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Plus: is the new broom in the county commissioner’s office cleaning up, or is he really just tearing down? A look at the controversial Mike Nielsen.
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2 Is Nielsen the iceberg to Bonner County’s Titanic? 6 Leaving room for Hope - The Scenic Route 7 Indian summer - Currents 8 The Brown Creeper - A Bird in Hand 8 Project sequencing impacts Sandpoint - A Seat in the House 9 Grizzly tips for hunters - The Game Trail 10 The world’s best navy - Veterans’ News 11 The perils of shooting a grizzly - Politically Incorrect
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Insurance the Tip of the Nielsen Iceberg
Unrest ensured as commissioner Mike Nielsen goes after after smokers and by Trish Gannon the “old boy’s network.” What’s his next target?
e rode into office on a wave of anti-government, anti-spending sentiment in the county and it’s not hard to see that Bonner County Commissioner Mike Nielsen sees himself mounted on a white steed, the appointed “savior” of the people from a government that would hold them down. “Friendship stops where the county business starts,” he thunders as he wields his sword against Blue Cross of Idaho, smokers, the county fair, popular local insurance agent Dan Taylor, fat people, longtime county clerk Marie Scott, the 4-H program, printing costs, the Bonner County Historical Society and Museum, and his fellow commissioner Lewis Rich. Reminiscent of the “band of brothers” ethos, however, this Alaskan retiree who spent almost three decades in law enforcement has stayed the sword from the sheriff’s department, approving increases in total salaries from $2.27 million to $2.56 million, an amount that includes increasing the sheriff’s salary by $13,000 a year. This self-proclaimed fiscal conservative defends the tax increase required to raise those salaries by saying, “I was not able to solve many prior year’s problems with what we had.” For Nielsen, those problems included positions he saw as essential that were funded outside of the regular budget. “Understand, I won the primary in May. Now I’m not a conspirator, but the commission set that budget in August... knowing there was a problem someone would have to solve.” The salaries of the sheriff and the undersheriff were also a problem. Nielsen says former commissioners, “Lewis and Joe (former commissioner Joe Young) were trying to do an end run around... the constitution,” when it came to funding the juvenile detention center, and were successfully challenged by then-sheriff candidate Daryl Wheeler. “Darryl won the primary. What did they do?... they cut (the sheriff’s) wages. So the sheriff’s salary and the undersheriff’s salary (which is tied to it) were compressed downward. That is a problem.” Lewis disagrees, and points out the sheriff, unlike other county department heads, has five administrative assistants to help him do his job. The salary was set with the previous sheriff in order to reflect that level of support. As for other salaries in the sheriff’s department, Nielsen wields a familiar argument: that wages are so depressed, the
county is serving as a training school for new recruits, who then go on to jobs in other communities with higher pay scales. “I was trying to stop the exodus,” he said. In Mike Nielsen’s world, there are a lot of conspiracies working against him. Fat, smoking, couch potatoes who work for the county are against him; so is county clerk Marie Scott; and so is fellow commissioner Lewis Rich. When Rich, who had repeatedly stated his objections to the budget increases, voted against the final budget, Nielsen characterized his action (in an email to Tom Dillen for distribution to the Republican constituency) as “self-serving claptrap by Lewis so Cornel and I would take the political heat from fiscal conservatives.” Of Rich he has also said (in that same email to Tom Dillen), “Lewis’ recent shenanigans trying to sabotage the health insurance RFP process were less than helpful, and very unethical in my opinion... This is the type of skullduggery and cronyism that has plagued Bonner County for years, which must be exposed and eliminated.” Rich is not the only one Nielsen thinks is working against him. “There’s been two different attempts at character assasination on me,” he said. “Marie (Scott) just sent one out,” he said, regarding an assessment of printer usage in the county. “She sent (an email) out to all the department heads, ‘What’s Nielsen’s relationship to these people?’... She didn’t come to me and ask me anything; she just shotgunned it. So it’s pretty clear it was another attempt at character assassination.” The printer assessment, by the way, along with a eduction in paper waste, was initially suggested by the Association of Bonner County Employees at a presentation in July as a way to save the county money. Nielsen has run with the suggestion, and brought in a proposal by a private company (Copiers Northwest) to take over leases for copiers and printers, standardizing the expense for all departments. Scott says she wasn’t able to attend the presentation, and her email was simply to state her understanding that there was to be some type of disclosure at the presentation about Nielsen’s connections with the company, and to find out what it was. Nielsen wrote in an email that the question was a, “false implication (and) nothing more than another attempt at character assassination.” He adds that he has no connection with the company. To the consternation of many employees,
the county also changed their health insurance plan this year, adopting a new agent and a new insurance provider. Responding to those concerns, Nielsen says they represent, “... a jaded point of view from some very fringe employees.” Nielsen says insurance costs are driven by claims and that 70-plus percent of the claims by county employees “come from four main areas; most of those are choices we as individuals make.” He lists those choices as smoking, drinking too much, being overweight and not following a doctor’s instructions. “Now if you want to smoke, and you want to eat deep-fried food, and you want to be a couch potato, and you don’t want to exercise, absolutely you’re not going to like my plan. I’m trying to make people responsible,” he said, inadvertently highlighting another concern with his management style: since when is it the a county commissioner’s job to make county employees responsible for their personal choices outside of work? Nielsen avers, “I have had a certain group of employees fighting this... the vast majority of them come out of one department... the clerk’s office.” Nielsen believes county clerk Marie Scott is the impetus for those employee concerns. After explaining his plan to her, he says she told him, “Mike, you know they don’t call me slim and you know I smoke. Get the hell out of my office.” Their relationship, he says, “went downhill since then.” He adds, “Her employees are the ones that have been stirring up and trying to kill the wellness program.” Employees who express concern, he says, represent “a small group of employees who are worried about the wellness program.” Chris Quayle, jury commissioner for Bonner County and the President of the Association of Bonner County Employees, which represents about a quarter of the county’s employees, disagrees with that characterization. “Based on the feedback from employees that many of (our) officers have received, the concern is significantly greater (than that). The discontent is more widespread than commissioners might be aware of.” Quayle says that employee concerns range from employee costs to which doctors they’ll be able to see to whether they will even be able to obtain some medical services locally. “For example, ABCE recently learned that the new broker did not adequately convey information regarding processing fees during the new insurance orientation presentations to county employees and many employees who
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Nielsen- cont’d have chosen the Health Savings Account option are finding that out after the fact.” For those who ask why the contract as insurance broker went to Wells Fargo, instead of to a local business as it was previously, and who worry about being able to find a local medical provider under the new plan, Nielsen suggests that concerns about doing business locally can be taken too far. “I can’t have every service in little Sandpoint,” he said. He mentioned his personal dentist is located in Spokane, and that he “consider(s) that (Spokane) pretty local. I can drive there and back in the same day.” He adds, however, that “we have been working hard” to sign up local medical providers under the new plan. As for that change in insurance providers, many in the county were surprised when the long-time (12 years) insurance agent for the county, Dan Taylor and Taylor Insurance, were replaced by mega-bank Wells Fargo. They had received glowing reviews from throughout the county, and even Nielsen says,“I didn’t find any fault with what (Taylor Insurance was) doing.” He then, however, went on to list areas where he did find fault. Dan Taylor, it seems, is part of an “old-boy network” that Nielsen says had been operating under Nielsen’s radar in the county. “I was taken aback by Dan,” Nielsen said. After the county put the insurance out for bid Taylor, according to Nielsen, didn’t feel like he was required to actually submit a proposal. “He’s had it for 12 years,” Nielsen said. “He was that comfortable. It was very clear (that he had to submit a proposal).” When Taylor asked if he was required to submit a proposal, Nielsen says, “That tells me that maybe there was a good old boy system I didn’t see.” In that email to the Republican membership, Nielsen wrote, “The former broker had held the position without bid or
competition for 12 years. The County had used the same insurance provider for 64 years. Their relationship with the County had become so cozy they both felt they had special privileges, including being given the last opportunity to bid, rather than compete in open competition.” According to Dan Taylor, Nielsen’s statements are simply not true. “The commissioners were asked each year if they wanted bids from other insurance companies, he said, “and in ‘07/’08 the benefits did go out to bid.” As for that meeting, “He (Nielsen) told me I didn’t have to submit a proposal. Then as I was leaving the office, I talked to Pam (Allen, in risk management) and she said yes I did. So I walked back into Nielsen’s office and asked him and he said yes, I did need to submit one.” Taylor said his question simply had to do with the process, and had nothing to do with any “old boy network” expectations. But that’s just the beginning of Nielsen’s concerns about Taylor Insurance as the county’s insurance broker, along with Blue Cross as the insurance provider. Nielsen says, “Under the previous (health) program, the insurance broker got all the rebates... You can call it kickbacks, you can call it rebates, but under the previous program, the insurance broker got all the rebates.” He says that Wells Fargo, in contrast, will be turning over rebates to the county. Both Taylor and Jerry Dworak, a Vice President with Blue Cross, have no idea what Nielsen is talking about. “That’s simply not true,” Taylor said. “I don’t, and never did, get any ‘rebates’ from anyone. I got a commission—period.” Dworak agreed. “I don’t know exactly what (Nielsen’s) talking about,” he said, “but I can state categorically that Taylor Insurance never got any kind of “rebate” from the insurance.”
More damning, however, is another Nielsen statement, when explaining why he felt the insurance needed to be put up for bid in the first place. “We did an audit. We couldn’t account for almost a million dollars. It wasn’t in claims and it wasn’t in benefits.” He added, “When we got in and did the analysis we found out we’ve got a savings account but we really can’t account for a large section of the money we’ve taken in over the years. That was an issue.” Nielsen denies thinking that Blue Cross was in any way fraudulent, and says only that their “profit margin was pretty substantial.” He charges that when it comes to the county’s savings account, Blue Cross “has refused to provide that information to our broker” (which is now Wells Fargo). That audit, analysis and even the “we” Nielsen refers to is another mystery. Marie Scott, as county clerk, is not aware of any audit done of the insurance program. Commissioner Lewis Rich is also in the dark. “To my knowledge,” he said, “there has been no audit done and there’s no missing money.” Dworak and Taylor are likewise baffled. “I’m certainly not aware of any audit done of Blue Cross,” said Dworak as he waited on a plane at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. “We would cooperate fully (if the county) wants one. We have nothing to hide. All (Nielsen) has to do is call us and we will open our books.” As for Taylor, he says of allegations of an audit showing close to a million dollars unaccounted for, “I don’t believe that for a minute!” When asked to clarify, Nielsen would only write, “I do not have anymore details at this time. You asked what else I am working on, this is one of my projects. I cannot discuss it any further at this time.” Nonetheless, Nielsen insists, “I’m not here
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to bad mouth Taylors in any way.” Dan Taylor is beginning to question the validity of that statement, based on the information he’s been given. The insurance question is over and done. Just days after a meeting where the new insurance was questioned, the commissioners voted to sign the contract with Wells Fargo as their broker, and Pacific Source as their insurance provider. Mike Nielsen has moved on, and has made some limited national news for his newest proposal—that the county refuse to hire anyone who smokes, likening it to “insuring a burning building.” Mike Nielsen, of course, is just one member of a three-person board of commissioners, and as one member really has no power or authority at all. But that doesn’t seem to be how things are working out in practice, with Nielsen often opposed by one commissioner, Lewis Rich, and supported by another, Cornel Rasor. Rasor, who has long been known in the community for his conservative-leaningtoward-libertarian viewpoints, should not be seen as a mere adjunct to Nielsen, submissively following wherever his more vocal partner follows. Rasor has his own reputation, which fellow conservatives say embraces both honesty and integrity. Rich, for example, despite the occasional dissent on votes, says Rasor, “is an honest man. He makes his decisions based on what he truly believes is the right choice.” While Rasor has voted in conjunction with Nielsen on areas that fit his own paradigm on how government should operate, future agreement should not be taken for granted. For example, Rasor stated he felt the commission had done a poor job of including employees in the process. “I admit that we did not do this as well with employee participation as we could have in this process but frankly we could not have 20 employees in the process of choosing every provider the county has. It was not a deliberate exclusion but rather a response to the exigencies of the time we had to spend and the processes we had to follow,” he wrote. Chris Quayle takes heart at that, and hopes that employees will be included in future decisions that have an impact on
their lives. “The commissioners assurred the ABCE health and wellness committee they would be included in the review of the health insurance programs being considered for employees,” she said, “and that didn’t happen. Over a quarter of the employees belong to our association, and more are joining every day. We have several working committees to address issues of concern, and we believe our input and our perspective will benefit the commissioners as they work on county issues. We would like to be able to provide a representative that is a formal part of these types of deliberative processes.” For his part, Mike Nielsen believes employees are already a part of the process. He says he has an “open-door policy” to employees, and that he “reads every email” sent to him. Nonetheless, he says his job is to And they have not to—after all, don’t “represent thedon’t taxpayer,” the employee, we Americans believe if it’s ours, it’s ours and that he will continue to do that regardless andhis weactions can do are withperceived, it what weeven want? of how if itOr means he has no hope of re-election. is It’s possible that Nielsen may have to and wenot want it, then look you so far forward have to giveasit re-election. to us and ifAlthough you don’t, no names have sponsor been given, and no and one has then you terrorism we’ll stepped up to take action, Scott has confirmed that her office has been queried about the By the way, China wants that oil as recall process. well. Remember China? The people who So what’s in the future for Bonner County? loaned us all that money? China’s Recall speculations aside, Mike Nielsen hasoil is around 6.5 forward. billion barrels lots consumption of plans as he continues He year, and is growing at 7anpercent every says ahe’s currently at work on evaluation year. employee It produces about barrels of county pay rates3.6 andbillion how those year. Does this the math look good couldevery be improved. Unlike sheriff’s office,to he believes there’s concernother that employees anyone? Cannoanyone than Sarah are paid such George a low rateBush that Bonner Palinatand believeCounty we can government serving a training ground. drill our is way out ofasthis problem? Anyone But he he has questions ashit tothe whether whosays doesn’t think we better ground current pay torates withwe running figureare out commiserate how to fuel what the responsibilities expected and training want fueled with something other than required for the position held. oil probably to go back The inference deserves is that changes maytobean coming to pay rates, and those changes may I could go on not be to the employees’ :liking. If Rasor but you’ll final joinsforever, with Nielsen on quit thisreading. process So as one he has discussion American public. First, on some others,for andthe if employees once again feel excluded the independent decision-making, thenof let’s havefrom a true, analysis continued controversy likely to remain a what happened onisSeptember 11, 2001. feature our county government. Theofofficial explanation simply doesn’t
hold water. This is one of those “who knew what, when” questions that must be answered—and people/institutions must
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This is not really anything new in Bonner County. We’ve endured controversial government in all manner of elected offices. And in a sad return to some practices of the past, there were a large number of employees who refused to talk on the record about what they think of their newest commissioner, despite, as one put it, feeling he is recommending changes so fast, “it’s making our heads spin!” As Nielsen said, he serves the taxpayer, and it’s the taxpayer who will ultimately determine whether Nielsen is creating the county government they want, or whether he’s not quite the knight they were looking for. Until that is clear, county employees might want to shorten their stirrups and hang on tight. It’s looking like a wild ride.
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Leaving Room for Hope Hope is a vital thing. It springs eternal in the human breast, for one thing; which keeps us moving between disasters. It’s central to Paul’s “Big Three” in 1 Corinthians 13—faith, hope and love, of which he says the greatest is love, but love without hope is something to be suffered, and faith without hope is simply resignation. I think the three approach equity, in spite of what Paul says. It’s not the first time I have disagreed with him. In last month’s column, “Wake Up America,” I did manage to leave a little room for hope, even in pointing out that our country may be in the worst trouble it has ever been in. We have a festering economy. Many of our more well-to-do delude themselves with a sense of entitlement, ignoring the poor and marginalized. We place huge importance on illusory spectacles and celebrity. We suffer a complacent citizenry; numerous examples of increasingly and wantonly kleptocratic leadership; and a crumbling infrastructure we can’t afford to fix. Our descent into this state bears an earmark of the collapse of every great empire that ever melted down: we are rotting from the core out. So, what do I find hopeful? Small things. Incremental things. Subtle things. I read letters to the editor in several newspapers in small and large communities, for instance, and I’ve noticed that their tenor has been changing. There is less blaming and more suggested solutions. There is more about working together to solve problems and less about who is the cause. It feels like we’ve hit a wall and bounced off, and are starting to pick ourselves up and get reoriented. The good news here is that although we are a mess, we have survived the collision. Call me an optimist. There was also a small incident in the past month that called me to be more hopeful and it actually caused me to start looking for other hopeful signs. I went to a rodeo. Rodeos have been the all-American spectacle since real cowboys roamed the earth, and the money machine that the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association has become has pushed them to a new pinnacle of spectacularity, if you will forgive me a word. I note this because the rodeo in question was my second of the summer, and before that, it had been a decade since I watched grown men throw themselves off of perfectly good horses and climb upon perfectly bad ones in search of glory, fame and belt buckles sure to rub their navels raw. My sensibilities have changed somewhat in that decade. Even though I still appreciate a good ride, I find myself cheering for animals that get away, and cringing at the violence
dispensed by the bucking stock. At my first rodeo of the summer, I was impressed by the continued failure of the cowboys—and cowgirls—to get control of the critters they were supposed to be roping, wrestling and riding. The critters were winning! I love cheering for an underdog, even if it is a cow, and the cattle and horses won that rodeo walking—and running and bucking— away. The bull who did finally get ridden—in spectacular fashion—got even by refusing to leave the arena for 15 minutes after his rider’s eight seconds of fame. The creatures won the contest by a huge margin, 76-15. The second rodeo was a bit more even, and the humans won by a small margin, as they usually do. But that’s not the point. The point is—or was—the reaction of the crowd at the second rodeo to a comment made by the announcer. We are sitting in the middle of a rodeo—a sport populated and followed by a primarily conservative group of humans—in the middle of one of the most conservative counties that I know of. (Guess which one, if you like. You might be right and you might not.) The announcer and a half-dozen girls in sprayed-on jeans and tight, fringed blouses carrying various flags and riding very fast horses have gotten the crowd going, and we are approaching the national anthem. Back a decade ago, this used to take about eight minutes. Now it takes about 30, for it is also opportunity to promote the next few PRCA rodeos on the schedule and mention the rodeo sponsors a few dozen times. Ah, commercialism, how I love thee. Anyway, it is veteran appreciation night, and the cowgirls’ horses and the cowgirls on them are all standing at attention in the middle of the arena with the American flag at the center, and the announcer is going on about the sacrifices made by our soldiers in wars current and past, and the crowd is right with him, as well they might be. This is one of the thousands of places large and small that our soldiers go to war from and come back to. There are scores of American veterans of a half-dozen wars in the stands, some in wheelchairs, some wearing their service on their sleeves, some you’d never suspect ever left the county. There are families and friends who waited and sweated it out while they were gone. There are those who remember the ones who didn’t come home. And, there is every spectrum of political thought contained in all of those people, although I will admit that it sure as hell was not a liberal arts gathering. And, that, I suppose, is why what happened next made such an impression on me. The announcer says proudly, “I watch Fox News. How many of you watch Fox News?”
THE SCENIC ROUTE Sandy Compton
There were about 2,500 people in the stands that night. Maybe 50 cheered in response to his question—about two percent. The rest of the crowd sort of drew back, and got quiet. A few minutes later, though, we sang The Star Spangled Banner. The woman who was supposed to lead us got befuddled and plumb forgot the words, and the rest of us had to remind her, which we did—with gusto. And then the roping, riding and wrestling commenced. But what I remember best about that night, as a semi-liberal in the middle of conservative America, is that momentary pause at the announcer’s question and the way we all stepped up and sang the national anthem for the woman who forgot the words. Why do I find that hopeful? It seems to me there are a bunch of people out there who still love this country, even enough to serve her in her follies; and it is a slim minority who are listening to the blamers and shouters and nay-sayers and Chicken Littles who populate much of our popular media. It confirmed somewhat something I have suspected for a time: that the general populace of this country—“the great silent majority,” as Tricky Dick Nixon called us— are a lot closer together in our beliefs than certain portions of the media would have us believe. There might be enough of us to fix this country yet. The last, but not least, hopeful thing that I wish to impress upon you is this. In all of history, there has never been a civilization, a culture, a country or an empire that survived where we are now. The Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans—all are ancient history. But Americans are good at doing things for the first time. Of all the cultures that have risen over the centuries, I believe we have the best chance of survival. I’m not sure what the odds are, and I don’t think they are really great, but Americans are good at beating the odds, particularly when we work together. And, we have some work to do. We can’t do it running scared. We can’t do it without sacrifice. We can’t do it alone. We can’t do it if we concentrate on our differences. We can’t do it without our children’s help. And, we can’t do it if we don’t get started. I have great hope that we will.
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Indian Summer It may be a little early—just after the Autumnal Equinox—to celebrate an Indian summer, but the bright, low angle of the sun says Indian summer to me. The September weeks of sunny days forecasting into October are a gift. Rainy and cold will arrive soon enough. A frost will sneak in under the protective plastic and kill the Early Girl tomatoes. Ah, but while this handsome Indian hangs around, it is nearly impossible to ignore the pleasure of a sunny day that isn’t too hot. The change is subtle, but cannot remain unnoticed. We are slowly tilting to the north. We have been tilting north since the June 21 solstice, but now it has become evident. Every day our sun rises a little bit further south; sets slightly south. The southerly angle gives the sunlight a chance to play upon the dried grasses creating a palate of colors. The lower angle also highlights every fly speck and dirty rain splash on the windows, but who has time to wash windows with a garden still producing? Our moon is also changing its trajectory. The moon is pulled along by the earth’s gravity in the same slow tilt and travels north. At the equinoxes, the moon has the same path as the sun. Then their paths will cross. By December 21, the moon will be rising and setting where the sun rises and sets on June 21 and the winter sun will follow the path of the summer moon. It seems fitting that the vegetables and flowers started as seeds inside on a warm pad on March 21 are winding down since the mild frost that occurred late September. Starting seeds on the first day of Spring— Vernal Equinox—is an easy way to remember, “Now when did I start these jalapenos?” and fits the spirit of the season. Finishing up the garden on September 22—the Autumnal Equinox—would be a balanced approach, but we have yet to experience the full brunt of a frosty night. After a six-month relationship
CURRENTS Lou Springer
with the tomatoes, peppers, celery, blanket flowers, zinnias and such, we are not in a hurry to open the gates and let the deer start the clean-up process. Agricultural people world-wide are well aware of the spring and autumn equinoxes. Throughout the world the spring equinox is celebrated. It is only when people become distanced from their food production that the importance of this knowledge fades. However, even the most ‘modern’ societies still have special holidays to mark the beginning of spring. On the morning of the Autumnal Equinox we heard varied thrush calling to each other in their long, un-interrupted, unmistakable whistle. We hadn’t heard them down here in the valley since spring. Looking back through the big wall calendar to March, we were interested to note that the varied thrush first appeared here on the Vernal Equinox. Could it be that their travels—to their nesting sites in our mountains and back to the coastal rain forests—are determined by the day and night being of equal length? By the 23rd, all was silent in the morning and the thrushes were on their way. An old friend happen to call this morning while Indian summer was on my mind, so I asked him if he, as a Native American, found this phrase offensive. “Naw, you can’t be offended by warm fall weather.” Neither of us can explain where the phrase came from, nor can Wikipedia. But Indian summer does refer to an actual climatic event that can occur in the fall: a prolonged
warm, hazy *, dry period following a frost, a not-summer, but not-autumn-yet time. The last five years or so, we have enjoyed long warm, dry autumns. Yeah global warming? The smiling, ruddy-cheeked Indian is at the window, beckoning; come, come out into the real world. The only problem with this enticing fall weather is that it encourages the grasshopper, rather than prodding the ant. *We are meeting the hazy requirement thanks to Forest Service burning. The Cabinet Ranger District always informs folks living in the vicinity when they are planning to burn piles, units, or brush fields. The Panhandle Forest needs to realize that there are a whole bunch of people living across the border in Montana who expect to be informed before the smoke broils over the hill.
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A Bird in Hand
Brown Creeper - An uncommonly unusual common bird
My sister and her husband heat their home with firewood and subsequently have an area behind their home with covered firewood in various stages of being processed. There are rounds to be chopped, chopped pieces to be stacked, and nice long cords of wood ready for the winter. A couple Sundays ago an unusual bird hanging out in the wood pile drew everyone’s attention. There it was, an oddly formed little brown bird making spirals around a “tower” of stacked rounds, again and again. What was it doing? Even more, what was it? This strange little bird was the Brown Creeper—a common bird in our area, but one with many distinctive features. Its name describes it very well: it is brown and it creeps around trees from a vertical position, sort of like a mini-woodpecker. And like a woodpecker, it can lean back on its stiff tail feathers, which serve as a prop to help the bird maintain its tree-hugging ability. The Brown Creeper is the only representative of its family in the New World. It is common across North America, but requires fairly mature forests for it to be successful. Therefore you will probably not see it in your backyard unless you have some big conifers towering over your property. One of its interesting traits is its feeding
strategy. This is fun to watch if you happen to chance upon a creeper or two. A bird will fly from tree trunk to tree trunk, starting high in one tree and flying low to another. It then spirals around the tree as it works its way up the trunk, stopping periodically to sit in place and inspect the nooks and crannies of the bark for its prey: spiders, insects, and their eggs. It can be quite thorough and sometimes the bird’s actions seem frenzied—thus the display of strange feeding activity on those stacked firewood rounds. It must have found a trove of bugs because this bird kept going around and around. I got dizzy just watching it! The Brown Creeper is a wee little thing, four to five inches long. It is brown, but not uniformly. Instead, the coloration and patterns of its feathers are cryptic, providing a camouflage that mimics the tree bark upon which it earns its living. The bird’s underside is white, from throat to belly, but you probably won’t see this. There are sometimes also white lines on the spread wings that sometimes appear to be chevrons when the bird is flitting or flying about. These can be distinctive. If you are able to “capture” a bird in your binoculars, you’ll note the long thin beak that is curved slightly downward. The bird
email@example.com uses this specialized beak to probe under the scales of bark in search of its meals. When winter comes and the insect pickings become slim, it will suffer through a vegetarian diet of seeds and whatnot; and it might even visit your suet feeder. It is one of the many little birds that remain over the winter. In fact, during the cold months you might even see it flocking with other species. Safety in numbers, I suppose. The Brown Creeper builds its nest under sections of bark that protrude out from the main trunk. The nests are small and might be difficult to spot. While the female builds the nest, the male protects their territory from intruders. Both parents participate in feeding the chicks. Next time you are out in the woods and you spot a teeny “woodpecker” hopping up a tree side, remember that it is actually this little fellow. If you spook it, the bird will often freeze in place, using its camouflage to hide out in the open. Be patient. The creeper will move again and continue its spiral climb upward. Around and around it goes, how much high no one knows. Then off it flies to a neighboring tree and begins the cycle anew. Happy birding!
A Seat in the House Project sequencing harmful for Sandpoint President Obama recently introduced his 447 billion dollar “American Jobs Act” aimed at putting more Americans back to work. Although it contains funding for infrastructure improvements, state aid, unemployment insurance extensions and other actions, Republicans are arguing that the plan should be “aimed at cutting red tape and stopping the excessive regulations that hamper job creation.” I can relate to this argument because of an issue that we have in our area here. We have an aircraft parts manufacturing company located in Sandpoint that has invented and developed a modification on airplanes that increases the safety of the aircraft and at the same time reduces stress and increases the life of the aircraft. Unfortunately, because of a new certification process in use by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it appears that the company will not be able to get their project reviewed by the Administration within a certain timeline to keep investors involved in their project. As a result, the company is considering moving their manufacturing operation across the border to Canada where the Canadian
counterpart to our FAA can assure them of a certain timeline for consideration of their modification and possible certification to enable manufacturing and marketing of the product. This means the loss of a potential 300 aerospace jobs in our area; 300 highpaying jobs with benefits that would be a significant economic benefit to our area and the state! Even more important, this process being used by the FAA is impacting the aerospace industry nationwide, especially smaller companies that receive less priority than bigger companies such as the Boeing Aircraft Company. The process being used by FAA is known as “Project Sequencing.” I have been informed it limits the FAA employee from working on more than one project at a time and also changes priority ranking of submitted projects that deviate from the previous “first-in first-out” sequence. This sequence used previously by FAA was helpful in making sure that “FAA services were available to companies without prejudice” and that companies submitting projects were dealt with in “an even-handed and justifiable process.”
Project sequencing is moving away from the first-in first-out treatment and creates uncertainty in how FAA resources will be used in responding to certification requests. This creates uncertainty in the process that impacts investment interest and results in a company running out of financial resources before it can get its product certified and in production. This is the problem our company is facing in Sandpoint and the necessity for them to consider moving to Canada where the certification process is more certain and more timely than our FAA process. The following is a quote from a comment on the process by Eric Leaver, an aeronautical engineer who works for a company that builds parts and modifications for one class of aircraft: “The sequencing system, as has been implemented since 2005, means that there is no certainty when the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Services will accept a project from an applicant. This means that it is virtually impossible to know when the applicant will have to allocate resources to a project... .The sequencing system introduces
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The Game Trail
Grizzly Tips for Hunters Matt Haag
firstname.lastname@example.org For the first time in a long time it’s raining outside, a good, all-day rain! For such a wet spring it really dried out over the summer months. Fall is definitely here and that means so are hunting seasons. The beginning part of the archery elk and deer season were a little slow with the heat; a lot of hunters backed out of the woods because they knew they couldn’t care for the meat properly. Unfortunately, some didn’t make that wise decision and struggled with wasting some meat. As I type this, we have had four wolves shot in the Panhandle Region, and those four people had some interesting stories of their hunts. Wolf season opened on August 30 and runs through March 31 in the Panhandle Regions which includes Hunt Units 1, 2, 3, 4, 4a, 5, 6, 7 and 9. If you kill a wolf you obviously need a tag and you must report the kill within 72 hours at 1-855-648-5558. Then you must present the head and the hide to a Conservation Officer or the Regional IDFG Office in Coeur d’Alene. For those who are interested in trapping wolves, you must take the wolf trapping education class. We will be hosting one in Sandpoint on November 4. Please call our Regional Office at 208-769-1414 for more information and to sign up if you are interested. Trapping season starts November 15 and will run through the end of the season on March 31. All of the Panhandle Region units are open to trapping except Units 2 and 3.
A Seat in the House- cont’d
a variable that no company that is intending to make significant investments in a new project can tolerate. Moreover, it is impossible to find an investor interested in a project where there is no certainty when it will begin and where the company must make sizeable cash outflows while keeping resources idle.” I have discussed this system with an employee of the FAA who describes this process being used by the agency as: “It is institutionalized inefficiency. It is a complex process taking hours and hours of time to prove we don’t have the time to do the work!” I appreciate the motive behind the American Jobs Act but based on this FAA example I believe there is merit in the argument that we should
Recently bears have been in people’s minds and in the media, especially grizzly bears. To me, grizzly bears represent the freedom that attracts me to our wild places. Hunting elk in grizzly county makes me feel alive, knowing something out there can eat me, or at least beat me up pretty good. Statistically, a hunter has a better chance of dying from a heart attack while hunting or getting killed in a car crash than being attacked by a bear, let alone a grizzly bear. But yes, as we all know, it does happen and it happens for various reasons, some of which we can control and some we cannot. In other words, shit happens. Can we be better prepared for when the shit hits the fan? Absolutely! Here are some tips for hunting in Grizzly country. First and foremost you have to be aware that the act of hunting puts you at risk of encountering grizzlies. Calling game, cover scents, and game attractant scents may attract bears, cats, or wolves. While hunting in grizzly country pay attention to fresh bear sign by looking for bear tracks, scat and concentrations of scavenging birds such as magpies, ravens or crow. Some grizzly bears may move in the direction of gunshots because they have learned to associate hunting activities with a gut pile or animal carcasses. Get that elk or deer carcass out of the area as quickly as possible. The longer a carcass remains lying on the ground, hung up in hunting camp, or in the back of a truck, the more likely it will be discovered by a grizzly. The sooner elk and deer are taken home and butchered, the better off the situation. Carcasses left for a period of time require special precautions. Carry a colored lightweight tarp to put the guts on, and drag them as far away from the carcass as possible. Then use the tarp to cover the carcass. This will reduce the scent trail from be doing more to save the jobs we have by taking aim at “cutting red tape and stopping the excessive regulations that hamper job creation.” Possibly we need a two-fold effort in the American Jobs Act that not only helps create new jobs, but also assists in retaining existing jobs by determining what regulations and processes are productive and what ones are not. Thanks for reading and as always feel free to contact me with issues of importance to you. My mailing address is P.O. Box 112, Dover, Idaho 83825 and my home phone is (208) 265-0123. George
George Eskridge, Idaho Rep. for House District 1B. Reach him at 208-2650123 or by mail at PO Box 112, Dover, Idaho 83825
the gut pile to the carcass, and discourage birds and a bear’s attention to the carcass. Find an observation point to view the carcass from a safe distance before you re-enter the area of the carcass. When returning, approach the carcass carefully and yell or whistle repeatedly. With binoculars, study the scene from the observation point and scan the area for the carcass and any movement. If a grizzly bear is at the site and refuses to leave or the meat has been covered by a bear with debris, leave the area immediately and report the incident to IDFG. Use a weapon only if bear pepper spray is unavailable. Be aware that bears wounded with an arrow, knife or firearm may intensify the level of attack. If you have to kill a grizzly in self-defense, take careful aim and attempt to knock it down by hitting major bones in the front shoulders or with a well-placed shot in a vital area. Leave the scene immediately, clean your shorts out, and call IDFG. Waterfowl seasons open October 1. Be sure to have your gun plugged, the proper license, and non-toxic shot shells. Also, remember that Scaup season does not open until October 22, so learn to identify your birds in flight or stay home! Unfortunately, with hunting season upon us, there are some folks who never learned hunting ethics and feel they can steal your wildlife by poaching. These folks sour our image as sportsmen and ruin it for the law abiding hunter. We have a responsibility to report illegal activity and stop these wildlife thieves. Please take the time to make the call to our Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 800-632-5999, your local Conservation Officer, or 911. Leave No Child Inside
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The World’s Best Navy
Gil Beyer, ETC USN Ret. email@example.com
Over the last few months this column’s very little knowledge of the grand scheme of each and every one of the young men and topics have dealt with the loss of our of things. The geo-politics of the world’s women that we met. They were unfailingly national honor and integrity at the hands of nations didn’t impact our lives one whit. courteous and listened with apparent Congress; the total lack of governance, with We were focused on doing ‘our job’ for the interest to this bunch of dinosaurs that the dominance of petty partisan politics, overall benefit of our unit—be it a destroyer, came briefly into their world. On Saturday evening we held our formal that has led to the total gridlock of the an aircraft carrier or a platoon of grunts. legislative process; and the insufficiency Our focus was to do our best to get our unit banquet. The keynote speaker was CDR of funding for federal programs designed through whatever challenge was placed Maria Magno, the commanding officer of to help our nation’s vets and every other before us. We were indeed a band of brothers, the Milwaukee Naval Reserve Center. She is a program designed to help the majority of dedicated to making sure that the guy to the Surface Warfare qualified officer responsible for the in-depth support of the regular Navy the nation’s people. This month I hope to left and right of us survived. lighten up somewhat. That ‘brotherhood’ is probably what and tasked with providing, at a moment’s This month’s column will be dedicated makes us take these bi-annual pilgrimages notice, highly trained and qualified to my attendance at a reunion that took to whatever location is picked. Over the past supplemental personnel to enhance naval place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was ten years we have assembled in Jacksonville operations throughout the world. The role of the 13th bi-annual reunion of the USS Fiske Berkley Springs, WVA, Newport, RI, Post Falls, the Naval Reserve has changed significantly (DD/DDR-842) Association. This association Idaho and now Milwaukee. Our numbers since 9/11. Our regular Navy forces are is comprised of sailors who served— have thinned somewhat but we have some stretched thin all over the world. Current approximately 5,000 over those thirty- new attendees so the line continues. We sit reserve units of every branch of service are five years—onboard the Fiske from her around tables, sharing a few beers (those of frequently called upon to make extended commissioning in late 1945 to her transfer us who still do consume alcohol), swapping active duty deployments and they drill like to the Turkish Navy in 1980. The association stories and munching on salty snacks that may occur at any time. At the close of the banquet that Saturday currently has over 600 members and if there (probably not good for our aging internal evening we promised to gather again in two are any former Fiske sailors out there who systems either). No one speaks openly of aren’t members and read this article you the bonds of brotherhood but it is tacitly years. We will then assemble in Charleston, SC. We will once again gather on the last full can find information on our merry band understood. of ‘Tin Can Sailors’ at www.ussfiske.org. In On this gathering in Milwaukee we were weekend of September in 2013 and if able I fairness, I feel that I must mention there are guests at the weekly Friday graduation will once more sit down with the men—and numerous ships’ associations out there that ceremony at the Recruit Training Center, women—who served aboard a World War can be found with a simple web search. Great Lakes, Illinois. It had been over 50 years II built destroyer that proudly served this I’ve been attending these reunions for since I had gone through a similar ceremony country for almost 35 years. We may not the past ten years. The first one I attended and it was truly a moving experience to see ever say it but these are my brothers and was in Jacksonville, Florida in September those recruits sternly and steadfastly going sisters and we are proud to have played a 2001. These reunions are always held the through these highly scripted traditional small role in the winning of the Cold War. last full weekend of September and that one maneuvers and drills. There is a certain After witnessing that graduation at Great in 2001 was approximately two weeks after satisfaction in seeing these young men and Lakes I can rest assured that the chain is the horrors of 9/11. Those planes that were woman so intense and aware of the fact unbroken—that we continue to have the flying were at less than 50 percent capacity that they are entering a new phase in their best Navy in the world, with the best and and airport security was very tight. Fear was lives and a continuation of their maturation brightest that our country has to offer endemic and permeated every conversation process. On this day approximately 800 defending our nation in an unbroken line and situation. Those of us who did gather in graduates went through the stylized routines that goes back to 1775. Jacksonville were veterans in their 50s and for over two hours before they were finally 60s. We were veterans from the Cold War and released to receive the congratulations of Viet Nam eras. Many of us had participated the assembled families and friends. in the Cuban Missile Crisis in the fall of ’62. One of the many changes we observed The talk around the room switched back was that the assembled recruits were much and forth from old ‘sea stories’ to front page more reflective of the totality of America. news. All of us in that room had served and Each of the five divisions—in my day we none of us would have refused to serve again were called ‘companies’—were made up of Dishes, linens, chairs, if given the opportunity. Yes, all of us were male, female, white, black and latino. The tables, tents and more. older, grayer and maybe a little heavier than diversity represented by these young men we were forty years ago but once you have and women was much more a cross section Reserve early to ensure served the spark still remains to defend your of these United States than the almost supplies on your special day. country against any and all aggressors. exclusively white faces seen in 1959. The You were once part of a team that you Petty Officer Third Class (E-4 to you nonbelieved was invincible and genuinely Navy readers) assigned as our tour guide was thought you could still contribute to a young African-American from Providence, 1201 Michigan St. • Sandpoint help defend our country. Maybe that is RI. He was courteous and knowledgeable www.weddingsinsandpoint.com what makes having served such a lifelong and helped this bunch of antiques have milepost. I have never met a veteran who some small introduction to the complexities doesn’t remember the feeling of being a of today’s Navy. I was very much impressed part—albeit small—of a great team. We had by the intelligence, attitude and demeanor Page 10 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 20 No. 10| October 2011
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The perils of shooting a grizzly
What we know is that some time back in May, a mama grizzly and two cubs wandered onto the homestead of a Porthill family. The parents were inside, and the kids were outside playing. Shortly thereafter, one of the cubs was shot and killed. Idaho Fish and Game was called, as is required whenever you shoot wildlife in the state, and especially when you shoot an animal protected under the endangered species act. After an investigation, those officers determined that no charges would be filed against homeowner Jeremy Hill. The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife was also informed, as is also required under the law, and this agency also undertook an investigation. They chose to charge the homeowner with a misdemeanor felony that carries a potential penalty of a $50,000 fine, and up to a year in jail. And then North Idaho blew up. Editorial pages filled up with rants against oppressive government, in the form of both federal officials and the endangered species act itself. Supporters flocked to the county fair and, in a show of what’s best in a community, bought, turned back and bought again the pig sold at auction by Hill’s daughter, to the tune of $18,000. Local Facebook statuses filled with vitriol and every politician in Idaho, it seemed, took to the airwaves to stand behind Hill’s actions, and get their licks in against the federal government. I was right with them. “WTF?!” I asked. “If our local guys thought this was a justified shooting, then who does this woman from Boise think she is overruling that decision?” My first exposure to the issue came from Mike Weland’s story on his Bonners Ferry News website (http://tinyurl.com/3hfuz9b) regarding that market animal sale, and it took my friend Sue Haynes to remind me it’s not smart to believe everything you read. (That’s one of the definitions of a true friend, by the way—they’ll point out to you when you’re being a total butt head.) Not that Mike’s story didn’t present the facts of the case, by the way. But it’s always good to
remember that there’s usually more to a story; something I forgot. Courtesy of Mike again (who’s doing a damn fine job of covering news from our northern county, by the way), I got my next exposure to coverage of the grizzly shooting case in the form of a letter written by Donna Capurso, chairman of the Boundary County Republican Central Committee. Capurso was seeking support for Hill’s legal defense, and wrote, “Jeremy needs the help of our great community as well as all Idahoans and Americans that see the injustice our federal government is inflicting on this north Idaho family.” To my surprise, her detailed accounting of what happened that day (you can read it yourself, here: http://tinyurl.com/3euon45) changed my opinion about the course of events. Because it seemed, at least in her writing, there was a very real possibility that instead of protecting his children from a grizzly (an action allowed under ESA), Hill might instead have been killing the griz to keep it from killing his daughter’s prize 4-H pig (which constitutes an illegal shooting). Well, Sue... Crap! You were right. Now hold on to your pens before you get all freaked out on me and start sending nasty letters. Let me say that were it my decision to make, I would not have filed charges against Hill for illegally shooting a grizzly bear. For me, there are too many issues mitigating the case. In the first place, grizzly are unpredictable creatures. Although the bears were in his sight (going after the pigs) and his children were not, an encounter with a bear can change directions faster than you can blink an eye. Hill had no way of knowing if one of his kids was going to come charging around the corner of the house at any moment, changing the existing paradigm in a way none of us wants to think too closely about. In addition, other than (potentially) the shooting itself, Hill did everything right. He shot twice more to put the bear out of its misery, and immediately called Fish and Game about what he’d done, instead of following the
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POLITICALLY INCORRECT Trish Gannon
“shoot, shovel and shut up” approach advocated by so many. Thirdly, well... this will show you why I tend to be politically incorrect. But quite honestly, if a grizzly bear was in my yard, going after my cat for example, I have to tell you I’d shoot its ass from here to kingdom come. Sorry if you don’t think our pets or livestock deserve the same protection as our kids do, but that’s where I’m at on this. Finally, I believe our justice system (from city police to game wardens to the U.S. Attorney’s Office) is much too quick to charge people with crimes. It’s true that Hill is protected to the extent he can argue his case in a court of law, but spending $50,000 or more to ultimately (maybe) prove your innocence doesn’t strike me as leaving you a “winner.” Still politically incorrect (at least, in the area that I live in), however, is my feeling that there was a question about where Hill’s actions fell under the law, and I believe the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife was acting responsibly in recommending he be charged. Because it is not their job to interpret the law, nor do we want it to be—that’s the job of our court system. Sucks, doesn’t it? The Hill case (the charges have since been dropped, by the way) has illustrated two points. One is that there might be issues with our law (in this case, the Endangered Species Act) as it is written. This has great impact for those of us who live in areas where a grizzly bear may wander into our yards, threatening those we love (which may include our animal companions). And let’s not forget—Jeremy Hill did not live way up in the woods. He lived in an area where grizzly (or other bears) in the yard are not particularly common. But changing climate patterns (either the regular local ones or the ones we’re beginning to see due to the global warming issues that many still don’t believe in) mean that ‘not common’ is not the same as “never.” Do we have the right to protect our pets? What about our food sources? And if we don’t— should we have those rights? Secondly, however, this case shows us that the legal option may not be the best option to address these types of issues. Case law is a wonderful thing; for everybody, that is, but the people who fork out the time, money and emotional distress of taking a case through the court system to refine the law. It would be hoped that all those politicians who jumped on the bandwagon of this case will recognize both of these concerns, and work to
October 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 20 No. 10| Page 11
L. Scott Hancock I know of no formula for contentment or happiness—perhaps both are meant to be in limited portions lest we have too much given us without effort and always expect more. I was born of outdoorsmen and women. “Out There” is in my blood, the blood of hunters, gatherers and survivors of the millennia. The cackle of a rooster pheasant, an elk bugling or a flock of Sandhill cranes pre-announced by their raspy calling, are sounds from another epoch, unchanged, stirring our quiet places to life. Hunting, fall and Idaho—to say something profound about autumn seems redundant. So much has been said, so well. I think of Hemingway, his finale tribute to a dear friend; in part it reads: “Leaves yellow on cottonwoods. Leaves floating on trout streams.” Or of my father saying, “smell the sage brush” or “the fresh-cut grain field” with the stubble left as even as a mown lawn, lying in off-color waves of yellow brown as the “combine cuts’ overlaid one another like a boardwalk from horizon to horizon, fence rows breaking the patterns here and there. Pheasant fields, duck ponds and big game hills spread out over beautiful Idaho. Idaho in the fall, hunting season or any other, is a country I’ve never known how to feel about in total. She can be so feminine in her sunsets and lake mirror images or so masculine in mountain ridges, peaks and granite outcroppings. It’s not politically correct—nor need it be— but in Idaho hunting is a great part of our inherited culture. Adventure and heritage; when I was young that helped feed us. An important part of family well-being over the long, cold months of frozen ground, when venison, duck, pheasant and fish were reminders of what we had put into living. Falls gave us much of this reward. Hunting gave us life and life well lived for those of us who are hunters. Remembering shotguns like the Winchester model 12 “Heavy Duck” or the Remington 870 (every man’s gun) or when in kneeling reverence you got to hold a L.C. Smith side-by-side 12 gauge and recognize that there is art in gun making. Inglorious common rifles:Winchester 94s, 30-40 Krags, Springfield ‘06s and occasionally something exotic like an 8mm Mauser, all only the implements in hands of honor or misdeed. Nothing more. Wow! Boys and the excitement of the coming hunting season. At some
past Christmas or birthday we had been given the “rite of passage,” a Camp King knife and hatchet combo set, black-handled marvels no less glorious than King Arthur’s Excalibur in the hand of a Knight on the quest for his or her first mighty mule deer. Steel so poor sharpening had no effect on its ability to cut more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The good knives were often made by old millwrights from band or circular saw blades. Dad had an old Western—it did the job admirably. Transitioning from hunter to successful killer is oft times the undoing of many young deer slayers. Fed on the words of Cooper, Ruark, Hemingway, Roosevelt, countless fathers, grandfathers and other mentors of “the hunt,” learning “the kill” is more than some can bear, and it’s over forever. For some, most maybe, the chase has been fair, the kill clean, and understanding the hunt becomes more clear. To understand life is to understand death... The philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset’s outstanding book, “Meditations on Hunting,” speaks of the ecology and anthropology of hunting in an alternative way, worth consideration in today’s world. In hunting, pause to remember place names: creeks, rivers, canyons or mountains that sound like geographical poetry as we speak of them: Birch, Pahsimeroi, Salmon, Slate, Bitch, Rocking Robinson, Rustler’s Roost, Diamond, Panther, Big Horn Crags, Big and Little Lost, Llewelyn, Targhee and Tin Cup. Names hardened in my mind with events of forty years ago as clear as yesterday. We took game; moreover we took time and stored it for the days when happier trails and times were needed. Red Ray sat on his bar stool, all slicked up in a new denim shirt, pants, polished boots and Silverbelly Stetson. “Went to grade school with Art Linkletter, nicer guy you’ll never meet. Yup, got in touch with him a few years back. Art said “Red, what have you been up to?” “Oh, went ta Idaho huntin’ and then a little cowboyin’ and stayed. Good huntin’, damned hard and lonely cowboyin’.” He sank the eight ball and we settled in for a beer at the Old Railroad Tavern & Café in Leadore. “Ya know kid, two things to remember in life.
Never hire a man that rolls his cigarettes or smokes a pipe. They’ll always be rollin’ or lightin’ and another thing, never work for a man with electricity in his barn. He’ll work you to death all day and expect more under electric light at night.” Sound wisdom. Tavern’s gone now of course. So is Red. Later that same evening he left. “Got me a date up in Salmon.” Ah, the reason for the “dress up” duds. I wandered in to the café part of the establishment and had, truthfully, the greatest plate of steak, potatoes and “fixins” of my life. A woman, worn as an old boot, kept bringing more to my friend and me. Then PIE! The next morning, antelope everywhere as I sat up in my Oldsmobile, head the size of a watermelon, throbbing, recalling way too much “who hit John” (rot gut whiskey) from later cowboys. That afternoon, fresh from his Salmon date, Red asked, “Ever find those mule deer?” “No, but I found some stories.” Red was a horseman. Along with my dear friend Tim he instilled in me a love of horses. Red could turn a bronchy old range horse into winged Pegasus with honorable behavior, simply by touch of hand and calming words. I’ve always envisioned Red riding off into the sunset of some magical canyon like Mahogany and “cashing in,” putting his back to a Lodgepole pine and watching the sun go down over his grazing pony’s back. The dark blue, twilight sky back-lighting the scene, he closes his eyes. His horse returns to the barn. The hired “hands” stand in solemn respect as the empty saddle passes by. No words spoken. Years later, in the movie “Comes a Horseman,” Richard Farnsworth has a similar, Westerner end. In hunting “being there” is much of the allure, seeing and feeling the pure naturalness as it grows from the ground or walks the trails, adapted in perfect form for life in that landscape. From the sublime we move to the absurd, one of the many humorous snapshots of what hunting is about. Case in point. Low range, low gear, grinding up a Diamond Creek Mountain, bordered by Wyoming, beaver ponds and BLM land—we were in Paradise. Muleys, spotted with field glasses on a far hill, our approach was uncertain. Serious ground! Inclines as steep as a horse’s face. Up, up, over and around the old vintage Jeep rattled on. As we approached our final destination we spotted it: I don’t believe it, a damned V.W. Beetle! Had I discovered the Zen of hunting? Germanys’ original off-road Safari machine.
Continued on next page
Page 12 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 20 No. 10| October 2011
of The River Journal’s
SurrealisT Research BureaU An Idiot’s Guide to War Games or “Heckuva job, Brownie!”
In July of 2004 a five-day emergency preparedness war game was held by FEMA in the city of Baton Rouge, La. to test the responses of federal, state, and local agencies to a possible category 3 hurricane impacting New Orleans and environs. The scenario they developed called for the levees to overflow and a million citizens to be displaced from their homes, all eerily prescient forecasts of the catastrophe named Katrina to come ashore just over a year later. (The even more astounding parallels can be found online by simply googling the fictional Hurricane Pam.) President Bush stated on television shortly after that no one could have foreseen the levee breeches that flooded New Orleans and apologists later claimed that Katrina presented unforeseen circumstances, but the truth is that even now little has changed. Even a slight rise in the magnitude of a hurricane in that locale could cause up to 100,000 casualties and the only major difference in emergency preparedness by “authorities’ is the pre-stocking of 10,000 body bags in New Orleans. There must be a mindset in all bureaucracies to ignore the obvious inconvenient truths (pardon the pun). A case in point is the great American victory at Midway in WWII. The Japanese Navy, while secretly steaming their way to attack the island, prepared daily war
Hunting - Cont’d from previous page For years my brother, his International Scout and I encountered that pariah of engineering at the tip top of mountains, chained up plowing snow over the hood. I found solace in knowing the V.W. hunting party was freezing outside and had no hope of warming on the way home, V.W. heaters being what they were. Idaho has a untold miles of “high lonesome,” country where a breeze can carry pipe tobacco smell for miles and bring images of Darwin smoking Latakia while working on his seminal treatise about all this. The high country gives the best sunsets and range for elk, deer, moose, sage and sharp-tailed grouse and grandeur on an unmatched scale. A hunter’s life can be blessed with the gift of unforgettable, indelible moments. My brother “Shorty,” a mountain of a man, had carried me in his arms from boulder to boulder, down Porcupine Ridge overlooking a little ravine below. Polio had altered my
by Jody Forest
games envisioning what they felt was every possible option and variation they might confront. This included being ambushed by a U.S. Carrier Group, but this particular simulation was the only one to cause the Japanese to lose and, considered to be a freak fluke, was disregarded as improbable, leading of course, to the loss of four Japanese carriers and turning the tide of war in the Pacific. Hector Bywater, a British naval writer and intelligence operative, wrote a book in 1925 called “The Great Pacific War” which foresaw most of the actual tactics to come, including the early overwhelming Japanese victories throughout Asia and the Western Pacific, then the relentless American island-hopping campaign culminating in the capture of the island of Chici Jima by the U.S. for use of its airfield as a base for bombers heading for Japan. (In reality, of course, it was the nearby island of Iwo Jima which was captured for its airfield.) Even the very names of warships involved in the coming battles proved prophetic. Interestingly, one of the book’s most enthusiastic readers was a young Japanese naval attache named Isoroku Yamamoto, who lectured on it at a naval training school, and who also made a point of greeting Bywater at an embassy function and quizzing him extensively about the book. (Yamamoto, of course, went on
ability to get there on my own. Dark, cold and quiet surrounded me. I shrank back and huddled into my old Sears parka. Damn, it was cold! Perhaps after sunrise phantom elk would pass before me. My beloved nephew, Kent, his first year with rifle, sat nearby. We waited. The first lumens of pink light were foreshadowed with black; the lighter it became more black, like a wall in front of me. Maps, locations and my brain have always worked in unison. The TETONS! As the light gained, my breath became less visible, my heart raced. I was seeing the definition of splendor taking shape, filling with color at the tip of a plate-sized sun coming up. I respectfully borrow the line: “Nothing had prepared me for this!” Overwhelmed, awestruck, rapturous, ascendant to God and Glory, inadequate words for a oncein-a-lifetime bit of heaven in an unequaled western landscape. This is hunting as much as anything, perhaps more; the Tetons as I had never in my thousand viewings seen them. Idaho,
to head the Japanese navy during WWII.) One suspects that soon-to-be Admiral Yamamoto paid more attention to the earlier parts of the book detailing Japanese victories than to the later inexorable, bloody grind to a final U.S. victory. Moving along from war games for a moment, and in honor of our Editor Ms. Gannon’s growing—if reluctant—proficiency in algebra, I’d like to mention some recent discoveries concerning Archimedes, the great mathematician, who is known to have written over 100,000 words on such topics as equilibrium, buoyancy, the dynamics of floating bodies and much more. Alas, all that has come down to us of these out of the dark ages are much later translations of two short works. Recently however, a dot.com billionaire named Jeff Bezos came across part of another one and donated it to a Baltimore museum for study. This codex was erased in the middle ages and rewritten as a prayer book. Using modern X-rays this lost book of Archimedes demonstrated the basis of calculus, usually attributed to Newton in 1671. Still, some of the erased text remains unreadable. Perhaps x-rays of yet other palimpsested prayer books may still await discovery and the history of higher mathematics will have to be rewritten. ‘til next time, All Homage to Xena!
these rewards are without equal. A morning opera of profound nature as real as Pavarotti on stage, singing “Nessun Dorma.” Amen.
M&E Custom Building LLC Homes Built for Living
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October 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 20 No. 10| Page 13
Kickoff to Ski Season! Oct. 22
Visit www.DowntownSandpoint.com for a complete calendar of events
DOWNTOWN SANDPOINT EVENTS SANDPOINT EVENTS
7-8 All Bonner County Bazaar & Craft Fair, 10-4 each day, Sandpoint Community Hall 7-8 Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Panida Theater, 7 pm both nights, $10. 208-265-9471 8 Blessing of the Animals, Panhandle Animal Shelter, noon 208-265-7297. 8 Lake Cruise with Author Jane Fritz, more info at 208-255-5253. 9 Forks Over Knives, Panida Theater, 4 pm. 208-263-9191 13 Banff Radical Reels, Panida Theater, 7 pm. 208-263-9191 14 Fall Contra Dance, Sandpoint Community Hall, 7 pm, $5 donation 14 Soul Street Dance Company, Panida Theater, 7:30 pm. 208-2639191 15 Harvest Fest. Last day of Farmer’s Market in Sandpoint. 9-3. Lots of activities. 208-597-3355 15 Health and Safety Fair, Bonner Co. Fairgrounds, 10-2 15 A Visit with Erik series, 2:30 and 7:30, Panida Theater. 208-263-9191 15 The Victor, 6 pm, Panida Theater, 208-263-9191 15 Honky Tonk w/Devon Wade at DiLunas, 208-263-0846 19 Loyalty, Panida Theater, 7:30 pm, $8. 208-263-9191 21-21 Legends of the Celtic Harp with Patrick Ball, Panida Theater 22 “Like There’s No Tomorrow” Warren Miller Ski Film, Panida Theater, 208-263-9191 28-29 Oktober Festival, Cedar St. Bridge, 10-7. Kids Halloween activities. 29 The Steep Canyon Rangers, bluegrass concert, Panida Theater, 7 pm. 208-263-9191
4 One for the Road, 7 pm, Panida 5 Sandpoint Films Festival, Panida Little Theater, sandpointfilmsfestival.com
Winery Music - Live music every Friday night at Pend d’Oreille Winery Pub Music with Truck Mills Blues Jam every Monday night at Eichardt’s Trivia every Tuesday night at MickDuff’s. Tuesdays with Mike, Trinity at City Beach, 5 to 8 pm. Sunday Open Mic, 6:30 to 10 pm every Sunday at the Long Bridge Grill.
YOUR IMAGE, YOUR WAY www.ImageMakerPhotoandVideo.com 320 North First Ave ~ 208.263-5322 In-store Photo Studio • Film & Digital Printing • Video to DVD • Photo Restoration • Classes • Cameras • Camera Repair • Accessories Page 14 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 20 No. 10| October 2011
The Time Traveler’s Cat “Time is the fire we burn in.” from Star Trek: Generations One obscure local/area urban legend from here and, strangely enough, Priest Lake, is the story of the cat (not “cats,” cat) that was seen by several people in these two areas. I was reminded of this last year when, for a few days, the media played up a reel of a 1928 film clip from a Charlie Chaplin premiere, showing passers-by on a Los Angeles sidewalk. One, a stout woman in a dark coat, seen for only a couple of seconds, had her left hand up to her ear. Now, she may have been scratching it, or had an ear ache, but the manner in which she was holding her hand suggested she was talking into a cell phone. (You can see the clip here: http:// tinyurl.com/3ksds29.) Now, regardless of how romantic or interesting the theory, some critical analysis wold raise a question of two. One, logically, there would have to be at least one other time traveler to whom she was talking and, even more important, cell phones rquire an infrastructure (towers, etc) that you just wouldn’t find 90 years ago. Of course, an argument in favor would be that the woman is from a point in our own future where phones can communicate with others without the ever-prevalent towers. Another story for your consideration. A number of stories have appeared in the media regarding anomalous human footprint fossils (some bare, some shod) that suggest the print must have been made tens of millions of years ago, suggesting man was a contemporary of dinosaurs. People of religious faith have seized on some of these as proof that we didn’t evolve, and that humans have been here since the beginning, when the universe and the planet were first created by God. Science has offered various explanations for these prints (Google ‘Fisher Canyon,’ ‘Rockcastle County’ ‘Jackson County’ ‘Antelope Springs’ or ‘Paluxy River’ with fossil footprint for some examples), but here’s another alternative: that the prints were made by a time travel. Now, how these anecdotal accounts relate to this local story. About 50 or so years ago, most married women were stay-at-home housewives. After getting the kids off to school and doing the housework, about the only other activity was watching the early soap operas back in those dim, long ago days. Oh, there was the Tupperware and similar parties to go to, some school functions, but for the most part, their days were spent in vigil of the neighborhood. Odd and spooky stories would sometimes be exchanged at the neighbor’s over coffee
ShadowS with Lawrence Fury
and an afternoon card game. One such story that I think real was one my mother heard. Real because, while perhaps naive, a storyteller or a liar she wasn’t. Apparently one of the ladies in Sandpoint in the late 50s or early 60s was hanging laundry on an outside line one late summer morning when she noticed a large, shorthaired black and white cat sitting on the roof of her unattached garage. While there was nothing unusual about this, as a couple of the neighborhood cats wold often climb the nearby tree and leap over to the roof, she had not seen this particular animal before. She watched the cat wash its face with a paw, then stop abruptly to turn and look directly at her. In that instant, something flashed at its neck. At first, she assumed it was a collar, but the light didn’t seem like a sun reflection; it was more artificial, like from a small, bright pen light. The cat, which had been sitting, suddenly got up and walked toward the tree. Blinking from the sun’s glare, the woman saw the cat was suddenly gone. She assumed it had reached the tree and climbed down. Before her blink, though, it had been strolling fairly slowly and had been a dozen feet from the branches. How could it have moved that distance in the time of a blink? The woman forgot about the odd sighting until the following spring, when she was sitting under the patio with her neighbor enjoying the first warm, spring day. Her guest pointed to the roof of the garage. Turning, the housewife saw what appeared to be the same cat sitting on the edge of the roof, looking down at the two women. Not taking her eyes off the cat, the housewife related the sighting from the previous summer to her guest. Sure enough, this cat now looking down at them had what appeared to be a small stone on a collar that flashed once. This time, the sun’s angle could not be an explanation. Then, just as he had done eight months earlier, the cat got up and walked out of sight. Both women got up and stepped further away from the garage so as to see most of the roof. The cat was gone. This time the housewife, trailed by her guest, hurried to the tree at the rear of the garage only to see no sign of the cat. Over the next few years the story got around the neighborhood, but there was only one more unconfirmed sighting by a new arrival to the neighborhood. In 1965, the housewife’s husband’s cousin had purchased a small cabin at Priest Lake
and they were invited to come up and stay for a couple of days. So late on a Friday morning the couple set off, arriving in time for lunch at the cousin’s four-room cabin at Reeder Bay. Chicken and salmon were cooking on the small, native-stone barbecue on the small patio overlooking the lake, about 100 feet away. While her husband and his cousin caught up with the family news and manned the grill, the housewife sat talking with her cousinin-law’s wife and teenage daughter. After a few minutes of light conversation, the two women noticed the daughter looking at the lake and a large piece of driftwood—actually, a small tree trunk—on the shore. Sitting on that large piece of driftwood was what looked like the same cat she had seen on her garage roof twice back in Sandpoint. She was sure it was the same animal. Taken aback for a moment, her cousin-in-law suddenly spoke up. “That’s the same cat we saw up here last fall. I wonder whose it is?” At this the cat, which had been looking out over the water, turned and looked directly at the women. And again, a jewel in his collar glowed briefly and the animal casually got up, turned and walked behind a clump of reeds. When it did not appear from the other side of the growth, the three women got up and walked to the shore. There was no cat, anywhere. No lace for it to go except into the water, and cats usually take to water only when there is no other choice. The three females hurried back to the deck and their husbands. The housewife never saw the cat again, but over the next few years, two of her friends and neighbors swore they had seen it on or near their property. What had transpired over a period of years. Was it the same cat, apparently not having aged and having been seen by several people, once miles away, and would disappear after his collar blinked or glowed? Was it a mis-observation? An exaggeration of the sighting of a normal cat, told by bored housewives to amuse one another? Or was it a cat able to move through time, responding to its master in the future calling it in for the day? Legends say that cats do have special or mysterious abilities, but then what of the apprent piece of technology around its neck? If you have a myth or urban legend to share, please let me know through the River Journal or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 20 No. 10| Page 15
Coffelt Funeral Home, Sandpoint, Idaho.
Get complete obituaries online at
www.CoffeltFuneral.com W. R. “BOB” MCCONNELL December 3, 1919 - September 4, 2011. Born Acme, Ore. Served in the U.S. Army, WWII. Part of the Bataan Death March, he was a POW. Married Emma Graham. Worked for the Santa Barbara PD. Retired in ‘72, moved to Sagle in ‘87. Father of one. HETTIE MARJORIE PENTZ SMITH September 4, 1925 - September 5, 2011. Born Stoddard, Utah. Rode broncs in the rodeo. Worked for IBM. Married Eldon Smith. Moved to Sagle area in ‘53 and ran a dairy. Received a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young Univ. in ‘83. Mother of six. BG CATES May 18, 1935 - September 5, 2011. Born Laverty, Okla. Married Molly McGrath. Served in the U.S. Marine Corp, for the San Antonio police dept., and as a Texas Ranger. Moved to Sandpoint in the early 70s; preached and ran a foster home. Moved to Lewis & Clark valley in ‘85, married Paula Christensen. Father of four, foster father to many. ETHEL MARIE JOHNSON WHALEN March 22, 1918 - September 10, 2011. Born Blitzen, Ore. Moved to Oden in 1920; Hope High School graduate class of ‘36. Married Hardy Rojan. Moved to Sandpoint in ‘80. Married Russel Whalen and traveled the world. Mother and stepmother of five. JOHN HENRY DANIEL December 7, 1920 - September 10, 2011. Born Decateur, Ill. Moved to Montana in ‘34. Served in the U.S. Army, WWII, awarded Silver Star. Married Larena Holmes. Moved to Troy in ‘51 and Libby in ‘56. Retired in ‘83. Moved to Sandpoint in ‘90. Father of four. BEVERLEY ANN DAVIS MARTIN April 22, 1930 - September 11, Born Prarie City, Ore. Married Martin. Worked for the U.S. Office and was a fixture in the community. Mother of three.
2011. Merril Post Sagle
PATRICIA COLLEEN MURPHY October 12, 1946 - September 12, 2011. Born Alameda, Calif. Moved to Colorado, and to Sandpoint in 2004. Loved wildlife, cooking and gardening.
JANET LUELLA PAULSON FORD August 18, 1953 - September 12, 2011. Born Minot, ND. Moved to Idaho early 60s, married Terry Ford. Moved to Sandpoint in ‘86. Worked for many local businesses, most recently at Panhandle State Bank. Mother of one, loved animals, classic cars and her granddaughter, Grace.
LUDWIK B. DOMANSKI October 22, 1918 - September 16, 2011. Born Siedlce, Poland. Graduated Nat’l Radio Technical School (engineering). Joined Polish army. Captured by Soviets in ‘39 but escaped. Captured again and worked as slave labor. Released and trained by RAF as pilot. Shot down over Szantes, Hungary. Again captured and held until the end of hostilities. Received 9 medals from the Polish army and 5 from the RAF. Married Georgette Daniels, moved to U.S. in ‘51, became American citizen in ‘58. Married Grace Inez in ‘71, retired to Sandpoint in ‘88. Glider instructor and inspiration of Sandpoint Chess Festival. Author, “My Flights to Freedom.” Father and stepfather of six. MARIE K CALDWELL SPRAKER December 30, 1914 - September 17, 2011. Born Mountain Home, Idaho. Married Bill Spraker. Worked at the atomic energy site at Idaho Falls. Bred purebred Charolais cattle in Blackfoot. Moved to Colburn in 1973. Mother of one. J.C. “JEB” BEST September 4, 1923 - September 18, 2011. Born Missoula, Mont. Graduated Hope High School in ‘42 and was inducted in the U.S. Army. Served WWII. Married Anna Nohel. Lived in Sandpoint, Missoula and Bonners Ferry, worked in auto body repair. Owned Jeb & Margaret’s Trailer Haven resort in Trestle Creek. Father of two. DONNA RAE VIALL October 21, 1952 - September 24, 2011. Passed away in Clearfield, Utah. A complete obituary will be posted online. JACK CARR LANE July 23, 1944 - September 27, 2011. Born Rahway, NJ. Married Janet J. West. Joined U.S. Air Force. Earned a Master’s in Computer Science from Texas A&M. Retired as a Lt. Col. after 20 years. Worked in Maryland in computer tech until retiring again in 2000 and moving to Sandpoint. Traveled throughout Europe in a travel trailer. Father of two. BETTY KINZEY January 29, 1917 - September 27, 2011. Betty J Kinzey, 94, passed away in Sandpoint. A complete obituary will be available online for the former Montana resident. MARY EARLENE HUBBARD WALLACE October 16, 1933 - September 28, 2011. Born Forney, Texas. Married Gerald Wallace and moved to Vay, Idaho in 1998. Worked as a waitress. Mother of four.
ROBERT “BOB” GLEISER September 7, 1924 - September 28, 2011. Born Lake Forest, Ill. Studied auto mechanics. Moved to California in ‘45 and worked on airplanes for many of the biggest aircraft companies. Worked on the Apollo program, Skylab, the Mars Lander and the Constellation aircraft. Married Joyce Wentworth. Moved to Sandpoint in 1977. Father of three. LARRY I LARKIN August 10, 1934 - September 30, 2011. Larry Ingvold Larkin, 77, of Hope, died Friday, Sept. 30, at Bonner General Hospital. Arrangements are pending.
Lakeview Funeral Home, Sandpoint, Idaho.
Get complete obituaries online at
www.LakeviewFuneral.org WILLIAM DEAN MOSTEK January 28, 1949 - September 3, 2011. Born Sandpoint, Idaho. Bonners Ferry High graduate class of ‘67. Served US Army, Viet Nam, rec’d 14 air medals and 4 bronze stars. Married Lynn Truesdale. Worked at Co-Op and as log scaler. Taught Cub Scouts and volunteered for veterans’ needs. Stepfather of one. GARY WILLIAMS November 6, 1954 - September 4, 2011. Born Wichita Falls, Tex. Signed with Kansas City Royals after high school. BA in Business Admin from Univ. of San Diego. Married Karen Rusch. Started several businesses, moved to Sandpoint in 2004. Developed the Meadows at Fall Creek in Naples. Father of one. SHARON SUSAN BEZECNY April 27, 1951 - September 7, 2011. Born San Mateo, Calif. Earned a nursing degree from San Jose State. Married Michael Wilson. Moved to Sandpoint in 1981. Worked at Bonner General and at Sacred Heart, and 25 years in first aid for Schweitzer Ski Patrol. JERRY MURPHY July 17, 1940 - September 12, 2011. Born Washington, Iowa. Graduated Washington State College, spent 25 years as a teacher in So. Calif. Married Jerri Watters. Retired to Libby, Mont., moved to Bonners Ferry six years ago. Stepfather of two. SEAN MONTGOMERY October 2, 1968 - September 19, 2011. Born Sandpoint, Idaho. SHS graduate, owned and operated an excavation business. Married Shawnya Hobbs, moved to Missouri and worked for Corning. Moved back to Idaho ‘03. Loved football, hunting, fishing, wood working, candy, and collecting knives and guns. Father of one. STEVEN BRIAN ARBUCKLE September 25, 1966 - September 21, 2011. Born Jacksonville, Fla. Attended Univ. North Florida, computer programming. Married Katrina Johnson, worked for several companies, moved to Sandpoint in 2008. Father of one. KENNETH CARLIN BIEDINGER, SR. January 20, 1924 - September 21, 2011. Born Angels Camp, Calif. Served U.S. Air Force in WWII as a tailgunner. Married Florence Barrows, worked for Calaveras Cement. Retired in ‘97 and moved to Sandpoint. Father of one. PATRICIA JO MAGEE FELDHAUSEN April 1, 1950 - September 23, 2011. Born American Falls, Idaho. Married Steve Feldhausen. Had a huge heart and an unwavering faith. Mother of three.
Page 16 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 20 No. 10| October 2011
Keeping Wonder Alive I looked to see who was calling as the phone played its tune; it was my stepdaughter, Ana. Answering, I heard, “gaa ma lalala ba ga.” “Hi Alice,” I said. Once again I got “gaa lalala ba.” I thought either nine-month-old Alice is playing with Ana’s phone or Ana is having a very bad morning. Soon Ana came on and said “Hello.” She was just fine and said she had just turned her back for a second. I must admit I was enjoying my conversation with Alice, even though I was wondering what she was saying. I’m sure it was, “Let’s go for a hike right now!” Ana and Alice are staying a few miles from here while Noah is going to school. I must admit I love having them here while at the same time seeing the family separated pains me. Once again, those polarities of life that I cannot control surface. The baby and I had gone for a hike that morning, while her mother took care of a few things around the house. There have been several such hikes since they came. Mostly we stay on old logging roads, which are more accommodating for her stroller. However, since it does have bicycle tires it rolls over the rough pretty well. So occasionally, Alice and I take the stroller and do a little “offroading.” She seems to enjoy the bumping and bouncing as we hike the woods behind their place, always conscious of the subtleties of life and lives around her. She hears and reacts to even the smallest bird-songs and follows them when they fly. Whenever she hears animal voices, she immediately focuses on their source. Tall grass brushes her cheeks as we roll
by, giving her a new experience and a new discovery, and she uses all her senses to capture each one. With a new texture she will first look, then try to feel, and then, of course, try to smell and taste. She tries out her own voice as the wheels bounce over rocks and sticks, hearing how it changes from rough ground to smooth. It sounds like rough ground is more fun to her singing. Watching her wonder stimulates my own wonder as we trek past dry streambeds, tamarack turning gold and rock faces that
rise along our route. I think of myself as a rather curious person and I enjoy my curiosity but looking at Alice I see absolute wonder in everything. I am reminded to open all my senses to the world around me, to try, as she does, exploring everything with nothing but wonder. For her, wonder does not have an opposite concept. When I reach that goal, the world gets even more exciting. I have been in all kinds of nature with people who have years of experience and knowledge of their surroundings, people who serve as guides or teachers of nature. Some are professional; others simply want to
THE HAWK’S NEST Ernie Hawks
email@example.com be out in it and are willing to share what they know. In each one, I see a similar curiosity as in Alice: they are conscious of all their life; acutely aware of what surrounds them and their presence in it. They see and make mental notes of every sound, movement, or smell just as Alice does.—often with the same wonder, even though years of experience may mean it comes with greater understanding. I like being with these people; it seems all of life is exhilarating for them. However, what is so fun with Alice, this is her very first autumn. It isn’t that I am showing someone autumn in Idaho for the first time, I love that too. Instead, I have been given the honor to be part of Alice’s very first fall. Adding to that I get to show her the North Idaho mountains I love so much. The curiosity she has now will help open her to the possibilities of the world. Some feel she is too young to understand, but I believe this fall will be as important as all the rest in her life. This fall, and what she learns, will influence how she sees the world where ever that is. In the process, she will learn some things hurt, others do not taste good and she will learn some are fun and do taste good. And sharing this fall with Alice will be important to me and influence the rest of my life. I’m sure there will be more time spent learning to touch something new or in a new way and I’m hoping there will be more phone calls while her mom has her back turned, calls that will keep the wonder in my world alive.
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Make your reservations online at www.quinnshotsprings.com or call 406-826-3150 October 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 20 No. 10| Page 17
ing ater the d to n as ake ues
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If you’ve never hunted and still don’t then you can put this down and read something else. If you’ve never experienced the aroma therapy of gut shot big game or even tried to explain how your rifle irrefutably and single-handedly put a drain hole in the roof of the family pickup, then by all means, find something else to do with the next few minutes because this page might only increase any mordant tendencies and actually galvanize whatever suspicions you may already have regarding my social acumen. Having said that… Hunting season always reminds me of little treasures I stored away for later references. Those little nuggets of gold that confirm or at least postulate ones human tendencies towards bad habits and stupid tricks. My brothers and I were raised with a deep abiding respect for the animals that came to dinner. Trout, rabbit, grouse, duck, geese, pheasant, antelope, deer, elk, moose and bear all made regular appearances from late
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fall until late spring and we were grateful. As a youngun, I reveled in the different experiences each one brought to my senses. They all came with their own set of circumstances, techniques, terrain, weather, scenery, protocol and breaches thereof. And as in all of life, those breeches hold court when it comes to memory retention. So, on a particularly crisp, clear and fairly innocent Saturday morning, deep in the heart of October, forty-six years ago, one of my older brothers quietly entered our parents bedroom and somehow got permission for the three of us, aged 17, 16 and 13 (me), to take our ’45 Jeep half-cab up on Lionhead mountain to do a little deer huntin’. This I found incredible, giving our track record up to that point and made a firm believer out of me as to the raw power of R.E.M. sleep and when’s the best time to ask tough questions of your folks. We got ready in just under 45 seconds lest anyone come to their senses. Full canteens, food, huntin’ knives, adrenalin, guns, ammo, bags, rags, tags, fags(cigs) and clothing appropriate to 9,000 feet. In under twenty minutes we were above tree line and looking out on a massive chunk of our “backyard”. We got out to survey our possibilities. Mike and Arn both lit cigarettes like the “Marlboro Men” I knew them to be. I stood in envy trying to draw in any wafting fumes within range. I could feel manhood was right around the corner and just over the hill. Coming soon. To me, this was life at its very finest, heroes on both sides of me, the Yellowstone plateau stretched out in panoramic splendor at our feet, guns in hand. The only thing missing was game. We should have stayed put, quiet and
by Scott Clawson
observant but we voted that down in favor of mobile calamity and macho misdemeanors. A few minutes later, Mike was idling along in first gear while Arn and I rode the hood and leaned back on the windshield. I’m not too sure where we got this idea but it’s quite possible we came up with it all by ourselves. I had across my lap a loaded and chambered Springfield ’06. Arn, for some reason, had opted to leave his at home and borrowed our dad’s rather pristine Remington semi-auto with scope. It was on his lap, similarly ready for anything that might present itself. And something did. Something we weren’t thinkin’ about. As we crested a light slope I could feel the inertia shift on my back, so my butt clamped down instinctively on the hinge barrel of the hood and my left boot purchased as much of the hood latch on my side that it could afford, which wasn’t much. My right one didn’t know what the hell to do! Arnie, being a lot taller, saw it first, “STUMP, WHOA (expletive) STUMP!!!” The expressions on our faces went from pure bliss to trepidation to those of panic as I felt Mike’s foot mash the brake pedal like someone’s life might depend on it. Being thirteen, I was open to suggestions and got a big hand across my shoulder with instructions to “HOLD ON!” I grabbed the windshield frame with my left elbow while my right foot hooked the sling of my rifle. Arnie lost his perch making sure that I didn’t and we maintained wide eyed contact until he slid over the radiator and disappeared eyeballs, nose and fingertips last. The Jeep stopped and this huge weight lifted off of my chest. It was Mike’s free arm,
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Page 18 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 20 No. 10| October 2011
like I said, heroes on either side. Hunting is all about learning and with this in mind, I rolled forward, peeked over the end of the hood and found Arn’s smiling face lookin’ up past the bumper at me. We all congratulated each other on not having any unintended bowel movements to explain later when we got home. A good honest round of ‘fate cheating’ laughter was just getting underway, when Arn noticed the barrel and a little bit of the scope of dad’s Remington sticking out from under the right front tire. On a lighter note, during that same season, while I was working our motel office, running the switchboard, and playing solitaire, a brand-new Jeep Waggoneer wearing Utah plates pulled in under the carport. Four flannel clad finger flippers rolled out, stretched and admired the pretty decent set of antlers tied off to the luggage rack. One of ‘em clapped another on the back. I thought for a second I was in the middle of a Pendleton advertizement for they were far too clean for real hunters.
“Can I help you gents?” my usual greeting in this kind of moment except I tried to sound like ‘Sam’ the barkeep from Gunsmoke. What I’m pretty sure they heard was a thirteen year old smart ass. “We’d like a couple of rooms if you have any left.” Followed by snickers and elbows as theirs was the only rig in sight. Our little town was quiet and peaceful and in full autumn splendor. Our new Caddy (and primary hunting vehicle) was currently employed around the corner as a shill in front of the bar. Our ‘Stake Haus’ was closed until May but the walk-in cooler was as always humming along at 43 degrees and aging nicely several deer and antelope quartered up and hanging on hooks. “Sure do,” I says, always amicable in the face of stupidity, “and we’ve got room in the cooler for yer elk too!” I looked out the window at an all too empty Waggoneer but being an optimist, I inquired, “Where’s the rest of yer four-point?” “Out in the woods where he fell, we didn’t come all this way for the meat, just the rack
and a little R&R. How’s about those rooms, sonny?” On the cusp of this declaration, I blurted out of my well seasoned lips, “You assholes can go find a F#?& !’N room somewheres else!” I said this as much as possible like my mountain man brother Arn would’ve put it (bolstering my confidence even more). I was just estimating how many times they outweighed me by when one of them pulled his jaw back up and demanded to see my father. “That can be arranged”, I said holding his gaze. “He’s tendin’ bar and is a whole lot faster at character judgment than I am. But before you tell him what I just said, I dare you to tell him where you left the best part of a bull elk.”
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October 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 20 No. 10| Page 19
Kathyâ€™s Faith Walk
Jonathan Matthew Franco
I have been sharing my Faith Walk with readers for a couple years now and the one thing I have not touched on much is death; that is, until now. Last week was a bad week. I gauge the dayâ€™s goodness or badness in one simple way. It is a good day if no one in my circle dies. It is a bad day if one of them does. My circle is kind of big. Last week someone in my circle passed away but it was an amazing event deep down and has changed my view of death. Jonathan Franco passed away on Saturday, September 24. He was many things to many, many people. I havenâ€™t seen a life impact like that in years. Jonathan was only 27 and he loved God. He was a friend to my two older children when they were going to NIC a few years ago. He connected them to a church and to a wonderful group of young people who met regularly at his home in Post Falls. He traveled the world and was very excited about his opportunity to travel to the Holy Land with his Dad. His Facebook page was filled with scores of testimonies, all expressing the positive impact he had on their lives and
on their faith in God. For a week before Johnnyâ€™s funeral my daughter and I talked about him and the fact that he is now with Jesus in Heaven. We know he is because the Bible tells us in 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 5, we who have relationship with Jesus Christ will be able to be with him when we die. This is the hope
every believer in Christ keeps close. It is the hope Jonny had and he is experiencing it right now. It is the hope my daughter and I focused on. Jonnyâ€™s funeral was in Post Falls at Real Life. The parking lot was packed and because Jonny was an officer for the Rathdrum Police Department, there was a great deal of ceremony associated with the dayâ€”an enormous United States flag flew above the driveway, and the procession to the Rathdrum cemetery was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. But as my daughter said, â€œMom, they are taking his body to the cemetery, but he is not there.â€? She is right. Jonny is not in the cemetery resting. He is in the presence of God rejoicing! â€œBadâ€? days like this remind believers that there is hope in Christ Jesus. He died to redeem us from our sin and because He was raised from the dead to live again, we who believe in him and share in that hope will also live again, just like Jonathan Matthew Franco.
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Page 20 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 20 No. 10| October 2011
From the Mouth of the River
Bears—they have been in the news a lot lately, them and motorcycle jockeys. Seems the only time they are mentioned is when someone gets killed by one. I liked it back in the day when Glacier Park Bears could get away with eating a tourist now and again. I mean, after all, they were from out of state, it wasn’t like they were someone we knew. Do you remember that one old sow that laid by trail #406 waiting for an overweight tourist to huff
best I can explain it would be like a mad Pit Bull dog with a cottontail rabbit in its mouth, shaking body parts everywhere faster than you can say “Oh Shi…T.” The same words you would hear just before a motorcyclist hits the back end of a parked truck or a rock wall at eighty miles an hour. I mean, really, you don’t expect a motorcyclist to ride at a speed comparable to that of a regular automobile, do you?! Why own a motorcycle if you can’t go balls- tothe-wall with no helmet on? “I got the bitch on the back and my dogs at home,” the sign read on the back of his bike. The undertaker says the hardest part of getting a cyclist ready for a funeral is cleaning the bugs off his teeth. The body itself is broken in so many pieces they just pour it into the box. I’m not condoning the death of either hunters or motorcyclists, but you gotta admit, it does strengthen the gene pool. After all, you wouldn’t want your daughter to marry a guy who goes bear hunting with a switch or jumps out of an airplane with just an umbrella. A sidearm is another misnomer bear hunters use as a back-up gun for close quarters. When you stick a forty-some caliber Roy Rogers special in the face of a bear and pull the trigger, your chance of survival is not all that great and if you come out from under the anesthesia and find you are missing one arm at the elbow, consider yourself lucky. Stupid, but lucky. I know a man of such experience; after firing his pistol in the face of a grizzly the bear sat down, reached up, and slapped his arm off at the elbow. Both the bear and the hunter passed out at the scene; the bear was disposed of by a hunting companion who was nearby. The doctors were unable to reattach the hunter’s mangled arm in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at that time. They were, however, able to pry the gun from his cold dead hand to have as a reminder of his incident with a bear and a hand gun. He now hunts elk with a forty-five, seventy lever action Winchester, something he can load single handed while balancing it on the stub of his lost arm. A two for one story happened in, I think, Montana or Wyoming, when a motorcycle hit a grizzly crossing the highway. (It may have even been in Alaska.) The jockey was thrown clear of the wreck and survived; can’t say the same for the bear or the motorcycle. It was not a pretty sight. We here in the great Northwest live amongst the bears and often think nothing of it; they wander in and out of our towns as well as through our yards. Fish and Game tries to neutralize any of these incidents by moving the bears back into the mountains from which they came. A bear’s only interest in life is to eat and
and puff by? She would instruct her cubs not to bother with the old, skinny hikers as they were stringy and tough and didn’t have any meet on their bones. It wasn’t until a chunky Italian girl from Chicago, a Senator’s daughter, was found half devoured and her remains were covered up and left for rodents that something was done to distract bears from eating tourists. A new law was established that said bears that killed people must be destroyed. The Ranger that shot the bear that attacked the Italian girl positively identified it as the guilty one by the smell of garlic on its breath. Guides in Alaska and even those of us who guide in the Bob Marshall Wilderness carry a weapon that would stop a charging elephant in its tracks when backing up a bear hunter. Not to protect his ignorant ass, but to stop the bear from getting both of us. The modern-day hunter has no idea what a gut shot grizzly can do to a human. The
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they will eat anything you or I would eat or anything other animals would eat. That includes dog or cat food left out or bird seed. Even your garbage will be taken out behind your house, the sacks opened up and picked through, as bears are not as finicky as you are about what you throw out. Bears have a nose on them like your mother-inlaw, who can detect the slightest hint of another woman on you whom you just passed in the hall. Also, their memory is just as unique as their sense of smell. Not only can they remember where you hid all the goodies, they know where and when you put it there. They remember what time of year the service berries, huckleberries, cherries, apples and any other fruit ripens, not to mention when and where you put out bird seed. They can detect the smell of newborn animals as well as carrion and will eat either one, and will dig up forty acres of dirt to get to one ground squirrel. Apparently, there’s a lot of nutrition in ground squirrels even though I’ve never tried one. I think I’ll take their word for it. North American Indians put a lot of stock in the relationship between the bear and their people. And it’s scary how much a twoyear-old bear, field dressed and hanging in a tree, looks like the body of a human. Except for the female bear who has multiple breasts; six I think, in cases for when she has two or more cubs. More breast produces more milk. Bear milk is rich in fat content, causing the cubs to grow fast and strong. Indian folklore says that a baby raised by a mother bear will grow bigger and stronger than anyone in the tribe. The trick is, as I see it, to get the baby in the bear’s den without getting caught. Other known facts about bears that are widely known amongst women of the West is when you render out the fat from a bear, it makes the best pie crust ever made—light and flaky but it will support a slice of pie eaten by hand without falling apart, unlike anything I’ve ever tried to make. When tracking bears in the woods it’s easy to tell if it’s a black Bear or a Grizzly by the scat, a word used in outdoor magazines meaning bear crap. The black bear scat will be dark in color with the seeds of whatever fruit is in season at the time. The grizzly bear scat will be likewise in color and seeds, with small pieces of tennis shoes, buttons and flannel, sometimes pieces of a watch along with some crunched up silver bells and a slight smell of pepper spray. It’s at this time when you should check the caliber of gun you are toting and maybe turn your four-wheeler around and go back to camp and save your Depends for the camp chili.
October 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 20 No. 10| Page 21
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