I’m quite sure that growing up on a ranch in Montana with two brothers and mainly boys to play with led to my love of hunting and fishing rather than playing with dolls. It was a time in life without television, and kids were required to entertain themselves so my choice was to shoot, fish, or go camping with my cousin. Together my cousin Di and I would gather our tent, pots and pans, jump into our jeep, and camp along side the river where we would catch fish, shot a few tin cans, and smoke cigarettes that we stole from my father, or smoke the horrid drift-wood found at the river’s edge. It was a time in life to explore and grow to be adventuresome women. It may have been the birth of women’s liberation. We were free to hunt, fish, ride horses, and conquer the world. Even through high-school when girls wanted to be cheer-leaders or prom queens, I wanted to shoot, fish, camp, and win the big buck contest that was held yearly in our local area.
The big buck contest was a county-wide event, held from the opening to the closing day of hunting season, by the local sporting-goods store. The year I was eleven, and not old enough to enter the contest, I shot a six-point muley (western count, not eastern) with a huge antler span. It had been an incredible day of hunting. The tough old mountain bucks had been pushed out of the Crazy Mountains by a winter storm, and were down in the river bottoms. It seemed that beside every cottonwood tree there hide a massive buck. My uncle, father, two brothers, and I each scored big bucks that day. However, mine measured the largest. Being the scoundrel he was, my uncle took my deer into be judged for the contest. Yes, my uncle Tige was the winner that year, and he thought it was darn good fun that a little girl had beaten all the other hunters that year. Sadly, that was as close as I got to winning the Big Buck contest in Wheatland County.
It was a natural evolution for me to date boys that hunted and fished, so I found one, dated him through high-school, and then married him. Together Hub and I spent years hunting or fishing in Montana, but our biggest dream was to live in Alaska. We talked about it day and night. We read everything in the local library, and bought every magazine that had anything pertaining to Alaska. Hub applied for every teaching job listed in the state of Alaska, and made calls to several school districts to check on openings in his field of science, or guidance counseling. Even in our sleep, we dreamed about this exciting last frontier where hunting and fishing were said to be the biggest and the best in North American. Then one day it happened!
Next week travel to Alaska.