If you can’t hunt, at least watch some wildlife

I haven’t gotten much time to get out and go hunting this year, but I’ve done plenty of wildlife watching over the last few weeks. It’s kept me sane in a year when I haven’t been able to do much hunting.

This time of year, if I can’t be out in the wilds hunting, I find myself staring longingly out to the sides of the road when I’m driving across the state. And between work and family obligations, I’ve been on Wyoming’s highways a lot this fall.

I’ve been a little disappointed at the numbers of antelope I’ve been seeing around Cheyenne, but there are certainly areas around the state where they seem to be doing just fine. I don’t know if there are more of them out there in those places than there usually are, but there were a lot more than what we’ve seen out in our neck of the woods lately.

But it hasn’t been just antelope. I’ve run across a fair number of deer, including a massive muley buck up by Esterbrook. And there have been quite a few nongame critters, too. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been buzzed by a golden eagle and watched a bald eagle riding the thermals over the highway.

Even on the Interstate from Wheatland to Casper, it seems like there have been more critters to see than I’ve seen in a while. And up near the Riverton area, there have been a good number of sandhill cranes.

Sandhills have always had a special place in my memories, because we tended to get a lot of them in our fields each spring and fall as they made their way either north or south on their migrations. As cool as it is to see a bunch of them in a field, though, it’s even more amazing to watch those birds coming in for a landing.

I still hope to get out in the field at least for a late-season weekend or two, but until I get out, I’ll have to make do with watching the wildlife from Wyoming’s highways.