Hunter Safety Course in Montana

Many may not realize, but hunting is huge here in Bozeman, Montana. I was studying to get my hunting licenses in Sweden, after I enjoyed my first moose hunt in 2010.

So with my move to Montana, I knew I would want to hunt here too.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to do anything to be able to hunt except live in Montana for 6th months. Since I was born before 1986, I didn’t need any hunting course or any training!

However, I am all for being safe, so I decided to take the Hunter Safety Course.  Which, by the way, is 100% free. Paid for by extra taxes on ammo and firearms. Right on!

The course was taking place at a middle school in Belgrade, Montana. We headed to the cafeteria, and I was surprised how many children were present!

Hunting course day 1

We watched a video on hunter safety that was pretty hilarious. Basically it was kids not being safe, and a kid got shot. Don’t do that children!

We received a lot of free reading material as well about safety, which was geared towards children. But not necessarily unhelpful!

Montana Hunter Manual

Afterwards we headed to the classroom. Again, I was surprised how many children were present! Apparently, you can start hunting at 12, and many of the children in the course were 11 years old!

Our instructors, George and Bonnie,  had 50 years of hunting experience each. And the nice thing was that they completely volunteered their time to teach us about hunting. They didn’t get paid for any of the hours they worked with us. Pretty impressive.

Montana Hunter instructor

Child showing gun part

Just a note, the guns in the classroom were not real guns. They were all decommissioned guns for the course.

While me and my brother were snickering in the back during the video because of how childish it was, we were quickly out of our elements when it came to gun education.

And the 11 year olds were way more knowledgeable about the fire arms.

So what exactly did we go over the 5 days in the classroom?

  • The four rules of firearm safety: Always treat every firearm as loaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction, always know your target and beyond, and always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
  • Parts of a firearm
  • General hunting rules and regulations (and that you should read the regs for the hunting year!)
  • How to be a safe hunter
  • Where to shoot an animal for a quick kill. How to gut it.
  • How to avoid bears and be on the look out for animals that may smell a fresh kill
  • What to do if you get lost and how to avoid hypothermia

We also went over how to hold a gun and how to prove it before passing it off, which is what Bonnie is doing here.

Proving a firearm

It was very interesting to see the young children holding the firearms, especially when the firearm is bigger than them!

child with gun in Montana

We also went over the four shooting positions: prone, sitting, kneeling, standing.  Here is a young boy in the kneeling position, taking aim.

Kneeling position firearm

On Wednesday a game warden came in to discuss some of the regulations with us. She was very informative and I learned a lot of rules I didn’t know. Like the fact it is illegal to shoot from a road!

Game Warden Montana

On Friday we took the written test. There were about 80 questions we needed to answer, multiple choice, true and false, and we had to write out the four hunting rules. I got a 96%. Yes, I missed a few questions!

Saturday was the big day though. It was the field day, where we went through different stations learning about hunting. We had to dress in hunters orange (by law) and carry around an unloaded weapon to show we knew how to handle it safely.

Hunting field Day Montana

The first station was about where to shoot, tracking a shot animal (following the blood), and then learning to tag it. This station was with the best instructors ever (our instructors), George and Bonnie.

George and tagging

The next station was about the animals we would hunt. There were a lot of furs to show us the difference and how they look.

Animal furs Montana

The instructor here went over the difference between grizzlies and black bears, and a bit about which animals we could shoot, what needed tags, and what was edible or not.  Well, all of it is edible, just not all of the meat may taste good!

Bears in Montana

The bear paws were very interesting as well. Grizzlies have huge claws which aren’t good for climbing, unlike the black bears.  You can also drive a straight line through a black bears print, unlike a grizzlies, which is more curved.

Black bear vs grizzly paws

We also went over animal horns and antlers, etc. It was all very interesting!

Animal skulls

The next station, which I have no pictures for, was the shooting station. Yep, we got to shoot .22 rifles, in all 4 positions. My favorite? The sitting position!

Afterwards, we moved on to the truck/rancher station. This was very interesting.

First, we learned how to load a gun into a truck safely. Making sure the muzzle was always pointed in a safe direction (aka, not at somebody).  The rancher station was the best though.

How it works in Montana is that state land anybody can hunt on. Private land, you have to ask permission. So there was an instructor being a grumpy old rancher whose land we want to hunt on.

It was great to watch the kids try to ask him to hunt, and him giving them a hard time. The main points? Be kind, be persistent, and explain to him you are helping manage animals. Oh, and being adorable never hurts!

The very last station was the one I was most nervous about. Shot gun station! Now I’ve never shot a shotgun before, and we were aiming at clay pigeons flying through the air!

Shot gun station Montana

As the children went before me and missed every single clay pigeon, I was feeling more confident that if I missed, I wouldn’t look like a complete fool. But, I must have had some beginners luck because I got my first two clay pigeons out of the three, woot!

And guess what. I passed the course!

Hilary the hunter

Now, apparently hunting is a big controversial here in Montana.

So a small disclaimer.

I don’t like hurting animals. But I do like meat. And I respect animals enough to let them roam free.  I use all the meat, I don’t hunt for sport, I think it is only fair to hunt if I do eat meat, it is extremely organic, and it is a part of the circle of life.

I’m a big tree hug-er, and I like to hunt.


St. Patrick’s Day in Butte, Montana

Wow, my very first St Patrick’s Day in the United States over 21.

Time to get crazy!

So in Montana, the place to be on St. Patrick’s Day is Butte.

So Butte we headed!

First off, for St Patrick’s Day you have to dress the part. Right down to your toes.

St Patrick's Day shoes

We got there at about 4pm, and the party was already way under way. So underway that the whiskey was already out and about!

Whiskey at 4

And the trash cans were already full… of beer cans!

St Patty Days trash

Our first stop was.. The Dublin! Guess what. It’s an Irish pub!

Dublin an Irish Pub in Butte

It was loud, dark, and packed with green inside.

The Dublin in Butte

Pretty fun party, but, no beer on tap! What? They apparently they didn’t have time for tapped beer. Lame. We grabbed a Guinness and then left.  Yep, St Patrick’s Day in Butte is the one day you can drink on the street!  And there were plenty people on the street!

Crowded streets

Next we headed to a place where I could get some good beer on tap (yes, I’m a beer snob!)

Bozemaniac with beer

And where was this? At the Quarry Brewery!

The Quarry Brewing

They dig beer! And this place wasn’t lacking in St Patrick’s Day festivities!  There were lots of green tutus…

green tutu

And crazy green heads floating around in the crowd…

Green heads

And of course drunk Americans signing the national anthem (because that is so Irish!) while standing on tables!

Drunk Americans

One of my favorite parts was an American tradition I hadn’t had for more than a decade. The jello shot.

Jello shot

What fun! I took that shot like an expert. And boy was it strong!

Hilary taking a jello shot

Unfortunately we were only allowed 3 beers, so off we were to the next stop. But wait, what happened here?  It’s not a party until your cheap heel breaks!

Broken heel on St Patricks' Day

That’s ok, I wasn’t angry. I was as cool as a cowboy!

Cowboy cool

No worries! It was time to head back to the street. It was getting dark but the party was just started.

Butte at night

We, however, are old and tired bunch, so we headed home. It was definitely an experience! I’m so glad I had my favorite Bozeman MT photographer with me to take fabulous pictures, and a great DD! Thanks guys for an amazing time!

Ashley and Kyle

A night at the Filler

On Saturday night I had the chance to go to the Filler for some live music, beer, friends and fun! It was my first time at the Filler and my first time at a type of bar like this!

Hilary at the Filler

I have to say I was a bit nervous going. The Filling Station isn’t known as being a posh bar. However I felt completely at home. It felt like a pub, where there are regulars.

A regular

On Saturday four local bands were playing live on stage. This included Tempest and Beneath the Kraken!


The bar itself was great. The front area consisted of the bar and pool, while the back had room for a band and a dance floor. I wish more people would have danced, I guess I was the only weird one!

The Filler is never boring. It is one of those bars that has tons of things hanging on the walls (mostly license plates).

The Filler inside

They had some other cool things that I thought no longer existed. Like a cigarette machine!

Cigarette machine

And a pay phone! Remember those?

Pay Phone

Its funny, I’m not as cool as I once was, by 11 I was tired and ready to go. So once again I missed Beneath the Kraken playing live!

Luckily my dear friend Ashley, who is an amazing Bozeman photographer, was there to take some amazing shots of this band!

Beneath the kraken

The lead guitarist was also decked out is some weird Americana outfit. Now I really wish I was there!

Lead guitar Beneath the Kraken

All in all it was an amazing night, and an amazing place, especially if you like real bars.  I know I will look forward to the next time I can go to the Filling Station in Bozeman, whether it is for live music or just some good company and beer!

Deep in conversation at the Filling Station

Hair and Art in Bozeman

So Bozeman, Montana does something I think is super cool. A lot of local shops, such as coffee shops, restaurants and the like, have local artists displaying in their stores.

The other night we headed to Theory Hair Salon on N. Wallace in Bozeman for Kelsey Dzintars‘ art opening. While it was a hair salon, it didn’t seem like your typical hair salon at all.

Theory Hair Salon

Its open and artistic and felt like a perfect place for some vibrant art from Kelsey (while I don’t know Kelsey I’ve decided her art is so cool I should be on a first name basis with her. Now I am.)

Kelsey Dzintars synesthesia

Celeste Johnson is the friendly, outgoing and all around awesome stylist who showed us around and talked about her first few amazing months at Theory Hair Salon and how much she loved it.

Celeste Johnson stylist

It wasn’t long before the party was really starting, and with live music, and yummy treats, there was no reason not to visit this art opening!

Theory Hair Salon

While I didn’t get my hair cut at Theory Hair Salon, I was well impressed with their inspiration wall.

Inspiration Wall

If you are wanting an inspiring, ultra cool hair cut, I recommend you give Celeste a call at (406) 586 3198. She will rock your world.


Mardi Gras in Bozeman

So Tuesday was Mardi Gras in Bozeman, and they were doing a fun pub crawl! It was a great chance for me to see the downtown, get to know some friends, and a chance to win $1000 in downtown bucks!

Mardi Gras Bozeman 2012

There were nine pubs and bars in Bozeman participating. Get a stamp at all of them, and be entered in the drawing. There was also some beads along the way (no shirt lifting necessary).

The first stop on the tour, and one of my favorites, was the Bacchus Pub.

The Bacchus in Bozeman

This Bacchus guy is the Greek God of wine. The stain glass use to be window pieces of the hotel that once stood here. Now he resides over the bar.  They also had very cool heads on the wall.

Head in Bacchus bar

This was a great start to a fun night. Next up was The Crystal. Another great Americana bar!

The Crystal in Bozeman

The bar was pretty empty, but still early (7pm) for a Tuesday night in Bozeman, Montana. This bar was really fun because of all of the decorations!

The Crystal decoration

Even included some bras on the wall :)  Unfortunately the beers were already catching up with me and the picture I took was blurry. No worries! On to the next bar, which was Santa Fe Red, a bar with a Mexican theme.  I ran into some Bozemaniacs who were all decked out for Mardi Gras. So decked out I could barely take a picture!

Bozemaniacs dressed up for Mardi Gras

Soon my wonderful friend and fellow Bozemaniac, Ashley Stevick joined the party.

Hilary and Ashley

A professional photographer in Bozeman, she kicked my crappy iPhone4s photo’s butt.  And that also means there were more photos of me!  This one is at American Legion.

Hilary bar hopping in Bozeman

Pub 317 (which is St Patrick’s Day) was our next stop. Ashley took some more amazing pictures!


American Legion stop

This one had some live music, but we needed to move on. Only one hour left and two more stamps needed to complete the full bar crawl!  We decided to run into one bar that was more like a club for a stamp, and headed to our last stop, The Eagle’s Club.  Here was a great American bar, with a great American band.

Bands in Bozeman

And we ran into the dressed up Bozemaniacs who were having a blast on the dance floor!

Dancing Bozemaniacs

Dancing Americans

I have to say I love the fact that these Americans dressed up for Mardi Gras. I forgot how we can just dress up for anything! Next year I will be wearing a much more festive outfit :)

All in all it was a great night, a great way to get to know Bozeman, Montana, and the hang over was not bad the next day! Yay water!


Antique Shopping in Bozeman

Old CansYesterday we were on a mission for something to go above the TV.

So where do Californians who are trying to be country go?

Antique shopping of course!

Bozeman has a great Antique Trail, with 10 different antique shops.

Luckily we didn’t have to go to all of them, as two were large and right next to each other.

Antique shopping is cool, I love old stuff. But it is interesting what is considered antique or not.

In Europe, like Sweden and the Czech Republic, this stuff is junk. Antique shopping is REALLY old. Like 100s of years old.

Antique Shopping

Antique shopping in the United States, or at least Bozeman, seems to be many things in Europe that would just be at a pawn shop and considered cheap.

Antique tools

So basically you just put a higher price tag on it, and it becomes antique! Maybe I should open an antique shop…

In any case, there is something very unique about antique shopping in Bozeman…

Stuffed roosters

I have never seen a stuffed rooster before, let alone two!  There was also a very cowboy and Indian feel to it, but that is all over Bozeman.


And, while this thing looked cool, I didn’t really know what it was. Some kind of stove? Any guesses?

weird stove?

In the end we found what we were looking for, giving the house an even more country look (or at least the look of trying to be country).

cow skull

Well worth it! Well, maybe not worth the price tag on that one. I don’t think antique shopping is for me just yet. But I could spend hours and hours taking pictures of old things!

Antique Shopping

And there are some cheaper deals.  Also, a tip on antique shopping in Bozeman. Ask for a discount! If they can, usually they will knock off 10%.


This is What I Woke Up to This Morning

Bozeman Montana, Heaven on Earth