Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Awakening (A Letter to Bears)

March 23, 2019

Dear Bears,

Good morning. I hope you had a deep, satisfying, rejuvenating nap. I missed you.

I’m certainly not in a very credible position to give advice about staying out of trouble, but for what it’s worth: Please, PLEASE!, stay away from people; we are bad news for bears.

If you do by chance cross paths with homo sapiens — which is, unfortunately, becoming increasingly difficult to avoid — I hope they give you all the space, understanding and respect you deserve. Either way, turn and flee for your safe space (what little we’ve left for you).

May you have a long, healthy, safe, wonderful and wild year — and may the huckleberries be plump and bountiful. You’re lucky to be a bear!


Your friend and admirer,


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sacred Grizzlies? (Griz Bless America!)

One of several considerations recently before a federal judge: Native American tribes from seven states and Canada claim that lifting protections for grizzly bears, and allowing the hunting of grizzlies, violates their religious freedom because they consider the grizzly sacred.

This may not seem the strongest case in context of the modern world. But consider this: Many of the same people ridiculing it believe in talking snakes, immaculate conception and a resurrected guy who walked on water.  Some of them believe it’s a violation of their religious freedoms to bake a cake for certain individuals because of cherry-picked words from a contradictory, archaic book written thousands of years ago and translated numerous times into dozens of conflicting versions. 

Personally, I believe if there’s a god at all it’s tied to the energy that runs through all things; the sun and the rain and the air and the sedges and the elk and the trout and the huckleberries that run through me and back to Earth. (As Edward Abbey put it, i’m an “Earthiest,” I believe in what I can touch, smell, hear, taste and walk on.) And I believe one of the quickest routes to god is through the digestive system of a grizzly bear. 

I’m going with the original Americans on this one. Thank Griz for the First Amendment!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

A Tale of Two Assholes

No doubt I have strong, passionate opinions on certain topics, but I didn’t think they were boot-me-out-of-the-truck-and-leave-me-stranded-in-a-remote-part-of-Montana worthy. But that’s exactly what happened yesterday.

After being stopped and approached in the still-dark hours of early morning by cautious cops armed with AR-15s and told the main highway was closed while the search was on for a fugitive who had shot four people, including a state highway patrolman, I was embarked on a long detour west then north to go fishing with a guy named Jeff Gailus who I’d recently met. He’s a writer and adjunct professor at the University of Montana and seemed a decent enough kind of guy, if not a bit arrogant and dogmatic.

We got into what I thought was an engaging conversation about hunting during which I mentioned my concerns about the impacts of too many of us hunters chasing and harassing elk during the rut, combined with high wounding rates from us bowhunters. He became agitated and said I had no data to support my assertions. I said I did.

“I think you just like to run your mouth with nothing to back it up,” he said.

Ouch! Not nice.

The temperature of the conversation climbed precipitously from there, to the point where he said: “No wonder you don’t have any friends . . . you’re an asshole.”

I acknowledged that, yes — as my numerous friends can attest — I can indeed be an asshole. “But at least I am aware that I can be an asshole; you, on the other hand, seem incapable of acknowledging that you, too, are being an asshole.”

He told me to shut up or get out of his truck. But at that point I was agitated and stubbornly persisted as I tend to do when I’m stubbornly agitated. I should have shut up. But I didn’t.

The asshole pulled over and demanded I grab my gear and get out of his truck.

So there I was ten-miles from the nearest town on a cold March day in a spot with no cell coverage (which wouldn’t have done me much good even if there was, considering I left my cell phone in his truck) and no snowshoes to enjoy the vast snow-covered national forests surrounding me.

Four cars came along during the next hour or so. The first three didn’t even slow down. Perhaps I looked like a fugitive, standing like I was on the side of the road with an ice-fishing auger, fishing rod, tip-ups and a blue bucket of bait. But the fourth guy stopped.

A great guy, with a wonderful dog, who gave me a ride to the gas station in Plains where I was able to call Christine Stalling who left work to drive the hour-plus (with detour) long trip north and back to rescue me (yet again, I should add).

Which entails a bit of irony. As Christine put it: “If anyone ever had good reason to dump you off and leave you stranded out in the middle of nowhere it’s me — yet even I never did that!”

True. I can be an asshole. But there’s a lot bigger assholes out there.

ADDENDUM (March 20, 2019): I’ve recieved several messages from Jeff Gailus questioning the accuracy of my blog post. He claims that he did “not kick me out” of his truck but (as I clearly stated) gave me a “choice” to either “shut up or get out,” because I was being “belligerent,” “disrespectful” and “condescending” in my disagreement with him. “It was your choice,” he reminds me. Apparently, in his mind, that justifies leaving me stranded on a winter day, without cell coverage, far from any town, in a remote part of Montana, in a precarious and potentially dangerous situation. 

He demanded that I remove my blog post and write an apology or he will seek legal action. My response: 

Dear Mr. Gailus,

I received your legal threat. I understand it refers to my blog post of March 16, 2019, called “A Tale of Two Assholes.” However, your threat does not specify what part of the post you believe to be false.

I wrote about the events of that day in the most honest and accurate manner I could while the incident was still very fresh on my mind. If you think some part of the post is inaccurate, please specify which part and your basis for saying so and I will review your claim and make changes if appropriate. 


David Stalling 

He replied: “Stop harassing me.”

Correction: I did find one inaccuracy in my post I feel obligated to correct. I stated that it was a “cold” day. It would be more accurate to describe it as a “chilly” day. My apologies if this caused any confusion or discomfort.