_As Close To Heaven As One Can Get

Serves: 5



Enroute to becoming employed full-time as a game warden for Idaho Department of Fish & Game, I detoured to the National Park Service for three field seasons. In 1975, '76, and '77, I worked in and around Yellowstone National Park on the Inter-Agency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBS). Our summer crew consisted of sixteen people. Some were still in college and others of us had graduated and were seeking any job in our field until we could find permanent employment. Bill Hoskins and I made up part of the second group. By the time I met Bill in 1975 he'd already spent several field seasons in Yellowstone on various fisheries projects. A native of Tennessee, Bill found himself pulled West after attending Tennessee Tech.

The college kids would start pulling out by mid-August for school leaving those of us with six-month appointments to finish out the field season. Of the four seasons, fall is my favorite, and for those three years Bill and I partnered up for September and October. Bill owned a little house in Gardiner, Montana, just outside the North Entrance to Yellowstone Park. During the summer we worked ten days on and four days off. In the fall, however, we often worked out of Bill's house and had weekends off. After summering in the back country, Gardiner's limited social life made for a more well- rounded field season.

Before I get to the morning where for a minute we both thought we were in Heaven, I better tell you more about Bill. "Willie," as a few of us called him, made work seem like a pre-paid adventure. A master of understatement, Willie could take any situation and put a humorous spin on it. Like the day we spent trying to radio track one of our bears whose signal indicated it might have met an untimely end. Aerial tracking flights showed the bear hadn't moved in about ten days. As we homed in on the signal we expected to find either that the bear had managed to pull the collar off or find a dead bear. In a small clearing we found the remains of the bear scattered about, obviously scavenged by another bear. After surveying the scene, Willie, in a dry tone of voice said, "I don't think this one is goin' to make it!"

When working with Bill, a person never had to worry about wearing a watch. You could set a clock by Bill's stomach. Years later when I became a parent, I'd think of Willie when my son would wake us up for a feeding every two hours all night long. Bill didn't cry when he wanted food, but he could sure get your attention when it was time to eat!

Anyway...the morning at issue came about in late September after the boss sent Bill and me out to finish up some vegetation analysis plots. One evening we found ourselves pitching camp where the 'Reclamation Road' crosses Snake River just south of Yellowstone National Park. Both the location and weather were exquisite calendar material. The fall colors exemplified why fall is my favorite season! I awoke the next morning in this beautiful place wondering what had brought me back to consciousness. I heard Willie rustle and roll over, but neither of us said a word. As the cobwebs cleared I started to sort out sounds to figure out what had awakened me. I dismissed the bugle of an elk up on the ridge above camp as being too far away to wake me. But when another bull answered from just behind camp, I knew then what had roused me back to the land of the living. Neither of us spoke for fear of breaking the spell. Between bugles a new sound intruded on the stillness of the morning. A flock of geese announced their morning flight down the river with muted honks. As they passed over we could hear the rattle of pinions with each wing beat. The farther bull faintly bugled as the geese passed out of hearing. I broke the silence in the tent by asking a question directed as much to myself as Willie, "Are we in Heaven?" Bill, with his inimitable delivery replied, "I don't think so because I can still smell our socks!" We both agreed Heaven might be an OK place to spend some time if every morning started as ours just had!

Bill ended up running the License Data Base Section for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The last time I saw Bill before his passing from a cerebral hemorrhage, we both showed up at a rendezvous of past and present members of the IGBS at Porcupine Guard Station along the Gallatin River in Montana. One evening sitting around a campfire sipping an ice-cold beer, we again relived that magic fall morning on the banks of Snake River! Even today the stench in hunting camp of three-day-old socks will rekindle the memories of spending those three fall seasons with "Willie!"

Spiced with More Tall Tales - Dedications

This _As Close To Heaven As One Can Get recipe is from the Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

More Recipes from the Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' Cookbook:
_A Lasting Gift
_About The Cooks!
_About the Author
_As Close To Heaven As One Can Get
_Barbeque Texas Style
_Bread And Horse Wrecks
_Brother-In-Law Duck
_Camp Creations
_Camp Crock Pot
_Camp Kitchens
_Camp Robbers
_Campfire Cash
_Chicken ala S*#T
_Chili, The Controversy And The Recipes
_Common Sense And Cards
_Cookin' With Kraut
_Cooking From Cans - Menu For Day 16
_Culinary Bombs
_Don't Critize The Cook...
_Dry Camps
_Fanny Pack Snacks
_Game Meat
_Game Warden Dog
_Game Warden Scramble
_Garlic & Her Poor Cousin "Onion"
_Getting Bread In Camp
_Good Cooks / Bad Cooks!
_Good Humored Cook
_Hank's Spaghetti Sauce
_Hank, Jack And Me
_How To Cook A Coot
_Hungry Ridge Chicken
_Jerky And Smoked Fish
_Las Piedras
_Making Do
_Middle Fork Spareribs
_Modern Day Pilgrims
_No Name Creek Baked Beans
_Pitch In And Pitch Out
_Potatoes aka Taters, Spuds
_Redhot Rhubarb Upside Down Cake - The Story
_Religious Bedroll
_Roast Coot
_Rubs For Meat, Not Backs
_Shoestring Bull
_Something Soft For Dinner
_Sugar And Spice And Other Things Nice
_The Adventures of 'Two-Story Tom'
_Things I Don't Care To Eat
_Twas The Week Before Elk Season
_Two Reluctant Cooks
_Veggies For Camp
_Warden Stew
_Where Do You Buy Scratch

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