By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily
“Well, the sun’s not so hot in the sky today; And you know I can see summertime slipping on away.”– James Taylor
To me, September in Wyoming means two things:
First, it is probably my favorite month, despite the occurrence of allergies and the ominous evidence of winter’s onset. And despite the need for an occasional jacket, the weather is usually quite predictable.
Second, it is when the annual One Shot Antelope Hunt occurs here in Lander.
Most Wyomingites keep an emergency travel kit in their cars year-around, but September is the time when you make sure you have re-stocked your trunk with this indispensable item. Mountain highways across Wyoming can be very wintry in September.
Yellowstone Park is at its “yellow-est” at this time of year. It is fun to watch the locals in their wool shirts and jeans walking along a path next to a confused Californian, shivering in his tee shirt, shorts, and sandals.
Fall is the most colorful time of year in Wyoming. The leaves turn to breathtaking yellows, golds and reds. Green lawns offer a nice contrast. And the sky is as deep blue as always, the sun is shining its most golden and the high mountains glisten with early snow.
On the political scene, it often is the month where key decisions are being made. Pundits always talk about “October surprises,” but the heavy campaign lifting needs to be done in September.
In my hometown, September also means it is time to go antelope hunting. The 76th annual One Shot Antelope Hunt will be held during this upcoming weekend, Sept. 19-21. It is the Super Bowl of Shooting Sports.
I was the historian for the Hunt for decades before retiring some years ago. While looking back on some of the hunts held this century, the one in 2004, some 15 years ago, sure was fun.
Then-Gov. Dave Freudenthal was the host and got his antelope with one shot.
One of his fellow hunting competitors that year was U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, who also was considered a winner, shooting his buck with one shot. Sen. Enzi dedicated his hunt to his grandpa who always followed the One Shot. He even used granddad’s old Springfield rifle that always “shoots four inches high and four inches to the right.” Frankly, I cannot imagine anything to do with Sen. Enzi “moving to the left.”
The senator was so tickled with his success, he talked about it on the Senate floor the following Monday.
One of the governor’s teammates was Steve Leer, then-CEO of Arch Coal. Leer also nailed his buck with one shot. He spoke very highly about the quality of the Wyoming workers who work for his huge company. What a heady time that was for Wyoming coal.
Gov. Dave joined a group of hardheaded Lander Republicans called the Fox News All Stars for coffee that Friday morning prior to the Hunt. I teasingly referred to them as “Republicans for Freudenthal.” Although all were fond of the governor, not sure many liked him enough to join such a group.
As we left the restaurant, a passenger in a passing car flagged down the governor and appeared to recognize him. Was this an old friend? The governor walked over to the car. A man opened his window and asked: “Hey, can you tell me how to get to Dubois?” Obviously the man did not realize who he was talking with.
After Gov. Dave answered the man’s question and the car started to pull away, someone yelled: “You might want to look at the picture on your highway map!”
Coincidentally, Donald Trump Jr. also shot in that year’s hunt.
He seemed to avoid the limelight during the weekend and was courteous to everyone around him.
This weekend Gov. Mark Gordon will participate in his first One Shot. It is a fantastic tradition and I predict he will do a good job as host and will have a memorable weekend.
September is also football season. As I write this, UW is boasting a 3-0 record and a seven-game win streak. I have great faith in coach Craig Bohl.
This month, which used to be famous for containing the first day of autumn, is now known for other things since Sept. 11, 2001. It will forever be recognized as the month when 3,000 innocent Americans died.
And here in the Cowboy State, it will be recalled as the time when eight young Wyoming men died in their athletic prime on a dark highway south of Laramie. They were all killed when a drunk driver lost control of his big pickup and slammed into them head-on. An unbearable tragedy.
On a brighter note, around our house, it is wild bird frenzy time. My wife Nancy keeps two ducks around and this time of year, dozens of the wild ducks descend on our house to commiserate with our domestic fowl.
Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books. His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.