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Reflections on Wyoming

While living in Wyoming for 15 plus years, I learned to hate the wind. Everything else I loved about the state. I hated the wind. At the least it inconveniences you when a "slight breeze" blows your hat off, and you have to go chasing it. At the worst, the winters chill you to the bone, and the wind rips through as many layers of clothing as you want to put on. When there is the rare calm (wind free) day, 30 degrees feels warm, because there is no wind chill.

But I am coming to realize that there is much that I miss about Wyoming - especially after living in Texas and Oklahoma for the past year. The amount of public land that is available in Wyoming. Land for hiking, camping, hunting, whatever.

I wasn't in Texas long enough to take advantage of any hunting seasons, although if someone gave me the opportunity to hunt Axis deer, or wild hogs I would have happily gone along. There wasn't even any public area where you could go to target practice or target shoot if you wanted to, unless you happened to own your own land where the neighbors wouldn't get nervous from hearing gunshots in the distance. I was also finding out that any huntable land was privately owned acerage where one had to pay a rancher a fee for access.

Now in Oklahoma, it seems like I've been running into the same thing. I haven't been asking about hunting much, because of current circumstances, but I've already heard a few clues that tells me that Okalahoma is pretty similar to Texas. There are more questions that I need to ask, but for the time being I'm going to have to let it go.

In Wyoming, I was only 45 minutes from a National Forest. I have camped at a National Historic landmark with the Boy Scouts, only 10 minutes from my home. I have hiked, with those same Boy Scouts at 10,000 feet above sea level on an overnight camp out. We also chased live chickens up there but that is another story. Our family has camped on a BLM owned lake, only 10 minutes from our home.

I keep track of wildlife and hunting conditions in Wyoming, because I still have a fondness in my heart for the state - I was learning to hunt there. I am running this web site (Pronghorn Pride), so I have to keep in touch. I am still keenly aware of the status of Mule Deer, Elk and Pronghorn. And out of the magazines that deal with hunting, I prefer the ones that I have already subscribed to in the past, because they emphasize Western style hunting. (I still don't understand the hunters down here, and their affinity for tree stands. Where is the skill in parking your stand above a feeder?)

People have asked me why I don't fish. I don't fish because I can't stand being on the shore with a pole, waiting for the stupid fish to bite. I know there is fly fishing, but although your arms are moving, you're still in hip waders standing in a river. I'd much rather expend my energy hiking over hillsides looking for a nice buck or bull.

I have had the most fun stalking a herd of antelope over the hills and gullies of the open prairie with my sons. Even if we spooked the herd and had to find another, that was all part of the game. You just get back in the truck and look for another herd, and hope you can get close enough for a shot. I've sat on the edge of an elk trail, with a son only a few yards away, waiting for an elk to amble by, when my friend who brought us there is back at our trucks with his daughter, playing with the elk call, managing to call in a four-by-four bull - and they had no gun.

I suppose there are states that have as much opportunity as Wyoming does, but I haven't been there - except for Montana. (But everyone wants to go there to hunt the Missouri Breaks.) Even with the wind, I would go back. Wyoming is a state rich with outdoor opportunities that are second to none.