Thursday, November 3, 2011

20 Questions: Tom Reed

Tom Reed
Tom Reed is one of my best friends on this planet. There might not another man I admire or respect more. He's also a hell of a writer, one whose words speak to the reader from the printed page. His latest book, "Blue Lines," is one for the ages. With colder weather settling in, and the idyllic evenings planned by the fire with a book resting on the table next to the recliner, I'm telling you now, this should be that book.

In addition to being an avid fly fisherman, Tom's a dedicated hunter, and you can read some more of his writing on the blog Mouthful of Feathers, and even more at his website. You'll recognize the prose as both poetic and succinct. Conversational, yet profound. The kind of writing that makes you think to yourself, "Damn... I wish I had written that."

Unfortunately, our friendship is well-steeped in dark liquor, so much of what we've shared over the years has been forgotten, along with the hangovers and the cottonmouth. But we work together, both as colleagues and as friends who love quiet country, away from the clamor of life that exists wherever power lines stretch. It's a low-maintenance friendship, the best kind, in my opinion. It's one of mutual respect, mutual understanding and lots of laughter.

For perspective, Tom's the first guy I think of whenever I hear a new joke that must be shared. It's reciprocal. Nobody--nobody--tells a filthy joke quite like Tom Reed.

I hope you'll get to know him a bit here on the blog, and I hope you'll grab a copy of his latest book, where you'll get to know him even better. But I really hope, one day, you'll get to tip a beer with TR and see, first-hand, what a good friend looks like.

Here's to you, buddy. On with the questions:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A crisp October day and a couple friends, good bird dogs and good horses. We’re mounted and riding across the Montana prairie chasing Hungarian partridge over pointing dogs. The dogs go on point, honoring each other perfectly, and one person holds the horses while the other two dismount and walk in on the point. Wait for it . . . wait for it . . . it doesn’t get any better than that.

What is your greatest fear?
Seeing The Exorcist in the theatre when I was like 12 years old or something. That shit took years off my life.

TR admires... TR.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
It’s a toss-up between Aldo Leopold or Theodore Roosevelt. Probably Roosevelt, though. Roosevelt was more of a driver, a trait which I probably have a bit too much of.

Which living person do you most admire?
My Dad, the kindest, most gentle and generous man I’ve ever known.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
The uncanny ability to tie wind-knots when there’s not a whisper of wind.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

On what occasion do you lie?
“I swearp to ghoshthat I haven’t beenk drinmping at all. Reeealy.”

Which living person do you most despise?
Any host of an “outdoor” show.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
The F-word. Yep, that F-word.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Right now, it’s a talented little bird dog named Sage, probably because I just shot a limit of Huns off her points.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d like to be a fiddle player in a bluegrass band.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The Wyoming Range Legacy Act.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
Tom Reed’s bird dog. At least I’d like to be so lucky.

What is your most treasured possession?
A pocket knife that my dad gave me years ago on one of our annual fishing trips to Buford, Colorado, when I was a kid.

Where would you like to live?
Pony, Montana, which is exactly where I’m living.

McCarthy... nice choice.
Who are your favorite writers?
I’m a bibliophile, so this question is tough. Here’s some good ones you’ve probably never heard of: Robert Olmstead, Thomas Savage, Timothy Egan and Charles Portis. But I’d have to say Cormac McCarthy. Or how about this gem from Norman Maclean: "Dear partner, Just to let you know I have screwed a dame that weighs 300 lbs. Your pal, Jim." That’s some funny stuff.

Who are your heroes?
My colleagues at Trout Unlimited. Yeah, I know that sounds corny, but there’s no other group of people I’d rather be around, and no other people so passionate. But my real hero/mentor is a guy named Jim Houston who lives in Silver Star, Montana, is 79 years old and still gets out there to hunt and fish as much as he can.

How would you like to die?
On a September morning in the backcountry at the tottering age of 89: I’ll be working a bugling elk into range of my bow and I’ll just finally blow a valve out of my old heart from the excitement.

What’s on your iPod?
3,299 songs . . . Jackie Greene, Faron Young, Gillian Welch, Gov’t Mule, Ryan Bingham, Steve Earle, Sting, Tom Petty, Tom Russell. Eclectic.

If you were a pet, what would your name be?
Gretchen. I don’t know why, but that’s funny.

BONUS QUESTION:  If there is a Heaven, and you go to Heaven, what would God say to you upon your arrival?
"You’ve got a dozen of Heaven’s best bird dogs up here and they’ve been crapping all over the place just waiting for you and that damned shotgun of yours. But don’t you dare shoot all of my birds, you son of a bitch."


  1. Yes Gary!

    I was just hoping that he might indulge us with one of the many jokes he told in MT, that I can't remember, but still laugh my ass off thinking about...Well done Tom. Cheers!

  2. What kind of soda pop yo man be, yo man be a soda pop!?

  3. Well, it reminds me that TR is one hell of a good guy, and I miss the bastard. Hope our paths cross again soon. Thanks for featuring him, Chris.

  4. I'll have to check out Tom's new book. I've read good things about it.