I'm going to pull one of the topics out of the silly story and get serious.
It might surprise many of you that when I was a senior in high school, I applied for the Wyoming Wildlife Scholarship. It was a big deal and involved a lot of essay questions which were all geared toward conservation, wildlife management, fish and game laws, and Wyoming's way of life. It also directed questions to sportsman and asked for an opinion on whether hunting was necessary for conservation. I didn't research anything, but wrote from how I felt and what my dad had taught me.
My application was number one. Game and Fish was so impressed, they wanted to meet me in person and sent out a couple of administrators and a warden to present me with the award. I was so honored. Although it wasn't the biggest scholarship, it was the one I cherished the most. One of the persons who shook my hand was Dave and he told me when he read my essays he had to meet me and tell me how inspiring and knowledgeable I was about fish and wildlife management and its importance to Wyoming. I was glowing that day. I still have the award certificate with his signature.
Dave and I would meet again and work some cases together. One was against the most evil man I had ever encountered. I think he still ranks number one even above the serial killers. He has since died in prison. Dave and I had a lot of fun and he was the most professional and honorable Game Warden I had ever met.
In 2005, our lives would cross again in a different path when we sued the state of Wyoming over the River War Haus. It was then I nicknamed the Wyoming Game and Fish, the Red Coats. It was fitting since they donned the red shirts and thought they were God.
Although we lost and lost big, I would do it all over again. It was a fight for conservation, preservation of an important area and fishing habitat, and an effort to bring law and order to a place they had let people run amok.
However, that is not what the Wyoming Game and Fish portrayed in the news. They claimed all of us landowners wanted to shut down a blue ribbon fishing area. Not so at all. Never mentioned anything about that. We wanted the documents and easement agreement to be enforced as written and the poachers, partiers, and abusers addressed. But to sway public opinion and have the whole state against some small landowners seemed the just thing for the State Of Wyoming to do. And so it began.
The backlash continued in person, in uniform, while on my property, in the paper, on the news for 4 years. It's the government way. I most loved the idiot editors at the local paper and how they think they ride of high horse of opinion. Well, they do...of an opinion that matters not. They are all liberals or communists we are certain as most citizens refer to them as The Red Star. I really like how the Red Coats attempted to arrest my husband at the time for driving down the road to go home, claiming he was scaring up the ducks, interfering with the hunters. Wow. Even the DA told them they were full of shit. The Sheriff ( he has since passed) got involved, my chief, and pretty much the whole universe. It was a mess.
It was then in the midst of the public disbutes they sent out Dave in an effort to be the sound negotiator and bring us to our knees, talk some sense into us. They knew we respected him as did most landowners in Wyoming.
With all due respect to Dave, we didn't stop the fight because we felt they were wrong. I still think they were even if we didn't win, but the government always wins right or wrong. I know this now and back then I had ideas of grandeur they would do the right thing. I didn't want to believe that at the time and neither did our attorneys who are the best land rights attorneys in the state. We received a whooping of reality.
Secretly, Dave had agreed with our problems being problems and trying to seek a logical solution and rightful enforcement of our land documents which were clear. His hands were tied and he was following orders. It wasn't long after that he retired and not because of our issue, but because it was his time.
It was the first glimpse of a shocking reality check when I realized the Wyoming Game and Fish had strayed from wildlife management, conservation, and environmental preservation and moved to politics and money. The day we lost the 4 year fight was a relief because it was over at the same time I was devastated that the place was going to be destroyed by people and there was nothing I could do to convince them to take care of it and be good stewards. The people knew it too, and thumbed it in our noses.
Then the divorce happened.
I was at The River War Haus by myself. If the people had hated my husband, they were going to find out I was worse to reckon with. The rumors started to circle back to me through guides and fishermen.
One old man from Minnesota came there every year at the same time and stopped for coffee when he was finished fishing for the day. I most enjoyed people like that. He praised me for my conservation and attempts to keep the land green and healthy as well as preserve the great place it was. We absolutely wanted to preserve its greatness as a blue ribbon fishing area and wildlife habitat. We also were and are great advocates of hunters and sportsman.
He was disappointed the lawsuit failed because we had high hopes for some weed control and vegetation plantings by the Game and Fish. We had offered to do it ourselves since they wouldn't fund it, but to make matters worse we were then forbidden. Of course, I didn't listen. What's more important? Noxious weed control or jail? You know, I am a hippy at heart. Our conversations were lengthy and he cherished the wildness of the west and returned every year to Wyoming and Colorado.
There were more like the Minnesota gentleman and they lifted me up when others would strike me down. I enjoyed their company and it was one time I welcomed stranger danger.
When I was at the River War Haus alone, I had no fear. I confronted people who littered, who wasted their ducks on the banks, and were driving off road. It sure didn't make the Game and Fish happy when they got complaints. I didn't care. Both my chiefs supported me full force and with their backing, and I felt I should continue to be the only enforcement there. I grew quite a reputation and word got back to me. I didn't mind. In fact, it empowered me more so. Most of the guides didn't bother me. They felt the same as I did. There were a few who were in opposition because they were ones who abused the land and went to the paper to try to get famous. Definitely to begin with the drunk redneck idiots ruined it for everyone and those who thought it was OK to let their dogs lose and chase my horses. And so began the chaos. It subsided after a few months of me being the lone ranger.
One of my favorite days was one where I had driven home from work but I was in plain clothes with my tactical holster on my leg due to a hostage negotiation call. I had my badge around my neck. It didn't matter because at a glance I looked like one of those survivalist nut cases. Maybe it was in my eyes.
Anyway, I had noticed a rattlesnake at the end of the drive. I parked the truck and walked up to the end of the road, took out my Glock and shot the snake. Now did I kill it the first shot? Yes. Did that stop me? No. It was a snake. I had to make sure it was dead dead. I knew there was a boat full of rich fishermen with a guide next to the banks. Why? They were all rich. This guide belonged to a company which had very high profile clientele.
All I heard was, "Holy shit", and I glanced in time to see a man fall back into the boat. He was a little dramatic or maybe just startled because I was a good 50 feet from him and aimed the opposite direction and into the ground. I picked up the snake. Yes, I had my tactical gloves on because, "Ew, gross." It's a snake for Pete's sake.
The guide recognized me. "Hi, Kathryn."
I smiled and waved.
"Rattlesnake?", he asked.
"Yep," I said. Of course I held it up to reveal my nice dead snake.
I don't know what happened after that and the guide didn't flinch so he probably told his clients to get used to the Wyoming way. I secretly hoped they had peed their pants and I had guessed they probably spread the word about that crazy woman at the end of the road by the river.
|Oh hell no.|
This wildness and freedom I don't have in Indiana and I long for the frontier. The most I can do to express my Wyoming ways is possum control. And that is only with a shovel since I can't fire away in town. I've had my one warning about shooting in the barn.
Nuts. I say. Those east of the west don't get the west and certainly don't embrace any free way of life because they are restricted by people, concrete, and excessive rules. Farmers get it. City dwellers will never come to the common ground of those who live a little more relaxed and free of restrictions.
But is this what I am talking about with the points I try to make about quashing gun control? Unleashing crazy pioneers and Annie Oakleys? No. Not at all.
That's what the opposition would say.
Crazy bastards. They don't get it.
The funny thing is I moved closer to Annie Oakley and farther away from the wild frontier. I think she would be disappointed in the nonsense today. Well, what makes no sense is gun control and laws which restrict our constitutional freedoms of any kind.
Unless you're stupid.
Then let the government squeeze begin.
Just kidding. I don't like government squeezes.