“Seems I am enduring the horrible life that living in a blue state can portend I've noticed that whenever you do an “I love Whyoming” column, you take a cheap shot at other parts of the country, mostly my home state. Why is Whyoming the least populated state?
Maybe nobody wants to live there.”– Jim Sniffin, my grumpy little brother, of Cedar Falls, Iowa (which is a wonderful place in which to live, I’ve been told).
My relatives and friends from other states are sick of me continuing to call Wyoming God’s Country. Some of them even call our state “Whyoming” and cannot see why I think it is so special.
Some of the following stories might point out why that description seems to make so much sense to me.
• In a state like ours, we truly appreciate real people. No posers, but people who are genuine.
It was fun to see governors like Stan Hathaway, Ed Herschler, Mike Sullivan, Jim Geringer, Dave Freudenthal and Matt Mead go hunting and fishing and know that this was not a photo op, but rather something they really enjoyed doing. These men loved their state and loved participating in our famous outdoor activities.
Most folks get a kick out of shaking current Gov. Mead’s hand. When you do, you are grasping a chapped, grizzled roper’s hand. Sort of like shaking the hand of an old rancher. Sure feels genuine. Yes, these are roper’s hands. More than a few calluses have graced that palm.
But I digress. What is so special about Wyoming?
• To live in Wyoming and not enjoy our abundant outdoor resources would not make sense. When outsiders wonder why we love this place so much, it usually is because these are folks who sort of prefer indoor activities or controlled outdoor activities like golfing and boating (I do both, by the way) rather than sports a little more challenging like hunting, fishing, climbing. backcountry hiking, kayaking, cross country skiing, outdoor photography in the backcountry, real camping, desert adventuring or all those dozens of other activities that preoccupy the thoughts of folks out here.
Let’s face the truth: Wyoming is an outdoor state. It really is not a good locale for the couch potato. If you are going to live a sedentary lifestyle, why would you want to live that here in a place like this?
• Another state leader who loves this outdoor life is the Catholic Bishop for Wyoming, Paul Etienne, who heads up the Cheyenne Diocese.
He recently went elk hunting with Matt Potter, his director of development, and here is his story:
“Yes, I love to hunt. We spent a few days on an elk hunt on Carter Mountain in October. My brother filled a cow tag on that hunt. Matt and I visited a ranch in the Wheatland area a few weeks ago but only saw five bulls. Matt had a cow elk tag.
“We also spent a recent weekend in the Iron Mountain range on a special herd reduction hunt. Sadly, not even the Game and Fish game wardens could locate the herd. Out of forty hunting groups, only one elk was taken that day. So, my elk season has pretty much come to another unsuccessful conclusion this year.
“I also turkey hunt each spring, with much more success! Also bagged a small mule deer buck my first fall up in the Sunlight Basin area.”
My favorite story about the bishop concerns a post he put on his blog last August about fishing the North Platte near Saratoga.
He was getting frustrated about not catching anything. Here is what he had to say about what happened next:
“Before I finally tied into a spectacular 26-inch brown trout, I told the guide that if things did not pick up I was going to start cheating.”
He asked: "How do you cheat when you are fishing?"
I told him, "I'm going to start praying."
Sure enough, after a little more quiet drifting he told the guide: "That's it. I'm going to start praying."
About one minute later, the fun began when the bishop caught that beautiful, 26-inch brown. He later caught a 19-inch beauty, too.
And so with apologies in advance to my little brother and other folks who live in other states, for always talking about Wyoming’s good attributes, I will let these stories speak for me.
Yep. We do live in God’s Country.
Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns and blogs at www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com.