We’ve all been there. You show a buddy a picture of your
latest buck. His first question: “What’d he score?” The quantity of antler and
horn has become established shorthand for the relative value of the animals
that carry headgear.
Even those hunters who understand that there’s more to a
hunt than a Boone and Crockett or Pope & Young score routinely assess the
dimensions of an animal with a number. There’s a reason: it’s a yardstick that
we all know and recognize, even if we don’t always recall how a trophy’s score
is calculated. We like numbers. We like rankings. In that way, a buck’s B&C
score is like a thermometer. It’s one thing to say to your buddy, “It’s nice
out. Sunny and warm and seems like a great day.” It’s another to say, “It’s 72
Continue reading McKean Minute: TPI – A New Way to Measure Hunting Trophies
Last week in this space I told you about our Hi-Line Sportsmen group and the third annual fundraising party we threw last month. A couple hundred of our neighbors packed into the St. Raphael’s Catholic Church gym here in Glasgow to eat prime rib and bid on guns, donated art, and sporting goods.
By the time we paid for the firearms (purchased at our local gun shop), the bartenders, and the kids who helped serve food and clean tables, we were left with a pretty good balance of cash. That’s the idea. Hi-Line Sportsmen exists to put the funds we raise back on the ground in our community to help with everything from processing venison donated to our local food bank to funding boat docks at fishing access sites in our county.
Continue reading McKean Minute: Grassroots Conservation – A User’s Manual
We had a party last Saturday night here in my hometown of Glasgow, Mont. A couple hundred folks showed up at the Catholic Church gym. We ate tasty prime rib roasted by members of the Knights of Columbus. We drank beer, including a smooth amber ale from our local brewery, the Busted Knuckle. Glasgow High School students and their parents served food and cleaned tables to help fund this spring’s trip to Washington, D.C.
This wasn’t just a small-town social event, though. We were gathered with a purpose. It was the third annual fundraising banquet for the Hi-Line Sportsmen, and on a night when the west wind howled, blowing around a foot of drifty snow and sending temps well below zero, inside the warm church, we raised a trove of money by auctioning or raffling guns, homemade knives, donated hardware, and even leftover prime rib.
Continue reading McKean Minute: A Recipe for Local Conservation – Pt. 1
Jerry Ketchum died this week. You don’t know him, but I sure did. He presided behind the counter of D&G Sports and Western in my hometown of Glasgow, Montana as long as I’ve lived here. And a significant time before that.
Jerry could be cranky, if you swaggered in assuming you knew more about guns than he did. You didn’t. He could be short, if he sensed you were a tire-kicker who didn’t intend to drop a dollar in the classic High-Plains hunting and fishing store that presides over the eastern edge of Glasgow’s retail district. But he could be as gentle as a .257 Roberts if you were a beginning shooter or hunter, or if you were a kid or a “lady,” as he tended to call members of the fairer sex.
Continue reading McKean Minute: A Hat Tip to the Counter Clerks
Last year’s hunting season was deadly in my home state of
Montana. Two hunters were wounded when they were accidentally shot in the
field; two others were killed.
One of those victims was Mike Drexler, an elk hunter who was shot by his best friend for the worst and most common reason: his friend, Jay Maisano, loaded a live round in the chamber of his rifle as they approached a downed bull elk. Maisano slipped, the gun went off, and Drexler died in the field.
Continue reading McKean Minute: Accidental gun discharges – More common than you think
You hear this a lot – that the biggest impediment to hunting
and fishing more often is a place to do it. Access is a bottleneck.
But, is it?
Do we have an access problem, in the sense that there’s not enough real estate to go around? Or do we have a problem sharing the access that we’ve worked hard to get and keep?
Continue reading The Selflessness of Access
Chambers of commerce in flyover country grasp at any opportunity to market their communities to the wider world. That’s why you get such curious designations as World’s Largest Frying Pan (Rose Hill, North Carolina), and Biggest Ball of Twine (Cawker City, Kansas). My friend and fellow Powderhooker, Eric Dinger, tells me that his hometown of Luverne, Minnesota, plans to build the world’s largest nutcracker.
In my case, my hometown (Glasgow, Montana) had the unfortunate designation last summer of being named the most remote town in America. For most rural places, that’s the fast lane to oblivion, but chambers of commerce being what they are—unapologetic promoters—mine embraced the distinction by printing banners and shirts proclaiming Glasgow as the official “Middle of Nowhere.” Continue reading McKean Minute: My county is better than your county
Over the next few months, nearly three-quarters of a million Americans will be certified to become hunters. They’re the graduates of each state’s Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education programs, and the numbers are impressive. The rolling average for the past 10 years is that somewhere around 650,000 new hunters are certified annually through state-delivered courses, many of which are held in the winter and spring months.
Who teaches these beginning hunters? I do, along with some 50,000 fellow hunter education instructors. Continue reading McKean Minute: Step Up – Become a Hunter Education Instructor
I’ve been on an evangelistic roll in this space for the past month or so, extolling the virtues of mentoring new hunters. Hopefully my one-note chorus hasn’t turned you away from the subject, because I have one more post on the topic before I return to our regularly scheduled programming of bad dogs, good kids, and the hard-won rewards of late-season roosters and ice fishing. Continue reading McKean Minute: Resolve to Mentor in 2019
Anybody can look like an ace deer hunter when there are plenty of deer around. Thanks to an abundance of cervids, I looked pretty good to my apprentice hunters this fall. Each of the beginning hunters I took out shot deer. Maybe not trophy bucks, but after all, that wasn’t the goal.
Then my longtime friend Chris asked me to take him goose hunting. Chris is an accomplished big-game hunter, but he’s just never been in the right place at the time the geese were there, and because he’s seen my occasional success with honkers, he asked me to show him the ropes. Continue reading McKean Minute: To Mentor Is To Give. Literally