Sunday, November 27, 2005

Gee, We Finally Got a Little Recognition, Huh Huh, I Said Got a Little

An ATV group finally got some well deserved recognition from the Forest Service for their volunteer work. That's amazing.

The Billings Gazoo even had a little, teeny, tiny story about it. That's really amazing.

This type of volunteering goes on all the time, all over the state, and by numerous motorized recreation groups including but definitely not limited to Billings' own Treasure State ATV Association, but nobody notices, and nobody cares. That isn't amazing, that's the one sided approach that is so common in the media today, and it disgusts me to no end.

If an environmental group volunteers to go pick up garbage somewhere, it's front page material. If an ATV club volunteers to build bridges over stream crossings, clear out trail obstructions, and construct anti erosion devices, (picking up garbage is seldom necessary I'm proud to say), it barely warrants a mention, if it even gets mentioned at all. Maybe that's because ATV clubs aren't looking for attention, they're looking to keep the trails open and make them better for everyone, preventing abuse and environmental damage in the process. I'll have to start alerting the media every time one of these volunteer projects is happening. Yep, I think I'll do that.

The hunting petered out this weekend. Bad weather. My sincerest apologies to everyone that tuned in hoping for a great end of season adventure. The people that I know that did brave the elements this past weekend didn't fare well for it, so I'm glad I decided to stay home. Hunting after bad weather is great, hunting during bad weather sucks. As we all know, hunting is about seeing. If you can't see the animals, you can't shoot them. If you can't see past the animals, you can't shoot them safely. Not to mention the bad roads between here and there. Nope, no thanks, we got one deer in the freezer and that's enough for now. Hopefully FWP will have some damage hunts this winter so the boy will get another chance, I feel like a really lousy dad over that one. Two years now and the kid still hasn't shot his first deer. Oh well, he will when he's ready, I know he has it in him, he just hasn't had the right chance yet. We'll have to spend more time target shooting this summer, boost his confidence a little maybe.

I could make something up I guess, but I won't. I'm all about the truth, making things up just isn't my style. Maybe I could go back into my mental archives and dig something up, a story from a hunt long ago and far away . . . . . . We'll see, maybe . . . . . . glub, glub . . . . . zzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZz . . . . . . .

Back about 1990, (not so long ago is it?), a typical American 16 year old boy set out on one of the most memorable hunting trips of his life. I say one of the most memorable because at this particular moment it just happens to be the only one that's memorable enough to remember, but there's more in there somewhere, rattling around and bouncing off of all of the other stuff that got crammed in there and never properly archived back then.

Now what makes this hunting trip so memorable is the fact that it was his first hunting trip "alone". Well, the first one that was out of sight of the house anyway, he'd been walking around shooting rabbits since he was 7 but this one involved driving up into the mountains in the snow, something else he had never done before, even though he wasn't technically alone because another 16 year old boy was riding along, one that hadn't ever been hunting at all and wasn't going to be hunting today either, he was just along for the ride. Alone is a word that is so very open to interpretation don't you agree?

Anyway, our two budding mountain men get up long, a little too long actually, before sunrise and pile into my. . . um. . .uh. . .the first 16 year old boy's battered old Chevy LUV and set out for a day of adventure thankfully devoid of any "adult supervision". They thought of everything, rifle, ammunition, tire chains, Hi Lift jack, rope, tow chain, warm clothes, thermos full of hot chocolate and two cups, enough extra parts to build half of another Chevy LUV, a pack of smokes and a couple of beers stolen from one or both of their fathers, tools, the works. Enough stuff to survive in the woods for a month at least. Did I mention that they forgot to take any food whatsoever? Well, not exactly forgot, they did it on purpose, that's it, yeah, they didn't take any food on purpose. I mean, they were going after food right? They were going to bring back food, no need to take food along when you're going to get food. Is there?

Out of the bursting metropolis of Columbus Montana we. . .um. . .I mean. . . they went, towards the bustling foothill town of Absarokee and beyond, up into the unforgiving Absaroka/Beartooth range they boldly venture, oblivious to the ever deepening snow on the hillsides, on the road, swirling wildly in the feeble beams of the Chevy LUV's headlights. Somewhere, just the other side of Fishtail,( the veritable center of art and culture for the entire Nye valley I should mention), just as the young man at the wheel was considering stopping and putting on the tire chains, (the idea of turning around never occurred to him, that would be sissy) the battered little truck swapped ends twice and backed itself rather neatly into the ditch. It was now time to install the aforementioned tire chains, like it or not. They were affixed without too much unnecessary fanfare, the truck drove back onto the road entirely under it's own power or the lack thereof to be more precise, and our duo of superheros. . .um. . .I mean young travelers ventured on. Their goal: Horseman's Flat, on the West Fork of the Stillwater River, high above the "town" of Nye and the Stillwater Mine.

The remainder of the paved road was uneventful, except of course for the maximum attainable speed of 25 mph, partly because of the total nonexistence of anything that could even be construed as visibility, partly because of the constant bouncing motion and side to side wandering of the truck brought about by the way too beefy tire chains installed on the rear wheels, (they had been built from a cut down pair of semi truck chains, this is a rather industrious little shit we're talking about here, remember), but mostly due to the aforementioned power or the lack thereof being doled out by the venerable Chevy LUV's engine, most of which was being used up plowing a foot and a half of fresh snow leaving little to propel the truck and it's cargo up the grade that it was climbing. Gee, that was one long damn sentence wasn't it? Did I mention that the kid, the first one, the one with the truck, often skipped first hour English class to go hunting? I just thought I'd throw that in there.

They forged on, through the swirling blizzard, turning off at the Stillwater Mine and on up the switchbacks they went, plowing snow all the way. (note to those who care: A two wheel drive Chevy LUV will accomplish seemingly impossible feats usually reserved for highly modified 4 wheel drives if one simply adds tire chains and a good bit of weight in the bed, independent research has shown that a V8 engine block is just about perfect.) Sometime after about the fifteenth stop to clear the snow out of the radiator of the truck and therefore return it's cooling system to a functioning status, the two young adventurers happened to notice a set of tracks going straight when they should have turned, straight off of the end of one of the switchbacks. 16 year old boys being somewhat curious creatures, they decided to investigate this anomaly further. Just over the crest of the road and therefore out of sight unless one walked over to the edge and looked down, was a brand new Chevy pickup and it's rather disgruntled owner standing next to it scratching his head.

I. . .um. . .we. . .um. . . the boys I mean, yelled down to the guy and asked him if he was OK, he was, just lost sight of the road in the blowing snow and missed the corner. He asked them if they'd be willing to give him a pull. They were, although the first boy, the one with the truck, wasn't very optimistic about the prospects of a little two wheel drive Chevy LUV pulling out a full sized 4x4, but what the heck, don't know if we don't try, right? I mean, uh, how would they know if they didn't try, right? So they get out all the chains, and the tow ropes and string them down the hill.

After the requisite connections were made the two drivers got in their trucks, the innocent bystander stood on the ledge keeping watch and relaying messages. The little LUV gave a half hearted tug, nothing happened. The little LUV gave a little harder tug, the big truck moved a foot or so. It was working, yehaw. The little LUV backed up and gave one hell of a tug, more of a yank actually, and the big white Chevy, spinning wildly, backed up onto the road. The driver of the big truck got out, and for the first time gazed upon the vehicle that had just ripped him from the clutches of the forbidding, rocky ditch that he was in just moments before. The look on his face was priceless. He handed the first kid, the one with the truck, 20 bucks and grumbled something that sounded a lot like "20,000 dollar truck and I gotta get pulled out by some high school kid in a hundred dollar jalopy, just my luck".

The two young travelers enjoyed more adventures that day, they saw a six point buck and tracked him for a mile or so through the snow. They turned around to discover that their tracks had blown full of snow and wound up just walking down hill until they found the road, then walked a mile the wrong way before they figured it out and turned back and found the truck. After finding the truck they dug through it from top to bottom looking for anything edible, since as you may remember, they didn't bring any food. They drove down the mountain safely, amazing since the truck was mostly sliding on top of the snow like a toboggan moreso than actually driving, and they made it back home to the bursting metropolis of Columbus Montana, extremely hungry, but mostly unscathed.

But that, my friends, is another story.

Will somebody help me get this critter out of the snow?




Saturday, November 26, 2005

Did Anyone Think That I Wouldn't Have Anything To Say About This One? Didn't Think So

I stole this one from the Billings Gazoo, hope I didn't violate any copyright laws but if I did I ain't the first. I wonder why they haven't invited me to write a "Guest Opinion"? Probably because I'm one of those guests that nobody invites back twice.

Guest opinion: Off-highway vehicles overrunning public forests
Really? Where? I've ridden nowhere that I would call overrun, except perhaps Ah Nei on a busy weekend. Can you quote a source for that information perhaps, besides the Sierra Club?

By JIM FURNISH

I've ridden off-highway vehicles and enjoyed it. They're fun. In the spirit of fair play I need to get that off my chest.
Oh, so you're saying that you're a hipochrite then?

The Forest Service, with whom I spent a 34-year career prior to retiring as deputy chief in 2002, just issued new regulations intended to blunt the threat posed by OHVs, whose use "has reached critical mass," according to Dale Bosworth, the agency chief.
Well, according to Justin, the world's greatest blogger, OHV use has reached nothing like "critical mass", whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. And let me ask you this, if there's so damn many of us, then why are we being ignored so?

I think that assessment is a serious understatement. OHVs - including ATVs, dirt bikes, 4WDs, and snowmobiles - may be fun to ride, but they are ruining the last best places in America's national forests. Clean water, fragile soils, fish and wildlife are taking a beating, and there are fewer and fewer places to pursue quiet and solitude. And don't get me started on how OHVs spread noxious weeds.
I would've left you alone if you hadn't made that one single blatant bullshit statement right there. I'm not even going to get started on the crap about our toys "ruining" the last best places in America's national forests, even though that's entirely a matter of opinion and hardly a statement of fact. I'm gonna tear you up over your statement about noxious weeds. Noxious weeds? I would love to take you on a ride with me some time, really. I have seen examples of noxious weeds being spread along the trails oh yes I have. Next time I see one of these examples, which are very easily found in most areas by the way, I will be sure to document it with photographs. I will most definately take a picture of every pile of horse shit that I see, especially the ones with big ol' purple Canadian Thistles growing out of them. My ATV has yet to shit thistle seeds out along the trail, if it ever does, I'll call you at home dumbass, what's your number?

I commend the Forest Service for directing that OHVs be confined to "designated routes," rather than running loose on the land. But a small step in the right direction is not enough when a giant leap is needed. The new OHV regulation falls woefully short of the bold steps necessary to beat the problem.
Hmmmm? So let me get this straight, you think that requiring OHVs to be confined to the roads and trails that are already there and have been there for years isn't enough? Oh, I know, you think they should just be outlawed entirely, right? That would be a bold step wouldn't it? You wouldn't be feeling very bold after a few million ATV riders got done kicking a mud hole in your ass and stomping it dry though would you?

This issue has been festering for more than two decades on public lands as OHV use has mushroomed. Manufacturers crank out ever-more muscular machines along with slick ad campaigns. And the Forest Service has been largely asleep at the wheel, except for some courageous officials who care enough about your public lands to try and stop the abuse.
Festering, mushroomed, how articulate, there's somebody mushrooming here alright, but it ain't the ATV riders pal. And let me ask you, WTF does more muscular machines and ad campaigns have to do with a damn thing? Are you trying to say that the fact that manufacturers happen to advertise a product that's been particularily lucrative to them and meanwhile attempt to improve said product is the reason that this "problem" is "festering"? Some of us call that free enterprise, but I suppose that you want to outlaw that as well.

And screw your "courageous officials". The only thing that they've courage enough to do is bow to inflated email and letter writing campaigns financed by special interest environmental groups and carried out by paid and likewise unconcerned college students, most of which have probably never been to a National Forest and truth be told could probably give a rat's ass what's best for one. Lucky for us these "courageous officials" are still outnumbered by "common sense officials" that can see this for what it is, just another legitimate use of public lands that when carried out properly and in accordance with the law is no more dangerous to the forests than this lard assed blow hard plodding along a hiking trail puffing wind, farting noxious gases, and dripping sweat all over the ecosystem.

Most private lands are closed to OHVs, as well as state-owned lands. National parks are generally closed (yet there is increasing trespass even there!). That leaves other federal lands as the primary playground, and national forests are the choicest morsels - stunning beauty, vast room to roam, clear streams and skies and freedom to explore. Small wonder so many love it.
Private lands? I won't even slam you for that one, you did it yourself. Increasing trespass in National Parks? Are you perhaps referring to the fact that every year a few wayward snowmobilers happen to wander inside the boundaries of Yellowstone? That's been happening for years, don't even act like it's a recent development, or that it's that big of a problem. The buffalo wander out, the snowmobilers wander in, it's a fair trade I think. Don't like it? Make sure the boundary is well marked, most people really would rather steer clear than risk a fine but everything looks the same when it's buried in snow. If the Buffalo can't tell where the park boundaries are, how the heck is somebody on a snowmobile? At least the guy on the sled can read, probably. All you need are some signs.

The Forest Service is long overdue in reining in abusive OHV activity to protect resources and restore balance with the majority of outdoor enthusiasts who prefer to pursue quiet, human-powered activities. OHVs have a huge "footprint" - they can easily cover 100 miles a day and are noisy. And instead of one family riding in a four-wheel drive pickup, now there are four or five OHVs tooling around instead.
Sorry to bust your bubble buddy, the majority of outdoor enthusiasts prefer riding motorized toys, if they didn't, we wouldn't be having this discussion. You said it yourself, the ATVs are "festering" and "mushrooming", remember? The majority of big city environmentalists enjoy "human powered activities". Like sitting around writing bullshit like this, because most of them haven't ever set foot in a forest. Yes, ATVs can cover a lot of ground, 100 miles a day is a bit of a stretch unless you're really in a hurry, but they can cover a lot of ground, that's why they need more ground to cover. If a hiker can cover say 10 or 20 miles in a day, and an ATV can cover a hundred, then tell me the logic of letting the hikers have the whole damn forest and giving the ATVs a little section, especially when no one is asking to tear up anything. The trails are already there. Kinda like wipin' before ya poop, it just don't make no sense.

And as far as the family in the pickup is concerned, a lot of trails aren't open to trucks, but they are open to ATVs. That's reason one.

Take a road trip with a couple of kids once, see how bored they get? Now let 'em drive, they ain't bored now are they? Neither is the ol' lady, is she? Hell no, the 8 year old is drivin' and mom's wide assed awake ain't she? A family will have far more fun if everyone can ride their own ATV than they will going for a drive in the family truckster. And if little Junior goes in the ditch and plows into a rock he just gets up and dusts himself off, instead of killing the whole family. That's reason two.

Take a four wheel drive pickup sometime and drive across some wet, soft ground and see what happens. Did you get stuck? Did you leave big ol' nasty assed ruts all over the place? Now go climb a steep hill. Did you spin all the way up? Did you dig big trenches all the way and plant a perfect seed for a washout? Now go do the same thing with an ATV, hell, do it with 4 ATVs. Did you skim right over top of that mud? Did you make it up that hill and barely move a little gravel in the process. Now you get the picture. That's reason three.

All that tooling around by 30-40 million OHV riders has created a web of hundreds of thousands of miles of unauthorized, renegade routes that finally spurred the Forest Service to say "Whoa!" Sort of. The Forest Service did not take the much-needed firm stand against these renegade routes.
Uh, they didn't? First of all, the offroad community took that stand before the Forest Service did with things like the Tread Lightly program. We've been educating users for years that off trail travel was a no-no, long before it became universal law on Forest Service land. Go and ask any ATV rider if it's ok to ride off of the trails. If you find one in a hundred or even a thousand that said that it was ok I'd be really surprised.

I don't know how much more "good times" our national forests can stand. Clean water and wildlife will continue to suffer along with increasingly disenfranchised recreationists who long for naturalness and quiet. The Forest Service has allied itself with the wrong values on this issue.
Our, keyword our, National Forests can stand a whole lot more good times, as long as users continue to be as respectful as the ones that I've encountered. Clean water is not suffering, that's just plain crap and you know it. Wildlife? I don't think so. All the critters have to do is move 50 yards one way or the other and no one on an ATV is likely to even see them. As far as these poor "disenfranchised" recreationists, can you say "Wilderness"? There's loads of that around, as well as Forest Service land where ATVs are not allowed. I know, I go there sometimes when I want "naturalness (is that even a friggin word?) and quiet".

Using smoking as an analogy, I make the point that smokers affect nonsmokers, but not vice-versa. OHV users similarly affect "quiet recreationists." Society has settled the smoking issue by demanding that smokers practice their habit in confined areas. The Forest Service needs to get on top of the OHV issue and require that their use be confined to relatively small, suitable areas and leave most national forest lands the way they should be - natural!
Now I've seen stretches, I've seen people grasping at straws, I've even seen people perform drastic abominations of the truth in times of hopeless desparation, this my friends takes the cake and eats it too.

Smoking? Come on man, is that the best that you could come up with? First of all, nonsmokers do affect smokers. Their elitist "I'm better than you so I have all the rights" attitude forces people to stand outside in the cold and smoke, which pisses them off, so that if they formerly would have not smoked in the presence of a nonsmoker out of courtesy, they will extend that courtesy no longer. They'll flat assed blow smoke in your face and laugh because you're a self righteous elitist prick that thinks your way is the right way and that's how it is, period. Never mind steps like seperate smoking areas, or special ventilation systems that could've alleviated the problem of second hand smoke without banishing anyone to stand out in the cold like a second class citizen.

Likewise, "quiet recreationists" affect me. They piss me off, not simply by being quiet, that doesn't bother me at all, but by being elitist snobs that somehow think that the forests belong to them and only them even though numerous steps have been taken to reduce or eliminate the very things that they proclaim as annoyances, pollution, noise, off trail travel, ect. That's the reason why some people that I've talked to don't feel bad in the least when they bury a couple of hikers in dust, or blast by a mountain biker at 50 MPH, if I knew it was this guy, I wouldn't feel bad either. Tell me where he hikes, if he even does, so I can pull the baffle out of my pipe and go do donuts around his overinflated ass.

Let's face it, if I invented an ATV that hovered two feet off the ground, left no tracks, made no noise whatsoever, and shit wolf puppies out of the exhaust it wouldn't be good enough for these people, they wouldn't acknowledge the effort in the slightest. They want the forests all to themselves, plain and simple. They probably get pissed when they see another hiker, if there were too many people walking through the forests they'd want to outlaw that too, for everyone except themselves. Get out your dictionaries boys and girls and let's look up the word "elitist".

The last statement is the worst one of them all, I addressed it earlier, cramming more ATVs into smaller areas. What kind of a "festering mushroom" do you think it's going to create if you take the current number of ATVs and cram them all into the parking lots at our favorite riding areas? Don't deny it because I've seen the travel plan proposals, it's exactly what you want to do to us. It's gonna create one messed up parking lot is what it's gonna do. The more room that ATVs have to operate, the less that they're going to be operating on any one particular stretch of trail. Make them all ride around in a little circle and that's going to be one screwed up circle in no time at all, besides the fact that it's about as much fun as watching grass grow.

But then again that's the whole point when we really get down to it, isn't it? These people want to ruin the whole allure so we'll just give up. Never mind what people want, never mind the economic backlash, environmental groups have never felt bad about destroying entire local economies before, why should they start caring now? Sounds a lot like what these left wing extremists are trying to do with guns, they know they can't get away with straight up outlawing them, so they'll just keep putting restrictions on them until it's such a pain in the ass to own one that it just isn't worth the hassle anymore.

I think that there's enough motorized recreationists out there to have a better voice than this. This is why we need to make that voice heard, sitting on our asses and expecting the trails to still be open next year is no longer an option. These people are making us out to be a minority, we are not a minority, not by a long shot. The sales and registration figures for ATVs and other off highway vehicles proves it. If you want that new 4 wheeler you just bought to rapidly become a $7000 worthless piece of shit, then keep sitting back and being quiet. Mine's an old beater and I'm making noise but I can't do it by myself. Write your Senators, write your Representatives, write the Forest Service, write the BLM, write your state legislators, join the Blue Ribbon Coalition, join your local OHV clubs just do something and do it often. The future of our chosen form of recreation depends on it, unless of course you like riding around in circles.


Jim Furnish is a former deputy chief of the Forest Service, and now a consulting forester living in the Washington, D.C., area.
Former? I like the sound of that. Consultant? If you have to ask, you wouldn't understand, but just in case: CONSULTANT = OVERPAID LEECH. Washington D.C. area? Oh, that explains how he knows so much about National Forests in Montana, I get it now.

Sorry if I offended anyone, except of course for Mr. Jim Furnish, he can kiss my hairy white ass.

It's Raining, Well It's Raining Everywhere That It Isn't Snowing Anyway

This is what it looked like at our secret hunting ground this morning. Snow, on the ground, coming out of the sky, on the road, and getting deeper by the minute. 2 wheel drive truck, narrow, steep mountain road, did I mention that it was snowing? Bad plan.

We didn't make it anywhere near where I shot my deer last week before we decided that we didn't need another big adventure getting out of some ditch somewhere and decided to turn around, which sucks because I forgot to pick up my brass last week and I was going to try to find it. I was using my "other" rifle, my fancy new .300 Winchester Magnum was hanging comfortably in the gun rack in the truck where it belongs. We don't want to get it dirty now do we?

Anyway, ammo for ol' meat on the table is a little scarce and priced at a premium when found, so I save all my brass for reloading. It really peeves me when I lose one, it drives me nuts to see that empty space in one of my boxes of empty brass. DOH! After all, I've only got about a thousand rounds saved up, I could run out any day. But at least I wasn't the only one that had a lousy day hunting.

My 2nd best friend Brian has been having a worse time of things that I have lately, which is a disturbing development, for him anyway, I think it's kinda funny in an evil little kid kinda way. MWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! What are friends for if not to laugh at your misfortunes?

Last week, way the heck out in the middle of nowhere up in the Deep Creek area east of Townsend, he's motoring up the mountain in his "hunting truck", which he put together out of a bunch of crap he had laying around so he wouldn't have to beat up his 2003 Chevy hunting and therefore face the wrath of his beloved bride, when the transmission cooler line decides it's gonna grab hold of the spinning front driveline and hold on tight. Things didn't turn out so good for the transmission line.

Brian doesn't call tow trucks either, get him and I together and we could jimmy rig a busted 747 and make it fly, but one of us alone isn't anything to sneeze at when it comes to Macgyvering things back together. While our other hunting buddy, John, rode into town on the 4 wheeler to get more transmission fluid, Brian cut up an old hunk of air hose that he had behind the seat and made a bypass between the two mangled stumps of what was left of the cooler lines, it's winter time, who needs a tranny cooler in the winter time? Anyway, after a whole lot of cussing I'm sure, they filled it back up with fluid and drove that sucker home. That, it turns out, was just the beginning of his bad luck.

I'm really glad that I've concentrated all of my efforts on finding the boy a deer this year, as in, I'm really glad that I haven't concentrated my efforts on going with Brian and John elk hunting this year. I had enough brushes with death last year to keep me happy for a while, I'll just sit back and watch for now.

This morning, while Jr. and I were turning around and heading home due to weather concerns, it turns out that Brian and John were doing the same thing, only up near Gardiner. As they were coming down off of the mountain it seems that a corner was a little icier that Brian thought it was, which is really odd, Brian's a really good driver. Anyway they missed the corner, went down a big embankment, and perched the truck on top of a big assed rock, rather effectively removing the front bumper or a portion thereof, and bending the rear driveline as well as performing a few other feats of custom body work. At last account they had gotten it out of the ditch and were up near Livingston on their way home, at 55 MPH since any faster made the thing vibrate so bad that involuntary tooth loss was a possibility. Did I mention that they didn't have his "hunting truck" this time? I'm sure glad that I won't be there when his wife sees it.



Now what did I tell you all about taking a new truck hunting?

Well, So Much For That Idea, Good Morning to All

The Harry Potter movie thing last night didn't turn out so well. Seems that the 8:10 show was sold out by the time we got there. Oops. I go to the movies once, maybe twice a year at most so I have to admit that I'm not really up to speed on the standard procedure, as in how early one should show up. I figured that 45 minutes before the show started was enough, guess not, everyone else must have allowed an hour or more. Theaters are such a rip off anyway, for what it costs to take my family to a movie we can practically go to Sprawl-Mart (thanks Tony, I like that one) and buy a TV, a DVD player, and a flick. We're gonna try it again tonight anyway, if we get home from hunting early enough, I kinda feel bad for getting the rugrat's hopes all up for nothing, so I gotta make it up to 'em somehow.

Oh well, we took a little drive and came back home, went to bed early and got some sleep for once. Now I seem to have Tony's "wake up too early and can't get back to sleep" syndrome. Oh well again, I'm wide awake and ready to go have some fun hunting with my son. I'll be waking the boy up any minute now, the turkey sandwiches are made and ready to go, the hunting gear is all set out and ready to load in the truck, it's gonna be a good day I can feel it. Even if we come home empty handed, it's gonna be a good day.

The last time I said I had a good feeling about a hunt we ended up in a fight for survival on top of the Gravelly Range when the snow started melting and the snowmobile tracks that we were riding our 4 wheelers on top of turned to mush . . . . 3 foot deep mush.

We fought for hours just to make a mile of progress until, just as it was starting to get dark, we came across a guy that was parked at the bottom of the mountain on the other side from where our truck was parked. He had a big enough trailer to haul all of our machines and he was headed sorta that way anyway, so we rode down the other side of the mountain, hitched a ride all the way around with him, and rode the 4 wheelers about 15 miles down the highway and up a Forest Service road the next morning to get the truck and trailer.

That was one of the few times that we actually were at least somewhat prepared, (most of our survival type gear is in the packs on the 4 wheelers, it's when we get stranded with just the truck that we're screwed) I can't speak so much for our other two companions but my son and I at least had some food and water, as well as a few extra clothes, some chemical heat packs, a hatchet, a shovel, and some rope. The boy's feet were about to freeze off from wading around in thigh deep snow getting 4 wheelers unstuck, and we were just about to start a fire, build a shelter and settle in for a long, cold night when we ran into our new best friend there.

I tell you this story just so you'll know, if you never hear from me again it'll be because I jinxed myself a minute ago. If we do make it back alive, it should be a whopper of a tale at any rate. Hopefully I'm getting your hopes up for nothing, I wouldn't feel bad about disappointing you this time if it meant avoiding another experience like that. I'm not oblivious to the possibility of spending the night out in the woods, I've done it many times, it just isn't very pleasant if one hasn't planned for it entirely.

This brings me to another subject that I've been wanting to bring up for a day or two now. Some may have noticed that I've put up a link on the sidebar to an online journal from Antarctica. Talk about your ultimate survival situation. Seems that this gal from Saskatoon is down there on some kind of a research expedition and she's keeping a blog of some of her adventures, with several really cool pics.

I happened across it entirely by accident and decided to share it with everyone. Go check it out, leave her some encouraging comments, so far she's only got one and that was from me. Seems that they're using ATVs to get around (I would've guessed that they'd use snowmobiles but they've got Honda 4 wheelers) and I have to say that I'm a little jealous, I've never ridden Antarctica and I doubt I ever will. Can you say once in a lifetime? She mentions the survival packs that are issued to everyone and I'm really curious as to what's in them. I've got a duffel bag that I refer to as my "winter survival pack", but it was set up to be carried in the cab of a truck, way too big and heavy to carry on foot, even on the 4 wheeler it would be a stretch. Anyway, go check it out, it's pretty cool, or at least I thought it was but I'm easily impressed when it comes to places that are the definition of the middle of nowhere.

Well all, I'm off. Just a little brain drain for you all to chew on until I get something interesting to write about. Have a good day no matter what your doing with it. I'll hopefully be back tonight alive and well with stories of adventure on the high seas . . . . . um, I mean adventure in the high country, yeah, that's it. ARRRRRRRRRRRRR MATEYS!

Friday, November 25, 2005

The World Needs More Signs Like This



I'm gonna go watch the new Harry Potter flick with the Mrs. and the rugrats. Y'all have a good night, we'll see if the huntings any better tomorrow, spent too much of today sleepin' off the turkey bird. Working nights sucks, really screws up your sleep schedule. We did try to kick a pheasant out of the bushes for an hour or two this evening, no luck, but it was a nice walk anyway, perfect weather for it.

Don't touch that dial.

Last Day, I'll Quit Bugging You Now, Until Next Time


Today is the last day to register comments on the Little Belt, Castle, and Crazy Mountain travel plans, but you already knew that didn't you?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

If You're Reading This Today, You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourself


I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday. From me and mine, best wishes to you and yours. May you all have as many things to be thankful for as I do. Don't worry, I'll be back to bitching about all of the things that I'm not thankful for soon enough. Today I'll be busy spending time with my beloved family and eating most likely an excess of my wife's wonderful cooking, followed by a few days of quality time spent with my son enjoying the final days of hunting season.

Look for more hunting stories throughout the weekend, with as many pics as I can get of the natural wonders encountered along the way. I truly do enjoy sharing these stories, my recent Sunday night posts have given me a chance to reflect on the days afield and the events therein, as well as giving perhaps a few others a tiny bit of the enjoyment that I get from being in the great outdoors. That fact alone, the sharing, is enough to make it worth every keystroke. Thanks to all that visit, and a special thanks to all that have left comments. While I try not to concern myself too much with whether or not anyone's reading this stuff, it's nice to know that at least someone appreciates it. It seems so much more worthwhile if others are getting enjoyment from my efforts.

After hunting season is over I'll have to dig a little deeper into my bag of tricks for interesting material. I've been talked into trying snowmobiling this year and that should provide at least a few opportunities for everyone to laugh at my antics, as well as numerous photo opportunities. Snowmobiles get stuck rather easily from what I understand, so I should definitely perfect my cussing technique if nothing else, as if I needed any more practice at that.

As the weather turns colder I tend to spend more time in my shop tinkering on cars and such, there should be some forthcoming posts regarding a few of those little projects as well. I have a nasty habit of taking on these projects and never finishing them but that's mostly a result of a lack of funds coupled with a lack of time moreso than a lack of ambition. Anyway, perhaps you all can have a good laugh as you read about my ill fated attempts to convert trash into treasure, and maybe even learn a thing or two in the process. If nothing else, you can all be thankful that you have the good sense not to follow in my footsteps, most of this stuff isn't fit to be sold as scrap, let alone be revived.

Current projects on the slate include a '91 Geo Storm GSI that I'd like to have up and ready for autocross racing next summer, a '69 Honda 350 motorcycle with an extremely rusty gas tank and a bad case of the "I sat too long and now my fuel system is trashed" blues, a '79 Chevy Chevette that is intended to be the recipient of a 4.3 liter Chevy Vortec V6 and a Borg Warner 5 speed transmission, a '78 Jeep CJ5 that's in dire need of some tlc in the wiring department as well as all new suspension, and let's not forget the Beasty, my '79 Chevy 4x4, there's always some repair or modification taking place on that thing that might be interesting for someone to read about.

I intend to do some stories on alternative fuels in the future as well, my dad has a co-worker that's making his own biodiesel which I intend to interview, and if all goes as planned, the Beasty will be breathing a lot cleaner and running a lot cheaper by spring as it will be running on propane instead of the current large quantities of premium unleaded that it tends to consume in an effort to keep it's high performance goody enriched powerplant happy and healthy. If it happens, expect in depth coverage of the conversion complete with plenty of hot rod Chevy porn, and maybe a few pics of some ruggedly handsome guys as well. (myself and my 2nd best friend Brian, the propane god)

No matter what direction I take my efforts, I'll continue to make my best attempt at keeping everyone interested. I've been invited, and agreed, to contribute to another on-line news venture that will be coming soon as well, so look forward to a chance to read more of my verbal vomit spewed forth into an entirely different forum in the near future, one that I'm sure everyone will enjoy. Wait and see, there'll be a link here as well as elsewhere so everyone can find it.

Now quit reading this crap and go spend time with your family, eat a ton of turkey and stuffing and potatoes and pumpkin pie, get fat and bloated, watch football, drink beer, fall asleep on the couch, do whatever you do since it's your holiday after all. I'll be busy hugging my daughter and telling her how much I love her, and telling my wife what a wonderful cook she is, and telling my son how proud I am of the young man he's becoming, and telling God how thankful I am to have all of them in my life.

Best holiday wishes to all.

I'm Not Trying To Be A Nuisance Here, There's Just A Lot Going On Right Now

Got this one last night from FFOR. Click on the picture for a more detailed view. Seems there's gonna be a hearing in Missoula December 2nd, complete with big shot politicians and a cheap bus ride and everything, I'll be sponsoring the mass bra burning and maybe I can get Tony to bring his VW bus so we can sit in front of it and listen to him play guitar just like real hippie activist types! If you're not doing anything . . .

Sorry to keep bugging everyone, I know a trip to Missoula is a bit much to ask from anyone that isn't pretty serious about this stuff. If you're interested though, here's the info. Any help that anyone can provide will be greatly appreciated. Since I recently started a new job and lost my vacation time as a result, making it to this one will be pretty tough as I would have to take two nights off of work without pay. Being the low man on the totem pole, just getting the two nights off would be a trick in itself.

If you can't make it to the hearing, you can still help your favorite blogger, however. By emailing your comments to the Forest Service and helping to keep my favorite riding area open.

Regarding that area, I wanted to clear up any misconceptions that anyone might have. Groups like the Sierra Club like to put out photos showing the damage caused by ATVs and dirtbikes. These photos will usually be taken in an area with numerous trails crisscrossing the landscape and seemingly no rock or tree or hillside unmolested. While I admit there are areas like this, most are small and located in areas that aren't particularly scenic anyway, and while I can't speak for other states, areas such as this are extremely rare in Montana. Most that I've seen were located on private land as well.

The areas that I'm fighting to keep open, the Little Belt, Castle, and Crazy Mountains aren't like this at all. The area where we ride in the Little Belts consists of about a 40 mile loop trail with 2 or 3 other trails branching off of it in various places along the way. All the trails lead to "someplace", they aren't just play routes created because somebody at one time wanted to see if they could make it up a hill. They're basically just narrow, primitive roads that connect two places that would require a long drive all the way around a mountain range in a conventional vehicle. These trails access scenery and natural wonders that would be entirely shut off if they were closed.

I hope I'm not being too big of a pain in the ass with this stuff, it's just really important to me that these areas stay open. Since all 3 of my readers already sent in their comments though, I'm just preaching to the choir anyway. If by some odd chance you haven't sent yours in yet, you still have until Friday, and I'm going to keep bugging everyone until then.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Psssssssst! Hey Buddy, Wanna Buy a Blog?


My blog is worth $4,516.32.
How much is your blog worth?


The ol' Blog 'O' Rama here seems to have gained a little value since the last time I checked. Hell, I'd sell it for half that, I'd just start another one anyway. If only anything else that I owned would gain value so fast. If only anything else that I owned would gain value at all . . .

I tend to think that when it comes to value, blogs are much like Beanie Babies and baseball cards, no matter what anyone says, they're worth exactly what you can sell 'em for, which is usually nowhere near what they're supposedly worth according to some "expert".

We'll see how many offers I get. Do I hear 5 grand?

Has Everyone sent in their comments on the proposed travel plan? I thought so, I knew I could count on you.

Just In Case You Forgot . . .

I know that everyone that reads this blog has already registered their comments with the Forest Service regarding the Little Belt, Castle, and Crazy mountains, but have you told your friends?

What?

You haven't sent in your comments yet and done your part to keep my favorite riding area open?

You haven't told all of your friends to do the same?

You have until Friday, so there's still a chance!

But since all of you already sent in your comments you won't have to scroll back to the original post where I asked you all to send in your comments and follow the simple instructions that I posted there nor will you have to click on any of the convenient links that I've included to save you the trouble of all of that scrolling.

I knew that I could count on you, my faithful readers, all 3 of you.

You're the best.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Doh! Those Damnable ATV Riders. It's All Their Fault

I just found this LTTE in the Gazoo, gee, I gots me a thing or two to say about that there yep I sure do.

Don't allow ATV users to interfere with hunting

I'm a serious hunter. After the opening week of elk season this year, I was so disgusted by the unethical and illegal activity I witnessed by hunters using ATVs. These hunters seem to be getting worse each year with their laziness and lack of respect for other hunters.
Awwwwwwwww, did somebody scare your little horsey with their big bad ATV? Poor widdle baby. Newsflash Baby Huey, there's loads, I say LOADS of land around this state where ATVs are not allowed, period. Perhaps you should try hunting there, that's where all the elk are anyway.
The Forest Service and the BLM are trying to get a handle on this ATV abuse on public lands, but lack of dollars and staff to enforce regulations will render their efforts ineffective. The majority of abuse is happening during hunting season, resulting in major impacts to wildlife management in Montana. Some of these impacts include overharvesting of mature bull elk, um. . . ahem . . . excuse me . . . I don't think so buddy. If ATV's do anything at all I would say they throw the balance in favor of mature bull elk. I've never even seen elk while riding my ATV, with the exception of one time, they were far away and getting further in a hurry. elimination of secure wildlife habitat and user conflicts between traditional hunters What exactly is a "traditional hunter" anyway? I remember when traditionally most hunters in Montana just shot critters alongside the road, back before dipshits like this guy started hunting for horns instead of meat and declared themselves lords and protectors. and unethical ATV hunters. I wonder if this guy thinks there are any "ethical" ATV hunters? This use of ATVs by hunters has all but eliminated any resemblance of "fair chase" hunting. There is no such thing as "fair chase" hunting, unless of course you were hunting with your bare hands. "Fair chase" was a term coined by trophy hunters in order to placate the antis. You have a gun, the critters don't, if your conscience can't handle having that obvious advantage, maybe you should give up hunting and take up knitting. That is if you wouldn't feel sorry for the yarn. When you order a cheeseburger are you concerned with whether the cow was killed in a fair and ethical manner? Hell no, you just eat the son of a bitch, don't you?

I'd really like to know how this guy feels about the plethora of Montana elk hunters that seem to think that it's perfectly OK to sneak up on an elk with your sound and scent quite effectively masked by the flea bitten old nag (horse) that you're riding, but he's got a problem with an ATV that an elk can hear from 10 miles away. That's funny, really.

The Montana FWP Commission regulates technologies that only have a hundredth of the impacts that this use of ATVs is having. Funny, all the research that I've read says that people that hunt with ATVs statistically have a far lower chance of success. Seems that critters can hear, and ATVs make noise, gives the critters a wee advantage see. It is time that FWP step up to the plate and regulate ATVs as a technology. Yep, right after they make it illegal to hunt with horses, but then again, they're not "technology", are they? Hell, maybe we should just make it illegal to hunt with rifles too, and bows, lord knows they're an unfair advantage. Go join PETA ya crybaby. Many other states have been regulating ATV use by hunters for years, Yep, maybe you should move there, everyone knows that as a result of such regulations they have far better hunting than Montana does, don't they? ~ insert chirping cricket sound effect here ~ Nope, guess not. such as only allowing them to be used for game retrieval between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or requiring that guns be carried in enclosed gun cases and unloaded while hunting Now, is that what you really meant to say? I would love a regulation that required guns to be unloaded while hunting, as long as it only applied to your guns, dipshit. or adding interference of a hunt by an ATV user as an enforceable violation of the hunter harassment laws. There is no excuse for FWP not to regulate them.
Darryl Olson Shepherd? Is this guy related to Jason Biggs?
Shepherd

I know a lot of guys that hunt with ATVs, hell I'm one of 'em. I have seen no advantage that they provide except getting you to and from the place to hunt. You have to get off and walk if you're going to do any good. If you think you're going to ride out into the middle of a herd of elk on your 4 wheeler, you're an idiot. Funny though, I've heard lots of stories about people doing just that with horses. But that's ethical, just ask the next guy you see with an elk in the back of his truck and a horse trailer on behind it, he'll tell ya it is.

Gee, I Guess I'm Not a Republicrat After All

Go take the test yourself, it's loads of fun! Here's what mine had to say. Thanks to Chuck at B*shAmerika for the link! See, told ya I was a Libertarian.

You are a

Social Liberal
(66% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(60% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Libertarian










Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Bring On The Half Naked PETA Girls, They Can Dance Past My Window While I Eat Deer Steak, Gimme Something to Watch, 'Till My Wife Shoots 'em

Today, we did everything wrong, well, we did everything wrong according to the experts anyway. How do experts get to be experts anyhow? Oh yeah, the story.

This morning bright and early at 5:30 AM my alarm clock starts to wail out the message that it's time to get my lazy ass out of bed and go hunting. I awoke to the terrible drone only to realize that my bed was warm, my arm was around my beautiful wife, and I didn't want to get my lazy ass out of bed and go hunting, so I turned it off and went back to sleep . . . . . . Until noon.

Gee, I must have been tired.

So anyway, I drag my big butt out of bed, load up the hunting gear and we're off. Took a little detour through my 2nd best friend Brian's place, didn't see a thing. Well, we saw trees, but they're always there, I managed to resist the urge to hug one. It was tough to do but . . . .

Having struck out there we headed on further west, back to where we got the truck stuck last week. I took my other truck this time, it's 2 wheel drive so I ain't stupid enough to get off of the main road with it, it's safer that way. Add that to the fact that I wasn't exactly thrilled about the idea of dumping another C-note worth of Exxon's finest down the gullet of the Beasty and the "little" truck just made better sense. The Beasty is a lot more fun, but it's a hungry Beasty.

We didn't get a chance to get too many nature pics today, just a few of some deer that were all pretty much in the same places as last week. Gee, I wonder if they really do know where people can't shoot at them?


The little fella above was even sportin' some little antlerlets, just cute as a bug's ear ain't he?

This was his girly friend, they were enjoying the safety of the private land at the base of the mountain, I can't say that I blame them.

So we drive on past these deer and several others hoping that since there's so many down here maybe there's a few spilling over onto the Forest Service land. There were, seemingly more so than last week. Deer were running back and forth across the road in front of us but all were does, and all were quite intent on getting somewhere . . . somewhere that we weren't . . . and they weren't wasting any time getting there.

We continue on up the road and who do we run into? Well we didn't run into him, but we met up with him, you know what I mean. We happen across our new buddy Cliff. Him and his dad were the ones that helped us get the Beasty out of the ditch last week. I'm beginning to think that this guy is stalking me, maybe he's thinking the same thing about us, who knows.

Anyway, he tells us that he saw a little three point about a hundred yards behind him so we park the rustbucket and go sneaking vewy vewy quietly up to where we can see down into the great gorge that he indicated. Sure enough, about half way up the opposite side, stood a three point muley buck, and he didn't seem too concerned that we were there, if he even knew that we were there. I pointed him out to my son only to be greeted with the only response that a kid can possibly muster when confronted with a task so daunting as looking in the general direction that his father is pointing.

"Where?"
"Right there!"
"Where?"
"Right there, right between those two big trees!"
"Where, I don't see him?"
"Righ . . . . . Oh for Christ's sake gimme the damn rifle."

Maybe the kid was just waiting for the old man to show him how it was done, I don't know, but if that was the case, he's fresh out of excuses now. In the kid's defense, my dad had to show me how it was done before I shot my first one too. It's a big step for a kid, shooting his first deer, I was really unsure of myself at that age too. Seeing the old man do it really boosted my confidence, when I got my next chance, I didn't hesitate. I don't think that he will either, he's even more stoked about it now than he was before.

The fun part, however, had just begun. Remember when I told you that he was half way up the other side of a great gorge? My better judgment had told me that I shouldn't even shoot a deer in such a hateful place as this, but I was just tired of coming home skunked, and besides, I never listen to my better judgment. My better judgment is a flaming party pooper. My better judgment never tells me to do anything fun. Screw my better judgment.

This is the type of terrain that we were dealing with.


Everything on this little corner of the globe is straight up, or straight down, and we had about a hundred yards of straight down to get down to get to the deer, then about a hundred yards of straight up to drag him straight up in order to get him back to the road. Did I mention that it was straight up?

Sometime well after dark, the task was completed, we got deer to skin pilgrim.

So anyway, one tag filled, several more to go, one more week of hunting season left. Will the kid bag his first buck? Will the old man find an elk dumb enough to walk in front of his rifle and commit suicide? Will the kid pay his old man back for making him help drag a deer up a cliff by shooting the elk first? Will the old man make the kid walk back to town? Stay tuned for our next episode.

Oh yeah, the trophy monster, I almost forgot.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Still Think People Like Me Are Crazy? This Guy Wouldn't

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating conquest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsel or arms.
Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were ever our countrymen."

Samuel Adams, 1776

Thursday, November 17, 2005

If You Didn't Make It To The Knights Of Columbus Hall, I'll Forgive You If You'll At Least Send An Email


I just got this from the Blue Ribbon Coalition, copy, paste, email, forward, and most importantly, do what the message says. If you didn't make it to the Treasure State ATV Association's comment drive at the Knights of Columbus Hall, you still have a chance to get your comments in.

This is my personal favorite riding area, so I'm taking this one just a little bit personal. Environmental damage in this area from years of motorized use is in the category of nill to nonexistent, and the scenery is second to none. Please take a few minutes and put in a comment, if the Little Belts get closed I will be forced to write nothing but boring reviews of foreign films, and I don't even watch foreign films. No more hunting stories, no more 4 wheeling stories, no more jokes, no more nature pics. So please, save my blog, save my sanity, save my favorite riding area.

My name is mud and I approve this message.


Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,


One of our favorite OHV clubs in Montana, the Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association, recently sent us word about how the anti-recreation crowd is trying to close most of the epic OHV trails in the Little Belt and Castle Mountain ranges.



This area is located in the Jefferson Division of the Lewis and Clark National Forest and more is at stake than just roads and trails. Some of the best snowmobiling is also located in these ranges and, you guessed it, the greenies are trying to close it to snowmobiles too.



Please take a minute and help our friends in Montana fight for what remains of their access to public lands in the Treasure State.



Thanks in advance for your support,


Brian Hawthorne


BlueRibbon Coalition


208-237-1008 ext 102



WHY THIS IS SO IMPORTANT:


As many of you know, lots and lots of Montana's national forests are already closed to OHV users. The anti-recreation crowd is working hard to eliminate what little recreation opportunity they have left. The green groups have revved up their email alerts and are getting students from campuses all over the west to email the Forest Service (FS). Our partners in Montana are asking for our help in countering the efforts of these anti-access groups.



WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:


Send an email to Forest Supervisor Spike Thompson by 25th of November.


Remember, that's the Friday after Thanksgiving, so do it now!!!


Send your email to: comments-northern-lewisclark@fs.fed.us.


Address them to Forest Supervisor. Be certain to include your name and address because agencies sometimes discard anonymous comments.


The subject line should read "Jefferson Division Travel Plan".



COMMENT SUGGESTIONS:



* A great way to begin is with a short sentence or two telling Supervisor Thompson a bit about how important OHV recreation is to your family.



* Be certain to tell the FS you strongly oppose the Proposed Action as written. The Proposed Action closes too many roads and trails. It also fails to meet the need to provide for, and properly manage, OHV use.



* Tell the FS you object to the Proposed Action because it closes the Little Belt and Castle Mountain ranges. These trails provide the last and best high-quality trail experiences for thousands of OHV riders from the surrounding communities and beyond.



* Tell them not to close the Deep Creek, Hoover Creek or Lost Fork areas. These areas have been used by trail bikes for almost sixty years



* Tell the FS the Middle Fork and the south end of the Little Belts should remain open until October 15th each year.



* Be certain to remind the FS that there are already large blocks of non-motorized areas in the Highwoods, Crazies, and Snowies.



* The Little Belts are the premier motorized area for Great Falls, Stanford, Lewistown, Belt, Billings, Bozeman, Townsend, Helena, Livingston, White Sulphur Springs, etc.



* You may want to point out while OHV use is increasing in popularity every year, the opportunities have decreased due to closures by FS.



* Tell the FS that you object to the lack of public involvement in the Winter usage proposal.



* Tell them that the trails in the Deep Creek /Tenderfoot Area, the Hoover Creek trail complex as well as the Castles and Crazy Mountains should be left open.



* Dont forget to tell the FS that the proposed snowmobile closures are unacceptable. The Proposed Action would create large blocks of non-motorized winter recreation areas where snowmobiling currently is allowed. This decision is arbitrary and unfair.




BACKGROUND INFO:


Access the Lewis and Clark NF website for more info: http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/lewisclark/projects/



If you wish to send a snail mail letter, the address is:


Forest Supervisor


PO BOX 869


Great Falls, MT 59403-0869



HELP SUPPORT BRC'S PARTNERS IN MONTANA



Montanans for Multiple Use: http://www.mtmultipleuse.org


Citizens for Balanced Use: http://www.citizensforbalanceduse.com


Families for Outdoor Recreation http://www.ffor.org


Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association http://www.mtvra.com








Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I Found a Friend, In The Gazoo


Neat story in the Gazoo today about an old friend of mine that I haven't seen in a long time. Link on title, go check it out.

Rick Bender, formerly of Roundup, travels all over the country to teach kids why not to chew tobacco. The last time I talked to Rick was a few years ago at a gun show. Him and his son Chris were shooting in an archery competition, (they do everything together, or at least they used to, I hope that they still do).

Years ago, I forget how many, Rick and his son operated F&S Hobbies (short for Father and Son) in Roundup, specializing in radio controlled cars. It was an excellent business, the best of it's kind in this area at the time for sure, with an indoor onroad and outdoor offroad RC car track, all complimented by an excellently stocked RC Pro Shop. I bought a bushel basket of goodies from them, including my RC12LS, all at extremely competitive prices too I might add. I competed on their tracks twice, once at an indoor onroad race where I finished first with my 1/10 scale Trinity Street Spec, (I didn't have the 12th scale at that time, Rick sold it to me later) and once at a two day offroad competition where I think I finished 4th or 5th overall with my RC10 out of about 20 or so competitors. I probably would've placed lower had I not accepted Rick's invitation to come up and practice with him and Chris the weekend before, and had the benefit of Rick's coaching. I have to admit, his outdoor track was small but it was by far the funnest track that I ever raced, all about rhythm and smooth, consistent lines. The straightaways were just too short, the jumps just too long, to rely on muscle alone. That track required finesse, it was hard to race it without a grin on your face even if you were losing.

Fun was had by all at both events, everyone was made to feel welcome, and Rick was an outstanding host, going far out of his way to make sure that fun was had by all. Rick is a great guy, with a great family, and I'm glad to see that he's still doing well. If he talked to your kids at school, they're better off for it, believe me. This guy really cares, and it's obvious to anyone that meets him. Thanks Rick, glad to see you're still out there making a difference.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Read All About It - Morons Skunked Again, Blogger Goes Vegetarian - Read All About It!

Well, no deer again today, surprise. Are you starting to lose faith in my hunting abilities yet? If you aren't, I salute your persistence, because I am. Just kidding. We actually got a pick me upper thingy today, WE SAW A DEER THAT WE LEGALLY COULD HAVE SHOT! YEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAAAW! Too bad that he took off before we could turn him into food, but hey, at least we got a tiny little sliver of a chance right?

We even got a look at the same deer later, we even could have shot him legally the second time too. Too bad that he was about a hundred yards away . . . . . straight down. Which would have required dragging him a hundred yards . . . . . straight up. Do you see why my freezer is still empty? It's enough hope to bring us back for more though, in spite of everything else that went wrong. But then again it doesn't take much to keep us amused. Simple minds, simple pleasures I guess.

Here's a few nature pics for you all to enjoy. I'm starting to like this whole idea of telling a story with pictures. Thank goodness for digital cameras, I take a lot more pics now that I don't have to pay to get them developed.


We saw these two first thing this morning, last year's fawns. Awful cute, would probably be awful tasty, but to shoot them would be just awful. First of all they're too young, I may be a deerslayer but I ain't no Bambi killer. Second, they're illegal, can't shoot does in this district and since they don't got horns, they ain't legal. I wondered where their mommy was, until I spied her skylined up on top of a hill, she sure looked important up there, I'm starting to enjoy taking pictures of deer almost as much as eating them. I just need a bigger zoom.

Now obviously we couldn't shoot her because does aren't legal, but can you give me one more reason why this one would be a bad idea? If you said because she's skylined, put a gold star next to your name. What goes up must come down, and you don't want a stray bullet coming down in a bad place, so the best way to avoid that is to not send a stray bullet up in the air in the first place. If there isn't a good backstop, don't shoot. I don't really know this stuff, it's just what my kid told me. ;)


So, we headed a little further west, in search of happier hunting grounds. Is it just me or are the Crazy Mountains just about the finest darn thing in the world to bounce a sunrise off of? I need to start taking the camera to work with me, I've seen some of the most outstanding sunrise photo ops up around Big Timber, the Crazies all lit up in shades of pink and red, I'll have to get some pics of it someday.

Oh yeah, we're hunting, almost forgot. We headed up into the mountains and once again, deer lining both sides of the road, on private land, with big orange fence posts all around it, damn PETA. There was one fair sized 4 point buck in the bunch, a couple spikes and a two point, nothing spectacular, but I'm not a horn hunter. They all would have been legal had they not been on private land. There was an absolute plethora of does, since does are illegal this year there should be more deer next year than you can shake a multipointed stick at. Maybe I should just give up until next year. Maybe I should give up entirely. Maybe I should just take some time off, and then quit.






Shortly after passing all of these deer which were safely resting in a PETA preserve, we entered National Forest land and spied a little spike. SPIKES ARE LEGAL! FOREST SERVICE IS LEGAL! YEEEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAAAAAW!

I didn't actually yell yeehaaw but I wanted to. Instead I drove on down the road a little bit since deer rarely run from a vehicle until it stops and people get out and start shooting. I parked the truck in a wide spot in the road and we started walking back down the draw that we spotted the little spike standing in about 3/4 of a mile back. We got to where he was just in time to see where he wasn't. He boogied, and took his girlfriends with him, not so much as a trace. We'd find out where he boogied to later, but first we had to get the truck stuck.

Now you may wonder why I accompany my last statement with so little fanfare, easy, It isn't a complete hunting season unless you get the truck stuck at least once, it just isn't. For someone with luck like mine, it isn't a complete hunting season unless you get the truck stuck way the hell back in the way back, without a prayer of anyone coming along to help, and with all of your get unstuck type of gear safely stowed at home in the garage where it belongs. Don't want it getting dirty now do we?

So anyway, we slide off of the damn trail, and the more I try to get back on it, the further down the hill the thing slides. Luckily it didn't just take off all the way down into the nethervoids of the rocks below right off the bat, thanks to a friendly old dead tree laying on the ground that was not only nice enough to stop my truck from being lost forever, but it did some groovy custom body work to the front half of my box as well. This is why I drive an old truck. Can you believe that some people take new trucks hunting. I was mildly annoyed when I saw the dent in my truck, I would have been mildly ballistic had I saw a similar dent in a truck that I was making 600 dollar a month payments on. But I don't make 600 dollar a month payments, and I don't call tow trucks, so now how the hell to get this thing out of here.

What happened next is the reason why I believe in a higher power, a higher power with a sense of humor, a higher power that quite likely created me simply for his own amusement. Luckily it doesn't seem to take too long for him to get done being amused by me, because for no reason at all, in the absolute middle of I ain't gonna see nobody for weeks type of nowhere, along comes another truck with two hunters in it.

These guys were local and said that over the course of several years that they had lost track of how many trucks that they had helped out of the exact same predicament that we were in. One of the guys said that he had been stuck in the same spot just a week before, for about the millionth time in his life, so I didn't feel so stupid. It was just one of those truck trap kinda spots. So anyway, they helped, we dug, they towed, I cussed, and eventually my now blemished beasty was back on the trail. I was happy, they were happy, my kid was happy, and they were even happier when I handed them 50 bucks for their trouble. They didn't have to stop, they didn't have to spend an hour and a half helping me, they didn't have to break their tow strap, and I don't call tow trucks. Thanks guys.

I'm gonna start a new activist group. I'm gonna call it PETT. People for the Ethical Treatment of Trucks. I won't be eligible for membership, I'm just gonna start it.


Now why my son still goes hunting with me I have no idea, I think that he gets just as amused as the creator with my antics. Maybe he's a glutton for punishment like his old man, I don't know but it doesn't seem like a year can go by without me putting him in some type of potentially desperate peril, in some desperately remote location, with nothing but a desperate hope of rescue. Sounds desperate, doesn't it? Somehow we always seem to come out alright though. Reminds me of the many adventures that I had with my dad . . . . is bad/good luck hereditary? I think ingenuity is, my dad doesn't call tow trucks either. ;)

So once again we're motoring happily along when on the way back down to civilization our new found friends stop and start pointing down a great precipice. We jump out of the battered beasty and low and behold, far below us is our little friend Spike. We could've shot him, we could've walked back down that same coulee we were walking down earlier that day and managed to drag him back to the road albeit it would've still been uphill, or we could let him live another day since we were all tired from heaving a 5200 pound Chevy truck around for the last hour and a half. We let him live. Maybe he'll be a two point next year. Maybe we'll find his daddy next week. Maybe I'll trade my rifle for a set of needles and hoops and take up embroidery and the SOB can die of old age for all I care.

All this and I haven't even tried to go elk hunting yet. How about cross stitch?