Most MKs at some time or another are asked what’s the funniest thing that has happened to them while on the deputation road. Whenever I’m asked that question, I know exactly the story to tell. It takes place in the beautiful state of Montana in late October. My family and I were basing out of Helena, Montana while in the state. While we were there, we became good friends with the pastor of the church we were visiting. Now, there are two things you need to know about him. One, he, like all men in Montana, is an avid outdoorsman. Second, he is about as ornery as the day is long.

In Montana, elk season is more of a religious practice than a hobby. Everyone goes to bag an elk for the winter. While we were there, we were invited to a hunting camp in the mountains. It was about an hour’s ride on four-wheelers to get to the top of this mountain where the camp was. We arrived a few hours early so we could get settled before hunting. When the time came to go find a spot to hunt, I decided to stay at the camp. I did this for two reasons. One, Montana is ridiculously cold and I decided to keep the large fire at the camp going, and two, to hunt an elk one must hike several miles into the woods, then sit and wait for some hours in the hopes that an elk will come into gun range. If you do kill an elk, you then have to drag the large animal back to camp. Needless to say, I am not a fan of sitting and waiting.

So, to pass the time at camp by myself, I started chopping wood and putting it into the fire. As the hours passed, the sun set, but the clearing that the camp was in was still dimly lit by the fire. I had just sat down by the fire to soak in the warmth from it when I heard something rustling in the woods just outside of the light. I shot up instantly and turned to see what had made the noise. I had been told that there were grizzlies and mountain lions in the mountains, so I thought maybe that one of the two was what had been making the noise.

There were no guns left in the camp, so I picked up the axe I had used to chop the wood. I called out into the dark hoping that it was one of the hunters, but what came in response was an animal snarl. I backed towards the fire and brought the axe up across my chest and waited. Then there came something that I wasn’t expecting….Laughter. I could hardly believe my ears, someone was laughing. Then into the clearing came our pastor friend laughing as if he had heard an amazing joke. Then it hit me, I had been pranked. I was furious and relieved at the same time. Angry because I had been played a fool. Relieved because I didn’t particularly like my chances against a mountain lion with just an axe.

Gabe Long, MK to Madagascar