Home Ocala, Fla. (Dave); Bozeman, Mont., and Patagonia, Ariz. (Tam)
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At a remote watering hole in northeastern Montana called Harry's Nite Club, HCN readers Dave Schweppe and Tam Scott and HCN intern Andrea Appleton crossed paths one moonlit October evening. Andrea was on assignment, and Dave and Tam were on their annual visit to the region's shortgrass prairie to hunt upland game birds. The duo – Dave, a gravel-voiced wit and Tam, who has a gentle reserve – met nearly 30 years ago in Aspen, Colo., where Tam was a Pitkin County judge and Dave was operations manager for the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association, a system of backcountry huts.
They have fond, funny memories of the place. Hunter S. Thompson, gonzo journalist and infamous substance abuser, once appeared in Tam's courtroom. (He was accompanied by cartoonist Ralph Steadman, who sketched the occasion.) "The most outstanding feature of the case was that it was the only DUI (Thompson) ever had," says Tam. The charges were eventually dismissed.
In his 12 years with 10th Mountain, Dave often had to appease groups with very different perspectives, some of them a bit Thompsonesque. "We had a deal with people smoking reefer at the huts and born-again Christians having meetings there simultaneously," he says. "So we put a users' guide in the huts: 'If you wish to libate, please go 100 yards beyond the porch.' "
Dave and Tam spent four days hunting in the rolling hills. "It was just dandy," says Tam. "We had an excellent time." And for those who've never partaken of sharptail grouse, Dave says, "It tastes like the dark meat at Thanksgiving."
Note: the opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of High Country News, its board or staff. If you'd like to share an opinion piece of your own, please write Betsy Marston at email@example.com.