I shot my first deer with my father when I was 12, the first year I was legally eligible. I had, of course, been hunting with him many times prior, though I wasn’t wielding a rifle. I can’t say that I was passionately drawn to it, nor that I was particularly good at it, but I loved exploring the wilderness in the golden light of an autumn morning.
Throughout middle and high school, I hunted with him and his friends, and occasionally with my own buddies, reliably harvesting meat for the freezer. But through college and afterward, I phased out the pastime in favor of other pursuits, most notably fly fishing. Yet, the crisp air of a cool fall day still floods me with memories of those formative adventures.
More importantly, I gained a deeper appreciation for the wild creatures that surround us and, often, feed us. I grew to understand nature differently, more completely and sustainably, just as I have through fishing.
Here in Northwest Montana, we all find our own ways to appreciate and understand nature. That’s why most of us are here, and in any case we don’t have a choice — the wilderness creeps up to our backdoor and pervades our daily lives. Countless livelihoods, in fact, depend upon it.
And, for my money, fall is the best time to experience our wild wonders.
The Beacon, along with its publications Flathead Living and Glacier Journal, has published its share of guides over the years: to camping spots without crowds, to lesser-known road trip routes, to distant getaways and backyard outposts, to pit stops for a bite to eat and a cold beverage, to summer activities and community events year-round, to wild locations near and far. But we’ve also often made a point to be less overt, to simply tell stories of the interesting people and places in our region and let you discover them on your own, either by seeking them out after reading or just acquainting yourself through the words and photos.
I have done as much exploring in the comfort of my house, curled up with a magazine or book, as I have in the wilds of Montana. Both methods of adventure, while far different in their physicality, have equally informed my worldview and foundation of knowledge. There is no single best way to learn about the world; all that matters is the urge to learn, whatever shape it takes.
We hope our publications, from the Beacon to Flathead Living to Glacier Journal, contribute to your own journey to better understand the place you call home. If it’s crummy outside, dive into a book or another collection of written words, perhaps one of the Beacon’s own, and see what you find. Then, when the weather breaks, head out your door with clear eyes and an open mind. It’s autumn, a season of existential transition and soul-stirring color. Enjoy it.
Editor’s Note: A version of this column appeared in the Beacon’s quarterly magazine, Flathead Living. Pick up a free copy of the fall edition on newsstands around the valley.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.