When my wife Jasmine and I welcomed our first daughter in February 2023, everyone warned us that parenthood would be a whirlwind and that time would fly by. We took that advice to heart and made a promise to ourselves: the first summer with Nora would be unforgettable.
For the past seven years, Jasmine and I have cherished every moment of Montana's short summers. We'd leave Bozeman on Friday after work, return on Sunday afternoon smelling like campfire smoke, and relive stories of our fishing adventures. With our trusty slide-in truck camper, drift boat, and two German Wirehaired Pointers - Jyn and Fitz - we explored both familiar and new places. Our love for the rivers in the west is so strong that we used our wedding money to buy a drift boat. Forget beach honeymoons; we wanted to float and fish.
When Nora came into our lives, we knew our summers would change drastically. However, we also understood how crucial it was for her to experience the outdoors and understand why Montana is our home. So, we've embraced what I like to call "small wins." We take short river floats where we can easily bail and reach the truck in no time, and we camp close to home so that if things go south, Nora can retreat to her crib. As I write this, Nora has already floated and experienced the Lower Henry's Fork, Lower Gallatin River, Ennis Lake, and the Yellowstone River (three times). She has even spent four nights sleeping under the stars in our camper. Talk about an adventurous summer for a six-month-old! Montana's camping season isn't even over yet.
Our river and outdoor activities look different now. I often rig a fly rod as an excuse to take the boat out, even though I may only cast a few times all day. To further justify it, If I don't bring a rod, we'll surely encounter a two-foot "bank eater." Once an angler, always an anger. Now, it's about discovering interesting rocks on the riverbank, savoring a cocktail in the sun with friends, and, most importantly, raising an outdoor girl in an indoor world (credit to Steve Rinella for that line). None of this would be possible without Jasmine, who is a supermom. She remembers sunscreen, packs diaper bags, keeps Nora happy in her life jacket, and so much more. I'm a fortunate dad to be married to someone as passionate as I am about introducing our daughter to the outdoors, no matter what it entails.
Nora is about to experience her first fall in Montana, a season that I hold close to my heart. It's the time when I accompany my dogs across Montana's open prairies and marshes in search of Hungarian partridge, sharptailed grouse, and pheasant. Will Nora join us on her first bird hunt this year? Absolutely. Will our "bird hunt" primarily serve as another opportunity to get her outside with her parents and our dogs? Without a doubt.
As we navigate the wonderful chaos of parenthood while trying to keep our fly rods rigged, one thing remains clear: Montana's adventures are the perfect backdrop for our growing family. With Nora's inaugural Montana autumn just around the corner, I can't wait to introduce her to the world of bird hunting. Here's to more laughter, love, and outdoor escapades in Montana's backyard!