I was really worried about this trip for a couple of reasons. Number 1, the guys go 24 miles back on horseback. No quick trips out if someone gets hurt, or something happens to one of the ponies. Reason the second, this was our horse Sam's first trip out since seriously injuring his back leg in February. As usual, I worried for no reason (the more you read here, the more you will discover that worry seems to be my number one sport. Thank all that is holy that it's not an Olympic event.), and all is well. Sam did great, no swelling, no limping, no need for Bute (horsey tylenol). And I have a nice big elk to put in the freezer and chomp away on during the winter.
Yes, we are a meat loving family. And Brad and Sara both hunt, big game as well as birds. So if hunting offends you, this is not a site you're going to want to bookmark, 'mkay? This is the way this family in Montana lives. I will not post photos of hunted animals here, simply because I don't find them appealing to look at. But I will crow to the rooftops my family's success in the field. Cuz the less money I have to spend at the grocery store, the better. And let's be honest, how many 21 year old girls still want to hang out with their dad, much less go stalking around the woods with them?
It's interesting to note how much money hunters add to a state's economy. Last year alone, in just the state of Montana, hunters contributed nearly $15 million dollars to the state's revenue. This is money that was spent on hunting licenses and tags (money that goes back into the Fish and Game service, which helps many conservation projects, as well as fighting fires, catching poachers, and doing all sorts of good things), hotel rooms, meals, groceries, gas, hunting and camping gear, etc, etc. This does not include fees spent for fishing. That figure is just for hunters. And let's talk about how much money hunters spend each year just on conservation efforts. I don't know a hunter who does not support the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, or some other group who does nothing but wildlife conservation work. Hmm, these folks must be good people.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all hunters are saints with halos and rifles (or shotguns, or bows). Some of them are stupid idiots, who should not be allowed to play with a nerf gun, much less a real one. But those people represent the very small minority. Unfortunately, they're the ones who get all the press. You don't hear alot about the guy who donates his processed elk to the local food bank, or the neighbor who brings you half a deer because he has plenty, and he knows you could use some extra meat. You don't hear about the guy who tracked an injured white tail deer for three days, and tagged the animal when he found it, even though the weather had turned, and the meat was totally spoiled. He tagged it because he shot it, and claiming it was the right thing to do.
Most hunters are good people who hunt for the love of the wildlife. More times than not, Brad and Sara come home empty handed, and totally exhilerated. Watching two bull elk wrangle about who gets the girls, seeing literally hundreds of ducks get up off a river and fly at the same moment, or just spending the day on horseback, talking, laughing, and reconnecting. We just recently finished building four ponds on the bottom of our property for duck, geese, and pheasants. It's going to be so much fun watching baby ducks and geese learn to paddle around next spring. I will be posting photos of that!
And hunting fills the freezer. Between the elk, the pigs (who have a date with the butcher October 1st, thank all that is holy), and the quarter beef we are buying, we will eat well this winter, and not have to spend a ton of money on overpriced, chemical filled meat at the grocery store. And yes, there will be new pigs in the spring, and perhaps some chickens if we can get a good coop built (living in the country on 40 acres means coyotes and foxes, and hawks, and eagles. They seem to like chicken as much as I do.) And hopefully another beef in the freezer. Brad and I are determined to raise all of our own meat from now on. It just tastes so much better. And then there's the fact that we have 40 acres and five horses. We seem to have a little bit of room.