Heard around the West

  • Is this Hayduke's truck?

    Kevin L. Hamann


Residents of a golf course community near Grand Teton National Park are distressed about a hunter killing a bull moose in their midst. The animal, which sported a huge set of antlers, had been a regular visitor to the Teton Pines neighborhood, wandering from one backyard to another. This time it was accompanied by a cow moose, which bolted after the shooting and broke her leg, and two calves, one of which was killed trying to cross a highway. "The moose have been here long before we were," a saddened resident told the Jackson Hole News&Guide. "I got nothing but joy from seeing them." Some letters to the editor were vitriolic, with one person calling what the hunter did "as sporting as shooting a horse in a pasture." Residents have begun lobbying the state to revise the boundaries of hunting areas that now include developments like theirs.


The San Juan Horseshoe,whose motto varies from "Four More Wars" to "A clever smokescreen of half-truths, bumbling and weak conjecture," has been spoofing western Colorado’s people and practices since 1977. Its hunting issue is always a hoot, and the latest, criticizing runaway elk ramps as unfair to road hunters, and offering taxidermy advice to low-income deer and elk, is one of their best. Resort workers might get a painful laugh from the ad from a purported mini-storage company: It offered a two-bedroom rental with a black-and-white painting of an open window for $600. Alarming news was also reported from the resort town of Crested Butte: There are now "more realtors than dogs."


A family stranded on a snowy, 11,400-foot mountain near Rawlins, Wyo., blamed a guidebook for their predicament. The book’s offense? It rated the peak as an "easy to moderate" four-hour trek. "That was our first mistake," said Marla Lancaster, 29, who began climbing with her husband and the couple’s 4-year-old son, who rode in a backpack, along with a family friend from Texas and two dogs. Lancaster does not explain why the climbers — arriving at the summit at 5 p.m. — failed to turn back once they hit knee-deep snow. But all ended reasonably well, reports The Associated Press. Lancaster’s husband, Gary, hiked down and brought up reinforcements to help the family off the mountain.


A 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite smashed into a couple’s pasture in Berthoud, Colo., Oct. 5. The event wouldn’t be that unusual except that the family saw it happen — they saw something flash across the sky with a whooshing noise and then plunge to the earth. Megan and John Whiteis and their son Casper, 19, located the 2-pound meteorite in a crater just 25 minutes later. Scott Palo, a University of Colorado assistant aerospace professor, called the fast find "thrilling." "(The meteor) is like a time machine," he told the AP. John Whiteis said his life had turned "crazy" since the arrival of the space debris, what with ringing phones and requests for interviews about the drop-in. The meteorite will be made available to some researchers, Whiteis added, though selling the celebrity rock "is out of the question."


Washington state is persnickety when it comes to pumpkins grown for sport. Judges of this year’s giant pumpkin contest in Puyallup, Wash., disqualified Joel Holland’s massive 1,127-pounder because "it had a half-inch split," reports Capital Press. The next heaviest gourd was Jack Van Kooten’s 958-pounder, still the largest winning pumpkin ever.


Everything you’ve ever heard about the wild and crazy Burning Man Festival in the western desert of Nevada can’t be true. But Dennis Hinkamp’s experience really happened: He was the victim of a hit-and-run with a clown. Hinkamp, a resident of Logan, Utah, who writes a column in the Herald Journal, was riding his bike among 35,000 other revelers — hoping to escape the crowd — when a tall clown knocked him off his bicycle. Then, adding insult to the injury, the clown took off on Hinkamp’s bike. Hinkamp describes his trip by John Deere tractor to a makeshift emergency room, where "some paramedic in a pirate costume takes my blood pressure." Things got stranger when a policemen arrived and asked Hinkamp to describe his attacker. "’Well, he was a clown about 6 foot, 180," said Hinkamp. "What kind of clown was it?" came the next question. Hinkamp thought for a moment: "A really bad one?" The clown-inflicted injuries were nothing to laugh about. Hinkamp suffered a broken left elbow that now has 13 surgical screws holding it together.

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado. Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the column, Heard around the West.

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