The truck has been a muddy mess since the Sunday drive, and our week of traveling down the sloppy road to hunter education has added additional layers of grime to its running boards.
For five nights and two days we drove a mucky, rutted, single lane road to a ranch in the valley near the mountains to drop off our girls to a hunter safety education course. Each night as dusk descended upon us, we played a game of watching for truck lights through the trees to see who was rounding the curve and where to pull over to let them pass. Parking was in a muddy field, and kids were let out of vehicles for a class that was held in a basement filled with deer mounts, horns, and hunting trophies. It was a week of the full moon, and as we returned each night to pick up the girls we were treated to its shining splendor as we waited for them to come out.
The rigorous course was headed up by 91 year old Pat McVay, who taught Montana‘s very first Hunter Safety course in 1957. We know Pat from the Flathead 4-H Shooting Sports program, for which he founded and has coordinated for many years.
As the week progressed our girls came home not only with a growing knowledge of hunter safety, but a host of stories from Pat and the other volunteers.
The week culminated with a Saturday field day where students shot .22 rifles, pistols, and shotguns. They learned how to safely cross a barbed wire fence by acting out a simulated hunting situation.
For a couple of days leading up to field day Eileen was a trifle nervous about gun recoil, but she got past it and enjoyed shooting the shotgun. Mallory was in her element and loved shooting the clay targets so much so that she took a second turn.
Pat graciously showed everyone his reloading room and his extensive collection of shells and memorabilia. He shared stories of his experiences including pointing out shells he had picked up from the Japanese during War World II.
A great day was had by all and at the end of it, we were reminded to spring forward for Daylight Savings Time and to come for the written test on Sunday. It would conclude the program and Mallory and Eileen would receive their certificates in hunter education. Afterwards, tea, toast, and duck eggs would be served. I contemplated if the duck eggs would be pickled or scrambled.
Next day we got the DST right, but not the time of the test. We arrived 30 minutes early. To kill time we went to take pictures, and then returned to drop off the girls.
Around noon, David and I returned and entered the crowded room where test results were being discussed. I saw a table with a huge bowl of cookies and a birthday cake.
People began moving around the room exchanging congratulations and chatting about the course. Mallory made her way towards her dad and I and explained that “tea, toast, and duck eggs” was merely an expression for cookies and Coke. Boy! I had been fooled, and so were the girls – which Pat thought was funny.
After a little while, everyone broke out into song with Happy Birthday to Pat who was about to turn 92. He served us each a piece of delicious chocolate cake. Shortly after that we left.
It was official. Mallory and Eileen had experienced a great week and completed the course. They had attended a top-notch hunter education program and had learned valuable information from some of the best volunteers ever.
I was a proud mom and with that feeling, I got into the muddy truck with the rest of the family and headed over to muzzle loading.
The Four Most Important Rules of Gun Handling
1. Always point the muzzle of your gun in a safe direction.
2. Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
3. Be sure of your target and beyond.
4. Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire.