I have had the privilege of living in Montana for the past 34 years. I don’t take this for granted, especially during Thanksgiving. I have met many sportsmen and women across the state during my stay in the Treasure State, and I don’t know one person who would leave Montana to live in another part of the U.S. All of my five children were born in Montana and three of them whom are now adults work and play in Montana. Thanksgiving is a day that according to Wikipedia- was originally celebrated as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.
If you live in Montana and you are a sportsman, you are probably like me, thankful for the harvest that successful hunting and fishing trips can bring. It is certainly satisfying to provide your dinner table all that this state can offer like antelope, deer, elk, walleye, northern pike, trout, bass, upland birds or wild turkeys and water fowl. The adventures that take place before you make that great shot on a critter or net that fish is really what we should be thankful for on this special day.
Passing the experience down from generation to generation is very rewarding. For me it was experiencing the look on my 13 year old son’s face and getting a high five after William shot his first antelope buck this past October.
Being a part of Chinook salmon fishing trips on Fort Peck Reservoir where I saw the excitement that my girlfriend Berny, my sister Debbie, and nephews Jonny and Michael displayed as they landed their first Fort Peck king salmon this past August.
Those are a couple of examples of successful hunting and fishing trips, but even trips where all you are bringing home are memories can be just as rewarding. There was my annual archery elk hunting trip over in the Missouri Breaks. This past September as in the past I spent a week hunting out the Burke Ranch Outfitters camp located in the Larb Hills. Every day that we hunted we saw elk, and most days we were able to make a stalk that would bring us to within 100 yards of them. On one of those afternoons, I got within 50 yards of an elk and missed a broadside shot.
I was disappointed in myself for not taking advantage of such a great opportunity but as time passed I began to think how wonderful it was to just have the opportunity to go hunting and experience being that close to a wild animal as majestic and elusive as an elk.
On this day of thanks, I believe it is important to remember that every hunting and fishing trip you take begins with a process. Enjoy the process and be thankful for the opportunity to even experience the actions or steps that you need to take in order to achieve a successful harvest or catch. And especially today be thankful you get to do it all in Montana.
(written by Mark Ward aka the Captain)