'Upland From Nowhere'


 "Thought I’d share this pair of videos with you, part of a series of short films sponsored by the state and highlighting various aspects of Montana life and culture—including bird hunting!” This note reached us at our Facebook page last week from Missoula-based author Malcolm Brooks.

 We checked out the videos—“Upland From Nowhere, Parts 1 & 2”—and liked them a lot, which is why we’re sharing them here. Above is a still capture from “Part 2, Silvertip Creek,” featuring Brooks chasing chukar and rabbits in the landscape that inspired his debut novel, Painted Horses. “Part 1, Rosebud Battlefield,” is here. If you’ve ever been chukar hunting in rimrock country or walked an endless rolling grassland sea seeking sharp-tailed grouse, these scenes will bring you back to those places and make you wish you had a plan to visit again soon.

 Nice work from the video storytellers at Epic Montana, aided by a Big Sky Film Grant from the Montana Film Office. Topics on their YouTube channel include bird and big-game hunting as well as trout fishing, backcountry skiing and more from Montana’s truly epic outdoors. They have a strong literary leaning, with readings from the state’s legion of writers as the heart of their soundtrack: essays put to film. “Part 2, Silvertip Creek” includes Brooks reading from his novel on that inspiring landscape. If you’re expecting the typical hunt-video narration, the prose of the written word will jump out at you: This is not like that.

 There’s much that is authentic wild-bird hunting here. Brooks breaks open a British boxlock and drops in a pair of shells from an Italian brand recognizable to many double-gun fans. He breaks it open again for the delicate dance that is a high-step crossing of a barbed-wire fence, and he takes rabbits just as willingly when the landscape provides them.

 Painted Horses was named to Amazon’s Best Debuts of 2014 list and is described by publisher Grove Atlantic as “Reminiscent of the work of Wallace Stegner, Thomas McGuane, and Annie Proulx.”

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