Barry Moore shrugs off the suggestion that he may have one last chance to hunt antelope this fall before he dies.
“Oh, I’m not looking for that long,” Moore said as he sat on the edge of his bed, tubes running to his nostrils from a humming oxygen machine. “If the good Lord lets me see another day, I’m happy.”
But other terminally ill people like Moore may have a final shot at hunting antelope thanks to the work of Mary Gilluly and Rep. Doug Kary, R-Billings, who were motivated by Moore’s situation. Gilluly, who was Moore’s social-services director at Ponderosa Pines Healthcare in Lockwood, urged Kary to carry legislation this session that was signed into law in late March. The bill allows hunters with a short lease on life to purchase an antelope tag. Typically, antelope tags are only awarded through a drawing.
“I think it’s an example of government working as it should,” said Terese Buckley-Fehringer, Moore’s hospice worker. “I think this illustrates the power of one voice — people like Mary. It begins with that one face that moves you.”
Gilluly said she was proud to push the legislation on Moore’s behalf.
“I’m really happy for him. He was pretty excited when I called to tell him the bill had passed,” said Gilluly, who no longer works at the home. “I felt really privileged to be a part of that process. We just got such fantastic legislative support.”
Defying the odds
Moore, 70, wasn’t expected to live more than six months when he checked into the Pines last April. Long an avid hunter, angler and trapper, he talked about his past to Gilluly, who vowed to take him hunting one last time.
She made sure he filled out his drawing paperwork, even drove him to the Fish, Wildlife and Parks office, but unfortunately for Moore, last fall he didn’t draw an antelope tag in his usual hunting area.
“Of all the years that I put in for special licenses and didn’t get one, I’d say ‘There’s always next year,’” Moore said. “Then all of a sudden you get slapped in the face and there isn’t next year.”
Although FWP officials offered to get him a doe antelope tag in another district, Moore was limited by how far he could travel because of his disease — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD — which leaves him short of breath and tied to an oxygen bottle.
“This has been his life’s blood, it’s who he is,” said Buckley-Fehringer. “It’s where his spirituality is based. And when things go wrong, that’s what he turns to.”
Gilluly took up Moore’s cause, writing legislators, calling officials and even congressmen, but to no avail.
“That little lady is a bulldog,” Moore said.
The Gazette published a story on the situation. A friend of Moore’s daughter read the article and contacted her. Moore’s daughter, Kimberley Dawn, phoned her father from Texas, reconnecting the two, who had drifted apart.
“That was an amazing thing,” Buckley-Fehringer said. “It was just a good thing on so many fronts.”
Unable to work out a solution to the antelope hunt, Gilluly instead promised to take Moore deer hunting. At the time, it was questionable if he’d live to see the opening of the deer season. But he did, and filled his tag with one shot, dropping a mule deer doe while hunting on the same Pryor Creek ranch he’d stalked across for the past 36 years.
“I wanted something to eat, not for show,” Moore said.
Surprising his doctors perhaps, and certainly himself, Moore lives on, although his health is precarious. He said he has good days and bad days. Each morning that he can wake up and look out the window from his bed, he says a prayer and reads his devotional, which sits on his nightstand next to an Outdoor Life magazine.
“I was talking to his sister, and his health has improved so much that he may be the first guy to benefit from the new law,” Gilluly said.
Rep. Kary said he plans to present a copy of the bill to Moore, along with a photo of Gov. Brian Schweitzer signing the measure. He praises Gilluly’s activism and said he’s received a couple of offers from outfitters to take Moore hunting.
Moore is pleased that other hunters looking for a final antelope hunting outing will have an option.
“If one person gets in my position and the law helps them — just one sportsman — it was worth all of the trouble Mary went through,” Moore said.
Five framed color photos of the deer hunt he went on with Gilluly and two other Ponderosa Pines employees hang on the wall above Moore’s bed.
“Here I am yet,” Moore said.