‘Spirit of a Mountain Man’ Award-Winning Video
Russ Chastain 12.27.18
Billy Molls made this 14-minute video to tell a story of his grandfather and the effect he had on Billy’s life. His grandpa quit school after the 8th grade so he could go to work farming. He hunted and trapped whenever he could, and during the winter he lit out for the back woods of Wisconsin to spend the cold months living off whatever game he could trap or shoot.
The film begins by telling us that every family was poor back then… but it’s clear that his grandfather was not needy. No poor person has ever been as well-dressed as he was in many of these photos, nor could a poor man afford to have his outdoor exploits documented on camera. But the photos are nonetheless valuable, as they help illustrate a lifestyle of wilderness survival which was lived out by many more folks than just this one.
Billy began trapping with his grandpa at a young age, learning from an old man who said very little while allowing his actions to speak volumes. But he said enough while fleshing a beaver hide in his basement to inspire his grandson to head for the wilderness of Alaska to pursue a life based on harvesting nature’s bounty.
Billy Molls has been enthralled by nature since birth. A lifelong hunter, 20-year Alaskan hunting guide, and renowned story, Billy shares a deeply personal and moving short film which was chosen as a “Top Ten” selection out of hundreds of films in the 2015 Outdoor Film Festival.
After concisely telling the story of his grandfather’s inspirational words, he succinctly describes his beginning in the Alaskan wilderness and the life he chooses to live out there.
In a strange way, I don’t feel alone at all. Everything that’s important to your life floods to the forefront in just a matter of seconds. All the negatives in life are gone for me right now.
The movie itself is made in such a way that it’s fairly a masterpiece of storytelling. After he describes his roots and the gist of living in the boonies for 4 months per year, he portrays the culmination of guided big game hunts by showing scene after scene of pre-shot tension, as he coaches clients on when and where to shoot — or not — their game animal of a lifetime.
He also tells a tale of the game species he pursues… and provides a reality check to those to revere wild predators such as the wolf.
Cunning and ruthless, I suspect the wolf will be one of the longest-surviving species on our planet… but I fear that, if left unchecked, they will destroy the wildlife resources that we share. In Alaska’s interior, 80% of the moose and caribou that die each year are killed by bears and wolves, and less than 10% are killed by hunters. I for one refuse to reply on a grocery store or a government for my survival. As hunter-conservationists, we must continue to strive toward a sustainable ecological balance.
As he says that last statement, a hunter kills a large wolf.
This next part rings especially true for me, considering my last hunting season… which began poorly with a string of errors and letdowns that seemed to fuel my drive to hunt even more.
The day it becomes automatic is the day hunting loses all meaning. Misses and mistakes keep us returning to wild places just as much as our successes.
His final spoken line sums it all up beautifully:
Take the advice my grandpa gave me: Escape to the wild place that calls you. Experience it. Live in it. Rely on it. And revive the mountain man inside you.
This short film speaks volumes… in less than a quarter-hour.