By Ol’ Jim Dickens 9/2020
A few times a year I get together with great friends who are good old boys. First, my friend Walt has a ranch he shares with a bunch of us for a few days in the middle of nowhere in Idaho. Second, my friend Chet needed an isolated escape has he is a front line health care worker. Finally, we got a group of good Bucknell college buddies together in Big Sky, Montana. The great thing about these trips is you get behave as you want without embarrassing your family, hurting your business or ruining neighborhood relations.
Walt turns his ranch into a giant boys camp for us. Its 250 acres of trout ponds and stream, horses, ATV,s, motorcycles, and lawn games among mountains and rivers. Additionally, some of the campers are extremely talented musicians. Nightly, we have a giant campfire, drinks and great live music. Every camper has duties and it helps you get invited back if you are useful. I can’t cook, play music etc. I stack wood for the campfire and head into town for supplies. I remain on the bubble. Had a great time this year and the music was especially great. We had another guitarist and a fishing guide who was fantastic on the harmonica.
Chet needed to stay away from large groups or face quarantine so my buddy Pete and I took him into the middle of the Selway Bittertoot Wilderness and the Nez Perce National Forrest. Really beautiful country. We stayed at a lodge 60 miles from the nearest next building. We hiked and fished at the end of 20 miles of dirt road on the Selway River. And we fished 60 miles of road running along the Lochsa River. Our lodge mates were overland motorcyclists, elk hunters and some really different people.
One guy we met told us he was staying at the lodge to memorialize his grand pa. He told us he lived with a friend who had a 10 year old adopted daughter living in the basement. She lived in the basement because when they asked her to brush her teeth she screamed so loud the neighbors called the police. He also said his grandpa left him a lot of guns and ammo and he was going to go fire them tomorrow. When asked if he was hunting or target shooting, he told us he was just going to go fire them off. His non stop description of all this pushed away all from the campfire including us. Very different.
Pete and I dropped Chet off at the Bozeman airport and picked up six other Bucknell buddies. We stayed in Big Sky using Pete’s house and a large home on the Gallatin River. Because of the pandemic, we cooked at home and spent our time outside floating and wading the Madison and Gallatin rivers with guides. We trash talked with each other and had a fishing tournament that we named the 2020 First Annual Big Sky Trout Scramble . The trophy was a cow bone we found and signed, The Sacred Red Thighbone. And there were non standard rules to enhance your scramble score like chugging beer, playing bag pipes, and fishing in your Tommy Johns.
Given the tournament remoteness, it didn’t embarrass our family, hurt our businesses, or ruin our neighborhood relationships. At 59, we were just being good old boys.