For a minute there, I had what was just about a perfect job for me. I was the photographer for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, so I got to spend the bulk of my time out in the field, hunting critters with a camera. I got the opportunity to photograph bald eagles, bighorn sheep, deer, prairie chickens, sharp-tailed grouse, and nearly every species of duck you can find in North America.
The only problem with the job was that it wasn’t in Wyoming. North Dakota’s a cool place – it has a rugged, violent beauty much like a lot of Wyoming has. But it also has a whole different set of challenges than we face in the Cowboy State.
First of all, most of the land in North Dakota is private. Lots of it has been opened to the public through their PLOTS program, which is similar to our own Walk-In program. But it’s still private, and that makes it harder to find a place to hunt, fish, camp, or take photographs.
It’s also cold up there. I did it completely backward – most North Dakotans, if given the choice, spend spring, summer and the first half of fall up there by the Canadian border, then flee to Arizona for the winter. I was up there from November through the first half of May, so I only got to see a little bit of the sunny, green side of the state.
I’m back in Wyoming now, though, and I don’t plan to leave again anytime soon. I’ve also realized how good we have it in Wyoming, and I’m not going to take what I have here for granted. I have a lifetime fishing and small game license, and I plan to make the most of it in the coming months. I won’t be catching any 16-pound walleyes, like the one a guy just caught in North Dakota, but a few half-pound cutthroats are good enough for me. It’s enough to know I’ll be catching them right here in Wyoming.