All posts by Andrew McKean

McKean Minute: A Hat Tip to the Counter Clerks

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

McKean Minute: Accidental gun discharges – More common than you think

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

McKean Minute: My county is better than your county

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

McKean Minute: Step Up – Become a Hunter Education Instructor

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

McKean Minute: Resolve to Mentor in 2019

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

McKean Minute: To Mentor Is To Give. Literally

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

McKean Minute: Unwritten – The Secret Code of the Outdoors

My friend Pete asked to borrow my 870 Wingmaster for a weekend. He had been invited on a pheasant hunt and didn’t have a shotgun.

So I loaned him one of mine. When I got that Remington back fully two years later, the receiver was rusty and the stock so scratched and dinged that I’d guess it had bounced around a pickup bed filled with fencing supplies. Continue reading McKean Minute: Unwritten – The Secret Code of the Outdoors

McKean Minute: Grip and Grin 3.0

We call them “grip-and-grins.” You’ve seen them, and probably participated in more than a few, that pose with our quarry after a successful outing. I’ve seen you too, beaming like a flashlight while hoisting an outsized fish or thrusting the antlers of a deer or elk to the camera as though they were the Stanley Cup.

We hunters and anglers have been gripping and grinning as long as we’ve had instruments to record the moment. Whether faded tintypes in a museum or time-bleached Polaroids from the family album or digital photos shared by social media, these images have in common the electric joy of unexpected success. The best of these photos draw you in. You want to know more about the moment—where and when it happened? Who took the photo? The story of the hunt? Continue reading McKean Minute: Grip and Grin 3.0

McKean Minute: Hunter Education 2.0

It’s full-on hunting season here in eastern Montana, but I haven’t been out much for myself. Instead, I’ve spent the last couple weeks guiding brand-new hunters to their first deer.

It’s been alternately rewarding, frustrating, euphoric, and deeply memorable. But here’s my biggest take-away in these first days of real-world mentoring: this is really a working version of hunter education. Continue reading McKean Minute: Hunter Education 2.0