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?