Protecting Public Lands for Future Generations
By Jim Posewitz

“I had been living in Montana for six months in January 1954, just long enough to qualify for a resident hunting license. There was an extended deer season that included the Bridger Mountains so I borrowed a rifle, bought a box of ammo, walked into the National Forest and shot my first deer. It was my freshman year at what was then Montana State College and that beautiful, fat mule deer doe fell almost within sight of the big white “M” that marks the south end of the Bridgers.

I was living, military style, with nine very close friends in the recreation room of an old military barracks converted into student housing. We were all from what was then a deer-less Midwest. We hung the doe in an empty dorm room, propped the window open, and slice-by-slice processed her through a frying pan on a hot plate. We responded to all this kindness by producing a winning football team, beating the Grizzlies in Missoula in 1956 (the first time the Bobcats did that in a very long time) and claiming a national championship that same year. The coach was happy, we were happy, it was a “Square Deal.”

Although hard to imagine, the gift of that mule deer doe 62 years ago remains considerably more important than the victory over the Grizzlies. On the day I shot that deer, I had no idea why I could be a hunter, why the land was open to me, or why the deer was out there and available. I left Bozeman in 1961 with two degrees in fish and wildlife management and a load of biological information on what it takes to produce fish and wildlife. However, I was totally unaware of our social and cultural relationship with the land that put that deer out there in the Bridger Mountains. Our nation’s unique democracy of the wild was still to be learned…”

Read the full story, and more, in MWF’s Spring Newsletter

MWF Spring 2016 Newsletter