Friendships tend to be tribal in their origins - shared interests, hobbies, and lifestyles attract and keep folks together. For this group of friends, their love of music and duck hunting are the ties that bind.
“Would you have any interest in going on a duck hunt in Louisiana with us?” That seems like an innocuous-enough question to ask somebody. But those of us who are obsessed with the sound of whistling wings and the smell of a wet, muddy retriever know better. We can see the trap being laid. I was texting with my friend Buddy Melton, an avid grouse, turkey, and bear hunter from the mountains of western North Carolina, when I asked the question. “Sure. I’ve never duck hunted but always ...
Way of Life
“The U.S. Postal Service will deliver mail to anywhere in the United States with a mailing address,” says Jill Koch, part owner and operator of Beamers Hells Canyon Tours. Jill and her husband Jim hold the mail delivery contract for what may be one of the most remote mail routes in the lower 48.
Once a week via jet boat, they deliver mail to the dozen or so ranches and year round residents that live within the deepest gorge in North America. Jim and Jill have been doing this for the last 25 years; 2019 marks the 100-year anniversary of mail service within Hells Canyon. Nowadays, internet in the canyon is common and residents are able to place orders and communicate with the outside world in w...
The Wind River Range rises from the river itself, fall shifting into winter as my truck reaches the outskirts of the town of Dubois. I slow at the town museum, looking at the life-sized bronze cowboy sculpture, one of many of John Finley’s fixtures in town. I stop for a coffee at the Perch, a local coffee house, and make my way out of Dubois. A driveway marked by an old barrel indicates I’ve made it to the Finley ranch. For over 100 years, John Finley’s family has homesteaded on this land, ranching and guiding big game hunts and dabbling as artists. Today, John may be equally well known as Wyoming’s Cowboy artist, creating sculpture, children’s books, watercolor paintings, acrylic paintings ...
Imagine for a moment you’re miles deep into your favorite backcountry and you’re unable to get out. It’s 1936. You’re using gear that today sits in vintage displays-- leather boots, knickers, wooden ice axes. You don’t have a cell phone or locator beacon. There’s no SOS button, no 911. Back then, there was Ome Daiber.
The American Alpine Journal called Seattle-based Ome Daiber, the “Father of Mountain Rescue.” In 1935, Daiber made the first ascent of Mount Rainier’s Liberty Ridge with Arne Campbell and Will Borrow. A year later he was asked to help in a winter search for Delmar Fadden, a young climber who perished during a solo climb of Mount Rainier. After that, Daiber developed a li...
“When I’d work for the old farmers around here I was so amazed by their lifestyle,” he says. “Their lives revolved around their farms and family. When you meet someone who is content—it really rubs off on you. They were like kings of their own little kingdoms.”
When Neil Fromm was twenty-five years old he drove his Volkswagen van from the Florida Keys up to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Known to Vermonters simply as “The Kingdom,” this mountainous, sparsely populated area is situated between the Connecticut River and the Green Mountains. Fromm, now fifty, is tall and solidly built, still looking the college basketball player he was three decades ago. “I moved to Marsfield and quickly met a guy...
Working with the earth is a chemistry equation of timing, weather and soil science. I’ve botched that equation many times. That’s part of the learning curve of working with living things. My hope is that each year, I can better read the natural signs and become a stronger farmer.
Weather and changing seasons are a cha...Read More
An average summer day at Ploughgate Creamery goes something like this: You’re up at quarter to six to start the churn. An hour later you’ve got golden butter and buttermilk (the latter you feed to the pigs). Next, you divide the butter into three thirty pound batches. The slow churn is what takes some time, and the butter falls in on itself to expel the moisture. Lastly, you hand slap the butter to remove every last bit of moisture, mix with salt, make butter balls, weigh and wrap each individually by hand. That’s 220 lbs of butter a day. 440 pieces. The whole process takes between ten and fourteen hours.
Another day of butter on the books. But wait, don’t forget the outside chores: caring fo...Read More
Rodeo culture is often synonymous with small-town America: Everyone knows everyone, a strong work ethic is the norm, and more often than not, children pursue the same profession as their parents. The more time spent around the bucking chutes, the more apparent it becomes that bull riding is as vital to a family’s lineage as their last name. For better or worse, it’s who they are.
At first glance, the life of a professional bull rider seemingly comes down to the eight seconds they spend [hopefully] atop two thousand pounds of muscle and rage; however, it’s more complex than that. For the cowboys who are serious about making a name for themselves, it’s their commitment to the grinding lifestyle...
The cold, clear emerald water parts in foaming crests and valleys, silently sliced by the ship’s bow, as it rises to meet the next wave. Back on deck, the captain grasps the helm and adjusts his gaze on the horizon. Salt and sea mist have collected in his beard over the last four hours of his watch. He pulls his wool hat further down on ...Read More
In December 2014, Olivier Huin walked into Sunrise Coffee Company in Port Townsend, Washington, with his wife and daughter, wearing his distinctive white beard, to perform a ritual he’s conducted on four continents. Bill Curtsinger, co-owner of the coffee shop in this seaport community two hours north of Seattle by ferry and car, no...Read More