We were visited by our first robin of the year this week, so spring must be here. At least I think it was our first robin of the year but maybe not. Anyway, it was fun to watch the robin playing in the bird bath. Remember, birds need fresh water to bathe in, especially during the winter. Clean feathers keep their tiny bodies warmer than dirty feathers.

Moving on, a couple of friends and I were discussing this new multimillion dollar relocation of our local district department of Game and Fish operating headquarters. As in, why so much money and couldn’t that money be better spent rebuilding the big game herds in the basin? Not that long ago this basin was a virtual Serengeti of game animals and now, by comparison, it’s a virtual wildlife desert. Can’t blame all of that on CWD, blue tongue or Republicans. Blame it on wolves, maybe – local political influences and game resource mismanagement, definitely.

Regardless, during the conversation, the availability of the original Walmart building came up. If it’s vacant, and maybe even for sale, what better place for Game and Fish to relocate? It’s definitely big enough, with room inside for a shooting range. If that’s not adequate, there’s a public range just a couple of miles north of the city. Why does G&F need a special, separate shooting range? That said, even setting up a separate, private range outside the city limits would probably be way cheaper than current plans.

The old Walmart also has more than adequate parking for employees and visitors. As an added plus it’s in a central location, is next to a Pinnacle bank branch office so license applicants won’t have far to go to arrange loans to pay for big game hunting permit applications, and city utilities won’t need to be extended outside city limits in order to have flush toilets, electric lights, air conditioning and internet. That’s a huge savings of our license money, so why not?

While I’m on an economy kick, what’s going on with our county commish? First they want to eliminate dedicated and longtime county employees working in maintenance at the county courthouse, because we need to trim our budget costs. Then they decide we need to bring in an outside group of “experts” from Bozeman and pay them megabucks to tell us how to use those public lands located inside our county borders.

Just in case you didn’t know, for last couple of couple of decades, Bozeman has been known as “Berkley, Calif., North” due to the liberal oriented, eco reputation of it’s state university located there and an overabundance of transplanted wealthy California liberals living there now. We need their expensive advice like we need a higher sales tax.

But I digress. If this political shell game our commish is playing isn’t trying to reverse our traditional use of public lands and is aimed at shredding any pretense of maintaining a multiple-use doctrine by paying for advice from a “committee” hailing from a state dedicated to and dominated by a decidedly, pro-conversion of public lands to private use politic, I haven’t been reading my mail lately.

Montana aside, I thought doing the legwork and listening to constituents was why we elected and paid the county commish to begin with. Did something change? I’ve found committees are usually composed of so-called experts selected to reflect the existing bias of the seated political majority and not the preferences or opinions of the public at large.

Which, in a round about way, brings me back to guns, freedom and education. Like elections and civic organizations I’ve joined, every firearm I’ve owned has taught me something. Often that lesson has been about what I should not have done. This is especially painful and memorable when one trades a known quantity or superior firearm for an unknown and inferior one. Unfortunately, those lapses in judgement occur when unrealistic expectations and falsely placed trust override previous experiences.

Like with gun show bargains, by the time you discover your screw-up, the dealer is long gone and your check has been cashed. With politicians, you may have a voice in recalling an obviously wrong choice, but outside of a provable criminal case, you’ll usually have to wait until the next election to correct that mistake.

Unfortunately, in too many cases, to quote an old friend, “Voters have short memories.”

Fortunately, most columnists have extensive files.

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