"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Wyoming Journals, Ch. 2: Roughing It, Wyoming Style

Ch. 2:   Roughing It, Wyoming Style

The Alaskan hunting camps to which I accompanied my husband had four things in common:   tents, bonfires, sleeping bags, and mosquitoes.

The reason for the tents is obvious—protection from the weather and to keep the magpies from running off with your small equipment.

The bonfires (campfires) were multi-purpose—warmth, cooking, drying clothing, and perhaps keeping curious bears at bay.

The sleeping bags and mosquitoes, again obvious.   One necessary and the other a nuisance.

Of the three different camps, one was accessed by small float plane, one by riding horses (or leading, depending on how much your knees hurt) fifteen miles into the mountains, and the third by wrestling a four-wheel ATVs thirteen miles along dirt trails, over boulders, and through water deep enough to make you ride with your feet on the handlebars.

They do things differently in Wyoming.   Moose hunting in Alaska is done usually from Sept 1 to Sept. 15, depending on the whims of the game board.   In Wyoming, elk season opens in October and runs through whenever, again depending on the whims of those who run those things.

Mule deer just outside of camp.

After I’d been in my cousins’ elk camp a few days, I said, “So, what you need to hunt elk in Wyoming are a couple $200,000 RVs, a couple antique trucks, and MREs?” *

The response was laughter, but nobody denied my observation.   The only things in common with Alaskan hunts were the sleeping bags, even though we were bedded down in those luxurious movable land yachts.

Still autumn at this elevation.

When my cousin Christine picked me up in Denver and drove us to the Snowy Mountain range in southeastern Wyoming, the first order of business was to set up the portable, hand-made outhouse.    A hole was dug, the floor set, the walls screwed together and the top set in place.   The throne was installed and straps were fastened to guy brackets screwed into the ground were to thwart the Wyoming winds.

Chris and her dad Bud assemblingt he sections and appurtenances.

Bob with the roof.  Note the red straps holding down the outhouse.

Installing the door.

Bud, Chris, and Bob celebrating its completion.

Chris and the outhouse.   That lamp heats it.

Then came the unbelievable:   a propane lamp not only provided illumination but also heat, so much heat that I began called the structure the sauna.  An automatic air freshener periodically dispensed a pleasant masking aroma to cover natural unpleasant aromas.   TP was placed on a stainless-steel shelf, and a magazine rack attached to the inside of the door.   There was no Sears catalogue, however.

Good for drying boots, too.

With the obligatory crescent moon sandblasted into the door’s window, the interior light shining through was a beacon to the outhouse at night.

Two tents were erected:   one, the garage, for storing propane bottles and gasoline containers for vehicles and the ATVs, and another, peculiarly called the cook tent, was for drying clothing, and changing into and out of the warm camouflage gear and boots.    I'm not sure why it's called the cook tent.   No cooking was done in it, but there was a grill set up outside.

Bud's handmade frame for the tent.

It's easier to assemble if you  lay it  out in the right orientation....

The cook tent in the foreground and the garage in the rear.

Nice and warm and perfect for drying boots and clothing.

A truck with a hundred-gallon propane bottle in back supplied gas to the two RVs for heat, cooking, and hot water.  The camp was completed with an artificial grass lawn “planted” between the two RVs and held in place with big rocks.

A camp near us.

All set up.

Brad's 5th wheel trailer is at left.   After this photo was taken, the guys fastened a yard light to the top of the ladder.   A YARD LIGHT, no less.   Bud's Class A motorhome is at right and to the right of that is his '81 Ford Bronco, the hunting vehicle.  It is one of the two antique vehicles necessary to hunt elk in Wyoming.

Brad, left, and his son Charles in front of the second antique hunting vehicle.  

Note the yard light on the top of the 5th wheel trailer ladder.

Brad's son Charles and Cousin Bud sitting around the non-existent campfire.

 Now, if you think I'm having a bit of fun writing about this magnificent hunting camp, well, I am.   But if you think about it, most of us are in our 70s and comfort is appreciated.    Sleeping on the cold ground inside a tent that drops frozen condensation crystals on your sleeping bag (which then melt and dampen your bag) is not fun.

Bud's motorhome was the real cook shack.   Here, Brad prepares salads for dinner.

Bud helps by staying out of the way.   And quiet.   No snoring.

Also, consider the mechanical talent and care it takes to keep those antique vehicles running.   Consider the ingenuity put into all the handmade equipment like the tent frameworks and the outhouse.   Brad and Bud have been hunting together for decades and they have perfected this camping thing.

Not so much with the MREs, though.

There were no mosquitoes or campfires.

This is roughing it in style at 8300 feet elevation.

*MREs is the acronym for Meals Ready to Eat, and are packaged military rations with water-activated hydrogen heating packets.   Ours expired in the Pleistocene epoch.

The equipment trailer.

This is Bob in the equipment trailer, trying to get to spools of wire rope (cable) that are UNDER the two 50 gallon blue potable water barrels.


  1. We work hard to have a comfortable hunting camp. We have roughed it, too. We like this much better than the old way. We want to spend our time hunting, not cutting wood for camp stoves. Brad and I have been hunting together since 1977. Very well written.

  2. Amazing. Absolutely and positively amazing Post Gullible. Did we see snow and autumn weather mixed together. Did the snow just melt during the day? Too funny this luxury camping out at 8,000 some feet elevation. We are still recovering from our flight back to Alaska from Detroit. We have been listening to oldies on you tube, something Patti just found out about when I brought up a song or two I wanted to hear that were mentioned in a book Patti had downloaded into her Kindle. Will we have snow here in the 'morrow? Smiles from the two of us .. Patti and Cap