28 Oct. 18-31, 2013
Explore Big Sky
Greg Brady meets Davy Crockett By Steven Brutger
Explore Big Sky Contributor
Someone once described my brother Ryan as a combination of Greg Brady and Davy Crockett. An odd pairing, yes, but in some ways it made a lot of sense.
and was burning off the crisp morning air. The cab warmed up, and I loosened my scarf, my toes tingling as they regained feeling inside my boots.
faded designer jeans, a tight white T-shirt, sunglasses and a pink baseball cap. After a quick hug and the usual greetings, the three of us discussed
The contrast of Ryan’s attire with the old Browning A-Bolt rifle almost made me bust out laughing; I felt proud of my brother and who he is. Forty-five minutes later, he was standing beside the road with his deer, right where he said he would be. Nary a drop of blood was on his jeans or T-shirt. Still warm to the touch, we loaded the doe into the pickup.
At age 12, Ryan was on the pro staff for Mathews Bows and one of the best under-18 archers in the country. As a chubby-cheeked tween growing up in Bozeman, his hunting album was the envy of any hunter who was lucky enough to see it and made my mother wonder what type of child she was raising.
Possessed by some uncanny ability I may never obtain, my brother’s laser-like focus permeates everything he does, typically leading to mastery. Later that weekend he shot a symmetrical five-point buck – by far the best of our season.
In college, he came out, which didn’t really surprise anyone. To us it didn’t make any difference if Ryan was gay. After graduating, he moved to D.C. for a big job, and when he came home on holidays we hunted just like we always had.
A decade later, he is finishing his Ph.D. at Princeton in Politics with a specialty in International Relations and Formal Quantitative Methodologies, a field I hardly understand. He is recently married, and I got one heck of a brother-in-law out of the deal.
Therein lies the paradox.
At age 12, Ryan was on the Matthews Bows pro staff, and one of the best under-18 archers in the After a morning hunt 10 country. PHOTO COURTESY STEVEN BRUTGER years ago, my uncle and I were With Ryan’s schedule, fall has eating sandwiches in the truck become a tough time for us to cab, parked beside a gravel road at our Ryan pulled up in his black Jetta with plans for an evening hunt. Over coffee get together. He now makes a trip out family’s ranch in Paradise Valley. The tinted windows, stepped out of the car in that morning, my dad had expressed to visit me, my wife and kids in Lander, sun had just crept over Emigrant Peak a desire to all meet at the lower hay Wyo., each summer, and mostly we just
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meadows a couple hours before sunset, which sounded fine, Ryan said. There wasn’t need for much talk; we had all hunted the place since long before we were old enough to carry a rifle.
fish. The ranch sold in 2001, so we split holidays between our respective in-laws and our parents’ place in Bozeman. Time and maturity have brought us closer, and we enjoy each other’s company in a way that was more difficult as teenagers.
Then Ryan asked if we would mind picking him up in 45 minutes, about a quarter mile down the road. He wanted to shoot a whitetail doe and figured he would have her gutted and dragged out by then. It sounded a bit cocky, but my uncle and I agreed. Ryan pulled an orange vest and a .270 from the back of the Jetta, slung the rifle over his shoulder and disappeared through the junipers. My uncle and I looked at each other and shrugged. I couldn’t help but smile:
Ryan’s hunting album is currently in the closet at our parents’ house, collecting dust, but he says he hopes to move West again someday and add another chapter. Steven Brutger was raised in Paradise Valley and now lives in Lander, Wyo., where he works for Trout Unlimited, ensuring his children are afforded the same sporting opportunities we all enjoy today. On the side, he is half the team at stalkingtheseam.com, a blog dedicated to hunting, angling and family.
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Published on Oct 25, 2013