Oct

27

 I drove down the driveway of my Crossville, Tennessee farm, Pamelot, at 5:20 a.m. It was partly cloudy and the air was moist. Ahead was a long drive, one of the longer I have ever embarked on. My mission consisted of several components. On board my 1997 Ford Expedition were the cremains of my Dad, Douglas Parisian. I was headed to a small town in northern Minnesota, a town on the White Earth Indian Reservation where we are members, the town where he was born and raised. I was going to hold a small memorial service and place his remains in his burial plot. After leaving MN I was to head west to gun antelope and visit with clients in Montana, departing back home after the first day of the 2011 deer and elk rifle season. The drive into Nashville, west on I-40 was rather quiet. I kept my eyes scanning for deer in the headlights while this is what I was looking up to. Dad was with me.

I wanted to get through Nashville before traffic got heavy and the clouds thickened as did the ground fog. I didn’t intend to push the trip and wanted to enjoy the fall colors and cherish the memory of my Dad who passed away on June 9th at the age of 88.

To celebrate our last “spin” as he liked to call our trips together I kept a picture of him up front. As the morning dawned it was great to see him smiling with me through the colorful fall beauty of western Kentucky and wondered what a highway patrolman might inquire about with his picture sitting up close and personal. Alas, no troopers were able to get into my checkbook on this trip.

I stopped for a fill-up 376 miles down the road and was making good time. Kentucky turned into Illinois and there were plenty of dead whitetails along the way. Taking pictures with my iphone while driving was not the smartest thing I have done but it worked. Dad was with me. I saw one bomber of a whitetail buck that had lost his life to an Interstate collision and the IL highway department workers had placed him and many others on a flatbed trailer. The road carnage continued the entire trip as the hormone levels build into the peak breeding season. Pushing north into Illinois I thought I could make Rockford near the Wisconsin border about dark-thirty but the cruise control at 72 was working perfectly and Wisconsin was an ideal place to get some sleep.

The next morning I met a great friend at Dicks Bar in Hudson, Wisconsin for some eggs and coffee. Telling the waitress I like my java like I like my girls was a hoot. Hot and quiet wasn’t what she expected to hear. I am told Dicks Bar is the oldest bar in Wisconsin and it’s a gem for tall tales and rich history. Walking out after a delicious breakfast I looked up to see a mature bald eagle overhead. Dad was with me for sure. I kept pushing and MN was at its usual fall self. Beautiful. Heading across our great nation is a treat. I try to avoid the Interstate fast food franchises and duck off into small towns and coffee shops where the locals hang. I’d rather tip the locals and get some laughs than listen to somebody with little ambition ask me if I want fries with that.

In Illinois they talked crop yields and deer hunting. In Wisconsin they talked the Packers and deer hunting. Everywhere there was disdain for the shmuck congress-critters running the show in Corruption, D.C. The wind mills in northern Illinois are growing in number. So too are the deaths of migratory birds. As a birder there’s not much we can do. The green revolution continues but at what cost? The next couple of days were a blur. Meeting with many of my Dad’s friends and family were a bit emotional. I had put together a formal “speech” that I was going to present at the grave site service but had to abandon that. Just couldn’t seem to get through it without tears. The day was clear and cold.

Wind chill was near freezing as we stood at the grave site and I made the executive decision to keep things short and simple. Dad didn’t want a military funeral though as a pilot in WWII he well qualified. He didn’t want a fancy service nor people crying. Dad wanted a celebration of a life well-lived. There was nothing more in life that he wanted to accomplish. He was a great Dad and a great shot with his Remington .30-06. The last deer hunt we were on together when he was 78 he tipped over a small muley buck at nearly 300 yards and when in his early 80’s an old family friend invited him to come to his farm and maybe shoot a deer. Dad went alright. He went for a walk and killed two to fill his tags and was never invited back again which he laughed about.

He said they shouldn’t have invited him if they didn’t want dead deer! As the older ladies were shivering in the freezing wind I kept my words simple at the cemetery. I spoke about how I admired my father. I spoke of his generous nature, his humor, his dedication to the care of his wife and my mother, who for 8 long years lived under very trying conditions in a nursing home due to a terrible stroke. I closed by saying I loved my father. It wasn’t until my hands and knees were on the ground pouring his remains into the hole after everyone departed that my emotions ran out of control. Daylight found me heading west into North Dakota and still avoiding whitetails on the prowl. I missed a nice buck east of Fargo, ND by feet. Twenty-three miles west of Fargo a big cow elk wasn’t so lucky. She lay dead on the Interstate median and the bloody road didn’t allow seeing what type of rig hit her but I bet it was a big rig. It was hard to imagine an elk herd that close to Fargo but they were animals of the plains way back when.

The cycle continues today. As morning broke the sight of thousands of Canadian geese filling every pot-hole, picked corn field and lake was an added plus. I never saw a duck hunter or duck hunting rig on that Sunday morning. The harsh north-west wind would have made for tremendous creepage and easy “strategery” in filling a mixed waterfowl bag. Western North Dakota is on fire with the oil business. If you are young, fit, drug-free and want to make some serious money I suggest you head west. North Dakota is where it’s at. Oil rig work starts at over $26 per hour and there isn’t enough infrastructure in place to handle the demands for all the people needed to drive the boom. Getting into Montana was a relief so I stopped to take this picture.

Unfortunately I also picked up a good amount of litter that previous camera carriers had left behind. I can’t stand litterers and people who toss trash in the back of pickups counting on the wind to blow it out should be slapped silly. If you are one who pulls that crap consider changing your ways. We are all in this together. We all live downstream.

At my destination in Montana the first order of business was to sight in my rifle. I love shooting my hunting rifles and memories of dads words always with me. Hold and shoot on 3. Hold your breath, zero in on the target and fire in about 3 seconds as you refine your aim. The next morning I started hunting antelope. On foot. I killed a lot of antelope in my teens in South Dakota, some in my 20’s in Montana, a few in my 30’s, a couple in my 40’s and one with a bow and one with a rifle in my 50 ’s. I am no stranger to antelope. I left the truck at 8 a.m. Here’s a picture of my rifle that I hunt with. That is a 2.5×15x56 Swaro on a BAR .243. Nice glass for sure. No more gun or scope will ever be needed in my lifetime and a lucky son will be the beneficiary. I like to use the sun and wind to my advantage and my first day out I only saw 3 antelope on the ranch I was hunting. No bucks. I logged about 12 miles and by 2:30 was tired. It had turned warm and I had miles to get back to my rig. I should have had my .20 gauge and shot Hungarian partridge and sharp-tailed grouse . Never saw a single Sage grouse while in Montana. Maybe they are going the way of the buffalo. Let’s hope not but it’s not pretty. By day 3 I believed what everyone was telling me. Montana sold more antelope licenses than they have antelope.

Between disease and the disastrous winter last year things look bleak across eastern Montana. Out of the several ranches I hunted I saw very few speed goats where 10 or 15 years ago there were hundreds. They are tough animals and only indigenous to this continent. I hope they eventually recover in number and that the good boys and girls at the state game offices in Helena, MT do the right thing and cut their revenue stream over the next few years. The antelope need some help and fewer does and fawns being shot will help. The coyotes, eagles and cats will always get their fair share. That is how they are built. I finally lucked into some decent numbers of ‘lopes on a ranch I had never hunted and after some conversation with the ranch owner I was in business. No money exchanged hands, just the request that I get a goat to get rid of a mouth that competes with his cows for food. That I could do. After spending a good part of the morning watching antelope with my great spotting scope, (thanks Dad, that was a great gift) I kept coming back to a plain weird goat that I had spotted on an adjoining ranch in 2008 when bow hunting. He was very old, huge in size for it being a month after the antelope rut and had some amazing horn structure.

I knew he would make a great mount but I kept glassing looking for something out of the ordinary that would be a typical buck but to no avail. This freaky goat was going to hopefully get hit with a 58 grain bullet going a mile per second at the muzzle. These old guys are old for a reason. They have a sense about them. Like my Dad. Spending his career in law enforcement Dad could get it figured out pretty quick when things didn’t add up. I think I have some of that sense in me but in the stock market. Once in a while you will get hurt, beat up and banged. Good sense and savvy prevents the massive blow-ups. Experience is a great teacher and with 30 years in the market it isn’t getting easier. High frequency trading has changed the game. The little guy on Main Street is being picked off by Wall Street. And the regulators. But that has nothing to do with killing antelope so back to speed goats.

As this old beast was getting a drink shortly before noon I got a great look at his horns. Wow. He bedded as usual, smack dab in the middle of a doe herd. He was about 302 yards out. I waited some and decided to make my move and in a bit, the does were up and he was moving away. Anyone who has spent some time with antelope just knows how older bucks will keep their bodies going directly away from any danger and this guy was no exception. He just kept moving directly away as the does were not overly alarmed but he was keeping the does between me and something amiss. I kept on him waiting for the instant when he might turn and present an opportunity. His mistake was in turning. At the crack he folded faster than Bill Clinton headed after an intern.

In my book he’s a trophy. A trophy to have survived several harsh MT winters. I don’t have a clue what he might score and care less. To me, inches on an antelope are how thick you want the steaks cut. With that mature black face and neck patch he should look great with a wall mount in semi-sneak style. I’ll share that look in about 5 months when I get to see the real deal. In the heat I took him immediately to a guy I trust in the next town over, about 70 miles away. As the MT youth big-game season had started a young hunter downed his first deer ever and brought it in for processing. His father is an outfitter so he probably had a great crack at killing a magnificent buck but this young man is to be congratulated on downing this brute! Wow, what a beauty.

I won’t bore you with any more of the details about the next couple of days I spent scouting for the big game opener as I have deer and bull elk tags yet to fill when I head back to MT over Thanksgiving with my two sons who have deer and cow tags.

Here is the country I hunted on opening day.

As in stocks there are a million ways to lose money. In elk hunting there are a couple million ways to not put a tag on a trophy bull. About a half hour after daylight I missed a big bull at 50 yards walking away from me in very thick jack pines. Pure missed the shot I attempted. A great bull in his summer “home”. With the rut over he had broke off the cows and come home. I had him scouted perfectly. He didn’t follow my script. He won last Saturday. Dean got beat. Dad would have laughed.

When I would tell my Dad I missed an animal he would always smile. He said you can’t eat tracks. Hopefully with a small amount of my Dad’s cremains in the pocket of my hunting jacket he can be with me when I head back in the hills I love to try to kill that bulls daddy in a month. Dad never gave up, even in the end. Neither will I. May there be big bulls ahead to make Dad smile.
_________________________

The reason why I'm not President is because on the second day in office I’ d be asking the Head of the Joint Chiefs, “what do you mean we ran out of missiles?”

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