The state of Utah has been the leader for years in the effort to transfer federal lands to the states. Well, last month the state got a thumb in the eye on two fronts. First, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, in the face of a firestorm of opposition from hunters, anglers and other conservationists withdrew his bill that would have transferred some 3.3 million acres of BLM land in the West to respective states.
When I went back to college in the early 1970s after a three-year stint in the Marine Corps, I took an English course from a professor named Mary Caldwell, who probably was close to 70 at the time, and I liked it so much that I ended up taking every English course that she taught at UND. One of my favorites was, "Literature of the Northern Plains" and I still have the three books that made up the course. I reread them every decade or so and never tire of them.
If you have never tried it, calling red foxes in winter is a challenging activity, and the squalling cries of a mouth call alone are enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck, but to a fox they sound like the dinner bell. Each time a fox kills its prey, the victim emits cries of fright and pain. Naturally, the predator/furbearer associates this with eating, so when it hears a predator call there appears to be a chance to muscle in on an easy meal.
Cottontail rabbits breed from early March through September, so February was the final month of the hunting season for me as a rabbit hunter. Now, I’ve been a rabbit hunter since about the time I learned to read, and I favored a .22 rimfire rifle over anything else. I hunted cottontails in many dozens of places in North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, and even though I have hunted a great deal of exotic big game, I never quit being a rabbit hunter at heart.
A couple years ago I wrote that I was unaware of any U.S. company that still manufactured a 16 gauge repeater. That still remains the case, however, readers should know that Browning Arms Co. has announced the return of the "Sweet Sixteen" Auto-5 that featured the unmistakable "humpback" profile, invented by legendary John M. Browning and first produced in 1902. (The original Auto-5 was produced in Belgium until the early 1970s when production shifted to Japan. The Auto-5 was discontinued in 1998.)
After some forty years of hunting, fishing, backpacking and cavorting about in Wyoming and Montana, I have eaten at a number of memorable steak houses that I still frequent whenever possible. Not in any necessary order, here are my favorites: • Hudson, Wyo.—Sveilar's, located 14 miles east of Lander, and started by Yugoslav immigrants in the 1930s. I ate there once again last October and the steaks are just as good as they were 20, 30 and 40 years ago. Meals come with handmade raviolis which are wonderful!
Every time we pull a package of deer steak out of the freezer, I recognize the economics of being a resident hunter. I buy a deer license for fifteen bucks, drive 25 miles from the house and shoot a white-tailed deer. For an extra $10 I can shoot a doe. In fact, I can shoot several does for $10 each but don't need that much meat these days, so I limit myself to one or two deer per year.
It was a New Year's turkey dinner at our house, a couple days early, and two of our guests were my second cousin Jean and her husband, Kyle, who brought family members out from Bismarck for a ski vacation. The other five guests I had never met. They were the two children of Jean and Kyle, a nephew, a niece and a college friend from Missouri who was on his first ever visit to Montana. All five are between the ages of 16 and 21.
It is a relatively new winter sport in parts of the West, the climbing of frozen waterfalls in the middle of winter. I have no idea how it is done, nor do I care to know. I do see an occasional obituary when something went wrong and a climber fell, but other than that I think it is a fairly pointless, even stupid activity. But it is a free country and young people can do what entertains them.
"Man is a marvelous curiosity." — Mark Twain Being the old fogey I am, it puzzles me to witness the behavior of humans. Many people, particularly younger Americans, would never think of smoking a cigar or having a few drinks of bourbon, because that might be unhealthy. Yet they happily drive around — even in winter — without buckling their seatbelts. I read about them every week, because hardly a week passes when someone doesn't die in a single car rollover in North Dakota, Montana or both.