My dad has a piece of land that stretches down to the Wind River outside of Riverton. Most of that land is cultivated farmland, but there’s a piece of it that isn’t any good for farming. The gullies are filled with brush, and the mesas are covered with giant sagebrush. It was a wonderland for a kid.
I used to head down there every chance I got. I would ride my bike, which I had rigged with a makeshift gun rack for my .30-30, .22 or shotgun. Other times, I rode my horse down there, and I could take a rifle in the saddle scabbard or carry my bow with me when I went. Dad had set up targets for both archery and rifles down in those draws, and we’d set up a clay pigeon thrower and built a wooden box over it to keep it out of the weather.
Even when I wasn’t going down there to shoot, there was plenty to do. I could track all sorts of animals. There were foxes, coyotes, deer, raccoons, skunks and other critters all over the place, and there were a couple of trees that had nests in them where hawks, owls, and a pair of kestrels lived. It was impossible to be bored growing up that close to such an outdoorsman’s paradise.
My little chunk of land in Laramie County isn’t quite the same. There’s no sagebrush, for one thing. We do get foxes denning on our place, but with nothing to hide behind, it’s hard to get close enough to watch them when the kits come out to play. We get hawks and falcons, but they generally just fly through, because there are no trees for them to nest in.
On the other hand, I have a driver’s license and a truck now, so I can go find new wild places more easily than I could as a kid. And I’ve found a lot of them. Wyoming’s full of them. Here’s hoping you get the chance to find your own magical outdoor wonderland as often as you can.