Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Montana Style part one - hunting season.

I think I may have been making mistakes in my assumptions about Montana. I came here thinking Montana would be just like anywhere else only with more mountains, open space, and fewer people. I did not count on the power and subtlety of Montana style.

There are times when I am disheartened by the rural qualities of living in Montana. Particularly now in the winter when I am not working so hard and have ample idle time that needs filling. City life offers thousands of distractions to fill idle time. Rural living calls on ourselves to be more proactive in filling that time. This is one of the facets of Montana style. Self sufficiency.

Watching how the locals react to hunting season around here has impressed me. My previous exposures to hunting carried a vacation like 'hunting as sport' attitude. It was something done on special occasion surrounded by rituals. Getting the rarely used gun out from behind glass, making a special trip to buy the ammunition, donning the orange. The goal was to "bag one". A hunting trip was anticipated like a rivalry football game, planned for weeks ahead of time, cherished with special rituals and clothing, and then reminisced for a long while after. Here in Montana a hunting trip is less a special event and more of a common and routine thing. This is partly because of the easy access to wilderness but it is also because of the self sufficiency of Montana style.

There are a large number of people here that think of hunting and fishing not so much as a vacation but more as a way to put food on the table, cut the grocery bill, keep some meat in the freezer, and be more self sufficient. To bag one is not the end but the beginning. Hunting is still sporting but it is not a sport in the same way that finding the best supermarket specials is not a sport. Nor is working overtime to get that boost to the paycheck. It is just something you do.

It is not accurate to say that this applies to all Montanans equally, or even to all Montana hunters. There are certainly plenty of sport hunters in this state. But I see self sufficiency everywhere I look around here. I see it in the business people I deal with. I see it in the recreation enthusiasts. I see it in the Missoula hippies and the city dwellers. Not everyone is bagging their own meat, but they are watching out for themselves in their own way.