From Montana writer Scott McMillion about our exploration of some issues surrounding hunting (HCN, 12/11/95): "The top of the food chain is a pretty good place to be, and don't forget: More money is spent each year on hunting than on movie tickets."
From California reader Bryan Hill: "Anti-hunters have a moral dilemma because they demand multiple standards toward living organisms and refuse to admit that humans are natural ... Fishing is just another form of hunting; why don't they also complain about fishing?"
And from Colorado reader Malcolm McMichael III: "I cannot abide anti-hunting hyprocrites, those who criticize the sport even as they devour a chicken sandwich. To them, hunting is vile and oafish. Yet these moralists are untroubled to let others breed, pen raise, then kill and butcher each evening's entree."
We could go on. Is there anyone who doesn't have an opinion about hunting in the West? Staff has always been fascinated by the annual rite of guys and guns heading for the high country, but we were unaware - until now - that so many readers shared our interest.
We appreciate the many detailed and thoughtful responses, and as the bite-size paragraphs reveal above, most writers lambasted critics of hunting. A handful of writers, however, such as Montanan Richard Clark, said they have begun hunting with a new attitude, one that can be summed up as "deep reverence for my prey." Besides a couple of letters on page 14 about hunting in this issue we also include an essay by writer Jim Fergus on page 16.
Corrections and emendations
The Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts urges us to note that it is a good source for information on private conservation options (-Saving the Ranch," HCN, 11/27/95). The group operates a speakers' bureau, holds public conferences and also offers workshops for landowners. You can reach the coalition at Box 1651, Durango, CO 81302.
Writer Michael Leccese of Boulder, Colo., who told us about a pedestrian conference in Heard around the West (HCN, 11/27/95) wants us to correct our description of what he does these days. He is now a freelance writer.
And an editing error Dec. 25, in a story about raising private money to restore wolves to Yellowstone National Park, changed the title of Mike Phillips. He works for the Park Service.
Into a black hole
Several readers have told us that our new area code, 970, isn't perfectly integrated; a recording sometimes tells HCN callers that we no longer have a "working number." Not so; we're working! Our occasional phone disappearance was not aided by a Denver TV station showing a map that included western Colorado in an area code meant for southern Colorado.
Robert "Ramon" Amon dropped by just before beginning his tour on behalf of the Idaho Cove-Mallard area, scene of arrests and ongoing protests against wilderness logging. For the next three months you can learn more about what's at stake, plus meet Ramon and folksinger Robert Hoyt, at their traveling roadshow. It's booked at various venues in St. Louis, Minneapolis, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, northern New York, Massachusetts, Maine and some points in between where they'll be "casting song and bombast upon the waters." There's even a booking agent to call: Tony, at 406/549-3978.
Dorik Mechau and Carolyn Servid, who run the Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska, stopped by with his mother, Paula Mechau, who, at 89, is considered the "wise woman" of nearby Redstone, Colo. The family was saddened by the loss of Paul Lowdenslager, Paula's son-in-law, who died recently of cancer. He had been a professor of political science at Western State College in Gunnison, Colo.
We greeted a new reader, Susan E. Ayer, who left a job in medical technology in Denver and a looming monster home next door to move to the town of Hotchkiss, Colo., population 770 or so.
And long-time subscriber Bill Tweed, who works for the Park Service in California's Sequoia National Park, stopped in after attending meetings in Denver. Air pollution in Sequoia, he said, remains "the worst" of any park, thanks to traffic in Sacramento, Fresno and other populated areas.
They'll be missed
Staff was sorry to hear of the death of former congressman Mike Synar, 45, of Oklahoma, who fought for gun control, higher public-lands grazing fees, and against the tobacco lobby. "It's a terrific loss for the country," said Colorado Rep. Pat Schroeder, a fellow Democrat. "Some Westerners wanted to kill him (because of his stand on grazing reform). He was absolutely fearless ... he played for keeps." What she remembers most about Synar, who suffered from brain cancer: "Right now there are very few leaders like him. It's a very barren time."
We also heard with regret of the death of former Forest Service staffer Jim Bradley. He'd worked since 1987 as a wilderness expert for Democratic Rep. Bruce Vento's subcommittee on public lands and parks. Bradley, 47, died of AIDS.
And thanks to Crested Butte, Colo., Mountain Sun reporter (and former HCN intern) Shea Andersen for sending us a tear sheet from an outdoor catalog company, MontBell, which is based in Santa Cruz, Calif. We know it's hard to believe, but there, in the see-through pouch of a pricey garment bag, is a copy of High Country News. It looks nice and unwrinkled.
" Betsy Marston for the staff