As I was taking my Australian Shepherd for her morning walk, I noticed a little chill in the air. The leaves are showing a slight tint of orange, the sights and sounds of fall are emerging from their summer blanket. For anyone who has been in Wyoming, myself now going on 38 years, it means your inner spirit begins its annual ritual: “It’s Hunting Time.” The first and - still to this day - true organic protein that if you are lucky enough to harvest, is a healthy reward that can provide for a family an entire year.
There is something that happens almost magically to those of us who have been brought up with this as part of their nature. It’s time to dust off your all-weather camping equipment, make sure you have rounded up the gear from last year and head out to the shooting range to make sure you are comfortable with any decision you may need to make in the field. Ending a life is no easy choice to make. Out of respect for the species you will be seeking, you must be certain when you pull the trigger that you are accurate and sure, this only happens with practice.
My grandfather always taught me that the toughest thing you will ever do as a hunter is pull the trigger or pull back that bow, you should only have to do it once.
Nothing could be truer than that advice. Once these crucial steps have been taken care of, the adventure begins.
While most people have their favorite location or spot you can always rely upon, there is an insatiable need to explore the unknown. Careful thought is always given to any new area, taking into consideration terrain, conditions, and ultimately one’s physical ability to conquer this new and exciting terrain. The great part about Wyoming is that there is so much terrain to explore. From the prairies to the mountain peaks, you can spend every day of a Wyoming hunt in a new area, with a lifetime ahead of you and never cover the same ground twice. For anyone reading this who has been blessed enough to experience this, they can certainly agree, “this is what freedom truly feels like, it is a truly spiritual sensation.” When you can see for miles the prairies and plains that are silhouetted by mountain vistas and smell nothing but the cool fresh air it makes you realize what is important in life. One day you can be on top of a mountain, so cold you think your face is about to fall off wondering why you didn’t put that extra layer and the next day you feel you should be hunting in shorts (though for safety this is never recommended).
Edward Abbey stated, “Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit.”
I have spent most of my hunting life doing more observing the game I am seeking, rather than harvesting the animal. I challenge myself to out flank and outguess the animal, most times the animal being the victor at that strategy. It should be noted that you always need to plan how you will retrieve your harvest with weather and terrain being considered far in advance. Then on occasion, you make that decision that is both gratifying and heart breaking at the same time. Once you have given the proper spiritual thank you for the harvest the work begins. If you are lucky, the retrieval takes a couple of hours. More common is one that takes the entire day or even two days. Taking care of the bounty that has given you now a year’s supply of nutritious sustenance is priority one.
Once you have properly processed this game and it is in your freezer, you can spend the entire year enjoying the stories, memories and ultimately the food that your adventure has provided you.
Did I mention that I love Wyoming?
This entry was submitted by Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce Vice President Rick Howe, IOM.
Many Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce members can provide the outdoor and hunting memories of a lifetime. Search some of the options listed below and let your adventures begin from field to freezer!
Not a hunter? There are many options for taking tours with professional guides who can share their knowledge and love of the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Would you like to explore the flavors of Jackson Hole? Many local restaurants offer game and other local menu items. See a few recommendations below.