The Smell of the Sagebrush
The 2nd Annual Crazy Horn Outfitters BG189 Freedom Hunters Veterans Ladies Archery Antelope Hunt
Hunting for me is not all about the harvest. It is about the tiny details that complete the story, leaving memories etched in my mind. It is the Wyoming sunrise, the warm wind, the smell of the sagebrush, and the inner peace and happiness I find while hunting. As an outfitter and guide I want to share that feeling with everyone that hunts with me, hoping they leave Wyoming with unexpected friendships and life changing experiences. Every hunt I guide has a special meaning and special memories, I could never choose a favorite, but this hunt for me was life changing. I hope as I tell my story you feel it too.
Hunter #1: My daughter & I anxiously arrive at the airport, and as we are walking in, she is walking out. A tiny Sicilian lady carrying only a bow case, walking with a cane, and an eye patch graciously covering one eye. AnnaMaria Cardinalli or “CC” from New Mexico is one of the most amazing ladies I have ever met. I am grateful for her service for our freedom, I am grateful for the life lessons she taught me, and I am grateful for her friendship.
Hunter #2: I meet Shelley Heide at the hotel. She is from Wyoming, so our connection is fast, and I know instantly she is an amazing lady. Her strength, perseverance, and humbleness will forever touch my heart. Her accomplishments are beyond measure. She is quiet, sweet, and one of the strongest people I know. Her service to our country makes me humbled and her friendship treasured.
The Mentors: Lanny & Tracey Barnes, or “our Olympians”. We were all a bit star struck, uncertain and nervous to meet them. That lasted only minutes, as these two incredible ladies put us all at ease as they shared stories and we all found our passion, appreciation and excitement for this hunt was equal. If you ever have a chance in your life to cross paths with either one of these ladies, don’t pass it up.
Our hunt is memorable, emotional, full of tiny details, and huge accomplishments. It would take a book and a true storyteller (hint hint Tracey Barnes) to share it all, but I am going to tell story the best I can. We made blind adjustments, it was cold, and it was hot. The hunts were fast, and they were slow. Shelley filled her first archery antelope tag early on day 1 of the hunt. Her hunt is new friends, old blue Chevy trucks, and smiles from ear to ear. Her hunt is overcoming obstacles and believing she can with her Olympian by her side. Shelley’s hunt for me is about watching a lady trust strangers and overcome so many fears I can never understand, and don’t believe I deserve to. I am so proud of her and the high fives and hugs after her harvest are forever etched in my mind. We shared stories and tears, sometimes when words were not even spoken, we laughed as does walked toward us when CC was hunting, we gave words new meanings (pineapple), and we bonded and I am honored to be in her life.
This is CC’s first hunt ever. She is wanting to learn how to hunt to help feed the homeless in her hometown. CC’s hunt ended successfully after a day and half of hunting. CC hunted with a traditional bow, in a makeshift blind shooting out the door. Her hunt was learning to adjust, horse’s noses, big bucks when you have a doe tag and a mouth full of dots. It was a cheering section from afar, lunch in the truck full of laughter, little screaming sparrows, recovery, smiles, tears, and her Olympian by her side. She is tough and so incredible. As we packed out her antelope in the hot sun, the comradery, laughter, and the smell of the sagebrush filled the air. Friendships and sisterhoods were made with 4 of the most incredible people in the world.
I know this hunt brought aspects to healing to both ladies. They both shared their stories, and their gratitude to myself, Lanny, and Tracey for the hunt, but I believe it is the three of us that owe a world of gratitude to Shelley and CC. My life is changed because of the moments we all shared and because as CC said, “I didn’t know it was actually possible to trust and depend on strangers so quickly.” I guess we all share that thought now and it makes life a bit easier.
Thank you, Anthony, Clay, and Freedom Hunters, for providing opportunities to our heroes and allowing me to touch their lives.
Thank you, Amy Ray for the Sisterhood of the Outdoors, that I get to share with amazing people.
Thank you, Lanny & Tracey, for your knowledge, support, and your hearts of gold. I could not have done this without you.
Thank you, Jeff, and Samantha, for, well, everything you do to support me.
Thank you, Shelley & CC, for your service. You are my warriors and my heroes.
My heart is full, happy, and eternally grateful.