One Nation, Under God

Articles written by Parker Heinlein


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  • Our Spring Break Will Be Different Than Normal

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Feb 28, 2024

    It’s that time of year when Barb and I head south. By the end of February, we’ve had enough snow and cold. Warmer climes begin to call. For decades we pulled a boat to Florida, fishing the salt on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Most years we camped on barrier islands under the palms. Eventually, however, that trip became too long, Florida too crowded, and too many days on the road to get there. We began spending time in the California desert about five years ago. While it lacked the...

  • My Shotgun Would've Kept Me From Facing My Fear

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Feb 21, 2024

    I have a fear of falling. It’s not age-related. I just don’t like to fall. It often hurts. During hunting season I’m especially careful. The ground is uneven if not steep, the footing precarious. If I take a misstep and lose my balance I always protect the gun, letting my elbows and backside hit the ground instead of the fancy walnut stock. That approach has served me well. While my elbows and backside may be scarred and bruised, my 20-gauge, Italian over-and-under only bears a couple of...

  • Birthdays Flush out Fond Memories

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Feb 14, 2024

    Ace turned 13 today. There were times over the last six months I didn’t think he would make it. Not that there was anything specifically wrong with him, he’s just old -- for a hunting dog anyway. And he is that. Ace has been hunting since he was seven months. On Jan. 1 he completed his 12th season. Never the best dog in the pack, he blended in over the years hunting behind more aggressive, more talented dogs. Now it’s just him and Dot, a three-year-old who far surpasses him in the field....

  • Reading News On The Phone? Ha.

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Feb 7, 2024

    Some years ago while working for the Bozeman Chronicle I was told by a computer tech there that folks would soon be reading the news on their phones. I laughed at such a far-fetched notion, coming as it did from a computer nerd. What did he know about news? This was a few years before the demise of the daily newspaper. I couldn’t yet see the end. Now I’m lost without my phone, which provides me with up-to-the-minute news, sports, weather and nonsense. It also offers a constant distraction...

  • No One Has Ever Taken Our Guns

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Jan 31, 2024

    A friend recently said her husband was in the process of passing along his collection of firearms to their grandchildren. She said she hopes the guns don’t get taken away, but confiscation remains a fear. I suppose that’s because the threat of the government taking our guns is nearly as old as me. Despite the fact that no one has ever taken our guns in this country, confiscation of firearms remains a right-wing talking point. As a result we have a populace armed with military-style weapons...

  • My Watch Keeps Me Going

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Jan 24, 2024

    It’s hard to stay active in the middle of winter. Snow and bitter cold keep me inside the house, sunken deep in my favorite chair, mesmerized by ball games of little consequence. My watch, however, keeps me going. It tells me to stand if I’ve been sitting too long. It compliments me on the progress I make toward pre-programmed exercise goals, and it nags me to keep it up. “You can do it, Parker!” It records my daily mile walk, announcing the time elapsed through so many layers of clothin...

  • I've Been Cold Before

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Jan 17, 2024

    This must be why folks move to Arizona. For a few days now the temperature has hovered between barely survivable and colder-than-anyone-remembers. The minus 30 something I woke to this morning was a rerun of yesterday’s bitter cold. It’s been even colder in other parts of the state and I take solace in that. It’s seldom the case. Living on the Hi-line I’ve grown accustomed to the cold. I dress for it, donning long johns in October and not taking them off until spring, which up here...

  • A Shocking Idea

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Jan 10, 2024

    While packing up my hunting gear at the end of the season I realized Dot’s e-collar was switched on, the green light still blinking feebly. I turned it off and started to put it back in its box then realized I might need it again before next fall. Commonly referred to as a “shock” collar, it’s what I use to keep Dot in range, an electronic leash of sorts. Among the options on the controller are two small buttons for tone and vibrate, and a larger one that administers an electric shock....

  • A Hunt in the Cattails

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Jan 3, 2024

    The ground was white with frost when I climbed out of the truck. It almost looked as if it had snowed. In an hour, however, it would be gone, the ground bare and dry again under another cloudless sky. Dot sat patiently as I fastened the e-collar around her neck. Ace wandered to the other side of the truck, lifting his leg on the tire. I tested the beep on the collar and Dot squealed and started hoovering the grass at the edge of the cattails. Her attention was only a button away. Ace, deaf and...

  • Washington Hunters Were Under Fire

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Dec 27, 2023

    Folks in Malta took the opportunity to vent about the hunting season last week during a visit from the right wing Montana Talks radio show. Apparently, out-of-state hunters — particularly those from Washington — killed what deer were left in Phillips County. This, after they trespassed, littered, and packed the parking lot at the local grocery store. All the evidence was anecdotal which fits the show’s format. Actual facts and figures simply get in the way. While host Aaron Flint and his...

  • The Ever Growing List

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Dec 20, 2023

    Halfway through the fourth and final month of the hunting season, I’m overwhelmed with a feeling of dread. In a couple of weeks, I’ll no longer be able to answer “Yep” when Barb asks me if I’m hunting that day. Instead, I’ll have to go into detail about the projects around the house that require my attention: the ceiling that’s falling in; the floors that need refinishing; the light fixtures that need replaced. It’s an endless list that keeps growing. But since the first of...

  • Moving to the Rugged West

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Dec 13, 2023

    Every time I visit Bozeman I’m reminded of why I left. At the time I blamed the opening of a store specializing in nothing but batteries as the final straw. That was nearly 20 years ago. Bozeman has grown by leaps and bounds since then. There are probably a couple of battery stores in town now. Malta, on the other hand, where Barb and I moved, has seen a decline in population, as has much of rural Montana. Newcomers, it seems, may talk about moving to the rugged West, but most of them actually...

  • A Tribute to A Friend and Colleague

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Dec 6, 2023

    I learned today of the death of my friend and longtime colleague Joan Haines. A reporter at the Bozeman Chronicle for many years Joan followed her own path even if it strayed from that suggested by her editors. As the Chronicle’s features editor, I butted heads with her on more than one occasion. I well remember meeting with Joan and our managing editor in the Chronicle conference room concerning a story she didn’t want to cover. Joan sat down, placed a tape recorder on the table, looked at...

  • Hogs, Perhaps a Money-Making Opportunity?

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Nov 29, 2023

    With swarms of feral hogs massing on our northern border, it’s time to take stock of our options. Montana wildlife officials warn against shooting them. Hunting, we’re told, only makes hogs harder to control. Trapping is the preferred alternative. A column I wrote a couple of years ago to that effect prompted a flood of responses. The mere suggestion that feral hogs be trapped instead of shot outraged an entire community of folks who are rabid about shooting pigs. Perhaps Montana should...

  • Ace Doesn't Know When to Quit

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Nov 22, 2023

    I have a picture on my phone of Ace and a sharptail grouse I shot early this season. It was, I feared, the old dog’s last hunt. A couple of months shy of his 13th birthday, Ace is about done. Or so I thought. But I just took another photo of him with a bird last week, and I suspect it won’t be the last either. Like Joe Biden, Ace doesn’t know when to quit. He can’t hear. He stumbles. It’s often hard to tell if he’s dead or simply asleep. Barb and I have even been talking about...

  • Sunny, with a High of 50

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Nov 15, 2023

    What a difference a year makes. By this time last November the ground was covered with snow. It didn’t bare off for more than five months. Today it’s sunny and 50 degrees with more of the same in the extended forecast. Sunny and warm is hard to complain about, but sunny and warm in Montana this time of year never bodes well. We live with the ever-looming specter of drought. Last year’s bountiful snowpack and spring rains hardly got us through July before it all dried up once again. The...

  • My Wife Gives Me Tasks Everyday

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Nov 8, 2023

    No longer gainfully employed, I nonetheless try to accomplish something every day. It’s usually a task assigned to me by my wife, added to a list she continuously updates. Typically it’s a chore on the home front, such as laundry, dishes or making the beds in the guest room. Occasionally it involves fixing something, a never-ending task that comes with living in a 108-year-old house. I like checking things off the list. More precisely I like checking one thing at a time off the list. For...

  • Teamwork Between Man and Animal

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Nov 1, 2023

    Bird hunting at its most basic level is a relatively simple endeavor. Dog flushes bird. Hunter shoots bird. Dog retrieves bird. When it all comes together it’s a beautiful thing to experience, a well-orchestrated bit of teamwork between man and animal. Seldom, however, does it all come off so simply. More often it’s a different scenario ending with dog flushes bird out of range. Or hunter misses easy shot. Or dog can’t believe hunter actually hit something and has no interest in finding...

  • I Have Filled My Share of Tags

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Oct 25, 2023

    Montana’s general big game hunting season opened last weekend and I didn’t go. I rarely hunt deer and elk anymore, preferring to chase the dogs all fall in pursuit of grouse, pheasants and ducks. They’re easier to pack out. I certainly filled my share of tags. While I can’t recall how many deer or antelope I killed over the years, I kept track of the elk – 10 bulls and 10 cows. Where and when I killed each cow is a bit foggy, but the bulls, because of their headgear, are easier to...

  • Almost Lost My Dog

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Oct 18, 2023

    Almost lost my dog. Happened just the other day. As I was crawling under a fence she took the opportunity to run away. I don’t know why. She didn‘t say. Worried me something awful, enough to make me pray. Was she hurt? Was she dead? Was it something I said? I hit the button on her electronic leash, hoping she would hear the beep, but if she did there was no response, all was quiet, still no Dot. I headed uphill for a better look where the trees played out and the grass was short. I called...

  • What's A Local to Do?

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Oct 11, 2023

    Folks up here in Phillips County are complaining about a lack of places to hunt. Rich people are buying up all the land. Locals have no place to go. I heard the same refrain when I first moved here nearly 20 years ago. All the good places had sold to out-of-staters or at least out-of-county folk. There were few places left to hunt. I could only shake my head at my new neighbors’ plight, and offer my sympathy. Then I went hunting. I’ve been hunting ever since. Poor-mouthing Phillips County...

  • Profanity has Prospered

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Oct 4, 2023

    My mother, a former high school English teacher, said cussing indicated a limited vocabulary. I never heard her swear. Dad, on the other hand, did swear on occasion, although not in mixed company, and there were certain words and phrases he never used or tolerated from me. I remember being knocked on my butt once after using the Lord’s name in vain. Profanity, however, has prospered since their passing. To a lot of folks, there’s rarely any polite company these days around which it’s...

  • The First Month of the Season

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Sep 27, 2023

    The first month of the season has nearly run its course. What little green was left on the prairie vanished weeks ago, hiding out of sight over the creek banks. The rest of the country is the color of straw. The recent rains won’t make much difference except to turn dust to mud. Stock ponds that were brim-full in mid-summer shrunk to half their size by the first of September as hot winds blew and the ground cracked. Where there was good soil the grass grew waist high, but on the hard pan,...

  • My House and I Have Things In Common

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Sep 20, 2023

    Like me, my house has fallen into disrepair. My eyesight is failing. My teeth are falling out of my head. I can’t hear a thing. I have to plead with my knees every morning simply to get them working. My 108-year-old stone house has similar problems. It still looks good from a distance, but upon closer inspection, there’s a bit of rot to be found, a couple of doors need to be replaced, and the oven in the kitchen is kaput. That’s a big deal. Barb is no longer able to bake, her favorite...

  • The First Day of Hunting Season

    Parker Heinlein, Outdoors Columnist|Sep 13, 2023

    I awoke Sept. 1 way too early. It was the first day of hunting season and I didn’t want to be late. After a quick breakfast I loaded the dogs into the truck, double-checked my gear, and grabbed a mug of coffee. On the drive down I worried that someone would be in my spot, but when I got there of course no one was. Opening day of upland bird season never draws a crowd despite my fears. It was dark yet, and I sat in the truck listening to Ace whine in his box. When it was light enough I...

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