any news. Then to our elation we heard Hyun Jin Nim calling from a distance. We ran toward his voice and there was Hyun Jin Nim, very excited and exhilarated, who told us that he finally shot a very big bull moose.

When we ran to the site, we saw a huge, dark animal with enormous antlers such as I had only seen in postcards. Hyun Jin Nim and the three of us were extremely happy and grateful. Hyun Jin Nim patted the moose, thanking him and Heavenly Father. It was quickly getting dark and we began to take all the edible meat from the moose, as required by regulation, which totals over 800 pounds from a 1,300-pound animal. By midnight, we had filled our back-racks with 100 to 150 pounds of meat. And we began the most difficult phase of the moose hunt-carrying those enormous loads back to our camp, miles away.

With such a load on our backs, it was impossible to stand up on our own. One person had to take off his back-rack and help another person up, and that person would help the other people stand up. The top-heavy load also made it difficult to balance oneself. In such rough terrain and in pitch dark with only one small flashlight, taking even one step was a grueling challenge. We had also practically run out of food that day. Yet, we took one step at a time toward the base, sometimes tripping or falling on our backs. We were sweating buckets and our arms were becoming numb due to the heavy pressure on the shoulders. But every time it almost became unbearable to take any more steps, Hyun Jin Nim strongly encouraged us: "Donít think about the pain. Forget the pain and concentrate on moving your legs forward."

By the time we arrived at the base it was 2:30am. After some rest we had to make two more such trips to bring back the rest of the meat, and the moose rack (antlers). When the plane landed on the lake at about 6pm, we had just finished the final trip and had begun packing our gear to go back.

We left Ilyamna and arrived at Anchorage the next day. We learned that True Parents were also coming to Anchorage and were expecting Hyun Jin Nimís return. Many Alaska members gathered at the airport together with Hyun Jin Nim for their arrival. When True Parents got off the plane, they were extremely happy to see Hyun Jin Nim had returned safely and especially with a huge trophy bull moose. Soon they had to fly back to New York and Hyun Jin Nimís group headed back to Kodiak for the rest of the training.

Despite the tremendously challenging and difficult nature of this experience, I was truly grateful to Heavenly Father for protecting everyone on the trip, and especially for having provided us with the biggest bull moose in the area. Hyun Jin Nim mentioned that such blessing could only come about because of the perseverance and unyielding effort. Heavenly Father was, in a way, testing us to see whether the futility of the first six dayís efforts would cause us to give up and not see it through until the final moment. Although the three of us were ready to give up, I believe Hyun Jin Nimís perseverance allowed God to finally bless us greatly in the final hour of the final day of the season.

Jinhyo Kwak is the second son of Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak. He and his wife Soon-Ok were blessed in the 200-couple second-generation blessing in 1992, held in Seoul. They have one daughter.

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