Just go fishing

What’s keeping you from going fishing? There are plenty of places to go, and lots of fish out there to catch. Take a break from the rat race and grab your fishing gear.

      

There’s a saying in these parts that rings pretty true. “Fish Wyoming – 300,000 Coloradans can’t all be wrong.” We give our southern neighbors a lot of grief for coming up here to fish, but in truth, they’re a big part of the reason our fishing is so good here.

Coloradans and other nonresidents pay more for their fishing licenses than Wyoming residents do, and that money goes back into raising and stocking fish, fish habitat, and other improvements that help our chances to catch the big one. Sure, you might have to share some bank space with someone else, but there are plenty of fish in the streams.

And there’s no sense complaining about the nonresidents if we don’t get out there ourselves. One of the best things about fishing is that you can take as much or as little time as you can to go. If you only have an hour or two after work, you can find a place close to town to drop a line for a little while. If you have a week off, you can go deep into the backcountry and get far away from any other people. All you have to do is grab your gear and find some water.

There’s also plenty of public water to fish in Wyoming. Even if a stream runs through private property, quite often the landowner will open the access to anyone through the Walk-In Fishing program. Check out the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s website to find a good stretch of Walk-In Fishing water.

And then there are the fish. I joke that I’m the world’s worst fisherman, and that might actually be true. But even I can catch fish in the Cowboy State, so you should be able to limit out or catch and release all day long.

Just go fishing. What’s stopping you?

For the audio version of today’s post, click “Play” below.

Dodge Durango is bigger and better than ever

The Dodge Durango has changed quite a bit over the last several years. It’s gotten a bit bigger, and you can get one that’s fancier than ever, but it’s still just as capable off the paved roads.

     

The Dodge Durango used to be a small SUV. It’s gotten bigger. I believe it’s still classified as a mid-size SUV, and it might be the perfect size. It’s easy to get into tight places, like those hairpin forest road curves or the parking spot down at the store. But it holds a heck of a lot more cargo now, and it’ll tow a good-sized boat or camper.

I got to drive the Citadel trim package a few weeks ago, and it spoiled me. It had fancy leather seats, a premium stereo, satellite navigation, rear-seat entertainment system, and a bunch of other creature comforts. But that didn’t keep me from taking it out and getting it dirty.

I loaded up my fishing gear and took it to the mountains. My stack of fishing stuff looked pretty meager in the huge cargo area in the back of the Durango, so I put in a big cooler, too, thinking I might need it if I caught some fish. Even with the cooler, there was still plenty of room.

The fishing spot I’d chosen was at the end of a rocky, nasty forest road, and the wet spring left several pretty good mud holes I couldn’t go around. But the Durango clawed over those rocks and through the mud with ease. I only shifted into four-wheel-drive once, and that was just as a precaution. It made it through even the roughest spot with no trouble.

I’m glad Dodge decided to beef up the Durango. It’s just the right size now. It’s big enough to be very comfortable to drive; you can actually fit in the back seats; and it’s still small enough to be easy to get around in the hills and on the streets.

It might be too comfortable, though. I didn’t want to get out of it once I got to the lake, but I did, and that vented seat was nice to get back to on that hot day.

 

For the audio version of today’s post, click “Play” below.

Wader repair glue is also great for hiking boots

While I was down in Texas for the Outdoor Writers Association of America conference, I found a new miracle product. It’s made for fixing waders, but I found another use for it.

       

I stepped up to a demo table at the outdoor writers conference I went to a while back, and the guys there were showing off a product that fixes both neoprene and breathable waders. Better yet, it’ll fix waders even when they’re wet, so you don’t have to quit fishing just because your waders have sprung a little leak.

It’s called SG-20, and it comes in a two-tube applicator, sort of like epoxy. All you have to do is put the applicator tip on, then squeeze out a bead of it onto the rip or hole in your waders. It sets in about a minute, and it dries completely in less than an hour.

As I was standing there listening to these guys talk about SG-20, and watching them cut up perfectly good chunks of neoprene just so they could fix them again, I got to thinking, “Hey, I wonder if it would work on my hiking boots?”

The boots in question were right there on my feet – well, barely on my feet, anyway. The toe caps were breaking loose, and there were large flaps of the soles that were threatening to tear all the way off.

I asked one of the guys if there was any hope for my footwear, and he said, “Heck yeah. Just pop ‘em off, and I’ll fix ‘em right now.”

And he did. They’re not going to win any beauty pageants, but they also won’t be letting in any more water. I can probably get another two or three years out of ‘em now.

The only place I know of to get SG-20 is Cabela’s, but you might check at your local sporting goods store before you go on your next fishing trip. This stuff really works. The guys gave me a sample tube, and I plan to keep it in my fishing vest in case I need to make a repair in the field. Or if my shoes start falling apart again.

For the audio version of today’s post, click “Play” below.

Now’s not the time to quit practicing archery

The 4-H county shoot is in the books now, but hopefully that doesn’t mean my boys and I are done shooting our bows for the summer. We got a good start on our practice, so I’d like to keep it going.

     

Our 4-H county shoot was last weekend, and that’s what’s been driving my kids to get outside and practice with their bows for the last couple months. They’re both registered for the state shoot, too, but that doesn’t seem to be as important to them as the county shoot was.

In the past, they’ve both been gung-ho to get out and practice every chance they had up until the county shoot, but between county and state, they found every excuse to skip practice. I don’t want to push them to do something they don’t want to do, but if they don’t go out to practice, that means I can’t, either.

This year might be different, though. The youngest sprained his right wrist at summer camp a few days before county shoot. He still tried to shoot at county, but it caused him too much pain, so he had to bow out. That might make the state shoot seem a little more important to him.

And the oldest just didn’t shoot as well as he knows he could at the official shoot. I know he wishes he’d done better, so maybe he’ll want to practice more before the state shoot comes around.

And then there’s me. I could really use the practice. I shot with Colby at our last practice session, and the little varmint came within a few points of beating me in our round of shooting at the 3D targets. That tells me either I need to practice more or he’s shooting a lot better than I’ve been giving him credit for.

I hope between the disappointment of the county shoot and the opportunity to show up their old man, both the boys will be more enthused about going to practice this year. Archery antelope season’s only two months away, and if I’m going to have any hope of sticking a goat, I need a few more rounds on the targets. Well, that and better stalking skills, but I’ll concentrate on one thing at a time.

 

For the audio version of today’s post, click “Play” below.

I’m all for roughing it, but my camper is a little too rough

I always used to be a tent camper, but as I’ve gotten older, and especially since I started shooting photos, I decided I needed a camper. After owning my first one, there are a few things I’d have done differently.

My wife and I decided we needed a camping trailer a few years ago, so we started looking for one. We didn’t have a whole lot to spend on one, so we knew we needed to think small. And honestly, for what we were planning to use it for, a small one would be plenty big enough for us.

We figured we’d mostly use it for going to the mountains to go camping. We didn’t need it to be very big. We figured we wouldn’t be spending much time in it, anyway. We only really needed to have a place to sleep, and maybe a place to cook a meal if the weather was not conducive to a campfire cook-out. And a bathroom? What’s the point? When you’re in the mountains, the world is your bathroom. So we decided we’d look for a small RV and wouldn’t worry about whether it had a bathroom in it.

We ended up with a 14-foot 1968 Aristocrat. It’s basically a tent on wheels. It has a large bunk in the back, a dining table that converts into a smaller bunk, and a working cooktop and oven. It also has a propane-powered refrigerator, but we’ve been advised to not attempt to turn that thing on, if we would rather not explode like a miniature Hindenburg.

And it has no bathroom. That’s fine for camping in the mountains, but it’s a little awkward when I’m pulled up to a rodeo. As long as the rodeo grounds have a few Port-a-Potties, I’m good, but I’ve been to some that lock up their bathrooms at night, and that creates a bit of a problem.

If we ever decide to upgrade to a newer trailer, I think I’ll insist on having a bathroom. Maybe even a shower. And a fridge that isn’t a death trap.

For the audio version of today’s post, click “Play” below.

I’m back out on the rodeo trail, but in a less dangerous way

When I was younger – much younger – I threw a riggin’ bag in the truck and hit the road, trying to make my name in rodeo. It didn’t go well. But now I’m trying it again, but with a different approach.

       

I may have been the world’s worst bareback rider. In my college days, I bought a bareback riggin’ and a pair of chaps, and I gave it a go. I entered rodeo after rodeo, and I proved fairly quickly that I was never going to make it to the National Finals Rodeo. In fact, I proved that I would never make it to the pay window, either, or even to the pick-up man, in most cases.

Even though I was stupid enough to keep trying for a year, I was just smart enough to realize that I wasn’t getting any better. Knowing they don’t give out buckles for the worst rider in the event, I decided to hang up my spurs. But I never quit wishing I were back out there in that arena.

It turns out I do have some skills that allow me to return to the arena, though. I spent the last few years earning my PRCA photography permit, then last year I filled that permit and got my full-fledged PRCA photography card. If I’d only known that option existed, maybe I wouldn’t have beaten most of my brains out on the backs of bareback horses in those early days.

Now that I have my card, I’m back out on the rodeo trail. I still get the adrenaline rush a few times each rodeo I used to get from riding roughstock, when a bull or a bronc comes running straight at me as I’m kneeling in the arena dirt. I get to go see great rodeos nearly every weekend, but I don’t have to pay an entry fee. And better yet, I get paid every time I get a photo somebody wants. I’ve made far more money taking pictures of rodeos than I ever made riding in them. Of course, that’s not hard to do, since I never won any money at all while I was riding.

So if you’re looking for me between now and hunting season, you’ll probably find me at the nearest rodeo. I’ll be the guy in the arena with a camera in my hands, grinning like an idiot.

For the audio version of today’s post, click “Play” below.