September's Sabbatical

By Les Voth

'Lopes, speed goats, bears, buffalo, deer and prairie dogs, Wyoming's got them all. Ron Skinner, his grandson, Terrel (my son) and I went on a budget antelope hunt in Wyoming this September. There was some adventure, a little work, the hunters bled, and meat was collected.


Ron and the boys enjoying the shade of the creek-bed at lunch.

Overall we travelled just over 2200 miles in Ron's shiny white Chevy 4X4 short-box extended cab pickup, with the tonneau box cover. Right. Four folks in an extended cab truck with all their gear - guns, tents, sleeping and eating instruments, food for a week, clothes, and Terrel's 1200 page book - he likes to read. We almost had to leave the book out.

The original load included a 100 quart cooler and one that held 120 quarts too. As a space saving activity we crammed all our food, plus a little, into those coolers, thinking we would consume enough to make room for meat and ice. This kind of faulty thinking had us acquiring another, larger - 150 quart-er for the meat, while in Laramie. Guns were crucial to the trip, obviously, so I had envisioned mine and Terrel's in hard cases. Then Skinner called and said there was only room for the smaller space saving soft sided sockies. We'd pad them with bedding, as bedding could be shifted into all the corners not taken up by our kitchen sinks, bedroom furniture, and lounge chairs . . . oh, there weren't no room for chairs of the folding nature. Rocks-Are-Us became our furniture supplier onsite.

I hadn't set up my pup tent since 1984, but found all the pieces there, so the boys inhabited the space I lived in during the spring of '84, in the British Columbia mountains north of New Hazelton. They did okay in that.

Ron and I were rather cosmopolitan, sleeping in a four man tent with cots. Well, that's what we were supposed to do, but nature had another idea. We were camping, on our first night in Wyoming, west of Laramie in the mountains. It just happened that a 300 pound black bear invaded the campsite the two previous nights, and our night was no different.

My BC mountain experience had left me a little nervous when I heard about the possibility of a bear roaming around, so I went to bed with a hot loaded Ruger Vaquero in 45LC. 255 grain SWCs with a goodly whack of 2400 should have given me some modicum of security, but the thought of being firmly ensconced behind two solid layers of floppy nylon tenting material had the mighty Vaquero shrinking to Bearcat size in my mind.

No sleep.

Midnight saw the bear wreaking havoc up and down the campsite. He overturned dumpsters, set off motion alarms, and left campers with the whites of their eyes lighting up the night. The big bugger probably laughed all the way to his cave that night.

Finally, Skinner hit the alarm on his key fob, activating lights and the horn on his pickup.The bear left. Then the other bears came. Local sheriffs. Wildlife cops. Everybody. We were busy chatting up all the armed locals with bleary eyed bear stories, almost till sunup.

Thankfully, the park service shut down the campground the next day so they could bait and shoot the three time offender. We left for the Motel 6 in Laramie. Because the boys were 14 & 15 we only had to pay for two adults, so the bill was less than $70 a night. There's something to be said for solid walls.

Not having slept on Sunday night, I was tireder 'n a teenager on the first day of school, but we had it to do. Hunting, I mean.