Stillness or Action

There are a lot of changes going on this summer. Adjusting to a new house, adjusting to the step mom life, adjusting to having 7 kids under one roof, 7 different personalities and needs (more if you count the multiple personalities that tend to pop up from time to time lol).

I’m also adjusting to meeting my own needs. It’s an easy talk but a harder walk. As I type, I am sitting here looking at the MESS and boxes that still need to be unpacked and cleaned up. I’m overwhelmed with where to put everything – nothing seems to have a place. I despise the unpacking.

So when a friend calls and says – hey lets go fishing. There is a certain level of guilt associated with walking away from all of the going-ons of this house. I found myself reluctantly saying – okayyy, but only if we make it quick because I have GOT to get these boxes unpacked.



Do I WANT to go fishing? YES! Do I WANT to unpack more boxes? NO! Do I NEED to be alone and feel the sun and hear the water. God YES.

So, I reluctantly leave my house because of the guilt I have imposed on myself over the state of this place?!?! What is wrong with me??

Nothing. Absolutely Nothing. This self imposed guilt is a reaction to the failure of my self imposed expectation of having a fully unpacked and functional and decorated house by this time.

I am my own worst enemy. And I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of you do the same thing.

I breathe deep and I release these expectations…and I ask myself, as I sit here staring back at the boxes and clutter that are calling out to me, is this a moment of stillness or action?

And since there is still coffee in the bottom of my coffee cup, the answer is obvious. Stillness.

We all feel the pressure to get all the things done, to do everything right, not fail our children, be everything to everyone, meet our own goals, follow through with commitments. But there are endings and beginnings and there are middles. I’m somewhere in the middleness of this mess, and that’s okay. I’m going to enjoy this stillness and peace.

This is hard. Adjustments and decisions are hard. Showing yourself grace is….hard.

Things will find their place in time. Maybe not before my daughter and stepson head off to college…definitely not before my husband gets home from work tonight – but it will get there. Eventually. And this is what will make the difference – a relaxed mom and wife who enjoyed the time spent with her family and friends. I’m only one person and I can only do so much, and I’m doing what I can.

And next time someone asks me to go fishing – I won’t just talk the talk – I’ll drop whatever I’m doing, throw a few beers in the cooler, grab my fly rod and say…

I’m on my way!

JUNE FISH! First Carp on a Fly Rod. I was hoping he’d put up more of a fight, and when he didn’t I considered tossing him back in so he could try again.😂
Maybe he was practicing stillness too.🤷🏼‍♀️

Presently Present

I knew there would be months like this. As soon as I started this project I knew this was going to happen. In fact, as soon as I committed to doing it I was already thinking, “…there are parts of this that are gonna suck.”

But I committed anyway. I figured it would force me to let go. Let go of the stress and the commitments and all of the excuses that keep me from getting out on the water. And I knew there would be times when I had to force myself to go, at the expense of other things in my life.

And my goodness did the stress and commitments pile up in April.

It got to the point of going back to the beginning and asking myself, “What is the point of this?” I can’t get so wrapped up in the fear of failure that I miss out on the journey and the intention. The intention of this whole project is to ensure that I get back in the habit of doing the things I love and taking care of myself. Habits are not always easy. They take work!

So I’ll keep showing up. For myself.

Yes, I am striving to catch a fish every month for 12 months in a row. But the benefits of being on the water, enjoying nature, exploring new places, learning…that is what I love about this whole thing. And I can’t do that if I’m not present.

Thinking about my to-do list, taking care of other people’s problems, bringing work home with me, staying up too late, not eating healthy, allowing myself to become emotionally drained…all these things make it really hard to be present. All these things make it really hard to clear my mind and recognize the beauty around me. And it can waste a perfectly good fishing day!

Walking to the river with a clear mind, uncluttered and empty, makes it so much easier to be present and enjoy my time. I am able to focus on the sound of the water, the feel of the air, watching the fish, sitting in the quiet and waiting, the sound of my line zipping off the water as I set the hook….yep. That is being present.

That is what sustains me. That is what nourishes my soul.

I recently read a quote…

Fall in love with masterpieces and also the paint on the floor.

Morgan Harper Nichols

That is what I’m practicing, here in this moment. All the messiness and unexpected and chaos…the masterpiece wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the paint on the floor.

So while April reminded me a bit of splatter paint – it was a beautiful month. And I did things that I never expected I’d be able to do. And I survived to see the next month. And, yes, May is expected to be crazier than April.

I fished in new places, found a beautiful spot I’d like to revisit. I was hoping to catch a fish there, but the weather didn’t cooperate long enough to really invest the time needed. Then, I broke my favorite custom built rod trying to get loaded up in the rain and hail and lightening. I was disheartened.

On the last week of the month I went for familiar. I went to my family’s place in the mountains. I sat with my parents and visited with them while we watched the fish jump out the window. It took a dozen or so casts before I was able to hook into one of the younger fish in the pond. Prince nymph never fails.

The exhilaration was palpable. Although he didn’t make a good run, the feisty rainbow jumped from the water a few times. The last explosion was at least five feet out of the water as he tried to rid the fly from his lip. I landed my April fish shortly and snapped my pic. Before I released him back to the water, I heard my mom yell from the balcony, “Let me see!” She wanted to share in my excitement. As I lifted the little guy out of the water and turned to hold him up, she snapped my pic and cheered.

She knew this one was earned, even if it was pulled from our pond. Because I put in the time. And I showed up for everything else in my life. This is just the splatter paint that is part of the masterpiece.

And, man, it doesn’t matter where you are…pulling a trout out of the water is one of the most beautiful things in this world. That day was no exception. I sat for a few minutes more on the bank, watching the fish break the surface. Feeling the spongy earth slowly soak through my clothes. Smelling the air heavy with rain. Hearing the birds’ wings push through the air above me.

I smiled. Took a deep breath and exhaled. I had caught more than my April fish.


The first time I went out into the ocean to fish, I had a treble hook embedded in my scalp within the first 15 minutes. The captain said if the cork went down, set the hook! So I did.

As if I was reeling in Moby Dick.

Who knew? I remember watching blood drip off the end of my nose as we held a can of Budweiser on my head to numb it up. The captain wanted to head in to the nearest clinic to have it removed. I refused. This was my first off shore fishing experience and I wasn’t going to let a hook determine the direction of our day.

So after some discussion, my dad went ahead and pushed the hook through. There was quite a bit of tugging and pushing and pulling, quite a bit of cussing from me, and a comment from my dad that I will never forget – your scalp is a lot tougher than I thought it would be! Once he finally pushed it through, the captain provided a pair of rusty wire clippers that my dad snipped the end of the hook off with and pulled it back out. Two puncture wounds remained, and we fished the rest of the day.

This was three years ago, and I was hoping we would avoid a similar situation this year as I loaded my kids onto the boat. This would be Lilli and Lane’s first offshore fishing experience and I was hoping to have a great day. Captain Andy has been with us for the last couple of years and he is much more detailed in his direction and coaching. Plus he is great with kids.

While the beach and ocean are one of my favorite places to spend time, I do not enjoy going into the ocean. The water bothers me…I can’t see what is beneath the surface…and the power and energy of the ocean overwhelms me. I just can’t bring myself to venture out into its’ expanse. So heading out on a boat with my kids on board, while exciting, gave me that same overwhelmed and anxious feeling. My imagination ran wild with what was under the surface. It’s so deep. And dark. And unending.

The deepness is what I was thinking of as I watched my daughter begin casting at the bow, standing at the edge of the deck. She was the first one to haul in the fish. She actually out-fished all of us that day. And I caught my first fish of March! We limited out on Sheepshead and then headed out to deeper water to fish for Speckled Trout and Red Drum. We fished with live shrimp all day and my fingers were sore from pushing the hook through their hard shells.

It was a great day and nobody met the end of a hook!

And, as we climbed off the boat at day’s end, I realized we also safely navigated those deep, dark waters.

What’s it like to trust someone to take your children out into the great expanse of the ocean? It’s like holding your heart cupped in your hands, offering it to the captain of the boat. It is that battle between your level of trust and your desire for adventure. And what would have happened if we had played it safe and stayed on shore? Nothing. And we would have missed out on the experience. The experience of learning and growing together. Facing a few fears together. Putting food on the table. Understanding that sometimes, we are ready to face the deep, dark waters. Maybe we are braver and more prepared and we don’t have to have it all figured out…we can just trust.

The next few months are going to be like those deep waters. We have crazy schedules with three kids in spring sports, graduation, selling (and hopefully buying) a house, getting ready to send Lucie to college, and the end of the school year. I may be uncertain how to navigate these waters, but I have strength and I can be brave. And I trust that everything will be just as it is supposed to be. Even in the deep.


I blinked and February was nearly over. Vince was right earlier this month when he told me that the challenge wasn’t catching a fish each and every month this year…the challenge was going to be finding the time to go.

Between kids’ sports and activities and the hurricane force wind and the temps fluctuating between mid 50’s to -30 degrees…February really threw me for a loop. I was legitimately worried that I was going to fail at my own challenge on the second month in!

Then I decided it was the perfect time to get married. Whaaa?! I threw a wedding together in 5 days and married my betrothed. I was tempted to use the opportunity to declare him as my February catch. But decided it would be offensive to confine his greatness to just February…..after all he is the catch of my life.

So I pushed through and tried to find spare moments to get on some water.

What ended up happening however, was finding better luck on the ice. After checking the forecast, I was excited to see that there was a beautiful day in my sights. Little wind and low 50’s. We planned an ice fishing expedition.

Now, I was raised in Wyoming. I know to the depths of my soul that you don’t go anywhere or do anything in the winter without coats, hats, gloves, boots, all the things. But it has been an unseasonably warm winter, the temp was right, and I didn’t want to hike across the frozen lake and be sweating and irritated. So, I dressed in my favorite light hunting pant, an insulated jacket, wool socks and boots, and….that’s it. No gloves, no hat, no buff.

I froze my tail off. The wind picked up and was a steady 25-30 mph with gusts reaching about 45 mph. The temp was nowhere near the 50’s and with the wind chill we were looking at about 15 degrees. We started fishing as the sun’s light started to peek over the hills and inched over the ice. We fished for 5 hours. I can honestly say that nothing pisses me off more than the wind. I know what you’re thinking – buuut, you live in Wyoming. Yes, I am aware. But, man, the unrelenting wind that is blowing so hard that you can feel it permeating the fabric of your insulated jacket, sweatshirt, and skin right down to your bones….that flips my switch.

Needless to say, I probably wasn’t the best company that day. I was cold, windblown, and had to pee but refused to try and accomplish the feat in that kind of wind. It is the kind of wind that doesn’t matter what direction you are facing…when the pee stream hits the air stream it sprays in every direction. Don’t ask me how I know.

But the fish. THE FISH!! They were plump and heavy and happy…beautiful rainbows and cutthroats. I got it done in February, with the help and support of some good friends.

Reflecting back on this month’s experience, I felt a twinge of disappointment in how I approached this challenge. Because I wasn’t able to get it done at the beginning of the month, I let the challenge kind of get to me and I started to feel stressed and burdened. Discomfort.

The whole point of doing this is to make the time to do the thing I used to love so much. Casting, tying knots, marveling at the beauty found in nature, spending time with friends. Practicing, learning, growing. That’s the point. And although I had many enjoyable moments fishing during February – one of which was my bachelorette party – I let it become something that caused stress and anxiety.

But in discomfort, there is growth. Giving yourself grace is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself. Recognizing that while I’m not where I wanted to be, I am a lot farther than I ever thought I would be…I needed that acknowledgement from myself.

I have fished more in the last 53 days than I have in the previous 365. And that is heading in the right direction. I am learning and I know more now than when I started. I am gathering all these moments while I’m out on the water.

And they are being compiled in my heart. The laughter from my friend downstream, the way the light dances on the water, the infinite shades of pink and orange as the sun sets, watching a fish break the surface to sip flies, the oakey spicy bite of whiskey straight from the bottle.

These are the stories that shape my experience. This is why I wanted to challenge myself to catch a fish every month. It guarantees that I will have more sunsets, more laughter, more rivers. So I breathe. I extend myself grace and accept that I am where I am. And there’s more. I just have to keep going. I’ve already made it farther than I ever thought I would.

And next time I’ll bring gloves.

If you haven’t yet caught a fish in 2022, you can still join us! Whether you have gotten skunked for two months in a row…or just heard about this challenge, jump on board! Pick up the challenge regardless of the month and finish out the year! And if you’d like to do 12 months in a row, start now and finish up with the January/February podcasts. The more the merrier! #wyonthefly

The beauty of letting go…

Grief is a journey. It is there and then fades. It hits you in the deepest part of your soul and flows back to wherever it came from. It comes during the quiet moments of reflection and it comes uninvited while life continues its cycle. And while it isn’t fun or enjoyable, it does drag you along on a journey of growth. Internal, emotional, and personal.

2021 has brought with it the loss of several people who were special to me. People who have impacted my life, many times unbeknownst to them. But one of the most impactful losses was a dog. My daughter’s dog, Tuff. And not because I actually liked him, because most of the time he drove me insanely crazy. His death was impactful because I have had to watch my daughter experience this heart wrenching grief. She has spent nearly every day with Tuff for the last seven years. He cuddled her through the divorce and split his time in both households, right by her side. He was there for her as she navigated the difficulties of middle school. And he was ever present in all our celebrations and gatherings. He loved her through it all.

This grief, for her, is a learning experience that will emerge time and again as she walks through life. And as a parent, while I’d do anything to erase her heartbreak, it is an experience that I know is necessary. And I’ll love her through it.

This video was created by her sister. I’ve already watched it again and again…but the end gets me every time. The music may be muted due to music copyrights, but you’ll want to watch with the volume up.

All my love. 💗

Dog Days of Summer

Ya’ll. It is the Dog Days of Summer. Really, all of 2020 have been the Dog Days. Did you know that the Dog Days of Summer are believed to be a time of drought, bad luck, unrest, and general discomfort? Basically sums up the first 6 months of 2020. Wouldn’t you agree?

However, the Dog Days are traditionally early July to mid August. It is the time when the star Sirius (part of the constellation Canis Majoris) rises just before dawn. And, other than the sun, it is the brightest star in the sky. Sirius rising. So it is only appropriate that during the beginning of this time, I am preparing to journey nearly 800 miles to pick up a new pup. My new pup. My first gun dog.

This was not a decision that I came to on a whim. I am easily annoyed by most dogs…other people’s dogs…and even my own at times. My patience is short for ill behaved pets. I’m extremely busy. I’m a single mom of three kids who are involved in every activity under the sun. Is this really something I want to get started in? I don’t even know anything about training a dog! And most gun dogs are smelly, slobbery, and sheddy. Right? Right.

And a once in a lifetime dog only comes along once in a lifetime. Chances are unlikely I’ll ever find one that satisfies every requirement on my long list of gun dog deal breakers.


Last fall I went hunting. Like -h u n t e d- the entire fall and winter months. I headed out every chance I got with whomever I could drag along with me. I realized how dependent I was on other people. Men specifically…to guide, to teach, to borrow their dogs. To feel safe. And although I’m not the traditional “feminist” type…I am a very independent type. I didn’t like trying to schedule what I wanted to do around other people’s schedules. I wanted to know how to do it and be able to go and feel safe. I wanted a companion that was ready to hit the hills whenever I was.

Enter gun dog stage left.

There are so many breeds to choose from, and you really have to do your research to choose the one that is right for you. I knew I wanted a no-to-low shedding dog, loyal, good with kids, adaptable to hunt or track anything, and one that didn’t drool all over my floor. I wanted one big enough that would help me feel secure outdoors when I went on my own. I wanted one that would hold a point, because my shotgun skills need some work. Mama needs a minute to get set up. I wanted one that would hunt for ME and feel like we are in it together. Water, field, upland, mountains, sheds, blood tracking. Is that too much to ask?

Apparently it isn’t.

I remembered a friend who had an unusual, dare I say *ugly*, dog. As I researched and inquired on different breeds, I sent him a message. Surprisingly, through many chats and messages later, the ugly dog pretty much seemed to fit the bill. He put me in touch with the club that manages this breed and I got on the waiting list! Due to the rarity of this dog in North America, the breed is being managed by an amazing group to ensure the maintenance of high standards. I wasn’t expecting to get a pup this first year, but that was okay because it gave me time to prepare. I needed to know how to manage this type of dog and how to train it.

And then it happened….I got the call. A pup in the last litter of 2020 was mine. Imagine my excitement! Imagine how my excitement turned to shock and awe as I realized how quickly this was going to happen and how much I still needed to prepare! This was happening.

So I have spent hours and hours and hours reading, researching, watching videos, asking questions, listening to the experts, and even hanging out with the original ugly dog – Gus. And here we are, in the Dog Days of Summer. And I’m heading to pick up my new gun dog. My companion. My future partner in crime. My protector. My hunting buddy.

Meet Cestička Liberty…my little path to freedom. We will call her Berty. We love her already, despite all the challenges and growth we will soon encounter. We will grow together and learn together.

And besides, a once in a lifetime dog only comes along once in a lifetime….

This Goose Is Cooked

Imagine the excitement that filled my heart when my 13 year old daughter, Lilli, hears that I am going goose hunting and says, “I want to go!”

Yes! Finally, a child who is interested in hunting! One out of three isn’t too bad…right??

My expectations were high early that morning as we traveled the 45 minutes to meet our guide, Jared. I met Jared this summer at a banquet on the opposite side of Wyoming. We have kept in touch on social media and when he suggested we hit the goose blinds – my response was simple, “What time do I need to be there?!”

As we drove down the interstate, Lilli and I talked about hunting and she asked asked questions that I surprisingly was able to answer. Although I consider myself a newbie to hunting, it felt good to be able to share what I have already learned with my daughter.

This is one reason why I became so involved in hunting and fishing so quickly over the last few years…because I knew it was something I wanted to share with my kids. And to do that I needed experience. In order to share what I learn…..I had to do.

We arrived ahead of our 5:45 am meet up time, so we ran into the gas station for snacks and to use the restroom. When kids tag along, making sure their needs are met will go a long way in ensuring an enjoyable day for them and a successful day for yourself. We grabbed snacks and hot chocolate, then headed out to the blinds.

As we unloaded the trailer in the dark, I was surprised how Lilli jumped in and started helping as if she knew exactly what she was doing. Under direction from Jared, we got the decoys set up and the lay down blinds positioned and camouflaged.

Climbing into the blinds as the sun began to peek over the horizon, anticipation of the day’s hunt mounted. Lilli was soaking it all up. As geese approached Jared began calling, and you could see how much he loved doing this. His enthusiasm in calling, the knowledge he shared, his patience with his pup, Bella…we were witnessing someone doing what he was born to do.

It was perfect. It was a beautiful morning and we were learning from an amazing guide. I peeked over at Lilli, expecting to see an excited smile and anticipation in her eyes.

She was asleep.

Dead to the world asleep.

I just laughed to myself and thought, “So this is what it’s like to hunt with kids…” I adjusted my position and readied my shotgun. She wouldn’t sleep for long…the geese were starting to circle overhead.

It was a great day, as any day hunting usually is. We knocked some geese down and let some fly to see another day. I learned a lot; the biggest lesson being that I need more experience and practice with a shotgun. But mostly, I was grateful I was able to hunt and learn from a friend and share the experience with my daughter.

Shredded Goose Street Tacos

Showing my kids where their food comes from is important to me. So involving them in preparing the harvest in the kitchen is equally important. Lilli prepped all the ingredients going into this recipe, and then we cooked it low and slow to ensure tender, shredded goose.

  • 4 lbs goose breast
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 chipotle chilis with sauce, more or less for heat
  • 1 small white onion, quartered
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • small “street taco” shells
  • Serve with: avocado slices, diced white onion, lime wedges, Cotija cheese, and cilantro

In a food processor add garlic, chilis, onion, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, bay leaves, paprika, clove, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and beef stock.

Mix on high until the ingredients are combined.

Lay goose breasts in a slow cooker and cover with mixture.

Cook on high for 6-8 hours. If you are using a pressure cooker, 1-2 hours.

Pull meat out of sauce and shred. Once shredded, spoon sauce over meat to maintain moisture. More sauce can be added to prepared tacos.

To each street taco, add shredded meat, avocado, onion, Cotija cheese, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

The leftovers were fantastic and even more flavorful the following day.

Later in the week I used the shredded goose meat for an amazing breakfast. I buttered a thick slice of toast, spread on a thick layer of mashed avocado, piled on some warmed goose meat, a couple spoonfuls of warmed sauce, and topped with a runny egg. It’s life changing.

Sisters of the Sage

About a year ago, my dad mentioned a women’s only hunt. An antelope hunt. Really not my thing. I smiled, nodded, and thought….yeah, so this has nothing to do with fishing, and hunting can be difficult…and you get hot…or really cold…and you sweat. And antelope smell. Well, I imagine they smell. I don’t really know.

Shortly after, I saw a post on a friend’s Facebook page of this very hunt. Everyone was smiling, there were sweet sentiments, and congratulations. Being a little nosy, I looked up the hunt to see what it was all about. Lo and behold….in the description, a word shot out at me. FISHING. If you harvest your animal, you come back to the ranch and have the opportunity to learn from a guide and FISH. Done! They had me…hook, line, and sinker.

I pulled up the application and typed out an essay about why I wanted to attend…which may have included a story centered on fishing and my kids. My goal was to harvest an animal the first morning out and then spend the next two days fishing. I read that there were many applicants and I kind of put it out of my head, knowing there was a good chance I wouldn’t be invited to attend.

And then, several months later, I got the call.

I was invited to attend the hunt on scholarship! The scholarship was set up through a fund by Shelley Simonton, a leader in making the hunt what it is today. I was beyond excited! Fishing here I come! Bring on the camo! I have struggled connecting with other women who enjoy fly fishing, and this was an opportunity to connect and network with women who may have my same interest!

My curiosity about who Shelley was got the better of me and I did a little online stalking. Turns out she was an influential woman of Wyoming, who believed in empowering women, their ability to be self sufficient, learning from one another, and the camaraderie experienced while hunting together. She sounded like my kind of lady. And I was honored to be included on the hunt through her generosity.

The following month, I received a second message. After battling cancer, Shelley had passed away. I was struck with unexpected emotion. I knew she had touched many women’s lives and I mourned for their loss. I also felt a sense of loss myself. Having never been able to meet this remarkable woman, I felt the loss of never being able to experience the infectious personality I had read so much about. The meaning of the scholarship became even deeper. I was hopeful for success in the hunt, to be able to honor her in the only way I was able.

Throughout the summer, I began collecting my first pieces of camo. I practiced shooting a gun and ended up receiving my first rifle. I excitedly checked off one item after another on my packing list. The anticipation of the hunt began to mount.


Driving onto the ranch property, I was nearly overcome with excitement. As I passed under the entrance welcoming me to my weekend, I looked to the sky and thought, “Well, here’s to new adventures. Wish me luck.”

Following registration, I headed to the gun range to sight in my rifle. There was a group of men available to assist with the sight in and I certainly felt like a fish out of water. I had trouble sighting in my gun, despite the gentle corrections from the helpers. Once the volunteers felt the gun was good to go, the gentleman encouraged me to try shooting from the prone (yes, I had to learn what that was) position, aiming at a “gong” on the side of the hill nearly 200 yards away. Awkwardly I assumed the position, laying on the ground as he helped me situate the gun. There was a cameraman nearby and I had to laugh as he was snapping pictures of this extremely obvious novice.

Aiming my rifle in the direction of the gong, I squeezed the trigger. The volunteer exclaimed, “You hit it!” I was doubtful. With my earplugs in, I didn’t think I heard the ring of the bullet hitting metal. I lined up a second shot. This time, as I squeezed the trigger, I heard the audible ring. I looked at him excitedly as he smiled and nodded back to me. I looked back through my scope and saw the paint chipped away where I had made the shot, nearly right in the middle. I was surprised, but encouraged, and thought I better quit while I was ahead.

Arriving back at the lodge, I was overwhelmed with how nervous and anxious I was for the following day. My hands were shaking and I was emotionally unprepared for how unsure I was that I could actually pull this off.

The next morning came too quick. I hit the ground at 5:00 am, jittery and uncollected. Nonetheless, I layered my camo, double checked for my hunting license, extra bullets, my rifle, double knotted my brand new, never before worn, hunting boots.

At the ranch house, I met up with my guide and local land owner, Kellen Little. My hunting partner turned out to be Wyoming’s first female Supreme Court Justice, Marilyn Kite, a founding member of the hunt. No pressure there. It was then that I was introduced to Shelley’s husband, Matt Bowers. He would be joining us for the day. Lord, please let an antelope stand in front of my rifle. I felt as if the outcome of the day hinged on whether or not I was able to harvest an animal. I wanted my guide to feel success. I wanted the Supreme Court Justice to smile upon me. I wanted Shelley’s husband to not feel like this was a wasted trip.


Squeezing into Kellen’s truck, we headed on down the road. The sun was just coming up and the frost sparkled over the Wyoming landscape. Everything was painted a crisp mix of green, gold, and orange. I sat up front, as I had the first opportunity to take a shot as the newbie. It didn’t take long before the other three passengers were cutting up and joking with one another. Watching them interact with each other, I eased into the comfortable atmosphere. Their stories of hunts from years gone by were rich. I laughed with them and was surrounded by their memories. The ribbing that each one endured from the others was endearing as personalities emerged.

I watched as they reveled in knowing they were among friends, who were about to make new memories together.

And I was privileged to be part of it.

The laughter and reminiscing was peppered with accounts of Shelley, and her personality became more and more evident to me. This person was such a highlight in so many of these stories. What gratitude I felt, because of her forethought and generosity.  I was bouncing around in a truck, enjoying the incredible Wyoming landscape, listening to these three – who were quickly becoming my friends – recount great hunts of the past, learning about the history of the land….and a realization washed over me.

It isn’t about the antelope.

These friendships, these people, these relationships, remembering, memories, new experiences…this is the hunt.

Before we even made it to our first location, I knew this day was already a success.

I was in the midst of building memories of the 2017 hunt. We were on the verge of being a part of next year’s stories. Harvesting an antelope is inconsequential.

These people, the camaraderie, experiences, moments shared. This….this is what I came for. The anxiety of expecting an outcome for the day melted away, as I became one who reveled in knowing I was among friends who are making new memories together.

We searched, we stalked, we worked hard that day. I put many miles on those new boots. I scaled the side of a steep hill 150 feet high, shouldering that new rifle. I belly crawled, scuffing the shiny, new barrel on the ground. Just to peek over the edge of the hill and see the herd trotting out of range and climbing back down.


Marilyn, Kellen, and Matt laughed with me and we continued to formulate new strategies. They encouraged me. I felt acknowledged and accepted and I persevered through the day with a genuine smile on my face. The team motivated me to try again and again. Kellen’s patience and humor kept me on track and in the moment. His encouragement strengthened my resolve…even when I shot him a “What the hell?” look when he told me to get down and belly crawl with a rifle in my hand. This young lad, 10 years my junior, wants me to do WHAT?!? I can only imagine what was running through his head as he waited for me to literally inch my way a few feet each time.

As we slowly approached the fourth herd of the day, it was evident they were aware of our presence. The herd began to move away and out of range. We decided to make the long trek around the other side of the hill in an attempt to meet them from the opposite direction. We crept around the backside of the hill, putting another three quarters of a mile under our feet. Approaching the top of the hill, Kellen again motioned for the infamous belly crawl. The thought crossed my mind that he was pulling one over on me and the joking and laughing in 2018 will be about the middle aged hunter attempting the crawl.

We peeked over the hill and the herd was unaware of us. I quietly loaded my gun while Kellen continued to scope the herd. He looked through the range finder, which he probably picked up nearby from the dozens he has lost in the brush over the last five years, and whispered 99 yards. I waited for the herd to move into a position that I could view them through my scope. Kellen whispered the number of bucks and pointed out one that would be a good option. I struggled to find the buck in my scope. Finally, he stepped into position. “I got him in my scope,” I whispered. Kellen quietly responded, “When you are ready. Take your time. Deep breath.”

The buck turned broadside. I aimed the crosshairs of my scope behind his shoulder, where the white darkened to brown. I let out my breath, I squeezed the trigger. I watched the antelope through my scope and I knew I had hit him. He spun around and I reloaded my gun in anticipation of having to take a second shot. The buck fell to the ground as the rest of the herd blazed down the hill. I lowered my gun and a sense of accomplishment washed over me. I turned to see my guide’s excited smile, “You got him!” A celebratory hug and we were both on our feet headed down the hill.

As we approached the buck, I was in awe of how beautiful this animal was. I was filled with gratitude of the food he was providing for my family. I was proud that I was able to do something I was quite certain, just that morning, I couldn’t do.


That first morning of the hunt, I harvested my antelope. Later that day, Marilyn was able to harvest hers. We left the ranch that morning as strangers and a single goal in mind. We returned to the ranch as friends and comrades, accomplishing so much more than our intended goal. This moment, this experience can never be replicated. Yes, there will be hunts in the coming years that will add to and enrich our lives. But this one, the first, will always be.



Of course, I went fishing. The next two days were spent fishing with guides. I learned about casting, reading the water, bugs, and more information than I’ll ever be able to use. And I loved every second.


But, reflecting on the weekend, my mind returns to the hunt. Not the animal harvest. It is the moment in the truck, looking at these people who are now my people, when I realized the true intention of the day. The moment when I realized the day was already a success.


Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt 2017