family, wildlife, Wyoming

It’s Not About the Catch

Burrowing Owl-1DRW

Wyokiddo, Outdoor Guy and I got up a little early this morning to head down to our local reservoir for some fishing.  We got skunked.

On our walk back to the car, we saw some tiny little lizards darting across the path on the dam.  They were about the size of Outdoor Guy’s index finger and lightning fast.  We were also treated to the antics of some fat, lazy prairie dogs and a burrowing owl sighting on our way home.

“Sorry we didn’t catch any fish,” I told Wyokiddo as we put our stuff away in the house.

“Are you kidding?”  She asked me.  “We saw lizzards and owls.  this was the best fishing trip ever!”

I love that even at five, she’s starting to realize our mornings on the water isn’t about how many fish we catch, but about what we experience along the way together as a family.

Teresa

nature, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife

Tiny Packages

Triop - DRW.jpgOur neighbor brought a gift for Wyokiddo today in the form of a jar full of tadpole shrimp, or “Triops.”  They are tiny little crustaceans with three eyes and up to 70 pairs of legs.  This one was no bigger than the tip of my pinky finger.

They don’t have a real long lifespan.  Most will die within 90 days, if their water source doesn’t die up first.  They must be tougher than they look, because some species of Triops are more than 300 years old.

Nature continually surprises and delights me!

nature, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife, Wyoming

Floating Hubcap

This is how I spent my morning…crawling along an irrigation ditch, camera in hand, trying to stalk a massive snapping turtle.

I spent an hour this morning watching this snapping turtle cruise down our irrigation ditch. It was amazing to see how he’d drift along, then raise his tail to use as a rudder. We see this turtle each spring. I’m guessing he’s pretty old because he is absolutely massive. His entire carapace is probably bigger than a foot and a half across. He lifted his head out of the water once, briefly, before submerging completely and I lost sight of him.

Turtles, frogs and other things that creep and crawl might not be as majestic as a grizzly bear or regal as the wolf, but they are still fascinating creatures. I for one am glad that our state is filled with the good, the bad and the ugly. Makes life more interesting, don’t you think?

Snapping Turtle-1DRWSnapping Turtle-3DRWSnapping Turtle-4DRW

nature, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife

Springtime Messenger

Robin 2 DRWI’m participating in a 52 Week Photo Challenge. The topic this week is spring.  What to shoot, what to shoot?  Flowers, budding trees, frogs, newborn calves…all of these remind me of spring and the rebirth that the season brings.

But since I had to choose just one, it was this guy.  Nothing is sweeter music to my tired winter ears than the song of the American Robin. I shot photos that were more artistic and colorful, but as a harbringer of springtime in Wyoming, the robin can’t be beat.

Teresa

nature, Uncategorized, wildlife, Wyoming

The Commute

Most mornings and evenings, we are treated to a show in the sky as giant flocks of geese fly over our house.  Canada geese, snow geese and the occasional Ross goose or Greater white-fronted goose.

Sometimes it’s just a few dozen.  Other nights, such as last night, the geese number in the thousands.  Tonight, thousands of them landed in the neighbors field.  I can hear them chattering back and forth, even now, at ten o’clock.  It’s not exactly sonorous, but it’s beautiful music nonetheless.

Uncategorized, wildlife, writing, hunting

Hunting with Dad

first-pheasant-3Yesterday was the last day of what folks around here call the Springer General hunt.  The white dog and I celebrated by going hunting.  I almost chickened out.  The temperature was in the mid-twenties with a chilly breeze blowing from the northeast, and I am a fair-weather hunter.  I’m a fair-weather everything, come to think of it.  But I layered up, stuck my license in my pocket and we headed down the road.

This time, we found some pheasants.  The problem was, they were hunkered down in a shelter belt and weren’t relinquishing that warmth and safety for anything.  A few yards past the trees, my non-bird bird dog finally kicked up a hen.  Excited to actually see a pheasant, I rushed my shot and missed her by a mile.  Safe from my shot, she tucked her wings and disappeared into the tree belt.

A few hundred yards later, the white dog hit a scent again.  I watched, ready, as she found another hen.  This ol’ girl didn’t want to get up and fly, instead cruising just above the ground and Roxy’s head, preventing me from taking a safe shot.

As we rounded the corner for home, Roxy put a rooster in the air.  He doubled back, soaring right over my head.  This time, I took my time, kept my head down and made the shot.

It wasn’t the wind or ringing in my ears I’d heard as I dialed in on the rooster.  It was my dad’s voice.  “Want to know the three rules of hunting?”  I heard him ask in his big, booming barritone.  I repeated the punchline as walked up to the downed bird.

“Rule #1.  Keep your head down.  Rule #2.  Keep your damn head down.  Rule #3. Keep your God damn head down.”

It was  joke he’d tell over and over.  He never got tired of telling it.  Oh what I’d give to hear him tell it to me again.  It’s been almost a year since he died and I wanted so badly to hear that stupid joke one more time, my heart physically ached.  It was that thought that congealed into tears and trickled down my cheeks as I slid the rooster into my vest and loved up my dog.

Dad and I did a lot together when I was growing up.  He was always there for soccer games, school plays, speeches and horse shows.  But hunting and fishing wasn’t sometime we shared.  I don’t know that it ever really occurred to him that his tenderhearted animal lover would actually enjoy hunting.  I know it never occurred to me to ask him to take me.

By the time I started working for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, his health prevented us from sharing a day in the field.  Instead, he passed on his trusty .22 rifle and behemoth double-barreled shotgun to me.  Anytime I asked, he would regale me with stories of his days hunting pheasants at Springer, including the time he almost lost our family dog, and the time he got stuck over night in the mud and the muck.

In that moment, as I stood wiping angrily at my eyes, I knew.  I knew that if he was up there, somewhere, somehow, he was watching and he was proud.  Not proud that I’d finally got on the birds.  But proud that I was trying.  Proud that I was taking care of my family, following my passion for writing and photography, staying true to my own beliefs, and taking risks.  Proud that I could make my husband chocolate-chip cookies in the evening and chase pheasants in the morning and wrangle a 4-year old after lunch.  Proud that I was out there, living my life with the people I loved.

Roxy and I spent another half hour looking for pheasants before we called it a morning.  I headed home with a heart that felt lighter than it has in almost a year.  If anyone saw me out there, they would have just figured it was me and my dog, hunting solo in the first snow of the season.  But really, I was hunting with my dad.  I’d carried him in my heart this whole time.

I miss you big guy.

T-Bird

 

 

hunting, Uncategorized, wildlife, Wyoming

In Pursuit

roxy-after-huntingIt was a girls’ morning out this morning.  But there were no pedicures or lattes.  No shopping.  No gossiping with friends.  Just me and the white dog and 3,000 acres of land in which to find a pheasant.   Two hours knowing only the heft of my shotgun, the happy grin on the white dog’s face, the pull of tired muscles not used in a while.

As I walked the tree belts looking for birds, I thought of my dad.  He used to hunt this area back in his prime, sometimes coming home with birds, always coming home with stories.  The only thing I came home with was three unspent shells, one tired, tired Roxy dog and a memories of my dad.  Couldn’t ask for a better hunt.

Teresa