Two years ago, I once again took up watching the old TV series Little House on the Prairie. When I first saw it as a child in black-and-white, the program spawned fantasies of living in the wilderness.
But I lived in Los Angeles, and remained there for almost thirty years, until my wife and I moved to Garden Valley in 2012. No sooner did I realize we would relocate to the mountains of Idaho than I started watching that old show again, as if it would prepare me mentally for the change of habitat and the cultural shock I was about to experience.
Nowadays, I often find myself going alone into the wilderness, and have learned to cherish this solitude, although I realize it can be dangerous at times. Some places are accessible only by ATV or motorcycle, unless you have a horse, and on those occasions even my dog can’t come along. I now do some of the same things the children on the show did, such as going fishing alone at a creek with a lunch sack and sometimes with the dog. I had never fished in my life and, to my surprise, I caught two trout the first time I tried. Continue reading →
Kidd Youren was on a horse with his dad the day after his birth, and claims he’s been an outfitter ever since. Garden Valley’s peaks, peaceful fields, the South Fork of the Payette River and nearby natural hot springs provided an ample playground in his youth. His grandpa did some casual guiding and ran some cows, his great uncle outfitted, and his dad turned it into a full-on business. When Kidd was asked at age eight what he wanted to do for a living, he talked with his dad, who said the answer was easy. Choose something you like and find a way to get paid for it.
“I want to do what you do,” he said.
But that didn’t include giving an interview on the location of a “docu-soap” TV series, the first reality-based show to be filmed in Idaho backcountry. Kidd stars as one of three featured Idaho outfitting families in the series, including the Yourens, Bullocks, and Korells. My visit to the set outside Garden Valley had been arranged by truTV, which broadcasts the show.
“I‘ve been through plenty,” the dark-haired and sun-tanned Kidd said with a grin. As a youth, he team-roped and rode broncs and bulls between hunting seasons. When he was a high school senior competing at the Silver State International, the last bull he rode smacked him in the side of the face, shattering an eye socket, his nose, knocking out teeth, and displacing sinuses. Still conscious, he made it out of the arena and back to his host’s house before realizing he had a serious concussion and “sort of passed out.”
He has lived in Nevada and Canada, but ultimately returned to Idaho. His friends went to college or got their own places, but Kidd used his savings to put a down payment on an Idaho hunting area. He passed the state test with a near-perfect score and became the youngest licensed outfitter in the state. Continue reading →
The flurries falling on my head made me feel like dancing in the snow. I looked up to feel them on my face, and the sight struck me as surreal.
I was as excited as a kid, because at forty-six years old, I was experiencing my first snowfall. This was in late autumn of 2013, out by Alder Creek in Garden Valley, where winter’s show was being preceded by fall colors. I had stopped the car because two elk were in the middle of the road.
It wasn’t long after this experience that the challenges of driving in winter conditions led to trouble. Continue reading →
I had lost count of how many days we had eaten lentils and rice. The fire building duty that morning was assigned to a boy I’ll call John, a resident of Project Patch who struggled with self-confidence.
The assistant director of the boys’ dorm, Wes Smith, explained to me that when a young man built a fire, it also helped to build his sense of self. I had recently joined the direct care staff of this non-profit ranch for at-risk youth in Garden Valley and had plenty to learn in my own right—but it was taking John a long while to get the fire started. Continue reading →