For many of us, myself included, the stories that are told in a hunting camp, living room, or at the dinner table could serve as the only form of entertainment that we need.  It’s not whether the story is entirely true or not, it’s how the story is told that matters.  So as many of us have done in the past, the story teller may embellish the truth.  The statement “no harm, no foul” most definitely applies in this situation.  Anyone who can say that they don’t embellish when they get deep into a good story is no friend of mine.  It’s the story teller that embellishes that tells the best story.  That, my friends, is why we do the things we do.  The more the story gets told, the bigger the size of the fish, animal, cliff, etc.  Seriously, who would be impressed if someone told you that they shot a spike buck that fell ten feet down a three degree slope?  It’s the need to impress and entertain that drives the story onward to its ultimate shape and destination.  That buck mysteriously grows fourteen more points and falls down a one hundred foot rock face only to get caught, by the antlers, in a 60 foot pine tree, with no lower limbs, thirty feet off the ground.  Now which story would you rather hear?  That’s why we do what we do.  It makes for more enjoyable times.  No one does it out of malice or ill will, they simply want to tell a good story.  But in order to be able to tell a good story, one must first put themself into a position to experience a jumping off point for a good story.  Which leads me to my story.

When I was twenty years old, I had the good idea to pack my Ford Exploder, yes I said Exploder not Explorer, and drive to Wyoming with the hopes of doing something exciting and adventurous.  I won’t bore you with the details of my drive west from Virginia, but along the way I did fly a plane, see a cathedral on a prairie, and almost pick up two hippies and their dog (I simply didn’t have room in my Exploder for the hippies).  For the first week that I was in Wyoming I did a lot of driving around the areas between Dubois and Jackson trying to find employment due to the unfortunate fact that I wasn’t independently wealthy.  Late summer in Wyoming may be one of my favorite things about my time there.  But I digress, eventually I found a job as a cook and a wrangler with a local hunting guide in Dubois (if you want to know which one you’ll have to contact me).  Two days later, the adventures began.

To start off, the only hunting I had ever done to that point was a whole lot of waterfowling on the eastern shore of Virginia.  There had never been an occassion for me to saddle a horse or lead a pack train, both things that I was required to do on a regular basis.  That first ride, ten miles into base camp, was like nothing I had ever experienced.  Being the avid horseman that I was how was I supposed to know that you shouldn’t hold onto the saddle horn?  We made it into base camp, my home for the next 23 days and started setting things up.

For the next two months, I would see things that most may never see in their entire lifetime.  I rode over the Continental Divide several times on horseback, and a few times in the Exploder.  I literally climbed straight down a rock face to help retrieve a sheep that a hunter had shot, only to climb straight back up the same face with about 40 pounds of sheep meat on my back, all in a blowing snow storm.  And there was the day that I incidentally got within 12 yards of a cow moose , but the most memorable experience I had during my time in Wyoming was sitting around the camp table listening to the stories that all of the guides and hunters had to tell.  Many of the stories seemed pretty far fetched, but every one of them was entertaining.  The sixteen point buck that fell down a rock face and got stuck actually isn’t far from the truth.  The actual story (I’ve seen the photos) was a six by six elk slid down a snow bank and went tail first over a cliff getting caught by the head in a crack.   The point is, the story was one that I will never forget.  Granted the man telling it could have simply said, “I shot a six by six that slid down a bank and got caught by the head in a crack.”  Instead he embellished a bit, and the story took on a whole life of its own.  It is the embellishment that makes the story what it is.  From my time in Wyoming I have many stories that could easily be told without embellishment.  The thing is though, if I add just a touch of embellishment the story gets a lot better.

And that is why we do what we do.