Pete the babysitter..

My first trip to the Bitterroot Mountains to hunt was when I was 6 or 7. My nephew who is a year or so older than me also came along. When we were that age I had to tell everyone he was my cousin not his uncle.. If I did not he would promptly thrash me. That is another story for another day.

The beautiful Bitterroot mountains -

The Beautiful Bitterroot

My Dad took us along with our 22 rifles and our enthusiasm. He of course wanted to hunt with his pals and anyone who ever hunted elk in the High Country knows you don’t take two little boys in the wilderness with you. So what to do?

The answer was right next door to the old cabin we were staying in. Old Pete was past 80 and still lived in the little primitive cabin next door, heated with wood and no running water, with an outdoor privy. He was elected or coerced into babysitting two boys for a whole day or two. We were deposited at his humble abode before dawn the next day and promptly went back to sleep.

When we awoke we were greeted by the wonderful smell of eggs being fried in bacon grease. Guess at 80 he didn’t care about too much fat. We had a wonderful greasy breakfast and he poured us both a cup of black cowboy coffee. He then poured a little “White Lighting” into each cup. He announced,  “Good for what ails ya.”

After breakfast he announced we were going to have a day trip up into the Anaconda Wilderness to shoot some “Fool Hens”. Boys of course didn’t have a clue that “Fool Hens” were a type of partridge or pheasant and we weren’t about to ask. We wondered how Pete was gonna walk up into the Wilderness as his hips and knees were obviously shot by the way he couldn’t hardly get across the kitchen while cooking breakfast.

Bitterroot mountains, Montana

It don’t get better than this…

We didn’t need to worry as he got his 22 rifle and his coat and made his way to the lodgepole corral and climbed up on the fence and promptly mounted his old mare bareback. Us youngun’s walked the couple miles up into the Wilderness past Moss Crick and then Cub Crick. Suddenly Pete stopped the old mare and promptly shot the heads off of two “Fool Hen’s”. We handed them up to him and he put them in a canvas sack and we went down the trail a little further.

He came to a large boulder and crawled off the old mare and walked a little way. “Come here boys,” he motioned with his hand and pointed. On the ground were the first Elk droppings we had ever seen. Pete told us what it was and then reached down and picked up a Elk turd.

He looked us in the eye and bit through the turd and said 2 days, meaning…

of course that the Elk who had come through here had been there 2 days before.

I’m sure my mouth was open wider that day.. Thanks Pete..

Wish I could have had a picture of 2 little boys with their mouths open in wonder and astonishment. Best Babysitter ever.. RIP Pete… I’m sure the big fellow in the clouds rewarded you for putting up with 2 little boys. You are in my memory forever, God Bless you..

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