My dad was a hunter, and a good one. Growing up at our small home on Lodge Grass Creek, it was our milk cow, family garden, and Dad’s rifle that saw our family through the hard, dark days of the Great Depression.
Like many another Montanan then and now, Dad lived for elk season. When winter’s first serious snows swept in over the Big Horns, elk herds moved down to lower elevations. From the town, foothills, and valleys, the hunters–our friends and our neighbors–moved up to meet them.
As a kid, I picked up on the excitement as Dad prepared for the hunt. I watched as he loaded his saddle, bedroll, and grub box into the ranch pickup. I saw him gather his long johns, his wool shirt, “California” pants, heavy coat, chopper’s mitts, black silk scarf, and Scotch cap. I saw him take his rifle out of its place in the closet and clean it by lamplight. I looked on as he counted his cartridges and sharpened his knives.