How to Survive the Big Foot Hunt in Elliston, Montana

bigfoot1You know what would make an Easter egg hunt so much better? Darkness. A slough. A gigantic bonfire. The responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages. And Sasquatch.

So basically, Lawdog’s Saloon in Elliston should plan all Easter egg hunts ever. In that ideal world, here is how to survive:
Eat a hamburger – Oh. My. Goodness. Easily one of the best hamburgers I’ve ever had. Giant square patties on a toasted bun, perfectly juicy and steaming hot. Most definitely worth the wait, and it goes perfectly with a Cold Smoke.

Drink a Local Beer – With your burger. The bar has all sorts of local and national beers, hard alcohol, and special Big Foot shots, but the burger and the atmosphere cry out for a Montana Microbrew.

bigfoot2Bring cash – Nothing is more disappointing than finally getting up to the bar, the registration desk, or the food counter, only to have to turn around and find the ATM. Avoid the ATM fees, avoid leaving the bar without a drink. Be able to tip your servers generously. Bring cash.

Order food early – Imagine a kitchen that usually deals with a few orders at a time dealing with 500 orders all at once. Before the hunt, the wait for food was nearly an hour. This isn’t a problem since you are hanging out waiting for sunset anyway, but you might as well get your order in early to ensure you have enough time to savor every last bite of deliciousness before the hunt gets under way.

Have a DD – You’re headed to the grown-up version of an Easter egg hunt. You’re going to want a Designated Driver. And if you are the Designated Driver, awesome! Lawdog’s gives you free food, and in some ways the hunt is even more hilariously fun when you are sober.

Tip the cooks – Seriously. They’re volunteers, and they are scrambling to get deliciousness into the bellies of hundreds of people who all want their food at exactly the same time. They do a fantastic job and deserve lots of appreciation.

bigfoot3Be nice to the staff – They’re almost all volunteers, and you’re in their town. They do a fantastic job and deserve all sorts of recognition.

Tailgate – Registration closes at 6:00, but the hunt doesn’t get underway until after 8:00. Let’s face it, you’re not going to find a place at the bar, which means you’re going to end up in the parking lot. So find a way to wrap yourself in some blankets and sit down while you enjoy the food and festivities.

Wear boots – This was only the second snowless year, but 500 people tromping around turns snow into mud pretty quick.

Wear appropriate clothing – We laughed at the people who were wearing mechanic’s overalls and muck boots, but when the hunt started and they took off, tearing through the bramble and the mud without pause, we realized how smart they were.

bigfoot4Be ready to fall – you’re running through the woods at night. Even the DD’s trip, fall, and sometimes careen headlong through the willows in search of balloons.

Grab the balloons – There’s one Big Foot, but a bunch of balloons, that are redeemable for all sorts of prizes.

Carpool – For the size of Elliston (tiny) and the number of people (a lot), parking was surprisingly convenient, but it still makes sense to carpool.

Have a strategy – I’m not sure what that strategy should be. Someone found the Big Foot up a tree. That person probably had a strategy. The people who found the Rainier bottles? They probably had a strategy. The people with half a dozen balloons also probably had a strategy (sidebar: few things are funnier than watching mildly intoxicated adults tripping through the bushes with a handful of balloons trailing behind). But I can’t help you with strategy, because whatever strategy we had, it certainly didn’t work.

Have fun – it is a drunken Easter egg hunt in the middle of the night. Who cares if you win? (Is a thing that people who didn’t get balloons say). You’ll go tumbling through the mud and willows. You’ll trip on sticks buried in the grass. You might find yourself standing in a puddle of water. But you’ll love every minute of it.

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