A Storyby Rick Bass
Galena Tom Ontz has two girlfriends and a key to Canada. It’s the best hunting in North America, up the road, past the entry gate, where he has this key. The tiny dirt road going into Canada hugs a mountain face on one side, and the sheerest of cliffs on the other. Driving it, if you dare, you can look down and see the nauseating white spills of rapids in the Moyie River. There’s not a dead-end sign or anything to warn when you first get on this road, and you follow it straight up the mountain, around a few bends, then—as if climbing into the clouds—always, you keep going up, and the smart people who somehow find themselves on this road will stop and park, and get out and walk, if they want to see what’s ahead (no place to turn around: you have to suck in your breath and back down, stopping to throw up sometimes—the jeep, or truck, slides when you tap the brakes, rolls on the loose gravel, acts as if it’s going to take you over the edge and into space beyond; sometimes it does, and you can see wreckage on the rocks below). But Galena Tom guns his old black truck up the road without a care, and when he gets to the heavy crossbar gate with the padlock on it, no sign differentiating the United States from Canada, just a gate, he gets out and opens it with his key, and we drive through, and then he gets out again and locks it behind us, and we’ve left northern Idaho and are in a new country, pioneers, it seems, hunting in a country that has never been hunted.