By Lynn Harlan
It’s been a fine fall. It has been dusty and dry, but the trees have put on a glorious show. It’s a short 10 miles into town, but the drive is impressive this time of year with cottonwoods in color.
Many others enjoy it as well.
Wait. All of those out-of-state pickups aren’t here for the fall foliage? They’ll be driving along and suddenly stop in the road. Binoculars come out, but they’re not gazing at the Wyoming state tree?
Yep, it’s hunting season in Wyoming. Best not be in a hurry as pickups, cars and campers are scattered about searching for elusive deer and elk.
I didn’t grow up hunting or eating wild game, but my husband Bob ate plenty of deer and elk in his formative years. By the time I came along, the family was putting a beef or two in the freezer, supplemented by home-grown pork and lamb.
There have been many skunks to shoot at this fall, but we aren’t hunting game for the freezer.
Come every October, the hills, meadows and draws are alive with orange hats and vests. Hunters are good for Wyoming’s economy. However, there will always be five percent of people who will ruin it for others by leaving a mess behind and ignoring trespass signs.
The majority of folks are just here to enjoy a good time in Wyoming’s wonderful scenery and perhaps the added bonus of a trophy animal.
This year, there will be a missing piece at the Harlan Ranch for many returning hunters. My mother-in-law Jo, the “grand dame” of Barnum, passed away in late September at the age of 95.
Many hours were spent at her table with hunters, enjoying cookies and coffee and discussing world events. Some became dear friends, and one even flew from Michigan to have one final chat with Jo as we laid her to rest on the ranch next to her husband Jim.
Jim and Jo were honorably discharged from heavy-duty jobs on the ranch and ran the hunting operation. Hunters would call to get on the list starting Jan. 1. Jo would visit with them about the holidays, the winter, how the family was doing and life on the ranch.
Licenses had to be applied for by the end of February, and in June, if they received licenses, they would call again and confirm numbers in the party.
Paul, the hunter from Michigan says, “We came in October, set up camp and went straight to Jo’s for coffee, cakes and cookies. Laughter was always served.”
Jim was a prisoner of war in World War II, but like many in his generation, he never really talked about his time in the war.
Bob remembers one time they had a hunter at the table who had also been in the Battle of the Bulge, and he and Jim had a lively conversation. Bob gained insight that day about his father’s service in the war.
Some hunters would bring goodies for us all to share. Apples were popular, as there are not many apples grown in Wyoming. We received Wisconsin cheese and fresh fish from some Washington hunters.
Jim passed away in 2002, and this is when Jo really came into her own. The stories may not have always been truly factual but they were fun, and Jo was a great conversationalist. There is certainly an empty spot at the kitchen table this year.
Silver Dollar Pancakes
I had some time so I made pancakes for breakfast the other morning. Once in a blue moon, we’ll have pancakes and bacon for “brinner” as my daughter calls it. This would be the month, since there is a blue moon this October.
I keep buttermilk in the fridge for these pancakes, as well as cornbread and biscuits. Once a person tries these pancakes, they may never go back to any other pancakes.
To make them, mix one egg, one cup buttermilk and two tablespoons of oil or bacon drippings. Add one cup flour, one tablespoon plus one teaspoon sugar, one teaspoon baking powder, one-half teaspoon baking soda and one-half teaspoon salt. The batter is thick, so spread it out a bit.
The recipe makes enough for two to three people and can easily be doubled. It is also great with blueberries.