When The Going Get’s Rough

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By Diane Tipton, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Statewide Information Officer

Zach, Christopher and Cooper Austin. This was taken 20 miles east of Miles City on the Powder River. It has been an autumn to remember, whether you’ve been watching the weather or the financial news. Fortunately, the weather has been spectacular because the financial news hasn’t been good.

The financial world and the condition of the economy have many people worried about their futures these days.

Recently some Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks employees were asked if their close relationship with the outdoors helps them weather bad news and uncertainty.

The natural world was, not surprisingly, on everyone’s list of   “assets.”

Vanna Boccadori, a wildlife biologist in Butte, said a rough economy makes it doubly important to her to spend time outdoors hunting and gathering wood.

“I also like to follow game trails to see where they lead, or poke around looking for sheds, bones and scat piles,” she said. “It’s all pretty simple, inexpensive stuff, but like the commercial says, priceless.”

Zach, Christopher and Cooper Austin. This was taken 20 miles east of Miles City on the Powder River. Friends and neighbors are important too, many said. One contributor summed up the situation by saying it is time to put away “things” and reach out to others. Things “leave us empty” until the next new, pretty, fast, flashy, better, or noisy thing comes along.

Jack Austin, a warden in Miles City, said he often sees people who are friendly and happy despite personal difficulties or the lack of what others consider “the basics.”

“If the world’s economy crashed down around us, in some parts of Montana people would just keep going as usual,” he said. “It’s comforting to realize that yes, there would be tough times, but I too could survive such a calamity.”

A fish culturist in Anaconda, Angela Smith, tunes out the bad news on TV, the Web and in newspapers and instead takes evening walks with her two labs.

“Around town there has been a pallet of bright oranges, yellows and reds and I’ve just tried to soak up the fall colors,” she said.

With more wood stored this year than ever, plenty of hay and food, too—Brian Shinn, a Helena FWP enforcement employee, said he tries to focus on what he can control.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a turn for the worse,” he said. “The best things in my life are still free.”

Tom Shoush, a state parks manager in eastern Montana, agrees. He enjoys those special moments that make memories.

  “Have you ever seen a Lab’s butt wiggle just before the rooster pops up,” he asked. “The look in their eyes when they’re bringing that bird back makes lean times seem fat.”

Living in the moment works for Jack Austin too. He recently took two of his three sons antelope hunting.

“Cooper found so many cool rocks, bones and snake skins that they were interfering with carrying his bb gun, which he wanted to pack from the start and promised not to make me eventually carry,” he said. “We explored some caves and a bunch of freshly dug coyote dens too. Cooper made me a proud dad when he correctly identified a deer track in the mud and knew it wasn’t an antelope because it had dew claws.”

His son Christopher took two practice shots with the .243 to prepare for his first year of hunting next year.

“We didn’t see a single antelope and I was not the least concerned about the economy.   With enough gas money to go even short distances, we will continue to find great adventures without missing a beat,” Austin said.