Matriarchs Run Montana: Two Women Living in the Wild

There are many definitions of a strong woman, but these two NRA Women business owners make thriving in the wilderness look easy.

by posted on June 20, 2022
Terri And Autumn

We all have an image in our heads of what a strong woman is. I consider every NRA Woman to be a strong woman. This is because NRA Women are empowered to take charge of their lives and provide for their own safety by exercising their Second Amendment rights.

I consider myself a strong NRA Woman. Like most other strong modern women, I rely upon all the conveniences of a large city. My day-to-day issues include misplacing my smart phone, being stuck in a traffic jam or waiting for hours for a service technician, not facing a grizzly on my way to the mailbox. However, I recently met two incredibly remarkable women that embody the true meaning of strength. A strong woman is independent and able to face any adversity with total resolve, and these ladies have resolve in spades.

I met these two NRA Women in Cooke City, Montana, which is located halfway between somewhere and nowhere in southeast Montana, just past the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Terri owns and operates Big Moose Resort, and her daughter Autumn owns and operates Big Bear Resort. The two resorts sit across from each other, separated by Highway 212. The section of highway where their resorts are located is snowed under for six months out of the year. They must travel to the nearest town by snowmobile, pulling a sled behind them, for supplies. To add to their life of leisure, they often go without electricity for days after a big snowstorm.

Terri and Autumn are the managers, greeters, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and any other job you can think of for their perspective resorts. In addition to those duties, Autumn is the waitress, cook and dishwasher in the restaurant for her guests.

Their situation is hardly unusual in their town. After speaking with them, it is clear that women run things in the Wyoming and Montana wilds! According to Terri and Autumn, women have the biggest say in town, and women tell the men what to do, when to do it and how to do it. They both agree that this is the way it has always been. Perhaps it harkens back to Wyoming being the first state to grant women the right to vote, hold public office and own land.           

Terri and Autumn also adamantly agree that life in their environment would be impossible without firearms. Besides being avid hunters, firearms are essential for their personal and family’s safety. The biggest threats that these women face is the potential for serious bodily injury or death from grizzly bears, black bears, wolves and mountain lions. Of course, they are always keeping an eye out for human predators as well.           

Terri had an encounter with a young grizzly bear that decided to take up residence on her front porch. She first used the preferred method of scaring a bear off, yelling, banging pots and pans together, and throwing things at the unauthorized squatter. The young bear was unimpressed. Terri had to resort to chasing the bear off her porch and down the snow-covered road with her 9 mm pistol, discharging the firearm into the dirt. She recalled that it dawned on her as she was running low on ammunition that she did not have another magazine to reload if the young grizzly decided to turn back on her.

Autumn had to deal with a hungry grizzly bear with terrible table manners busting into her meat shed and stealing parts of elk and other hung-up game. You can still see the grizzly claw and teeth marks on the doors. This multi-night battle ended when Autumn came face to face with the marauder and discharged her firearm over its head, finally scaring it away.

Both women talk of having to deal with wolves and mountain lions throughout the year. Terri said that she often tells her guests not to just blindly walk out the doors of their cabins. She said that danger could be lurking anywhere and at any time. Terri does not take anything for granted and does not let her guard down when dealing with Mother Nature.

I noticed something when Terri and Autumn were telling stories of their close encounters with large wildlife predators in their backyards. They told their stories with a smile and laughter as if it was just another day in the life. It was when they started telling stories of strange encounters with travelers and guests that their expressions became serious.

I asked them if there was a police presence in Cooke City. They laughed simultaneously. They live in an area with minimal law enforcement, no cell service, and spotty, at best, internet service. Their only connection to the outside world is a landline phone when the electricity is not out, or their service is not interrupted due to weather. This is why firearms are essential to their way of life, as there’s no one to call in an emergency.

Terri described her belief in the Constitution and our Second Amendment rights better than any politician, pundit or activist: “I believe in the Constitution—we all have human rights, and they are important—we are all individuals.” She added, “Don’t take away my rights from me, especially my Second Amendment rights, because you don’t understand it!”

These are some of strongest women I have ever met; if you ever make your way to Cooke City, Montana, be sure to stay at one of these resorts. If you are just passing through, stop in and meet them. You will not regret it!

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