I am writing this blog in late May while most of the country is experiencing summer like temperatures my home state of Wyoming is going through another beautiful spring. We can experience all four seasons during springtime,sometimes all in one day. There is falling snow,thunderstorms,sunny days with temperatures ranging from the 30’s to the 70’s. I started traveling through the state again in the second half of April. Few times my travel plans were altered due to severe weather and road closures.
The winter is slowly departing,snow is melting at lower elevations of 6000-7000 ft. This annual thaw is allowing the elk,antelope or mule deer to start their migration. Binoculars are must have if you want to enjoy the wildlife and the scenery. Unfortunately I never remembered to bring the camera as I travel for business and family obligations. I think of it more as a vacation item. It is very hard at times to keep an eye on the road,there is just too much to look at. After two decades traveling to and from Wyoming during different times of the year,the spring is truly special. The nature is awaking after a winter. You not only see wildlife but also ranchers who are repairing and setting up irrigation for the summer,moving cattle to spring pasture and checking the hay fields. If you like to see nature at it’s best,including responsible land management there is no better place.
Wyoming antelope numbers until recently outnumbered people. The threat of unhealthy herd became high. The balance was accomplished through ethical hunting. Great example of proper human actions can benefit wildlife by reducing potential for spreading disease.
The Grand Teton National Park herd migrate each fall and spring about 150 miles. They leave Jackson Hole and travel over mountain passes and through the valleys all the way to southwestern part of the state. Area with much less snow for antelope to graze on. There has been a study done where the wildlife management put collars on several of them. You can actually see their path from satellite records 30 000 feet above. Pretty incredible the way they pass on life saving information from generation to generation to preserve the herd. No chips,computers or GPS. These antelopes have done this particular route for millennia. Their movement so instinctive,it became part of their DNA.
The state of Wyoming also spent few hundred thousand if not millions of dollars to built overpasses and tunnels about 70 miles southeast of Jackson Hole. There was a initial overreaction to this project,myself included,but after further research i realized these structures save several hundred antelope each migrating season from becoming roadkill. Another example we can coexist if there is a will. Investment into future benefits antelope,hunters,ranchers and many tourists who visit Wyoming to see free roaming wildlife.
I am looking forward to this fall. Planning to go on the antelope hunt and bring my favorite CZ 550 .308.
Many hunters if not all are very familiar with Wyoming elk. Magnificent animal roaming the beautiful mountains during the summer and fall months. I as resident of this great state became familiar on many different levels including having them part of our late fall,winter and early spring landscape. Our property is located in a historical migrating route elk uses to get to a lower part of the valley. We sit in so called “banana belt”. We get more sun during short days of winter than any other part of the valley.
Every fall there is a decision to make when to put up fencing around our trees to prevent many elk,sometimes up to a hundred from using the trees as a rubbing stick. Mistakes have been made with timing and we have lost some trees over the years. Same process but in reverse is going on in the spring. Never take the fences down too early or some late stragglers on their way back up to the mountains will do their part. Moose frequently spends days at a time in the neighborhood,using the plowed driveways to get closer to the desired willows.They spend lot less energy that way than walking through the deep snow. As spring arrives, you start to see the snow melting all around you and the movement starts.
I feel very fortunate to live here and be part of the solution as an outdoorsman and a hunter. Eastern part of the state’s wildlife management allowed three elk cow tags and a bull elk tag per hunter last fall. The lack of predators increase the elk herds close to unhealthy levels.
The northwestern part of the state has completely different problem. Hunters complain that due to the wolf reintroduction and grizzly population increase there is lack of hunt-able elk. Wyoming Game and Fish is working hard to find the right balance but they get major interference from the federal agencies. As we all know Federal agencies never quite well understand local issues wether it comes to economy,healthcare,education,taxes or wildlife management.
Mule deer became my favorite game to hunt. It gives a hunter a true sporting experience as they like to live high up in the mountains and along steep cliffs. The mature bucks have great sense of stealth. Their numbers can vary from season to season. They are not as big and not as well equipped to deal with heavy winters. Few years ago we had close to record snowfall in the western part of the states and winter lasted well into May even in lower elevations. Reportedly the mule deer lost about sixty percent of it’s herd. I was told they need to get to their regular food sources by late March or early April to survive. That did not happen and they were decimated by the severe conditions. It is amazing,however, the numbers bounce right back after last two milder winters. I am anxious to see how many tags will be available this fall.
There is a significant difference to watch all these animals during winter months. Very slow moving,much more efficient not to burn excess energy. Food sources are extremely limited. Most of the popular hiking areas are closed to human activity during winter months. There is no need to disturb the wildlife as they are fighting for survival every day.
Springtime comes with renewed hope of making it another year(harsh reality of nature).
The moment the trails are open(April 1st) and free of snow(much later) I’m out there hiking with my dogs and assessing how hard the winter was for them by finding many carcasses and skeletons. Most of these are found in difficult terrain caused by injury and consequential starvation.
My focus right now is on the ever elusive coyotes. Seeing lots of very fresh scat on the trail. They are traveling much easier too. I have to leave the dogs home one day and bring my CZ 527 M1 American,the coyote caller and hope for the best. I will write a new blog and provide pictures from my next coyote hunt.
Spring in Wyoming is a very unique time. I highly recommend to drive through the state or make little detour on a business trip this time of the year. Wyoming fall is the busy season with many out of state hunters visiting but spring is interesting for different reasons. Great time to see the nature making it’s recovery from the long hard winters.
Lastly I would like to quickly review a rifle I had an opportunity to shoot during my time in Florida this past winter. This is not a review similar to those you find in major firearms publications. This is a review from a guy who likes to shoot,hunt and be part of gun ownership community. I do not always have time to go the range with all the necessary shooting bays,sand bags,benches etc. While in Florida more often than not we get together with friends and try our best to match the rifles’ ability with our own. We never come close as we realize CZ products are great quality,accurate,durable and practical at an affordable price.
CZ 527 Carbine 7.62×39
This is a carbine size rifle,small and very handy,packing significant punch at short to medium distance. I had it in my truck most of my time in Florida and was able to pull it out and shoulder it while getting out of the truck without any difficulties during my “training exercise”. This was a demo and the only improvement it needed is to lengthen the stock. I’m 6’4″ with long arms.
When it came to sighting it in we used a big log with a folded jacket to provide more stable platform. There is no structures or shooting set ups on the property as we use it to graze cattle May through October. The winter month I primarily use it for shooting. Did it affect the accuracy? I’m sure it did but we were not testing precision rifle. We ended up getting consistently 1.5 inch groups with ammo that varied from 122 grain FMJ 125 soft points or hollow points. I like the fact of not having to re sight whether you shoot target ammo or you’re hunting hogs,deer. The barrel handles shooting many successive rounds very well. The action is typical CZ. It only gets better with use. No problems with extraction either.
“The iron sights were doing it’s job at 50 yards. Very functional and practical. The problem as all of us wear either glasses or contact lenses was beyond that distance. I went to a local gun shop and bought very affordable Redfield Revolution 3-9×40 scope with Accu-Range reticle. Mounted and bore sighted from the store we needed no time to zero in. The scope is just the right size for the 527 carbine. My intention was not too overwhelm the stock as this rifle won’t find it’s way to the range often if ever. It’s meant for the truck,the field or the woods. The Accu-Range reticle was perfect for clay or steel can like targets.”
We had so much fun breaking clays for several afternoons from the distance of 125-150 yards. I felt comfortable loading the magazine with 124 grain soft points and heading out to hunt some wild hogs. I had no luck getting any but learned a lot about their behavior. I’ll be more prepared next winter. I purchase a hog caller and a feeder with a timer. There is still no guarantees but I’ll be posting pictures if I will outsmart them. After all i am the guy with the gun.