Top 10 elk camp essentials
Montana hunters have some of the best traditions of any group around – many of rooted in the quest to hunt elk. We gave readers a glimpse into one tradition in our Nov/Dec issue, when writer and photographer Jack Ballard gave us a look inside his family’s elk camp.
“Home Base” tells of the tradition and the memories created at the Ballard camp – which has been hosted hunters for more than 50 years.
Ostensibly, the purpose of the elk camp is to facilitate elk hunting, the goal of which is most simply defined as killing an elk.
But the camp likely plays a much more complex role in the lives of the hunters, at least in bivouacs with a long history, such as that which surrounds my family’s camp.
In 2003 my uncle Tom celebrated his 50th consecutive year of hunting elk from the same camp, with the ridgepole of the cook tent fastened to the same wind-scarred lodgepole pine.
“That old guy must really be into killing things,” a cynical soul of the nonsporting public might conclude. Such a simplistic conclusion ignores the fact that for at least the last decade before his silver anniversary, Tom spent precious little time hunting, preferring instead to hone his culinary skills in the camp kitchen and pass many precious hours reading, tinkering or surveying the broad, untrammeled view of a yonder mountain range perched on a folding metal chair outside the cook tent.
The Ballards have created many lifetimes worth of memories at its elk camp in Montana’s southwestern wilderness where the scenery is epic and the tents are warm. The annual fall ritual that brings hunters together through stalwart tradition creates a place that, Ballard says, is more like home than most houses.
But what makes camp so comfortable? Ballard’s top 10 elk camp essentials include:
1) Wall tent
2) Tent frame
3) Tent fly
4) Wood-burning stove
8) Real sleeping bags and pads
9) Outhouse (luxury option No. 1)
10) Elk (luxury option No. 2)
Story keepers: Cowboy hall of fame works to preserve western past
The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame doesn’t discriminate when it comes to accepting inductees. Not in the least.
There have been men, women, horses and bars inducted into the hall, which aims to preserve the western culture that was for so long defined across Montana.
We told our readers about the organization”s mission in a feature in our Nov/Dec 14 issue. Writer Cathy Moser spent some time with inductees and told some of their wild stories.
Along with preserving the stories of inductees, the organization is working to fundraise so it can build a full “homestead campus” in Big Timber that will include an museum and heritage center. See a slideshow of renderings for the campus here.
And if you know someone or something that personifies Montana’s western culture, the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame is accepting nominations through March, 31, 2015.
You can nominate a candidate for induction in the 2015 class by visiting the hall of fame’s website.
Glasgow native donates wild gift to children’s museum
The Children’s Museum of Northeastern Montana in downtown Glasgow is a cool place to play. It’s full of books, toys and even has a treehouse.
Now, thanks to Glasgow native Skip Erickson, it’s home to an almost unbelievable set of wildlife trophies.
As writer Andrew McKean explains in our Nov/Dec issue, it’s hard to imagine the menagerie that Erickson has donated to the museum. The hunter, who is battling colon cancer, has donated everything from a 12-foot alligator to a wildebeest.
It amounts to a wildlife collection – called the World Wildlife Experience – that Erickson hopes will allow area kids to be transported around the world.
“Not everyone is going to be able to travel the world and have the experiences that I’ve had,” acknowledges Erickson. “But I hope that when a kid looks at these animals, that they are transported, even for a few minutes, from Glasgow, Montana to the Himalayas or to Central Asia or to Australia.”
We’ve put the full story about the World Wildlife Experience online today. To say the least, it’s a heartwarming piece that captures the love Skip has for his hometown, and the passion the town shares for giving its kids a window to the bigger world.
Veteran-focused film documents healing powers of Montana rivers
We’re joining the rest of the country and saying thanks today, to the wonderfully brave women and men who serve our country. We are forever grateful.
Veterans Day marks an exciting day for a film made in Montana and featuring the state as a place where American warriors can find solace.
“Not Yet Begun to Fight” was shot on the shores of Montana rivers and made by Bozeman directors. It premieres today on Netflix. You can also buy the film on iTunes for 99 cents.
“Not Yet Begun to Fight”focuses on five warriors who join retired Marine Colonel Eric Hastings, who heads the local non-profit Warriors and Quiet Waters, for a week of fly-fishing. Hastings, who flew missions “high above the death and destruction” in Vietnam, returned home to Montana in 1969 battling dark dreams. His solace was fishing. “When I came back from combat, I found I needed relief, and the more I went fly-fishing, the more I knew I needed more of it,” he recalls. “It became an absolute desperate physical and mental need. I had to do it, or I was going to kill someone.”
Montana Magazine contributor Corinne Garcia sent us the information about the film, which has screened on PBS and been praised by major critics across the country.
Directors and Bozeman residents Shasta Grenier and Sabrina Lee shadow Colonel Hastings as he reaches out to a new generation of traumatized combat veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Hastings knows too well that the war is never over for those who fight. On the rivers of Montana, with a fly rod in hand, he shares the balm that soothed his wounds: “Fly-fishing is a series of opportunities for hope,” he says, “This river healed me.”
He leads five remarkable, intense, and vulnerable young men (three marines, a soldier and a Navy SEAL) to the quiet waters of Montana. His mission is to help them find their way through the space between the war they have just left behind and the new battles they face.
“The hardest thing, and this probably goes for just about any wounded warrior out there, is having to learn every little thing all over again,” says Elliott Miller, a Navy SEAL featured in the film who now communicates with the automated voice of an iPad. “Only this time, where you were once an able, barrel-chested freedom fighter and proud, now you are broken and weak and humble. And so it just adds a whole new level of difficulty to it.”
You can view the trailer for “Not Yet Begun to Fight” here.
Stories, history project celebrate the women of Montana
We’re proud of our Nov/Dec 2014 issue for a lot of reasons. One is the Women of Montana Section, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the successful women’s suffrage movement in Montana and features stories on author Mildred Walker and pilot Esther Vance.
Nov. 3 was the official 100th anniversary date. There was lots to celebrate. Here’s a story about Jeanette Rankin from the Billings Gazette. Here’s a story about the pioneer women who first explored Glacier National Park.
On some fronts, Montana has been a progressive place when it comes to gender equality. Montana women won the right to vote a full six years before the right was granted nationwide with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
To celebrate and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the successful Montana women’s suffrage movement, the Montana Historical Society has created its Montana Women’s History Matters project.
The extensive collection of stories, photos, oral histories and educator resources is designed to help the Montana Historical Society promote an increased appreciation and understanding of the role of women in the Treasure State’s past.
It’s available to view online at MontanaWomensHistory.org.
On the project’s website you’ll be introduced to Montana women like Mamie Anderson Bridgewater, a leader of Helena’s black Baptist congregation in the early 1900s, and Bertha Grimm Gonder, one of the many women who were employed by Great Northern Railroad during WWI. Gonder’s career at Great Northern spanned almost 30 years.
In all, the Montana Women’s History Matters project will include more than 100 stories about Montana women’s history by the of 2014. A book based on the stories is set to be released in 2015.
Find more at MontanaWomensHistory.org.
Montana news: Osama bin Laden shooter from Butte?
Montana is making news in a big way today with a story coming from across the ocean.
The Montana Standard had a story online today saying that a British tabloid is reporting that it was a Butte native who killed Osama bin Laden.
Rob O’Neill grew up in Butte and his father, Tom, still lives there.
A 16-year veteran of military service, Rob O’Neill is now a motivational speaker. He spoke late least year at the Maroon Activity Center.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, you can do anything,” he told The Montana Standard in an interview before his speech. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do the best you can.”
At the time, he declined to discuss the specifics of the raid that led to the bin Laden’s death.
Here’s a 2013 story by Angela Brandt about Rob’s return to Butte.
According to the Standard’s story, Tom told the UK’s Daily Mail that Rob did kill Osama. He also took part in the mission that helped save “Captain Philips” from Somali pirates. That mission inspired the movie starring Tom Hanks.
Montana ballerinas show off the Treasure State in China
The ballerinas that make up Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre are in the middle of a trip to China, where thousands of people are filling theaters to watch them dance.
As the Missoulian’s Emily Foster explains, the trip is a part of an effort to show off the Treasure State through the internationally-understood medium of dance.
Here’s one of Foster’s stories about the tour:
BEIJING – Anna Horejsi, 15, has been dancing since she was 2 years old, and she said her experiences on tour with the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre through China will stay with her forever.
“Dance is such a universal way of communication; we can still connect with people here, even though we don’t speak Chinese,” said Horejsi.
The RMBT is six days into its two-week journey through China. About 1,200 people crowded into the Tianquo Theatre in Beijing to watch the Missoula-based troupe’s third performance, which included newly added solos from master violinist Henry Gronnier and master dance instructor Carlton Wilborn, who joined the theater for the tour.
“It’s exciting and different – it’s very different from America and even than Europe,” Horejsi said of performing in China.
Horejsi and the other RMBT dancers, whose ages range from 11 to 26, have a skill set that is rooted in classical ballet. However, artistic director Charlene Campbell Carey said her dancers’ choreography is based on much more than mastering the perfect pirouette in her studio.
“It’s more of a laboratory. I’m a scientist doing experiments with people,” said Campbell Carey.
“Charlene trains everybody in the base of dance, which is ballet. I believe the base of all dance is ballet and after you have your ballet you can extend it to any other form of dance,” said Jenifer Kerber, Campbell Carey’s assistant and an RMBT performer/choreographer. “She will build a program based on what a dancer is already good at and what will make them a better dancer.”
Campbell Carey said another experiment – bringing aboard Wilborn and Gronnier for the China tour – not only elevates the performances, but their accompaniments and solos become a unique and integral component of the overall program.
Take “Baby Antelope,” for example. During the piece, 13-year-old dancer and Meadow Hill Middle School student Maddie Sager performs a classical ballet solo on pointe.
Her movement is set against the violin music of Gronnier, a French-born, award-winning master violinist. Campbell Carey said it’s this kind of performance that creates the “contrast and conflict” that make the RMBT unique.
“We don’t do ‘The Nutcracker,’ we don’t do the full-length ballets,” said Kerber. “Not many studios are run in that fashion, so the girls get personal growth.”
Also on tour with the RMBT is Pablo Sanchez, 26, a dancer from Chicago who met Campbell Carey when he was 17.
“She came to teach a master class at the dance studio I was training at,” explained Sanchez.
Campbell Carey picked him out of the crowd, and Sanchez was invited to join the RMBT’s first China tour in 2008.
“Being involved in this as a performer – it’s absolutely the reason why we do this, to be able to share our experiences through art for different people,” he said.
Sanchez dances with the RMBT female dancers in cowboy clothes for several numbers and performs solo on stage with Gronnier.
“It’s different for me because I’m not from Montana, so for me to be involved, and this culture exchange is really great for me because it’s new for me, too, to see the Western culture be presented in a different place entirely,” he said.
Sanchez said he’s grateful for the opportunity to be part of the 2014 tour.
“It’s important because we’re all part of the same world, so it’s very important for people to experience what’s on the other side of the planet,” he said.
Kerber said it’s gratifying to see the dancers taught by herself and Campbell Carey experience the arts so far away from home.
“It’s pretty amazing to see them gain some independence and confidence, being able to travel and figure out how to communicate at such a young age,” Kerber said.
“If they see the world and the opportunities it has to offer, they’ll take them,” Campbell Carey said.
It can be exhausting, leading the troupe across thousands of miles and through daylong rehearsals on little sleep, but Campbell Carey said in the end, it’s all worth it.
“Watching my students earn scholarships to Julliard or win a national award for dance is one of my biggest motivations to keep the program going,” she said.
The dancers arrived in Zhengzhou in the Henan Province midweek and will put on two performances before heading to Nanning.
Sneak peak: Eastern Montana takes center stage in our Nov/Dec issue
We’ve focused our sights on the East in the Nov/Dec 2014 issue of Montana Magazine, which should be arriving in mailboxes across the country later this week.
We probably don’t need to remind you that Eastern Montana is a big place. And, as we show off in our latest issue, its a beautiful and diverse place that produces stories like that of our cover star, Riley Jones. The image of Riley and her dad, Ryan, was made by photographer Leland Howard. Riley first sat on a horse at age 2, and was riding on her own by age 4.
Along with the image of Riley, we’ve got a beautiful lineup of images from Howard, who traveled 10,000 miles across the eastern part of Montana to make images for the new book Eastern Montana. We used a sampling of those images for our Portfolio and for the cover image. It’s a Portfolio worth seeing.
Don’t think we’ve forgotten that with the fall and early winter comes hunting season – a time in Montana that has created some of the most storied and longstanding traditions. In that spirit, we’ve got an essay from writer Jack Ballard, whose family has hunted from the same elk camp for more than 5o years.
We’ve also got a feature on an up-and-coming knife maker from Missoula, who is provided hunters with some new tools to aid in their adventures.
One more teaser for one about a story about a hunter who, as he battles colon cancer, is giving back in a big way to his hometown of Glasgow. Skip Erickson has donated an almost unbelievable collection of animal trophies to the Children’s Museum of Northeast Montana – a place that can now transport kids from all over the Hi-Line across the world as they look through the rooms of Erickson’s animals.
There’s more too, of course, so keep a lookout for more teasers on our Facebook (fb.com/montanamagazine) and Twitter (@montanamagazine). We’ll have our preview content from the Nov/Dec issue up at montanamagazine.com later this week.
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