By Brett French Billings (Mont.) Gazette
Sitting next to a crackling fire with a hot toddy and a good book is a perfect way to hunker down on a cold winter’s day. The toddy doesn’t hurt, either.
With that in mind, here are some recommendations to sip, read, relax and stay warm.
“Real Hunting &Campfire Humor, Short Stories from a Lifetime of Travel and Adventure” by Jack Atcheson Sr.
Throughout his life, Atcheson, now 80-plus, has been an avid hunter. And like all longtime hunters, he has gathered a wealth of humorous and almost too-wild-to-believe tales.
One of my favorite short tales involves a prominent landmark north of Gardiner called the Devil’s Slide. Atcheson shot a bull elk near the top of the steep scree and cliff-lined slope, and decided to try to ride the animal’s carcass to the bottom.
Here’s what he wrote in his matter-of-fact style: “I got tangled in the drag ropes and the two of us rolled down the hill together. It was terrifying and could have been deadly. I will stick to sleds in the future.”
The book is $29.95 and can be ordered online at www.RealHuntingHumor.com.
The toddy: A traditional hot toddy since the author is so time-honored. It’s a Scottish creation that mixes whiskey, boiling water or warm milk with sugar or honey. That’s the basics. You could also add 2 ounces of Glenfiddich whiskey.
For teetotalers: Black coffee in an enameled camp cup.
“Anything Worth Doing, A True Story of Adventure, Friendship and Tragedy on the Last of the West’s Great Rivers” by Jo Deurbrouck.
If you’ve ever been on a river trip with a guide who has told tales of near-death outings in whitewater to scare the clientele, then you have an inkling of where this book is heading.
Deurbrouck was once a river guide and she paints a detailed inside view into the bohemian lifestyle of those who make such outdoor occupations a way of life.
The story floats around an insane outing on the flood-level Salmon River in June 1996. The two main characters are racing downstream in high water to set a record for distance floated on the river in a single day. So they start at midnight near the small town of Stanley, Idaho, and begin rowing downstream for maximum speed.
Did I mention it was night?
Deurbrouck’s book serves as a cautionary tale of the sacrifices such outings take.
The book, a 2012 National Outdoor Book Award winner, is $15 and can be ordered online at www.jodeurbrouck.com/anything-worth-doing.
The toddy: Mix 1 ounce spiced rum with hot apple cider and garnish with a cinnamon stick or sprinkle of cinnamon. This drink is known as a broken leg, probably because it was served to some poor skier.
For teetotalers: Hot chocolate with marshmallows floating on top, depicting high river runoff.
“Mark of the Grizzly” by Scott McMillion.
Scott McMillion has long weaved a well-written tale — first as a newspaper reporter, then as a magazine writer and finally as the author of a book on assorted grizzly encounter tales.
My favorite story is “Grizzly RoboCop” about Troy Hurtubise and his bearproof suit of titanium, plastic, flameproof rubber, air bags and chain mail.
McMillion’s other tales are about rare bear attacks and the people who survive them, as well those who don’t. The book is $16.95 and can be found at www.LyonsPress.com.
The toddy: Your favorite bourbon straight, no wooseying around, since the book’s subject is not for the faint of heart.
For teetotalers: Black tea to race your pulse.