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Responsible Family Men Author: Mark Seacat

502 miles

20 hours and 53 minutes roundtrip

33 Gallons of Unleaded

7 Red Bulls, 4 Gas Station Coffees

3 awesome Antelope Bucks and 3 great friends

You’d be hard-pressed to walk down Main Street in Bozeman without passing someone who’s already harvested a great bull this season, or someone capable of climbing the many WI 5’s just south of town in Hyalite Canyon. People push it hard here no matter what their activity.

The recent addition of my son West to the Seacat family has definitely made me respect the virtue of being home, so my trips this season have been shorter and more intense. It’s not just me anymore. I’m a FAMILY MAN, and time with my family is more valuable and more important than ever.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t still get out and CRUSH IT. I just have to be more creative. Even as I type this, I’m two weeks late telling you the story. West had Katie and I up at 2:00 this morning, and I couldn’t get back to sleep… now 3:51 a.m., I’m in front of my computer at the office. I fit my work hours in WHENEVER I can.

I’ve long been motivated by the great climbers who’ve called Montana home. I’ve logged many cold winter days up in Hyalite Canyon, just south of Bozeman, climbing its unbelievable ice flows. On our drive home from Eastern Montana, somewhere between Judith Gap and Harlowton, my friend Chris Awe said we had become “Responsible Family Men,” and my mind immediately drifted to Alex Lowe.

Alex Lowe was arguably Bozeman’s finest alpinist. He too was a family man, but he never slowed down. Even now, more than ten years since his death, he’s still motivating me. As a dad, he made a mission-style first ascent of an impossibly steep formation of ice columns in Hyalite: waking early, lots of coffee, a pre-dawn approach, a lightening ascent, and a rushed trip back to his home and family in Bozeman. He named that area test-piece “Responsible Family Men.”

Our antelope adventure was spun from the same cord. For us, the times have changed. We too have become Responsible Family Men.

I knew from the get-go that we’d have to make this hunt a mission. With a growing business, a growing little man, and lots to do at home, time is at a premium. Normally, my annual Eastern Montana Antelope hunt is a 3-4 day adventure, one always shared with my father. But another tough winter in eastern Montana led to decreasing antelope numbers, which meant fewer tags for our hunting district. Two years ago there were 14,000, last year there were 9,000, and this year, a scant 6,600. For the first time in more than 30 years, my dad didn’t draw a tag. So no “Scott Seacat” plush camp this season, no steaks on the grill, no cots under a huge tent, no late nights by lantern light reliving the day’s adventures. And for the first time, no great fatherly companionship.

This year’s hunt, however, would be shared with a couple of great friends. Les Hausauer is the GM at Schnees/Powderhorn here in Bozeman, and we have shared some wild days in the hills chasing elk and deer, but this would be our first antelope hunt together.

Fellow Sitka Athlete Chris Awe and I always put as many days in the field together each fall as we can get away with. Chris is also a new father to his son Rowan, so the need to make this a quick turnaround was shared. I’ve been hounding Awe for a few seasons, telling him he needed to experience hunting antelope. Finally he had relented to my pestering.

We settled on leaving my house at midnight Tuesday with two goals in mind:

1. Get three bucks.

2. Make it back in less than 24 hours.

My garage door shut in front of us at 11:56 p.m. and opened again at 8:52 p.m. the following day.

A true “Alpine Style” mission had been experienced.

-Mark Seacat

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