We see too much disagreement in the world today. All of us have different opinions, ideas, politics, and needs. In many cases there is common ground. “What is good for the Goose is good for the Gander”.

We just need to get along and work together for the same goal.

Climate Change or Global Warming? Timber Stand Improvement or Deforestation? Fossil fuels or wind and solar? Conservation or preservation? Stream improvement or let nature take its course? Everyone has their opinions.

What we have learned is that in most cases “Natures Knows Best” and “always finds a way”. Humans, despite our pollution, mistakes, and fiddling with the environment are at the mercy of nature. It is certainly better to not make life harder for Nature, but humans also have a knack of screwing things up.

Education is important. All sides of environmental issues have their opinions. What is most important are the facts. Science is key to understanding what we don’t know. Sadly, Science is not always on target or consistent. Human greed is also a problem. Rhino horn would not cost $28,000 a pound if someone wasn’t willing to pay for it.

All sides need to work together to help each other. It’s ok to disagree but it is not ok to fight and discredit others because your opinion does not matter to them. When a disagreement arises, create a Hypothesis and use the Scientific Method to answer the questions. Arguments, yelling, sabotage, guilting, and discrediting others does nothing to help anything.

All sides of environmental issues also have the same ultimate target. We all want a healthy and clean environment. Working together for this goal is better when resolved together. This is the Common Ground!

All Sportsmen, Tree Huggers, Nature Lovers, Environmentalists, Miners, Industry, and Communities can easily find Common Ground.

Without a healthy environment, we are all screwed!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, find him at www.montanagrantfishing.

Josh’s Foil Fish 

Catching fish is great fun but it is also fun to reward you and your buddies with a fish dinner or lunch.

 Years ago, a crew of friends went onto Canyon Ferry for some great ice fishing. We were loading the ice with yellow perch, trout, and ling. Our veteran ice master, Josh, was not only a great fisherman, but was also a great cook. While we all happily ripping lips, Josh pulled out a grill, a roll of foil and a sack of other ingredients. There were several of us fishing near the ‘Hole in the Wall’ that day, so he made each of us a foil packet of fresh filleted perch. When you are sitting on a frozen lake in minus degrees temperatures, miles from the truck, and someone hands you a hot meal…what can I say.

 That foil pack of fresh fish was amazingly delicious and a perfect way to reward everyone for venturing out in a Montana winter. There was no leftovers and I swear most of the foil had been licked clean. Fish are best when eaten fresh. It takes a little planning and preparation, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

Josh’s Simple Foil Wrapped Trout recipe.

 Usually 4-8 filets per pack are needed. This may vary based on the size of your grill, appetite, or fish. You can use whole fish, but it  takes longer to pick through the bones. Normally we use skinned filets.

¼ stick of butter/ pack

4 tablespoons or Worcestershire Sauce, salt and pepper

An onion cut into slices.

 You can also modify and adjust this recipe to use what you have or what other flavors you may like. Some folks like lemon slices, or vegetables thrown in. You can also bring some tartar sauce or seafood sauce.Heck even ketchup will do in a pinch.

 A grill with a cover is best. You can use charcoal, wood, or propane. Cooking by the warm grill or fire when ice fishing has its advantages.

Place the filets onto a double layer of heavy-duty foil. Add the spices and cover with onions. Cut the butter slices and add on top. Seal each layer separately and securely so no juice leaks out. Build all your packs and start cooking them. Normally 5-7 minutes per side is all you need on a hot grill or fire. Having a pair of tongs and/or a spatula makes for easy packet flipping.

 Test one packet to make sure the fish is flaky and the onions are soft and sweet. A few paper plates, napkins, and plastic forks will seal the deal.

 Make sure to take your trash with you so we can keep our special beautiful places perfect for our next trip out.

Fish for fun!

Montana Grant

Hunting is a Blood sport. Blood Trails are a part of the deed to harvest a deer. Once you release the arrow or pull the trigger, an ethical hunter must finish what they started.

Not every shot ends well. An unseen stick can deflect the shot. A last second flinch by the shooter or critter will change the point of impact. Sadly, the deer may be wounded and must be tracked.

Following a Blood Trail is an often undiscussed but an exciting part of the hunt that requires learned skills. Not every hunter is a good tracker here are some thoughts and ideas that will make you better at tracking.

During one woodland hunt, I was still hunting up a valley. Off to my right I saw a buck looking at me head on. He had seen me and was perfectly still at 100 yards. It was black powder season and I was shooting a 50 caliber Hawken muzzle loader with iron sites. I took aim on the center of the buck’s chest. This is a shot I rarely take but I was confident with my skills. My aim was helped by a tree limb and I took the shot. The buck turned and ran out of sight. I carefully marked the spot of the shot and the last place I saw the buck.

When I got the place where the buck stood, there was no blood! No way I missed, I thought. I saw some kicked up leaves and was able to track the movement of the buck but still had no blood. Next, I went to the spot where I last saw the buck run off after the shot. 10 yards from the spot lay my buck! The shot was dead center in the chest. The 50-caliber slug passed through the lungs, liver, and stopped at the rear ham. It rested just under the skin. No blood had come out of the deer. It wasn’t until I field dressed the buck that I discovered it had bled internally. The cavity was full of blood. Follow up every shot that you take.

After the shot   Watch the critter. Look for behavior that indicates a wound. Mark the first and final positions of your target.

               Wait, watch, and listen    There is no hurry. If you made your one best shot, observe to see the outcome. Use your optics to scan for movement or the fallen critter. Take a compass bearing from your stand. Mark the two positions. Travel to the position of your shot and look for sign. Hopefully you will find hair, blood, and sign. Mark the sign with a ribbon and begin to track it out.

Examine the last place you saw the critter.   With luck, you are on a blood trail or have tracks and trail to follow. Scan ahead looking for a fallen critter or movement. You may also hear sounds. Use all your senses to help find the deer.

Back out if it is getting dark and you have no sign. Mark the last spot with a ribbon so you can return with help.

Examine the evidence     If you have hair and blood, evaluate where you hit the deer.

Blood color will tell a lot    Bright bubbly blood means a lung shot. Dark blood with debris in it means a gut shot. Dark clean blood means a liver hit. Are there bone chips in the blood trail, Rib pieces, leg bones. Understand the anatomy. Is the blood on the ground, right tor left of the main trail, high on twigs or leaves? This will tell you where the critter is bleeding from. If blood in in the footprint, it is dripping down the leg. Evaluate what you see.

If the deer is continually moving, slow down.  Look for places where the deer stood or bedded. Allow the wound to do the job and let the deer relax, stiffen up and die. If you push it harder, the deed will get more adrenaline and ca quickly clot. It may then move leaving little or nor blood trail.

 If you lose the trail   Start making circles from the last blood sign. Mark the spots with ribbon so you can guess a path. Hard hit deer seldom go up hill or through thick cover. They also are losing fluids, so thirst is a factor. Wounded deer will travel to a water source. Be sure to search these areas.

Two trailers are enough. The more company, the more chance you have of ruining a limited trail. Flag every drop or bit of sign as you go. Slow and thorough tracking is important. Communicate and ask questions like, where would he go?” Is he walking, limping, or running? Where is the closest water source? Where would this buck bed? Read the sign and make a plan.

Tracking at night    A Coleman Lantern will help you see a blood trail. The wet blood will reflect the light. Other Blue light or heat sensor tracking lights can be useful. Some dogs are good at tracking a blood trail. If you are not sure you are seeing blood drops, pray hydrogen peroxide onto the spot. If it fizzes, its blood.

If all else fails and you are sure that the deer was head, take a break. Get some additional help and lay out a grid. In most cases the mortally wounded deer is usually within a few hundred yards of where it was hit. Start in this area. If the deer went further, there is a good chance it may survive the wound. Once you have exhausted every hope of retrieving a deer, start looking for ravens and scavengers. This may happen weeks later. Use your nose to smell a dead critter. You may at least put an end to the mystery and retrieve the antlers.

Deer can sustain huge damage. They clot quickly and heal fast. I have seen lost deer weeks later chasing does in a field. Harvested deer have also been found to carry slugs and broadheads for years. Nature finds a way.

Be the BEST hunter you can be! Make every trigger pull your one best shot!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, aim for him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.

Campfire stories can be great fun. Here are some tips and tricks to help you spin a great yarn at your next campfire. It is ok to think out of the box, but you do need to use themes that are a unique to get the listeners attention. Craft your stories to be appropriate for your audience. Here is an example.

“The wolf had pestered the lumber camp long enough. One of their own had been killed and eaten by this local pack of wolves. The woodcutters caught the biggest wolf and killed it. The guts were strewn across the ground and left to rot. The next morning, when the woodcutters came back to the site, everything was still there except for the intestines! Only a faint crawling blood trail led into the forest. The intestines were still alive!”

This was the premise for an historical campfire story that has been told for generations! As a Scout, youth leader, ad teacher this themed story has thoroughly scared generations of campers. The concept of the story is simple but what makes a great campfire story is much more. The truth is that intestines don’t come back to life but… Here are some thoughts and ideas on how to tell great campfire stories of your own!

Not everyone is a good storyteller, but with practice, you can learn to become one. It takes creativity, spontaneity, personality, and imagination. We all know who in our groups fit these requirements. Make them responsible to tell the stories at your campfires.

Campfire stories are best told in the dark.  Night time brings out basic fears and makes listeners more gullible to the yarn you plan to tell. If it seems too dark, hand out some glow sticks for security.

Keep it Simple   The best stories are the ones that are easy to remember. Consider themes that are obviously relevant and may be believable. Simple enough to have fun with and exciting enough to be remembered.

Personalize the story   Use local landmarks, history, legends, or features to give your story a touch of legitimacy. Ex. Wolves were once abundant in these hills. Many were gray, but a few were black. Some were huge and weighed as much as 200 or more pounds.

Tell the story effectively   A great campfire story usually takes 15-20 minutes to tell properly. If they are too short, they lack credibility. Too long and they put people asleep. Plan ahead and practice your storytelling skills. If it makes you react, then you are on the right track.

Properly introduce the story   Make sure you get everyone’s attention at the beginning of the story. Have another camper make an introduction. Toss some campfire glitter flash powder into the fire. Maybe try some pinecones soaked in chemicals to change color. Add some pizazz then begin the story when everyone is ready. Ex. Hold a large wood cutters axe, that was found by the large tree nearby.

Make the story believable   Add just enough facts to make the story plausible, the go a bit crazy. Use accurate facts, history, names, and dates. Relate events to real events and people. Identify actual people or their relatives from your gathering to support the story. Ex. The wood cutters camp was along this ridge. This campfire site was were the cook prepared their meals. Your Scout Leaders Grandfather knew many of the woodcutters that worked here.

Be original but…   The best stories are based on the same themes. Murder, vampires, mystery, or simply things that go bump in the night. If you are camping, use the dark to add mystery, excitement and fear.

Ask questions       Ex. “Has anyone ever seen a real wolf?”  “Do you know how long a wolf’s intestine is?”  “What kinds of things can you use an intestine for?” Get your guests thinking about the theme. Pioneers used intestines to make sausage. Most trappers ate the meat from the critters they caught. Intestines in a 200 lb. wolf are around 25 feet long! That makes for a huge “Living Intestine”! This line of factual input gives realism and fact to your story.

Use the campfire guests’ senses    Play off of their senses of sight, touch, smell, and imagination. Once the guests are hooked on your story, it is amazing what you can make them believe. If a creature has a smell, open a jar of stink to support it. Ex. Mimic sounds of wolves or other creatures. Have a friend away from the campfire make a howl, bark, or creature scream. Wolves hunt in packs so several different locations could be used. Use a string tied to a stack of cans near the tents. Jerk it to create a startling noise at the right moment. You get the idea, now be creative.

Use adjectives!   Use descriptive words to enhance your story. Ex. The wolf’s breath doesn’t just stink, “it smelled of rotten, raw, meat and salty blood!”. Have fun with grossing out your audience while adding spice to the story. Avoid curse words or inappropriate comments or themes. Keep it between the lines. If you tell the story properly, you will not need to add shock and awe. The story will make the guests imaginations do that for you.

Inflection, tone, volume, and pace    Use these presentation tricks to keep your guests off balance. Avoid saying “um, uh, like, …”, the words you say when you are not sure what to say next. Your story will burn up if you read it or don’t believe and know it yourself. If you forget a thought, slow down, ask a question, make some noises, ask for another log on the fire. This will give you time to think and allow the guests to savor what is next. Ex. If the wolf howl was loud, scream it. If the wolf made the wood cutters afraid, say it in your voice. Stand up and yell, or swing the axe, or what was that, did you see that shadow? Keep you guests on their toes.

Make your campfire snacks related to the story     Ex. Give out some chopped up meat sticks before the store begins. Everyone loves Slim Jim’s. Did you know that they are made using intestine casings and ground up hearts? After the story about Living Intestines, will they ever eat a meat stick again? Maybe cookies in the shape of a wolf’s feet, small axes, or long, red, sticky, thick string licorice. You get my drift?

The story should take on a life of its own. You will know if the story was a good one if your guests are talking about it for years to come. “I just could not get asleep, thanks a lot!”. Check the campers once the fire has ended and they return to there tents. Carry you axe so they know you will keep them safe.

“The woodcutters followed the faint blood trail to a rock cliff. One lumberman looked inside a crevice where the blood trail led. Suddenly he fell backwards, screaming and writhing on the ground. The Living Intestine was sucking his life away as it attached to his forehead. The other woodcutters came to his rescue and used their axes to cut the long intestine into hundreds of pieces. After this axe swinging frenzy, they found their friend dead and carried his lifeless body back to camp. The next day, they returned to the bloody site to bury the remains of the living intestine. Not a single piece could be found, just hundreds of tiny blood trails leading away into the forest. A month later, people from the nearest town went to visit the lumber camp. No one had come for supplies that were needed. Everyone was found dead, only a small round mark could be found on their foreheads!”

Ice the Cake   Do something the next morning to bring your story back to life. Ex. If you painted small red blood trails around the campsite the next morning, the story will take on a life of its own.

Make your campfire stories something to be remembered for years to come. This is what makes campfires fun and ….

“What was that? Did you hear that sound, oh no it’s a giant…!!!”

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, find him around the campfire at www.montanagrantfishing.com.


Fishers and hunters are made, not born. Sure, some folks tend to have interests and desires to celebrate the outdoors, but it may require a mentor or guide. For generations, potential candidates have been shown the trailheads to the watersheds and hunting grounds.

Recently I shared a fishing day with a new candidate. Sue, a retired teacher from Maryland, and a lifelong friend. For years, she has endured my stories and adventures in the outdoors. After over 40 years as a teacher, she asked me to share my love of fly fishing with her. Sue, along with her husband John, had never cast or fished. They both recently retired and were now celebrating their earned free time together. They came all the way to Montana to get a fishing lesson!

We started with some casting tips using both a fly rod and a spinning rod.  The methods are different, but usually some prefer one over the other. Our drift would be along the lower Madison River. We would put in at Warm Springs and take out at Damselfly Access. Montana weather was as usual, unpredictable. This would be the first “cold” day of the fall. Fishing would be slow, and nymphs would be the choice of the day.

The one thing about fishing is that there is not one thing! Every aspect of fishing requires a new tip, trick, or skill. Tying knots, casting, building a leader, matching a hatch, reading the water, seeing a strike, setting the hook, etc. There is always something new to learn. Experienced anglers normally learn a new trick every time they venture out.

We boarded the drift boat and began the float. Fall colors were already showing their final brilliance before winter. Flights of mergansers and ducks were escorting us. A shore lunch, some drinks, and snacks always add to the experience.

Few insects were visible, but a fish must eat. We drifted double rigs of caddis and larger nymphs. I attached 3 spaced Palsa indicators several feet up the leader. Each strike indicator was a different color of hot pink, chartreuse, or orange. This way, a rookie can see the strike and manage a smooth drift.

For the most part my new anglers did as directed. Their casting was adequate, and they took advice willingly. I answered many great questions. Both had some action as trout struck their nymphs or chased a spinner. Sue was seeing the strikes but could not figure out how to set the hook. Finally, the strike indicator stopped, and Sue struck!

 “FISH ON!” Watching a new fisher catch their first fish never gets old. The squeals, yells, and excitement remind us of the joy of fishing. Size doesn’t matter. The moment is gigantic and will never be forgotten.  The brown trout was netted and released after a few pictures were taken. Care of the Catch and Released trout was paramount.

We never catch enough fish. That’s why we keep going fishing. The excitement is a healthy addiction that will never be satisfied. Sue is already talking about gear, places to fish, boots and new adventures. Another candidate is hooked for life!

Tight lines and screaming reels!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, catch him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.

This weekend is the beginning of Montana’s antelope hunt. If you received a tag for an applied area, or plan to head east for a more open antelope area, it is time to get ready to head afield. Weather is typical Montana so be ready for rain and snow.

My tag will place me along the Musselshell River in central Montana. You can’t help but be reminded of the hunts of natives, pioneers, and Mountain Men. The “Musselshell” stirs strong stories of wonderful hunting. I will be hunting with a friend that I mentored years ago.

Yellowstone Kelly enjoyed hunting antelopes. An early Mountain Man and guide, Kelly enjoyed hunting these abundant and manageable critters. A dressed antelope could be carried over the shoulder. Once near a tree, the “lope” would be hung on a branch and tagged with a scarf or symbol of the hunter. No one would mess with other hunters kill, unless invited. Sides of ribs stacked against a fire, steaks and chunks of meat spitted over a fire, or cleaned intestines stuffed with bits of meat, marrow, and fat were common recipes. Hunters would eat 20 or more pounds of meat daily.

The first antelope I tagged was a buck. My friend told me to set up near water or green grass and wait. After a few hours, a large herd of “lopes” crested the hill. I was sitting in a dug-out hole along the bank. Out of the wind and cozy. I had cut a shooting stick and waited with my single shot rifle. I scoped a nice buck and pulled the trigger. In an instance, the herd vanished. I went to the place the buck was standing and found blood.

Following a blood trail is a fun part of the hunt we rarely talk about. Since the buck was higher on the slope and ran over top, I could not see where he fell. Within 100 yards, the blood covered sage led me to my buck. After dressing the buck, I threw it over my shoulder and began the trek to the truck.

The nice buck seemed lighter as I made the best out of the task. Once at the truck, I saw my buddy coming across the prairie with his pronghorn. The weapons, gear, and clothes may have changed but the spirit of the hunt always stays the same.

Hunt hard, hunt harder!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.

None of us like to think about how old we are. The other day I went to the Dr. for my annual checkup and they needed me to fill out a form. “What is your age?” Who cares. I never thought about my age since waiting to be old enough to drive. Stupid me, I did not really know. Sure, I have seen more Presidents, hunting and fishing seasons than Millennials, but… I had to do the math.

This was my ah ha moment. Let’s just say that I am older than I thought but the Dr. said I am way younger than my age. My jogging is on line, regular work outs help, better diet plan is important but…

Getting older means that you get to a point where you have lived longer than you are going to live. That means you better savor every hunting and fishing season you have left.

My dad shot his last buck at 84 years old. His last limit of trout was when he was 88. He made it to 95 so I come from some good genetics.

We only are blessed with so many hunting and fishing seasons. Each year is one less. Celebrate them all. It is not just about filling a tag, it is just about being able to go. We slow down and are less flexible. Many of our old buddies quit, died, or have given up.

Find some Young Bucks to mentor and that appreciate your stories, lessons, and company. Share everything you can while you can. You Young Bucks need to find some old guys and family that need some support. Life is getting short.

Tomorrow, when I jog, maybe I will have a bit more energy in my step. Elk season is just around the corner. The mountains, rivers, and streams are calling, and I plan to be there in as full force as I can.

 Get up and get out! Oh, and Happy Birthday!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, you can wish him Happy Birthday at www.montanagrantfishing.com.

You know you are getting old when you officially become a Grandparent. Most of my buddy’s brag about their Grandkids. “It is the best thing that ever happened to me!” I hope they are right.

Montana Jessie, my daughter, and her husband Dylan are about to have their world turned upside down. Children change everything. Montana Linda, my wife, and I were lucky to have a Buck and a Doe! That way we had our favorite son and daughter. There was no prestige for being the first or youngest or… We were blessed with two healthy and wonderful children.

I am not sure how to be a Grandpa. It sounds like fun and everyone says it is a wonderful part of life. It is a trail I have yet to travel. As a parent my favorite time was from ages 4-12. The kids could talk and were so cute. Life was fun, easy, and busy. Everything was new and special. Hunting, fishing, camping, and trekking outdoors was fresh and new again.

That is how I feel this new adventure will be like. As hunters and fishermen, we evolve. First, we want to catch a fish, then a bunch of fish. Once our skills grow we seek a BIG fish, then a specific fish. Next, we embrace the opportunity to teach others how to enjoy fishing hunting, and the outdoors.

It worked once with the Montana Grant Kids, I am sure it will work again. I hope to tag and limit out along every step of the Grandpa path. I think our world is about to change too!

I hate changing diapers though!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, catch him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.


BIG APPLE DUMPLINGS are the best. Deserts at hunting and fishing camp are always important. We all enjoy S’mores, cobblers, and campfire baked treats. Try this crazy recipe at home or on your next outdoor adventure.

I was taught this recipe years ago on a Boy Scout camp out. The Dutch Oven was scraped clean. Every Scout was fat and happy. Since it was “boys” they named it the “Big Dump!” Feel free to call it whatever you prefer.

You will need a charcoal or campfire coals that will supply a temperature of 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. This also works well in a smoker grill or in your home oven.

1.) Cut up 3- 4 apples into thick slices. I prefer the apples skinned and cored.

2.) Lay out a container of Crescent pastry rolls. Use the ones from the tube that scares you when it opens. Poppin fresh style.

3.) Wrap an apple slice up in each triangle shaped pastry. Place the apple at the wide end and roll to the point.

4.) Stack the rolled apple dumplings into a greased baking dish or Dutch oven.

5.) Now mix 1 ½ cups of sugar with 2 sticks of softened butter. Add a teaspoon of Vanilla. The mixture will be granular and not melted. More like a sweet paste. Dump onto the dumplings.

6.) Pour ¾ of a can of Lemon Lime soda onto the dumplings. This moisture will be absorbed in the baking process and help to make the sauce. Sprinkle with cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

7.) Bake for around 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with a spoon in a small bowl or Styrofoam cup. At home, you can get fancier with your Big Dump presentation and add ice cream or…

No matter what you do, there will be no leftovers!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at www.montanagrantfishing.com.

Fishermen never catch enough fish! The only way to learn to catch more fish is catch more fish! We can’t eat everything we catch, so throw some back to catch another day.

Wicked Tuna is a reality fishing show that focuses on a Blue Fin Tuna fishery that is sustained thanks to Catch and Release. Tuna could not reach lengths of 100 inches and a thousand pounds without having the time to grow. Undersized fish are caught and released carefully. Sailfish Catch and Release counts when the swivel touches the rod tip. Once there, the circle hook is removed, and the fish is released unharmed. Stocks of these fish species are improving in part, thanks to Catch and Release techniques.

Here are some important tips when Catching and Releasing a fish.

1.)    Land the fish quickly! Understand your drag, use thinner but stronger fluorocarbon tippet, and be aggressive during the fight.

2.)    The longer you allow the fish to fight, the less chance it will recover.

3.)    Wet your hand, net, or whatever will touch the fish before contacting them.

4.)    Keep the fish in the water as long as possible. Minimize the time of the fish out of water for photos.

5.)    Remove the sharpened hook quickly. Forceps are a great tool to help with this. Barbs are less important than a hook that is sharp.

6.)    Let the fish recover before releasing. If the fish is bleeding from a gill or deep hooking you may want to just snip the line and let them go. Their digestive juices will dissolve the hook in a few days. Consider keeping It if regulations allow.

Even with the best Catch and Release techniques, some fish will die. It is estimated that for each angler fishing day, .65 fish released die. The Madison River has registered 175,000 angler days a year. This means that 100,000 trout die each year after being released! That’s a huge pile of wasted fish.

Respect your catch and limit their mortality by being a responsible Catch and Release angler.

Release your catch gently!

Montana grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at www.montanagrantfishing.com.