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Duck Hunting with the Governor

By: Randy Tucker

You can say a lot of things about the sometimes primitive, sometimes progressive place that is Wyoming, but one thing that permeates the state is a profound dislike of political correctness.

Even our politicians are often far from the norm in expressing their beliefs and lifestyles.

I was a student senator from the Education College for the Associated Students of the University of Wyoming, or ASUW as we called it.

I was dating a gal who was student body president, and I worked my final year at UW as a student lobbyist to the Wyoming State Legislature for ASUW.

Part of the job was hobnobbing with the powers that be and fellow students who were always trying to schmooze the senators, representatives, governor’s office officials, and our own University of Wyoming administration.

I was often told at these functions that I didn’t work well with others.

One particularly boring function came on the afternoon of the opening day of waterfowl season. I had early classes and couldn’t get out in the morning, and that function kept me off the water that afternoon as well.

My idiot friends, as we called each other, let me know later that they had limited out and had the smoker already going on a dozen or so ducks.

I must have looked very bored as I talked to no one and raided the free hors d ‘oeuvres repeatedly. (That was at least one perk.)

A University of Wyoming trustee, a psychiatrist from Lander named Dr. Brian Miracle (yes, his real name), walked up and said sarcastically, “You’re sure the life of the party.”

Deep in thought, I looked up and said, “Sorry, sir. I’d just rather be duck hunting.”

Dr. Miracle’s eyes lit up.

“You hunt waterfowl down here? Where?” he asked.

“Just west of town on the Laramie River and a couple of lakes at the base of the Snowies,” I said.

He was intrigued. “Central or Western flyway birds?” he asked in a tone that was more of an interrogation.

“A mix of both,” I said. “Sometimes straight mallards. We’ve spotted a few wood ducks, but lots and lots of redheads, teal, and buffleheads.”
Dr. Miracle was a serious waterfowl hunter, taking vacations to South America to take birds by the hundreds and donating a lot of money to waterfowl preservation here in the states.

“I’m good friends with the governor -- you think you and your friends could take us out one Saturday before a football game?” he asked.

“Governor Ed Herschler hunting with my merry band of idiots,” I thought quietly.
“Sure, we’d be glad to take you guys out.”

A couple of weeks later, Governor Herschler spoke to the student senate. After it was over, he was mobbed by frat guys trying vainly to impress him.

He brushed through them and said loud enough for everyone to hear, “There a guy named Tucker here?”

I walked over, introduced myself, and the governor smiled. “Miracle told me about you. How about setting up a hunt next Saturday?” he said.

“You bet,” I grinned and introduced my friend Frank who was a student senator and one of my regular hunting partners.

“You guys call me the night before and tell me where to meet, I’ll make sure Miracle is with us,” the governor said.

Then he did the greatest thing a politically incorrect Wyoming governor could do.

“There anyplace around here to down a few?” he asked.

The Student Union had a beer garden right underneath us in the basement.

Off we went. The governor bought several rounds of pitchers of beer then said to us as he was leaving, “Call me Friday, I mean it.”

Friday rolled around, and so did one of those winter cyclonic storms that make Laramie such a miserable place in the winter.

I called the number Governor Ed had written on a bar napkin. It was the private number to the Governor’s Mansion in Cheyenne.

Expecting an aid or secretary to answer the phone, I was surprised to hear a familiar voice.

“Governor’s Mansion, Ed speaking,” Herschler said.

“Governor, this is Randy Tucker, it’s snowing bad over here,” I said.
“Yeah, it’s dumping on us on this side of the hill, too. Looks like I-80 is closed again, and I won’t be able to get over there tomorrow. You guys call me again, I really want to go bird hunting with you.”

We tried a couple more times that season, but his schedule never fit ours, and we didn’t get to take those guys out on one of our adventures.

We graduated the following spring. Ed served out his term, moved back home to Kemmerer, and passed away a few years later.

It was one of those opportunities that was never meant to be. My accuracy with my long barreled Iver Johnson and Franks quick work with his over and under 16-gauge would never be realized.

Randy Tucker is a retired history teacher and freelance writer from western Wyoming. He has a lifetime of experience in farming, ranching, hunting, and fishing in the shadow of the Wind River Mountains. Contact him at ratucker@wyoming.com.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Gunpowder Magazine.