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The Way We Were...Part Three...Seasons Continued

Story ID:7516
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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The Way We Were...

Bly Seasons continued from Part One

Hunting Season…

Bly was ideal for hunting. There were lots of deer and the ducks and geese came in droves in the early fall.

I never was a deer hunter but I loved hunting ducks and geese. Bly was on a good flyway for these birds and when they would migrate South for the winter we were there to “stop” a few of them. At that time there were nice grain fields around Bly and the birds would stop and feed before continuing on their way. Since Bly was located on the edge of the Sycan valley, it was easy to walk to the fields. My Dad had two Model 97 Winchester 12 gauge shotguns and when I was about 12 years old he figured I was big enough to shoot one. These old pump shotguns had a hammer that you had to pull back in order to fire. They held 3 shells and since most birds were pretty wary, it took some good shooting to bring one down.

The shells we used were high base and packed quite a wallop, on both ends. These old shotguns really had a kick and the first time I fired one I wasn’t quite big enough to get the butt plate up on my shoulder and it hit me hard on the muscle of my right arm. The guns didn’t have a recoil pad like most of the shotguns now have. They just had a metal plate, which really bounce hard. I told Pop, that I didn’t want to shoot again for a while. He agreed but soon a band of geese came over and I couldn’t resist. Naturally I was gun shy from my first experience and pulled the butt down on my muscle again. That, combined with the fact that I had missed the geese by a mile convinced me I needed more practice. The next day, Pop and I drove out to an old barn and he had me practice shooting and most important, getting the shotgun up on my shoulder and not my muscle. Within a week I was pretty good at shooting and I began to knock down a bird or two. What a thrill!
Bird season lasted about 60 or 70 days and I don’t think I missed many of those days. Many times I would go out before school and if the hunting was good, I would stay out and take the consequences of missing school and receiving my “hacks” when I returned the next day. Many times I would tell my Mom to have my shotgun and shell vest hanging on the front gate so I could pick it up on the way home from school. On the weekends I would go hunting with Pop and we spent many hours sitting under the lee of a haystack or in an old barn waiting for the birds to come to us. Pop was a wonderful man and I learned much about life and good living from him. I have written several stories about our hunts, including, The “Last Hunt” and “The Windy Goose Hunt”.

About the time I was getting proficient at shooting, an unrelated accident happened to me that resulted in the loss of sight in my right eye. I was about 14 at the time. The loss of the eye didn’t bother me as much as having to learn to shoot all over again – this time left handed since I couldn’t sight down the barrel with my right eye. It was like being twelve years old all over again. I just couldn’t get the gun up to my left shoulder quick enough and before the season ended I had a very bruised muscle. I don’t think I got many birds that year which was OK with my Mom since she had to clean most of the birds we got. Pop and I would pick them but Mom did most of the cleaning. Mom would have picked them instead of cleaning them but since these birds had a lot of lice, as most birds do, she just couldn’t stand those lice crawling up her arms, so it was a good trade off.

We didn’t have a deep freeze to store all our birds but the local grocery store had frozen food lockers that we would rent for $15.00 per year. These were fairly good size lockers and would easily hold all our bounty along with a half beef or hog.

Sledding Season…

Another “season” that we always looked forward to was sledding. All the kids in Bly had their own sled and they would come out as soon as we had our first snowfall. Bly was fairly flat and didn’t have many hills but the roads would get packed hard with snow and since there wasn’t much traffic in those days you could do a belly flop and go quite a ways down the slight slope of the road.

I had a small sled that I bought with my own money called a “Shooting Star”. It wasn’t near as big as some of the other kids sleds but it sure could go. I always wanted a “Flexible Flyer” but could never afford one so I stuck with my old reliable sled. One of the great places in Bly to sled was the Forest Service lawn. It had a big drop-off on one end and you could get up quite a bit of speed before hitting the rock wall at the bottom. An alternative to our sleds on the Forest Service lawn was scoop shovels. They had several large scoop and grain shovels, which we would sit on and with the handle between our legs, push off down the slope. There was no way you could steer these things so many crashes happened at the rock wall.

One of the fun, and dangerous, things we did on the packed snow was to tie up to three log truck tires behind a car and after placing a board inside the tire and being pulled all over town. It was especially thrilling to go around a corner with three tires in tow and try to stay on. The first two weren’t too bad but the third would really whip around and scatter the riders. We mostly did this late in the evening when the snow was hard packed and there were virtually no other cars on the road. In all the years we did this, I don’t think anyone was hurt except for a few bumps and bruises. I can only imagine if this was tried in some town now – all the town fathers would be put in jail.

Winter was a great time and sledding was just part of the fun. Snowballs also came into play and many kids were knocked off their mounts by sure shots with a hard packed snowball.

Ice Skating Season…

Along with sledding came ice skating. There was always ice somewhere in the winter. In the valley there was a canal that came from the river. Sometimes Fishhole Creek would over flow and flood a field between 2nd and 3rd bridge. The water wasn’t deep so there was no danger of falling in and even if you did break through the ice you would only get wet up to your knees. Another place to skate was the millpond when it wasn’t full of logs.

Usually in the winter the pond was free of logs and some of the town men would get the fire truck and flood the pond. This had to be done since there were large pieces of bark floating on the water and made for hard skating. With a new layer of water on it we could count on a nice smooth surface the next morning.

We didn’t know much about ice hockey but we tried, using homemade hockey sticks and pieces of bark for a puck. Padding or for that matter, any kind of protective gear was never even thought of. Once again, I don’t remember anyone ever getting hurt.

With a little planning, we had another great place to ice skate and that was Campbell Reservoir. It was located about five miles from town and during the day some designated person would take a couple of log truck tires up there and lay them on a bed of pitchy wood. One of these tires would be placed on each side of the reservoir and after the movie let out we would head out in several cars for the reservoir.

The first one there would pour a small can of coal oil on the tires and set them on fire. In a few minutes they would be blazing like a mini forest fire. By the time we got our skates on we had enough light from one tire to the other to skate across the reservoir. They also provided a nice warming fire because the temperature was usually near zero or lower. Someone would usually bring some hot chocolate but most of the boys brought a few beers. In retrospect, the chocolate was much better than a cold beer on a freezing night. After about an hour or two the fires would die down and we would head for home.

Such were the “seasons” in Bly. I’m sure I could think of more if I really tried but these stick out in my memory.

Bly was a great place for a young lad in which to grow up learning the lessons of life along the way. I hope these memories bring back some for you.