Crossing wildlife species off a bucket list
I realize that many Outdoor News readers have made more than a few trips to the West hunting, fishing and sightseeing, but I waited 55 years to make my first journey.
We visited Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in Colorado and Wyoming, and made a side trip into Montana. In addition to wanting to appreciate the awesome scenery, I went with a bucket list of wildlife I wanted to see. With the exception of wolves, I saw the rest, and more.
But not quite the way I expected.
Traveling across Wyoming we saw hundreds of pronghorn antelope. They were interesting. And we saw a badger, too. Unexpected.
We saw several large groups of elk at about 12,000 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park. They caused a huge traffic jam on the Ridge Road. I spend a lot of time in Pennsylvania elk country, so seeing elk is nothing new for me. But seeing dozens above the tree line was kinda cool.
Next, in Yellowstone, we saw hundreds of bison. I had never seen a buffalo in the wild before. We saw some elk in Yellowstone, too.
About 19 miles out of the park’s West Gate, on the bank of the Madison River, not far below Hebgen Lake, we saw four bighorn sheep. That was a thrill. These all looked like females to me. Years ago, I saw three bighorn rams while driving from Las Vegas to Tucson; I never thought I’d see more.
But I was disappointed, there were no moose to be seen anywhere. Even in Grand Teton park — in a spot where I was told I’d surely find them – they didn’t show.
On the way back, we made a detour through the Medicine Bow National Forest, and drove up into the gorgeous Snowy Mountains not far from Laramie, Wyo. In a lush, green high-country wetland with a small, air-clear stream flowing through it, I saw a bull moose with wide antlers with big paddles.
While we watched it, another bull walked out of the shadows. They were darker than I expected, the color of dark chocolate. We watched them feed for 20 minutes or so.
My bucket list is shorter now, and I have photos to prove it. It was a good trip.