By Chuck Nottingham
Basic counting and calender use are vital to hunters and others using Montana's out-of-doors. Take this simple test to see if you qualify as an outdoor man or woman.
1. When you count to 10, do you stop at 9 and start the next decade with 10?
2. When you count to 100, do you end at 99 and begin the next hundred with 100?
3. Do you really believe the new millennium begins with 2000?
If you answered "yes" to ANY of the above, you may be severely count-challenged and calendar-impaired, so probably should not go into the woods alone.
One last chance. Do you pretend to believe millennium hype about January 1, 2000, just to attend New Millennium parties thrown by those who can't count?
If you answered "yes," then you might enjoy the following outdoor wisdom collected from the 'Net:
Deer and elk cannot read deer- and elk-crossing signs. All Montana roads are deer and elk crossings.
Be prepared to spend most of your Montana vacation on winding mountain roads behind large motor homes.
When using public campgrounds, a tuba placed on your picnic table will keep the campsites on either side vacant.
The guitar of the noisy teenager two campsites over makes excellent kindling.
Potatoes baked in campfire coals for a half hour make a great side dish. Potatoes baked in campfire coals for three hours make great hockey pucks.
If bears raid food from your car, best revenge is to kick over stumps and eat all the ants.
If people around you are wearing sandals with wool socks summer or winter, you are in Missoula and are lost in the street maze. Negotiate the 12-lane snarl called "Malfunction Junction" and drive out in any direction.
Best backpack trails are named for national parks or mountain ranges. Avoid those named for landfills.
Modern rain gear made of fabrics that "breathe" enable outdoor enthusiasts to stay dry in downpours. However, rain gear that sneezes, coughs, or belches adds very little to the wilderness experience.
Two-man pup tents include neither two men nor a pup, and pop tents might just as well contain moms.
The sight of bald eagles has thrilled backpackers for generations. The sight of bald backpackers, however, merely annoys the eagles.
Bear bells and pepper spray provide elements of safety for backpackers in grizzly country. Very often, bear bells in the wild may be found in pepper-scented bear poop.
NO, bears wearing collars are NOT tame.
If those around you say "eh," "shed-yule," and "a-boot," you are in Canada and must surrender all guns, knives, cigarettes, beef, and wheat to people dressed like Boy Scouts.
While Swiss Army Knives have been popular camping tools for years, the Swiss Navy Knife has remained largely unheralded. Its single blade functions as a tiny canoe paddle.
The canoe paddle, a simple tool used to propel water crafts, should never be confused with a gnu paddle, a similar-looking tool used by Tibetan veterinarians.
If people around you say "Ja sure" and "Y'betcha," you have canoed into North Dakota and there is no water, so you must portage.
You'll never be lost if you remember that moss always grows on the north side of your compass.
In emergency situations, you can survive in the wilderness by shooting small game with slingshots made from elastic parts of most underwear. However, be warned double-barreled sports bras are outlawed on BLM lands.
You can duplicate the warmth of a down-filled bedroll by climbing into a plastic garbage bag with several geese.
Lint from your navel makes a handy fire starter. Remove lint from navel before applying the match.
If people around you are shooting at you, you have wandered into northern Idaho and have encountered a supremacists group or BATF agents.
If looking for the New Millennium, it begins promptly Jan. 1, 2001, with or without us.