Monday, March 7, 2016

Way Off in Wyoming 2-29-2016

Wind River in Wyoming

       Sometimes people ask me if it is hard to write a column each week and I tell them I sometimes wish I could write three or four of them, because of the fascination of what I see in the outdoors almost every day. This is one of those times, because I just got back from a week in Wyoming and I could write a dozen columns about what I saw and experienced.

   We went rabbit hunting! Can you imagine why anyone would go to Wyoming to hunt rabbits? Well for one thing, they are, in so many ways, different creatures than those rabbit we have in the Ozarks. They are smaller, and they have a softer,
down-like fur, very much lighter in color. And the meat is nothing the same! Last night I grilled one,and it was delicious, white like moist chicken breast, while our rabbits are darker meat.

But mostly, the cottontail hunting was different because of habitat.  I don’t know if I have the ability to describe it accurately because it takes place along and below rocky hog-tops sticking up out of prairie. It is a different world than anything a rabbit hunter in the Ozarks has ever seen. 

       We took along Rich Abdoler’s little beagle, Rouser, not yet a year old but one of the best little rabbit hounds I ever hunted with… here in the Ozarks. The little dog was frustrated out in Wyoming’s foothills and plains because the rocks afford so many escape holes, and the dry sand doesn’t offer much of a scent trail. Can you imagine a little beagle inhaling that sand, encountering cactus, and trailing a rabbit that heads in a straight line for the rocks instead of circling again and again as they do here. Those rock outcroppings have more cottontails per acre than I have ever seen, and two kinds of jack-rabbits as well. 
       At times, the basin below them make you feel you are in the bottom of a canyon, and there is the constant smell of crushed sage as you walk, one of the most pleasant smells I have ever encountered while outdoors.  Since a description is impossible, you will see several of the hundreds of color photos I took following this column. I urge you to see them, as they will fascinate you too. If I hadn’t told you about it, you would look at those pictures and swear that no rabbits could live there.

      There are also more pictures, following this column, from a little fishing foray we took up into the mountains above the Wind River, in little nameless tributaries where beaver dams create pools. In those pools are beautiful trout, mostly browns, but some rainbows and brookies and cutthroats as well. 
       We spent the week with Rich’s nephews, two young men who had the good sense to leave jobs in Missouri and take their families to Wyoming.  Tom and Josh Shroyer are brothers, and Tom is the one most interested in the fishing. When he took us up into the mountains, he had a short 12-gauge magnum slug gun sticking out of his backpack and a 13 shot 45 pistol on his belt. He said that there was always a chance that a grizzly had come out of hibernation due to a week of 60-degree weather. Despite the awesome beauty and great fishing in those little streams only 15 or 20 feet wide, Tom won’t be going there in the summer because it is home to one of the heaviest concentration of grizzlies found in the Rockies. 
       There is also a good concentration of trout. I saw one brown that was at least 24 inches long, and never could get him to hit a small lure, even though I tried several. 

       I have often said I would be in Alberta or Saskatchewan if I were 30 years younger, but Wyoming and Montana and Idaho would be similar places to escape where our civilization’s rush to destruction maybe greatly slowed.

       The biggest strife there involves a large Indian reservation of Northern Arapahoe and Eastern Shoshone Indians that the U.S. government created. The two tribes have always been enemies and they have some trouble. Only our government would make such a goof up. 
       In the streams, there was no scum and slime like you find in our rivers.  Ours had to have looked like that once. And you can look across miles of mountains and see no haze or smog. At night, there are more stars than you have ever seen. There are mule deer and elk and bighorn sheep, moose and wild horses, mountain goats and pronghorn antelopes… and rabbits.
       I got off to myself in that country one afternoon, on the watershed to the Wind River within only a few miles of the sites where Indians and mountain men held an annual summer rendezvous. I could picture Jim Bridger and a string of pack horses, coming out of the Rockies just to the northwest. And I could see Indian villages throughout the cottonwood groves along the Wind River.

       That day, I found beautiful colored, polished rocks that enthrall me so much that my friends think I am crazy to give them so much attention.  I missed several good shots at rabbits because my eyes were fixed on rocks and rock formations.

       Believe it or not, I came across an old quarter while I was looking at rocks.  It caused me to wonder how much money I might have in my pocket. Right then, I didn’t know, didn’t care. It just wasn’t important. 
       I knew I had to take care of some little problems back home in the Ozark Hills, important things like where to stack the rest of the firewood I have on the back porch and fixing the gate on a dog kennel.
But at that time I couldn’t remember any of those pressing issues back home. I talked to God a little bit, off by myself… and for once I didn’t complain about a thing. I did something we all should do often. I took the time to thank Him and it took awhile, because the list of things I thanked Him for was long.

       Here’s a March schedule for those of you who want to join me outdoors. On Saturday March 12 we will have our Pomme de Terre River float, clean-up and gravel bar shore lunch. 
       On March 13 we will have a get-together at the Panther Creek Wilderness retreat for underprivileged children, showing it all off that afternoon, having cake and coffee for our visitors and some tables with tools and antiques and dishes for a type of lawn-sale to raise money for those kids.

       On Saturday March 19 and again on Tuesday March 22, we will take our pontoon boat trip to a wilderness area on Truman Lake where we will spend a day with a fish fry just after noon. We take fifteen people on each trip. 

       Then on March 26 we have our big outdoorsman’s swap meet at Brighton Mo and we still have some tables available at no charge for anyone who might want to bring something outdoor oriented to sell.
       If you want to talk to me about joining us on any of these days, just write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613. You can email me at  Or you can call me or my executive secretary, Ms. Wiggins, at 417-777-5227. 

       Please scroll down to see the rest of the Wyoming pictures, so I won’t have wasted my time taking them. You might also want to join me on facebook...I have two fb under my name and one under Lightnin' Ridge. I’m not sure what it all amounts to, Mrs. Wiggins helps me with it, but I think it is a pretty elite thing that only important people can join.  However, we can pull some strings and since I'm there, we can get you on there too, even if we ain’t important!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful country!