By Matt B. Walen
I, like most red-blooded Americans, have a major dislike for the nasty mosquito.
I understand that the buggy little bloodsucker is an important part of the food chain. Without this flying leech our whole ecological society to be knocked out of whack.
So the next time you feel the sting of a mosquito dining on a couple of drops of your freshly squeezed O negative blood, dont be so quick to pull the trigger of that slap that ends the brief life of a major player in the food chain of life.
I have been a familiar foe of the floating draculas after spending days in the alfalfa fields in Blaine County.
I spent many weekends back in the 1980s working on my uncles farm near Chinook. The farm operation, located right near the mighty Milk River (also known as the mosquito coast), includes a major haying operation.
Hours of labor went into preparing the hay for baling, the actual baling and then we had to pick up the hundreds of bales. All the while we would battle the hordes of dive-bombing mosquitoes. It seemed like I couldnt put enough repellent on to make a difference.
The worst part about working in the alfalfa fields wasnt the billions of mosquitoes flying every where.
It was their size.
These were some of the largest mosquitoes I had ever seen. I would kill one on my bare arm and the leftover blood and dead mosquito mash would leave large marks everywhere.
But it was important to get the work done despite the blood loss.
The only reasons I bring this fact up about the mosquitoes is because I recently played in the first-ever Shanty Bar 18-hole scramble golf tournament held at the Chinook golf course. The scramble format allows a players partners to play the best shot, which allows everyone an opportunity.
I usually dust off the clubs once a year and shoot nine holes at the Beaver Creek golf course with some friends. Im not much of a golfer, more like a duffer or a hacker, but I still enjoy the game.
I had never journeyed eastward to the Chinook nine-hole course because of my fear of the mosquitoes. I had also heard the course had sand greens and didnt look forward to putting on dirt.
When we arrived via a rented bus early that Saturday morning, I was pleasantly surprised by the incredible view to the southwest of the foothills of the Bear Paws.
The course was fun to play and the sand greens had been replaced with grass greens which made for easier putting although you wouldnt be able to tell that by looking at my putting record.
All of the golfers couldnt have asked for a better day to golf. The sun was out, but there were just enough clouds to keep the pounding heat rays at bay for most of the day. There was also a small breeze, a rarity for northcentral Montana, that helped keep us cool from all of the heated play.
But the greatest surprise was that the course had been sprayed for the mosquito invasion earlier and not one of the bedeviled creatures could be found. Well, the mosquitoes werent a problem for the first six hours of golfing at least.
The four-member scramble tournament was a blast! The scramble tournament format allows people to enjoy a great game of golf and have a tremendous amount of fun at the same time.
There werent any hole-in-ones to report, but there were many great shots that could have made any plays of the day portion of Sports Center. I managed to display a little golfing expertise now and then even though I use womens clubs. I may eventually buy some mens clubs if I ever get serious about the game.
The other players were good company, the barbecue fare was excellent and of course there was plenty of my favorite beverage available for consumption. The lizards would be proud of my selection.
Im looking forward to next years event and hopefully will be able to attend many of the annual events.