Here in Montana, Southwest Montana, specifically, we are having a long, cold spring. There is still a ton of snow up high, so much so that the backcountry skiing, in my opinion, is just getting really good. While this is great for skiing, I am ready for some green grass, flowers, sunny days and getting out to chase turkeys and bear. Along with the springtime options for hunting, it is this time of year that hunters need to get their applications in for the Big 3: Moose, Goat and Bighorn Sheep. Before you know it, everyone who puts in for these coveted tags will be eagerly waiting for the arrival of either a big fat zero, or that one magical tag, that one word, “success”, showing up on the results.
As usual, my hopes are high–I have stacked up as many bonus points as I can, but so far, no dice on any of those tags. But along with wanting to draw any of them, I have a bigger surprise waiting for me–the arrival of our first child, a boy. My wife and I are excited, nervous, in disbelief and very, very grateful that the long, difficult road to get here is, finally, here. Come late summer, I will not only be hiking the hills, shooting and tweaking gear, but figuring our something much bigger and better than any hunt–how to be a father, and a good one at that.
I already sit back and think about the first time I can get him on skis, if he will find climbing interesting, and, maybe most importantly, will hunting become a passion of his like it has for me. My dad got me in the field early, and by age 12, legal hunting age in Montana, I finally filled my first tag with a small mule deer buck. From there, it was off to the races. Reading about hunting, looking at books on game, tracks and biology, and then the big epiphany–bowhunting–came into my life. It took a while before everything came together, and a small 4×4 whitetail buck taken from a treestand was my first “official” bow kill. The great thing about that hunt is my dad took a very nice 5×5 with his rifle about a minute later; I actually watched my buck go down, and then heard the report from his rifle, not 400 yards away. That, as they say, was a great day. Those are the kind of days I think about, with my own son out in the wilderness.