By Don Clark
I came to Libby, Montana from South Dakota in 1967. I was unfamiliar with the concept of Wilderness. My wife drew a mountain goat permit in 1969 and we began hiking into the wilderness in search of “The Beast the color of Winter.”
Since then, I have spent a lifetime appreciating the waterfalls, lakes, rocky cirques, sheer cliffs, wildflowers, animals and solitude of Wilderness. Friends and I have hiked much of the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness that was established in 1964. As avid hunters, we have harvested elk, bears, deer, mountain lions, bobcat, moose, bighorn rams and mountain goats in the quietness of the wilderness. When you draw a moose, goat or sheep permit for the wilderness you have to hunt there.
It sounds like the hunting is spectacular in the wilderness. Actually, the elk hunting can be very difficult because of the steep terrain and the distances you have to hike to get to the game. This holds doubly-true for packing out animals over long distances. But, because it is more physical than many want to endure, the area is not crowded. Usually you have it pretty much to yourself. It sets one apart from the regular hunters who spend a lot of time driving.
What is spectacular are the cliffs, lakes, glaciers, and wildness of the area. We have also been fortunate to see wolves, wolverine, coyotes, pica, martin, fisher, porcupine, eagles, loon, grizzlies, geese and grouse while hiking the wilderness.
As a forest service trail crew summer worker I helped fight fire in the wilderness and helped clear the trails with a double bit ax and cross-cut saw so others could more easily reach the high lakes and see the panoramic vistas. My time spent as a hunter, recreational hiker, and trail crew worker built an appreciation of wilderness in my soul, and I think anyone could share my love of land set aside as God created it if they experienced it like I have.
Don Clark taught school in Libby for a couple of decades and has hunted very successfully in the Cabinets and Scotchmans since 1967. He received our first Old Goat Aware