Shortly after George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election by a whisker, I was with a Helena big shot from my agency and, for some reason I have long forgotten, we were meeting with the public affairs officer from Yellowstone National Park. The conversation went something like this: FWP Big Shot: "Well, what do you think of the election?" YNP Public Affairs Officer in a hysterical voice: "Oh, we are just trying to keep our heads down!" Well, wouldn't you know, the "evil" Bush actually increased the budget of the National Park
A week ago it started snowing in southwestern Montana, and by Saturday there was more than a foot on the ground and it still was coming down. Temperatures were more than 20 degrees below normal. By Saturday evening we had about nine times the normal precipitation for five days into the month of November, and it wasn't until Sunday that the sun came out brightly and the snow slowly began to melt. That's just like November, though. Sometimes it slams you with a big snowstorm; other years it
One time about 25 years ago when I was working as regional information officer for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, a pleasant older lady was referred to my phone. She wanted to know something about Hungarian partridges. So I told her the bird was imported from the steppes of Asia and planted in the province of Alberta, Canada in 1909. From there partridges spread into southern Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Montana, North Dakota and southern Idaho. They live in short-grass prairie and stubble.
The plan was to meet Kyle, my second cousin's husband, and his family at Mott in October, and for them to post me in my folding chair near the end of shelterbelts and in other strategic locations. That way the young and sprightly might push a few roosters past this old, has-been pheasant hunter. But then I got a viral lung infection and was dragging around an oxygen hose for a month. Next, everyone learned that pheasant numbers in North Dakota were down by 60 percent. So Kyle cancelled the hunt.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lifted Endangered Species protections for the Yellowstone grizzly bear last summer, declaring the bear no longer threatened, and ceded management to the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
About twenty years ago Laurie and I were attending a wildlife f
In September 1996, a couple Montana natives and I flew to Aniak in southwestern Alaska, where we met a pilot who owned a flying service. He flew us about 50 miles into the Kuskokwim Mountains, flying a Polish Wilga plane, and dropped us off on the tundra near a patch of alders where he had an unheated tent set up for us, and enough food to last us a couple weeks. (We wouldn't learn until several months later that the pilot crashed the Wilga plane shortly after inserting us. Thankfully, there were no casualties.)
I was hunting alone that September afternoon when I found the willow hole in the dry timber. I climbed onto a log to put my eye higher above the ground, when a ruffed grouse exploded into flight right beside the log and startled me so badly that I nearly fell off the dratted thing. That's when I decided the spot was too thick and muddy to negotiate. So I retraced my steps, got back into the timber and skirted the willow bog.
His name was Harold, and he came into my office about 25 years ago and introduced himself as a retired high school superintendent, mid-70s in age, and trying to make up for all the hunting he had missed in his lifetime by having to work in the autumn. Harold must have been 6-foot-3, a lean, handsome man with gray hair and wire-rimmed glasses. He told me he had high blood pressure but otherwise was in good health.
Ed Johnson, 41, is a retired Marine major and an avid hunter who lives in Bozeman. Recently, I helped him clean his sheep rifle, and a few days ago he returned from the Brooks Range of Alaska with a magnificent Dall ram that measured a quarter inch under 40 inches and was 10 1/2-years-old.