Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Why hunt here?

Looks more like spring than post-Christmas at Black Eagle Falls

Why hunt on River's Edge Trail?

Holiday fishing at Giant Springs State Park
There’s been a week of chinook and when I heard that Teton Pass Ski Area wasn’t open for lack of snow, and the Little Belts backcountry is icing up, I refigured my outdoor recreational agenda.
I’ve made it heavy on River’s Edge Trail and Giant Springs State Park, both along the Missouri River in Great Falls.
What make those parks so nice in this kind of weather are the birds and other wildlife you might see.
On Christmas Day it was so warm that there was a small hatch and the rainbows were jumping in the springs and in the little pond below the cliffs where most of the ice had melted.
On the day after, we were delighted by the sight of bald eagles playing in the air above us.
Last night we went to Giant Springs as the sun was setting and were greeted by the hoots of great horned owls that nest in the cottonwoods and spruces above the water in the picnic area. We spotted two of them.
This morning on a walk to the springs I checked the beaver dams for signs of activity (quiet), we could see deer tracks in the mud in front of us as the sun was rising, and above us Canada geese were “Veed” up, honking away from the river.
But this little paradise was about to end.
As the sun crested the horizon shotguns went off, breaking the idyllic silence. That was followed by the obviously man-made honks from bird-calls.
As we approached the river’s edge on the trail south of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, we could look down and see camouflaged men with their guns, dogs and duck decoys calling in the birds that were flying overhead.
Just as we were enjoying another “V” of geese honking overhead in the early morning glow of dawn, the guns went off again in rapid succession. I prayed that the birds would pass unmolested.
But just as I thought they were safely through the gauntlet two peeled from the formation and abruptly spun far down to the ground.
The hunters had turned a wonderful wildlife walk into an unpleasant killing spectacle.
Although I don’t like hunting and don’t do it myself, I recognize that it is part of our culture in Montana and tolerate it.
I certainly don’t want to watch it so near town.
I’ve complained about this Giant Springs area-hunting district between Black Eagle and Rainbow dams before.
I can’t think of anything that will rouse anti-hunters more than seeing these hunters blasting the wildlife below the River’s Edge Trail.
There are plenty of other places to hunt.
Why here?

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