Mountain Mama

Saturday Morning Surprise

Saturday Morning Surprise

 

Fall is spectacular here, although six inches of snow that fell last weekend worry me. The upcoming winter may be an icy beast. But among preparations for what’s to come (Where are the snow tires? Do we have gasoline for the snow blower? Have we blown out the irrigation system?), we’re also about to “restock the larder.”

This Mountain Mama is going on a cast-and-blast.

Now, before you take PETA umbrage, let me assure you that the wild-flying pheasants, chukkar, grouse, hun, and quail I’ll be flushing with dogs aren’t mistreated little birdies. Their lives in the great outdoors have been far more authentic than those of fellow foul cooped on a chicken farm. And hiking hill and dale between hitting a feathered target flying sity miles an hour is infinitely more challenging than pushing a cart up a grocery aisle.

Ringnecked Pheasant

Ringnecked Pheasant

And then there are the steelhead.

While upland game bird hunting is something I do with Ranchman the Superhero, fishing I do for me alone. I’ll be stalking Class B steelhead (rainbow trout that have spent two years at sea, where ocean currents have made them stronger than Arnold Schwarzenegger). I caught this “fish of a thousand casts” a couple of years ago while spey-casting flies on the Deschutes, and can’t wait to see another tail dance across the river surface; feel a mighty head shake that lets me know he or she is NOT happy; and play the zip and dart of a fish trying to toss my hook before releasing it to be caught another day.

24-inch Steelhead

24-inch Steelhead

In the coming months when snow flies, roads ice, and temperatures plummet, memories like these — of upland game birds tracked by immaculately trained dogs, and fighting fish with ridiculous passion to live — will remind me why I’m here.

I am thankful to be a Mountain Mama.