Living in Montana I’m certainly a fan of seasons; you have to be living here. Recently I’ve had a lot of conversations about how it would be nice to have some spring weather. But since it’s April (in Montana), I usually suggest that skiing might be a better option. It’s still deep out there! Not all share my enthusiasm equally of course.
I anticipate the arrival of the next season with renewed excitement every year. We hope the Montana Backcountry blog will follow this enthusiasm throughout the year. So far we’ve been skiing a lot. It’s been a fantastic year, and we will continue to ski into the spring, maybe chasing some peaks that we’ve only talked about skiing.
For the last couple of years, April 1st has become an important date. I typically stop shooting my bow after hunting season and focus on what winter brings. Many of you probably shoot all year, maybe you kayak in January. That’s great. However I enjoy the excitement as April 1st approaches. We’ve even given it a name, the Triple A Program. You might ask if we’ve been drinking too much, or we need some sort of roadside assistance. Not so. It’s actually Arrows from April through August as we prepare for the much-anticipated September archery elk hunts. This year we decided to make an event out of the day.
We started off with a 6-mile run in the hills north of town. We hit it good: The sun was out along with Meadowlarks and other spring residents. The other route we were going to run was still closed due to wintering elk, and we were just fine with that. It’s hard to beat trail running in terms of preparation for climbing mountains. I’m lucky to be able to get in some amazing trail runs on my lunch hour. Following the run, part of the crew knocked out some weights in the gym. The day is modeled a bit after a Cameron Hanes “Run, Lift, Shoot” day, but we’ve added some additional components.
That evening was followed up by finally letting some arrows fly. Seems the bows were shooting fine and we got a little carried away at the 20-yard distance by “robinhooding” one of the arrows. You shouldn’t have to learn that lesson too many times at the cost of carbon arrows. We probably shot 25 arrows each, which was plenty for the initial session. Anytime you push your muscles to the point of tiredness, you are only going to negatively affect your form. This is also the reason we are starting in April and not August; it’s about muscle memory and the ability to repeat these movements under stress.
While that’s still a pretty good day, we had to top it off with elk steaks on the grill followed by a few episodes of the MeatEater. One of the episodes we watched was a hunt for mountain grouse in Montana. Steve and crew gained several thousand feet of elevation to chase down a few Dusky (a.k.a. Blue) Grouse. Some might see this as a lot of work for grouse, but to us that’s what it’s about: getting in the mountains and covering some ground. If you plan on covering that much ground come fall, you may want to start the preparation much earlier in the year!