I stopped keeping track of how many days I have been self-isolating for at 45. I'm at least a week beyond that now and finding myself reflecting on how a worldwide pandemic has altered my perception of the hunting and fishing opportunities around me.
When I first moved out west, the proximity of a lot of hunting and fishing adventures that I had always dreamed of was initially the most exciting thing about being in southern Wyoming. Six hours to the Snake River, eight hours to the famed salmonfly hatch on the Henry's Fork. Nine hours to Bozeman. The list goes on. My first few years living out west, I took my truck from Laramie to every corner of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Oregon for winter steelhead, and as far as the southernmost point of the U.S. for my first taste of saltwater fly fishing.
It took a few years to start appreciating what was around me, even if these areas weren't world famous. Still, the exploratory hunter and angler, by nature, wants to explore, so I continued planning several trips every year to check out some corner of the Rocky Mountains that has been on my mind for a while.
Normally, this time of the year, I would be all over the place chasing trout with streamers and turkeys with my shotgun. Due to the current worldwide circumstances, I have not been able to cross state lines, and have avoided traveling any farther on a day trip than a single tank of gas can get me to-and-from. This has made for an interesting shake up in my hunting and fishing pursuits. I currently do not have the option to take off for a long weekend to some other state, or some other corner of Wyoming. If anything positive has happened to me throughout all of this Covid-19 madness, it's that I have been effectively quarantined to my own backyard when it comes to hunting and fishing. I am finally checking out some of the hundreds of OnX waypoints that I have marked, but never ventured to. I am finally exploring all of the squiggly little blue lines on my map that seem like they could host phenomenal fishing. Some do, some don't. I have come to the realization that maybe I don't need to travel to the Black Hills to kill a turkey, but rather put in a little extra effort right here at home.
If anything, these bizarre last couple of months have opened my eyes even more to all of the opportunity that surrounds me within a 100-mile radius. I've realized that I could never leave this bubble for the rest of my life and still most likely not explore it all. Being forced to stay in my own backyard for this period of time has somewhat cured my "grass is always greener" syndrome and provided me with a new perspective and appreciation for the wildlife and opportunities that surround me.
As hunters and anglers, especially in the age of social media, it's easy to get cases of wanderlust and to put these far-away trips on a pedestal. I still love exploring all over the country, and can't wait to get back to it, but maybe now is the time to take a little closer look at your own backyard. You may be surprised to find that you have overlooked something special.