The other night, hunting among too many files for some snippet of information destined for belvaslist.com, I suddenly found my thoughts traveling back to the 1960s and 70s—when I lived in Spokane and Lewiston, Idaho. What brought about this trip down memory lane I’m not really sure. Perhaps the cold nights, the leaves changing color and all of that. Back then, Fall sparked the primal urge in boys and men to go a-hunting; a time when our primitive ancestors called out to us from prehistoric roots.
In those places and times, I was literally a hunter. Stalker of big game and wild birds, I owned two rifles, five shotguns, a bow (with arrows), several hunting/skinning knives and a pistol. I had a dog-run in my backyard to house German Shorthair pointers and a black Labrador (for water fowl).
My hunting partners and I jointly owned a Ponsness Shotgun Shell Reloader. With it, we renewed boxes and boxes of spent shells with fresh gunpowder and shot, all the while drinking large quantities of beer. We shot trap and skeet in the off-season, to stay sharp and hone our skills (also while drinking large quantities of beer).
In Lewiston, I was lucky enough to enjoy ten years of some of the best hunting in the Northwestern United States. And I was able to hunt close to home. We only had an hour’s drive to reach several good hunting grounds for Roosevelt Elk, Mule and White-Tail deer. Even less for bird-hunting: I could load the dogs in the pickup—yes, I had a pickup back then, complete with gun rack in the rear window—and be chasing birds a half-hour later. And oh what hunting it was!
Lewiston (if you don’t know it) is located near the confluence of the Salmon and Snake Rivers, home of the two deepest gorges in North America. It was also home to the best Chukar partridge hunting anywhere in the States. I spent many hours with my dogs roaming the steep breaks above those famous rivers, trying to bag those quick-flying, hard-to-hit birds. We also trekked the croplands and draws, starting at city limits edge, for wily Huns (Hungarian partridge), both China Roosters (ringneck pheasants) and Japanese Greens (green pheasants). Also available: a trio of grouse–Ruffed (Fool Hen), Blue and Spruce; three kinds of quail (California, Gambel’s, and Mountain) as well as various geese (Canada, Brant, and Snow). And a whole bunch of ducks as well.
I never figured up what I spent per pound for the game I bagged. But the enjoyment it brought to the table was priceless—as was the camaraderie I experienced with my fellow hunter-gatherers and the stories that still survive in my memory.
Now I live in Shoreline, a quiet, civilized Seattle suburb. My hunting is confined to deft-fingering of computer keys instead of tramping across hill and dale or trekking mountain ridge and ravine stalking an elusive denizen to grace my table. My apartment has no room for a dog-run, so now I keep a cat. And I no longer drink large quantities of beer, what ever the reason. I don’t even own a gun, which is okay, since I’ve kind of lost my taste for killing. About the only thing I enjoy hunting for these days is a fine scotch to share with friends as we exchange tales from our past about “the one that got away.”
I know this had little to do with writing, but it wanted out!