February 2, 2013


Aww, I've held these letters for years, planning to use 'em in a future book or a hot magazine story. But 20 years have passed and I'm despairing of fame and glory, therefore let me share some of the downsides of two decades as an outdoors columnist:

"In reading your usual enviro-whacko drivel in Sunday's Tribune it makes one wonder ... you really should get out more, smell the roses, separate the real from what you and your whacko friends want it to be, and quit re-living your yesterdays. If you were the outdoorsman you would have your readers believe ...

The letter went on to become insensitive to my tender self, lowering my self-esteem to dangerously low levels. But being grateful for any kind of missives from enthusiastic fans, I overlooked what seemed a decided lack of warmth. The letter was, as one would expect, unsigned, but postmarked in Great Falls, Dec. 9, 1996.

Most negative letters to my journalistic efforts were, however, signed. But being kind, fair, and generous as well as clean, brave, and reverent, I'll omit their names. A lady from California wrote in response to a column about bathing in a Bob Marshall river:

"... I am very concerned about you jumping into pristine streams to clean off your dust and sweaty body. No wonder we back packers can't afford to take a chance in drinking mountain waters. We now have to pack water with us, and that's a problem you can't relate to since you have pack horses...."

She also wrote that if she had her way, "you wouldn't be allowed a permit in the backcountry nor would there be any camps." She ended by saying: "I shall work for my cause." [Hmm]

Perhaps I have credibility problems with members of the opposite sex (wife included) because another lady wrote to say she reads my column regularly, but took exception to my referring to anti-hunters as "the effete tea and crumpets crowd who drink chamomile tea with pinky-outthrust." She went on to say, "...while I drink tea, something stronger (like English Breakfast Tea) is more my style." And she pointed out that she doesn't "stick my pinky out while I drink it, and I have never eaten crumpets."

Win some, lose some, ma'am. I really am sorry for any personal offense.

Another writer sent this letter from Glasgow, MT:

"Your recent article about bears talks about the same message we've been getting from bear `experts' ... Isn't it possible that neither roads nor the presence of people really adversely impacts the bears? Isn't it possible that a select group of bear ecologists are going overboard on this 'bears can't exist in areas with roads', not because of facts, but because it suits their personal agenda?"

And this last:

"... I think the Rocky Mountain Front has a large potential for minerals. How did they find paladium and platinum down on the Stillwater? Core drilling. Yet some big shots want to preserve the scenery."

Then the writer ended with, "I was raised on the upper Highwood. Nobody bothered to preserve the scenery there. Why should they do it now?"

Why indeed!


Next week? Another walk on the wild side.


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