Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Maurice R. "Monty" Montgomery, 1938- 2017: RIP

My friend Monty was always a slightly elusive presence, even in his autobiographical sketch in Amazon, written by himself:

"M. R. Montgomery, known to the various government record keepers as Maurice R. Montgomery Jr., and to all his acquaintances as Monty, was born in eastern Montana in 1938, raised partly in California, and now lives near Boston for reasons that he cannot quite explain. Over the past twenty-five years he has written for the Boston Globe on every subject except politics, a clean record he hopes to maintain until retirement. Other than fishing and a little bit of gunning, he has no obsessive hobbies, although he has been known to plant the occasional tomato and a manageable number of antique rose varieties, these for the pleasure of his wife, Florence."

He was sort of the unknown best writer I knew. ALL of his books were good, but two in particular, Many Rivers to Cross, about native trout, and Saying Goodbye, about eastern Montana and fathers and sons, are absolute classics. Saying Goodbye is the best book on eastern Montana I know.

Monty could write about anything. Though I didn’t get to know him until the 90s, I first wrote to him for advice on bird dogs in 1970s -- he replied with a column called “Find a Gentleman With a Bird Dog”. He also wrote columns I remember on rutabagas and November.

In the end I couldn't even find his obit in the Globe. Monty was erudite, kind, and generous as well as an undervalued writer. He will be missed.

Here is a fine tribute by Corb Lund about their mutual country.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Inevitable...

Greg McNamee sent this with the caption: "It was only a matter of time", to which he added "Newly scraped from the north Phoenix desert...

Asian Hounds

Our friend Lane Bellman has just produced the first litter of Taigans, the high- altitude Kirgyz version of the Eastern sighthound, just north of here. Stay tuned...

Hemingway's Guns-- new edition


Silvio Calabi and Co. hav come out with a new ed of the already- good Hemingways's Guns that adds the Cuban guns from the Finca Vigia (a uniformly ruined unshootable lot BTW) to the already good scholarship of the first volume. Two things are  particularly notable. First, most American rich folks back then shot good versions of the same guns as their less well- off contemporaries, not aristocrats' or Best guns. Hem shot a Model 12, some 21's, a Springfield, many Winchesters, and a humpback Browning; so did my father, and I have owned them all. The only real "Best" he ever owned was the Westley .577, and he disliked shooting it.

And though Patrick H debunked it long ago as a myth propagated by "Miss Mary" (I believe): Hemingway not only didn't shoot himself with a Boss; he never owned a London Best shotgun! Calabi has done real detective work here, finding the remnants of the W & C Scott lock from the fatal gun.

For all fans of Hem and guns, (except perhaps those put off by the NYRB article that called the book "sick fetishism"-- !)

And on another gun matter, congratulations to reader Phil Yearout, who just got published in Shooting Sportsman!

PS : Pauline shot a Darne 28!

Monday, July 17, 2017

New Tom

Tom Russell's new album is about leaving his home in El Paso and moving to Santa Fe. Among other things, they were about to surround his rural home in the Valley with a subdivision...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Old Travels

Found this image of our Kazakh guide Hagay at the Tamgaly petroglyph site, a World Heritage site but one that at the time that had supposedly been visited by only six westerners, two of them us. Central Asian T Shirts are even weirder than Japanese ones...

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Good news coming!

Despite continuing difficulties with my health, a visit to Santa Fe and a small bequest turned a lot of things around. I may soon have working dictation software (if such a thing is possible!} and a working laptop. I have sold several articles. There is even a glimmer of hope on health, as I strive to get into a Denver clinic to learn how to use my so-called gizmo. Wish me luck. Much more to come when I an less exhausted.

I added more pics to to "Old Days" below.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

James Lee Mansell, RIP


James was Floyd Mansell's oldest son, with the woodsman's heritage and ability one might expect. Perhaps even in extra measure; he was one of the best woodsmen and elk and turkey hunters I ever knew in his youth. I believe he was also a Golden Gloves boxer, as many of Floyd's kids and proteges were. But he had a problem. Before such things were diagnosed properly, at least in rural districts, he was utterly dyslexic and never did learn to read. It was no lack of intelligence or dedication; he spoke Spanish, "Burqueno"- accented English , and Navajo; people tended to think he was Spanish, but he was a quarter Navajo, a quarter Choctaw, a quarter Scots- Irish, and a quarter Lebanese; with his handsome vaguely Asian features he would have looked quite at home in Almaty or any of the Stans...

James worked hard, played hard, and walked more than anyone I knew (he once broke his back in an accident, and was walking three days later!), and he drank. It finally killed him. He was nothing if not realistic about it, and made jokes about it until his last days. I would ask him why he had done something uncharacteristically dumb, and he would look at me and say "Steve... I was drunk!" It reached its peak of heartbreak and hilarity when he insisted on narrating, in a loud voice, in the supermarket at 10 AM, how he had managed to get bitten two times by a big diamondback, which he normally could have controlled with ease, as he was a serious snake collector. In each stage of the narration -- anaphylactic shock from the antivenin, and getting bit again when he released it; I would say "I know James, I know". He kept on going "You know WHY?" I said "Yes, James" in a quiet voice. "PUTA, I was drunk!!"

He remained incorrigibly cheerful, even as his horizons narrowed. After being lost in the Gila Wilderness for three days,he stopped going on extended hunts. Breaking his back, though he walked through the pain, made it still harder than it was. He still came by almost daily, pointing out birds and other creatures he had seen on his walks. Toward the end, his wife Bernice was trying to get me to write about him, saying "You don't know him -- he's Floyd Mansell's son!" James, sitting at a table a few feet away, kept saying "Bernice, he's my friend Steve. I saw him this morning! Leave him alone!"

He left behind an enormous amount of good will and love, many brothers and sisters, his mother Wanda, and a grieving wife, and a wonderful bunch of children and grandchildren, some of them already accomplished naturalists and outdoors people. Although he lived his life on the margins, he'll be missed by many,including me.

James and grandchildren.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Gordon Hall Wasley Austin RIP


When my old friend and editor at Gray's, Reed Austin, wrote a piece on how he met his wife, Gordon Hall Wasley, on a business fishing trip in which he ended up getting a treble hook bass plug stuck in his butt, and Gordon had to remove it, I thought it was hilarious and wrote him to tell him so. (Link TK; Anglers Journal Vol 2 no 4)). It wasn't until last week that I learned that he had written it originally as a love letter to Gordon to celebrate their 30th anniversary, never imagining it would serve as the centerpiece to her eulogy four years later at her funeral.

It was inexplicable. For me they are the very image of WASP golden youth, forever young. That they were happy grandparents is hard for me to get my head around. I remember all the years that Reed and I spent doing crazy versions of fishing and hunting. Once he jokingly asked me not to tell Bill Sisson, our editor at Anglers about our high times. (What he actually said was "Buy anything he writes, and don't believe a word about anything we ever did.")

I remember Gordon's aureole of golden hair around her face when we were jumps- hooting ducks on Duxbury Marsh.(Duxbury Marsh was so much native habitat for Reed; his grandfather Francis (Frannie) was one of the three young men hunting Duxbury Marsh in van Campen Heilner's canonical duck hunting book; another was Reed's then landlord, Parker).

But mostly what I remember of Gordon Hall Wasley was her genuine interest in everyone else's passions. A brash and somewhat insecure kid from what was very much the other side of the tracks in those days at first could not believe this exotic creature was asking questions about my passions, with interest. By the time they were married I was with Betsy Huntington, and another interesting virtue was added to the Austin repertoire: utter loyalty. Betsy was of a haut-Boston background and was much older than me; this made us a little too odd for some of the more conventional gatherings we were invited to. Somehow,inevitably, Reed and Gordon would end up at our table where they would spend the rest of the evening. No fuss was made -- they just came and sat with us and had fun. As I said to Reed this week, "Do you think we never noticed?"

I last saw Reed at Betsy's funeral. He had gotten out of his hospital bed, and slashed the leg of his Brooks Brothers suit to fit it over his cast. It was a typical gesture. Through the years we stayed lightly in touch but were involved very much in our own pursuits. It took Gordon's death to bring us together. I told him "We all loved her, and she loved you."

Now he has his own battles to fight, alone. I hope the children and grandchildren are of comfort. Meanwhile, I grieve with you, old buddy -- she was glorious. Keep writing, and hang in there.

Gordon fishing the Battenkill

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Old Days

The piece on the girlss playing somehow reminded me of an older incarnation.This would be the late Lashyn and a much younger Ataika, in the spring woods with us the day we discovered the remains of a very large old bear who evidently starved before he could den up . I still have his huge skull with its worn- down teeth, And I still carry a 1911 and 7 X 42 Ziess Dialyts., though I don't know which is more reactionary. This would be 2005 I think...





UPDATE; Found more pics (bottom):

Thursday, June 01, 2017

The Girls Play

Once again we have a Girls' Act. Bobo has regressed her great aunt to about 18 months old (from 14 years).  They play and pop and flirt as long as anyone stays awake.


This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows Turcoman tazis. Ataika's mother was 14 when she had her and 21 when she died, Her grandmother attained 19, If she were at "home" she would probably sill be jumping off the backs of camels.
Almaty- Taik on left just two months younger than Bo       


Be patient -- real content is coming.

By the way -- does anyone have any trouble seeing the usual background for this blog? At this point we're just seeing white space down here...

Better Pain Scale...

... copied from my podiatrist. According to a nurse I know, the idiotic "pain face" version is required by the government for some venues. Tell me it ain't so!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Lauren's New Eagle

The REAL Eagle huntress,  Lauren McGough, the Mother of Dragons, is in South Africa with a new dragon. Monkeys beware!


John takes off

Our favorite gun geek John Besse left for his summer home on a tributary of the Snake in Idaho in the middle of the night so nobody  would make a fuss. I wasn't too surprised.

Here he is with his latest project, a restored M99 Savage in the uncommon  "250- 3000" caliber.

















He is partial to my favorite retriever, the ever - quirky Chesapeake, and has two: grumpy middle- aged Willie and young goofy Andy.




















This M 92 isn't quite done yet. It had a surface as pitted as the moon's .
 Now look-as smooth as velvet, but with all its edges...

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Registering Microchips

We recently imported several dogs from outside the United States, and those dogs had been microchipped by veterinarians before arriving in the U.S. For the microchips to be useful in the event a dog is lost, the numbers associated with the chip must be registered. Implanted microchips that aren't registered by the animal owner are of no use whatsoever. It's the same as having an unchipped dog.

When I asked my veterinarian, I was told to register the number with the maker of the microchip. But since the chip was manufactured in a foreign country, the company's registration information was in a foreign language and script. I decided it wasn't worth the effort.

I did a few online searches and found dozens of companies and websites that register microchip numbers, with some requiring annual renewal for a fee, and others offering lifetime registration (also for a fee). Some claimed to be international registrations, while others were U.S.-only. Which one should we use, since they all seemed to be competing against each other?

I wondered where do veterinarians and animal shelters go to look up microchip numbers? They go to the American Animal Health Hospital Association's website to plug in the numbers. But AAHA isn't a microchip registry - it's an online search tool. According to the AAHA, "The tool works by searching the databases of participating companies. It will not return pet owner information contained in the registries’ databases, instead it will identify which registries should be contacted when a lost pet is scanned and a microchip number is identified."

"The American Animal Hospital Association does not maintain a database of microchips of its own. To register a microchip or update contact information for a microchip, pet owners should contact their pet recovery service."

So that's what we needed: a pet recovery service. I looked at the list of microchipping and pet recovery services that participate in the AAHA program and did some more research, finding a similar can of worms of competing services, with various prices and terms. I finally settled on AKC Reunite, which enrolls any brand of microchip and charges no annual fee. Their online records account allows for easy access to update a pet's record and to upload a photo. Your pet does not need to be an AKC-registered animal to enroll and use the microchip registration/pet recovery service.
Lifetime enrollment with AKC Reunite of your first pet costs $17.50 and can easily be completed online, but multiple pets are given a discount. It cost $50 for lifetime enrollment of our four new pups.

The bottom line is that if your dog's microchip manufacturer isn't listed as participating in the AAHA program, your microchip probably isn't going to help you in reuniting with your lost but microchipped pet.

I selected AKC Reunite not just because it participates with the AAHA program, sets low fees, and allows easy updating of records, but because it also offers a variety of support services in the event a pet is lost. Find out more at AKC Reunite.

Until the microchip companies cooperate to create a universal registry (which I doubt will ever happen), the best solution for dog owners in the United States is to make sure that their chip is registered with one of the companies participating in the AAHA program.


Monday, May 08, 2017

Paul's cane


Paul Schmolke is one of my oldest friends in Albuquerque, where he worked st Ron Peterson's when I first met him. He is a gunmaker, a poet, and a student of Zen Buddhism, which combination made him a natural for our "circle". In the photo above he is examining a big- frame Parker in our
motel room in Santa Fe, while his wife and childhood sweetheart Lynne talks about something OTHER than guns behind.

I was up to Alb lasrt week for an oil change  and tuneup last week. and met the Schmolkes and Paul Domski for lunch at the usual Chinese hipster place for lunch.Paul handed me this stout cane he had just made, more weapon than walking stick, like something out of Game of Thrones. It is hickory and a little bit shorter than my current regular, though stouter. It it is suitable for taking down dark streets.
Here it stands in front of he upright computer desk I write this on, given to me by novelist tBrad Waatson-- two of the many reasons I always say ..... (see "Labels" )


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

If you were to have three English Shotguns

.. you know, if you HAD to...

You could do worse than these three:
Or if it came to two:

Top: Frederick Scott  12 bore SLE proofed for heavy loads, but weighs only 6 1/4 lbs

16 bore Cogswell & Harrison from London, 30" Damascus barrels. 6 lbs

.410 Thomas Turner with 26" barrels, again modern proof for loads I wont use, 15" stock! 4 lbs even.

All have exactly the same proportioms of stock, though the Cog needs a leather- covered pad to bring it up to length.

 










Thanks to Ron Peterson, John Besse, Gerry Cox, and Tom Qunn, among others.
Above: Gerry, John, Scott; Magdalena; Scott Locks

   UPDATE:Tom, you don't usually find these on Gunbroker  (maybe from GI); you ind them from friends, whether dealers (like Ron Peterson) or no.t You also need a good gunsmith on standby.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Great Unknown"?

John Muller's fine piece on me in  NM magazine is out, graced by the photos of Hans Wachs, and soon to be online.  It is called "The Great Unknown"--  meaning me!-- and uses this photo as a lead, which will have to do until I have a link.
UPDATE: Here
is the link, thanks to David Zincavage and others.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

No Respect

These fine photos of a cow giving birth are by John L Moore of (near) Miles City, rancher and novelist. If they were of antelope, they would probably be on the cover of a magazine, but domestic animals get no respect. Johnson and Janiga, the authors of the magisterial Superdove, on feral pigeons, say they were actively discouraged from writing about them.






William "Gatz" Hjortsberg, 1941- 2017

Chris Waddington, my old editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and now a happier man in his belovcd New Orleans (even though Katrina flooded his house) emailed to tell me that our mutual friend Gatz Hjortsberg died at his home in Livingston after a "short illness" i.e. pancreatic cancer (it's a bad one; it's the one that took down Bob Jones after he survived prostate cancer.)

As I said to Chris, our friendship was cordial, but not particularly close. Still, we were part of the same Montana scene and went to the same parties, where Michael Katakis would groan "Oh God, Gatz and Bodio are both here -- nobody else will be able to get  in a word." Probably true, and I think they're all the better for it.  He was always known as "Gatz", never Bill or William, apparently because of a youthful infatuation with the work of Scott Fitzgerald, especially The Great Gatsby. Besides, he wore all those cool hats.

He was utterly intrepid.He was one of Pat's boys" at Sports Illustrated, and his first assignment was to ride a BULL.He did it, too.

Gatz was undervalued as a writer of books, perhaps because he was a writer of genre books in a  literary field. He followed his friend Tom McGuane to Livingston from grad school, because McGuane was the only writer he knew who fished. Among the schools he attended was Stanford, where like McGuane, he was a Stegner  Fellow; that is, someone whom Wallace Stegner abused. This was good company to be in; among the other people Stegner called bums, hippies, beatniks, and worthless were Robert Stone, Ken Kesey, and the lesser known but fascinating David Shetzline, who wrote one of the only two good novels I know of about  forest fires. Among Gatz's books were the dark fantasy Alp and the darker sci- fi Gray Matters in the early years, and the Mexican thriller Manana recently. But his best knows was Falling Angel , which was made into a movie starring Mickey Rourke. He also wrote Nevermore where he wrote the following wonderful inscription in my copy:
He also wrote a puzzling biography of "Poor Old Richard" Brautigan, which took him about 14 years and was rejected by its first publisher. In the end it ran to 862 pages, any 100 of which were brilliant. I can't help but think that Richard's own words might apply: " In this world, where there is only a little time to spend, I think I've spent enougth time on this butterfly." *

No matter. Gatz Hjortsberg was a gentleman and a writer, and he will be missed.

*The quote about the butterfly is a close paraphrase. I'm not going to look it up at this hour!