Mountain High 

In our fair state, where even the vegetarians eat meat, the first week of September marks the start of preparations for the fall hunt—scouting your favorite site, dusting off the rifle and putting scores of rounds through tiny targets from great distances. Montana’s female hunters can go a step further, joining Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for a firearm safety and hunter education course starting Sept. 13. The seven-evening course will be taught on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7 to 9:30 p.m., with a two-hour field course on Oct. 2. The free-of-charge course provides adult women with the basics of safe hunting and firearm handling, and can help introduce participants to others with similar interests. To register, contact FWP at 542-5500.

Anyone born after 1984 must take a hunter education course before purchasing a hunting license, so make sure your sharpshooting youngster registers by Sept. 8 for the Hunter Education course at the Missoula FWP headquarters at 3201 Spurgin Road. Twice-weekly night courses start Sept. 13 at Big Sky High School, with a mandatory field course on Oct. 2 for all kiddies age 11 and up. The course costs $3; call FWP at 542-5500 for more info.

Hunters looking to maximize their kills this fall should check out the Montana Natural History Center’s Traditional Trades Week, Sept. 8–11 at Travelers’ Rest State Park. Along with other less-practical skills (like quill-work and beading), brain-tanning demos will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more info, log on to www.travelersrest.org. More than an inch of rain hammered Missoula’s dry soil last week, an overnight total that exceeded the entire month’s average of 0.68 inches. As streamflows surged, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks lifted voluntary fishing restrictions imposed upon the Blackfoot River drainage. Still, FWP says we should expect more hot days and the restrictions that accompany them, so check water levels on the Blackfoot (and Montana’s other rivers) for yourself at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/mt/nwis/current?type=flow before heading out.

The swarms of mosquitoes, tourons and Secret Service agents bottlenecking in Glacier National Park this past summer have moved on, leaving the bears to peacefully fill their bellies before their long winter’s rest. Park officials warn that this year’s dud of a huckleberry season has the bears playing opportunivore until they bed down for the coldest months, and anyone hiking in grizzly country should take the stock list of precautions earnestly. Call park HQ at 888-7800 if you’ve got any questions.

The Rocky Mountaineers are rallying for a gala of photos, videos and stimulating tales of this past year’s adventures. You don’t have to be a member of the group to bring your bear stories, climbing photographs and ski videos, and you can count on meeting some fellow adventurers in the process. (Note the Golden Rule of Slideshows: KEEP THE AUDIENCE WANTING MORE by carefully pre-editing your pix and you’ll always have happy viewers.) Meet in room 201 of the County Courthouse at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8, and don’t forget the homemade cookies!

Looking for some high mountain views without working like a dog? Join Fred Schwanemann (542-7372) and his posse of New Rocky Mountaineers on a 10-mile out-and-back over Torino Peak to Eagle Cliff (7,000’) near Superior on Sunday, Sept. 5.

Celebrate Labor Day and the 40th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act Sept. 3–5 by camping along the Rocky Mountain Front’s Teton River. Head up to the Cave Mountain Campground ($6/site) after work on Sept. 3 for a night of fun and campfire learning. The next day you’ll check out a proposed gas well site in Blindhorse Canyon and visit with ranchers and other locals who’ll be affected by the extraction. Interested parties can then take an optional seven-mile hike high into the Front for fine views. Sunday the posse will day-hike in the Teton River drainage, heading up to Our Lake near the Bob Marshall Wilderness border. Bring self-sufficient camping gear (and all the water you’ll need for the weekend!), but call Cameron Naficy with the Native Forest Network (542-7343) for carpool and other info.

And last but not least, ski season is approaching, and students who can prove full-time status at UM are eligible to score a $199 season pass at Discovery Basin, but only if you buy in September. Log on to www.skidiscovery.com for a two-hours-away alternative to skiing The ‘Bowl this winter.

Send your homemade chocolate chip cookies, free ski passes and any outdoor recreation info you’d like to share with Western Montana to: photo@missoulanews.com.

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