This weekend we celebrate our Independence Day.  I cannot help but think about our Country and American Flaghow blessed we are to live in it. We are truly blessed to live in a Country where our forefathers fought to ensure that we would be a free people.  Many of you served or are serving in one of the various branches of our military.  Some may have family members serving as I write this email. I would like to thank those that served or are serving for their sacrifices that have allowed me to live in a free Country.  We should make it a point, during this time of celebration, to thank those around us for their service as we all owe them a debt of gratitude. 

As a sportsman, I am grateful that we had people with the wisdom and foresight to see the importance of protecting abundant and vibrant wildlife populations. I believe that by maintaining and sustaining abundant big game herds and healthy fisheries, we are able to maintain a sense of independence that many in our more urban settings do not. There is an air of self-confidence that comes from knowing that you can put meat on the table, should the need arise. I remember an experience that I had while archery deer hunting. It was an exceptionally hot year and most of the deer had bedded. I wondered if I could survive if I became lost in the woods. I began wandering up and down a clear creek, looking for a hook and some fishing line that I could use.  Once that was found, I began rolling over rocks and looking for something I could use as bait. In no time, I was fishing along this small creek. I was surprised how quickly I was able to catch a fish. My friends that were along on the hunt noticed what I was doing and also began looking for a hook and line, etc. After catching another fish, I gave them my supplies and resumed hunting.

As I walked up the draw, I could hear my friends as they were laughing and carrying on with their quest to catch a fish. At first, I was a bit annoyed as their laughter was starting to get animals up and running around. I was about to say something to quiet my friends when I noticed a fawn coming down the trail towards me. While I was watching the fawn, I noticed a buck, bedded beneath a juniper tree.  He was also watching the fawn running down the trail. After cutting the distance between myself and the buck, I realized just how big a deer he was. I estimated him to be about 40 inches wide.  I have only seen two other deer in my lifetime that we anywhere as big as was he.  While I never got off a shot, I was able to stalk within 20 yards of him, while he remained bedded.  This is a memory that I will never forget and one of the reasons I continue to chase mule deer around the hills.

This is also one of the many reasons why I work so hard to ensure that Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife achieves its mission: To promote the protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat, the quality of wildlife management programs, and America’s family heritage of hunting, fishing and trapping.  Our heritage is too important to leave it to chance and requires that someone is actively fighting to ensure that it is protected from threats it now faces.  We have seen first hand the impacts to our abundant wildlife populations that large, unregulated predators inflict.  We have seen and experienced the frustration of continued but unwarranted protections of Wyoming’s wolves and grizzly bears.  Many Sportsmen have given up the fight and few seem willing to do what it will take to get this matter resolved.  When I look at the threats our Country is facing, I can see why Wyoming’s wildlife may not be as important to some as it is to us.  I also understand that without a strong sportsmen’s group little will change.  WY SFW is still fighting to ensure that Wyoming retains management authority over Wyoming’s wildlife.  There are many within the state and federal government that have forgotten their specific roles, obligations and jurisdictional authorities.  WY SFW is committed to being here to help remind them of their respective roles, responsibilities and obligation to act.

WY SFW has been very successful in its efforts to achieve the impossible.  I would ask you to strengthen your resolve to stand and fight for the heritage we have been handed.  I know that you want to see a future wherein your children, grandchildren and future generations are able to maintain their independence and self-reliance as only free people can understand.  Knowing that you are not dependent upon the government for your survival is something that is essential to protecting our culture and our heritage of hunting, fishing and trapping. Please take this time of celebration to reflect on what it is that WY SFW is fighting for and renew your dedication to winning the battles that we will surely face.  Renew your membership and volunteer for leadership in your community.  WY SFW has the need for more volunteers to step up and make their voices heard.  Please be safe and let me know if you have anything to contribute to our cause.

I look forward to seeing you in the field this hunting season.

 

From the Desk of Bob Wharff