The Fire Still Burns: A Life of Trail Talk and Contrary Opinions
Old Nero, the biggest grizzly of the Chilcotin; Siberia, the too-friendly black wolf; and Lucky, the not-so-lucky guide are some of the characters in Chilco Choate's latest collection of yarns and pithy observations from BC's backcountry. Changing some names to protect the guilty, he skewers the once-a-year hunters who, stricken by "buck fever," blast away like they're at a target range then wonder why their guide won't take them out after big game. This long-time hunter also reveals how he's maybe softening with age, enjoying time in the bush as much with a camera as with a gun and sometimes cheering on the prey instead of the predator. There are tried-and-true packing tips for readers planning their own expedition to the backcountry, a discussion of fire power, and culinary ideas sure to whet the appetite of a trail-weary traveller, as well as a few yarns about memorable bush-camp meals that maybe weren't quite so tasty. There are also close encounters with wolves and cougars, and fascinating details on the lives and behaviour of some of BC's most revered critters.
For a change of pace, Chilco describes a winter he spent away from his beloved Chilcotin, feeding herds of elk in the East Kootenay. This gives him a chance to examine the resource-use plans too often dictated by ranchers and foresters who turn a blind eye to conservation and the rights of the wildlife that was on the range first. Chilco Choate first came to the Chilcotin in 1952 to try cowboying. Enticed by the lure of the great plateau, he was soon leading both seasoned hunters and hesitant dudes through the back country by day and spinning campfire stories by night. Chilco's previous book for Heritage House, Born for the Wild Country, tells of his early years, hunting and playing hooky along the Nicomekl River near White Rock, BC. In Unfriendly Neighbours, his first book, he describes his volatile relationship with the Gang Ranch.