Modern Times at Hunting Camp

Six of us young waterfowlers bought an old one-room schoolhouse at an undisclosed location in Montana in 1987 and over the years have scraped together the money to repair just about everything and put in steel siding and roof.

Until recently we had no way to contact the outside world, except a scratchy FM radio which might work a little during strange weather, leading to a lot of frustration for my buddies trying to listen to the World Series.  During the past ten years we had spotty cell phone service a few miles away.

Five or six years ago I showed up with a Sirius satellite receiver, which I bought to listen to music.  Quickly the Duck Brothers hijacked the Sirius to listen to the World Series.  I did not come here to listen to ball games.

In case readers were starting to get a clue, I, ostensibly an American male, apparently uncharacteristically have almost no interest in organized team sports, be it college or pro (except we usually watch the Super Bowl).  My friends recite statistics from playoff games 20 years ago.  I smile politely.

The local phone provider plowed in a fiber optic cable several years ago, a regulatory prerequisite to a merger approval.  Last year, realizing that being out of touch from my office and home was anachronistic,  I called up the company and arranged for installation of telephone and wi-fi service.  I did not ask the Duck Brothers for permission; this is on my nickel.

Imagine the outcries:  “I come here to get away.”  “Now I will have to give my wife the phone number.”  “I don’t want internet.”  “I don’t want to be connected.”  “The phone will ring from telemarketers; we won’t get any sleep.”  “This is a remote hunting camp; why do we need internet?”

Guess what?  This week, all of them are calling wives and family.  All of them are watching streaming major league baseball.  All of them are checking the weather and the stock market.  The racket is turning into cacophony.  Maybe they were right after all.  After the hijacking of my Sirius radio, I should have seen this coming.  Dang, it’s noisy around here.

Twins vs. Yankees?  Who cares?  I need a deep and personal relationship with a rainbow trout, not a vicarious manufactured sporting event.  Somewhere in New York people I do not know are swinging bats and being thrown out at first base, and getting into arguments with umpires about momentary events of no significance.  Sports cynic, that’s me.  Watching hockey or golf on TV?  What’s the point?

But, let’s draw the big picture: why I come here.  Off the front porch I can see four mountain ranges ringing an enormous watershed feeding endless wetlands, marshes, ponds and two lakes.  Moose, elk and pronghorn wander about, sometimes through the yard.  Coyotes like a loosely arranged, syncopated chorus.  Geese honk, owls hoot, red-tailed hawks keen, kestrels call a high note and hordes of mountain bluebirds steal worms from each other and play daredevil swooping in front of the truck.

Sunset flushes the meadows with colors ranging from yellow to near-red, mimicking the aspen, and light up the far mountains so briefly one must have the camera handy before it happens and fades.

Our favorite fishing ponds were choked with algae this year, leading some to invoke global warming as the explanation.  Anecdotal?  Yes.  Evidence?  I don’t know.

The best news is this:  while walking around in the willows for days, I did not encounter a moose at close range.  I captured dragonflies in October, maybe another anecdotal sign of global warming.  But, fishing in shirtsleeves at 7,000 feet in October, one could start to like global warming. A convenience for my retirement years.

But should I ditch the phone and wi-fi?

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