Mountain High 

Since hunting safety is part of my beat, I guess I’ll be covering Dick Cheney’s famous face shot for the Indy this week. So…Dick Cheney fired a bird gun at his hunting companion. That’s not very safe. What can we learn? Maybe if he does his future bird-hunting with a Predator drone, collateral damage won’t matter so much.

We could also learn about real hunter safety, something Montanans take seriously, even if yahoo politicos from Wyoming don’t. For instance, everyone who hunts with a bow in Montana has to take a hunter-safety class before he or she can get a stamp. The first of those courses begin in late February with a weekend class from 8:30 AM to 5 PM on Sat., Feb. 25, and evening classes from 6:30 to 9:30 PM on Monday, Feb. 27, through Wednesday, March 1, with field classes for both on Saturday, Mar. 25. To sign up for February bowhunter education classes, you need to register at the Missoula Fish, Wildlife & Parks office at 3201 Spurgin Rd. between 6 and 8 PM on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Call 542-5518 if there was something there you didn’t understand.

The Sierra Club wants you to help it agitate on behalf of the environment. Contact if you’re so inclined. If you decide that writing letters to the editor is what you can contribute, keep it short and check your facts. Bad things happen to factually inaccurate letters; see John S. Adams’ info in this week’s issue for an example.

You might as well start your letter-writing by dropping the Idaho Department of Fish and Game a line about their wolf management program, which calls for killing 75 percent of the wolves in the Clearwater Region of Idaho near Highway 12 on the Montana border, because—get this—the wolves are killing elk. This perfectly natural behavior means the lame-ass truck hunters prowling forest roads that should probably be decommissioned anyway are having trouble capping meat from the comfort of their cabs. Bone up on all things wolf with Jessie McQuillans feature on wold issues in last week’s Indy and then offer your thoughts on this situation by sending e-mail to Before you do, of course, you might want to consider the position of those chubbies who can’t hike up a hill to find their elk. And then, having considered their point, reject it.

Or you could try hiking, since that’s what this column once was about. Try joining the New Rocky Mountaineers on Sunday, Feb. 19, for their trip to East St. Mary’s Peak in the Mission Mountains; it should be a challenging trip to say the least. The excursion gains 5,400 feet and should feature strong winds and blowing snow as well as steep ridges and knife edges. Call 549-4760 if you’re up for it. Be sure to tell your mom you love her before you go.

In other excursion news, the Rocky Mountaineers have a Presidents’ Weekend ice-climbing trip planned to the Waterton area in Canada. It’s not exactly where I spend holidays honoring the executive branch of American government, but fine by me anyway. If you’d like to go, call 756-6818 pronto.

Closer to home, the Field Trip Chairman of the Five Valleys Audubon Society leads a 10 AM trip on Saturday, Feb. 18, to the Tower Street open-space area for some bird watching. Bring a lunch and call 327-1525 to arrange a carpool or find out how you can begin lobbying to make a run for Field Trip Chairman when the post is vacant.

If you’re already looking lustily at the lawn furniture and the barbecue grill, perhaps Campus Rec’s Mixed Double Badminton Tournament, which takes place at 6 PM on Wednesday, Feb. 22, can get you that much closer to the time when running barefoot through the backyard wasn’t just something you do when you realize it’s garbage day just as the truck picks up your neighbor’s waste.

They’ll probably be grilling in the Georgetown Lake area this weekend, especially if the wind is blowing and The Snowkite Rodeo, scheduled to take place from Friday, Feb. 17, to Monday, Feb. 20, and based out of Georgetown Lake Lodge, is kicking. Expect entertainment on the ice and off as well, and free demo lessons for the novices.

There’s a ski area in Georgetown Lake, but there’s one here, too. It’s called Snowbowl, and Snowbowl, of course, sponsors freestyle racing this weekend with moguls on Friday, aerials on Saturday and dual moguls on Sunday. Throw in a little fresh snow early this week and it’s shaping up to be a fine weekend for heading to the Bowl. Of course, you might want to save your strength for next week’s Gelande, too. Or you could just consider this weekend practice for next. Either way, remember that cars do slide off the road, so please get whatever sex, drugs and danger you have in your system out before heading for town.

Oh, and Flathead Bureau Chief Paul Peters reports that conditions at Big Mountain are “surprisingly good,” which is good news, since there’s been more snow since he took his last trip up the hill. Otherwise, I don’t have any firsthand reports, but I’m always listening.

So start talking already.

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