Oct 2, 2013 - By Steven R. PeckWyoming leading the way on a positive path
Let's take a moment to salute one-shot antelope hunts.
Both of them.
That's right. The Lander One-Shot has a new sister.
The first-ever Wyoming Women's Antelope Hunt rolls onto the plains just outside Sheridan at the break of dawn Thursday.
So far, 37 women have signed up.
In some ways, the women's one-shot won't be much different from the venerable Lander One-Shot hunt.
Hunters will arise before dawn for breakfast. They then will join up with a guide. In teams of two, they will head out with a gun and one round to try to bring down an antelope. Except there is that one big difference.
This hunt will be all women with guns and camouflage.
There isn't another hunt in the country quite like this one.
"And it's all been so positive,'' gushed Richelle Keinath, executive director of the Wyoming Women's Foundation, which organized the one-shot for women hunt. The rest of America might not understand.
Some people don't like hunting. Many people don't connect women and hunting. And a whole lot of America wouldn't know the difference between a pronghorn and a prawn.
But the Wyoming Women's One-Shot hunt, just like the venerable Lander One-Shot, is a wholly Wyoming creation worthy of praise -- for a couple of reasons.
For one thing, the one-shot contests connect guns with hunting and skill -- not guns with mass killings in malls or as the dark, last-line of defense in a lawless world.
This distinction is important in America right now. The national debate about the Second Amendment has veered off into a jumble of overblown fears about the government coming for the gun locker late at night or horrific images of one more public shooting by some nutjob who clearly should never have had access to firearms.
This zigging and zagging between extremes has all but eliminated sensible discussion about guns.
The one-shot hunts remind us that guns in civilian life have, for most of our nation's history, been mostly about hunting and sport, not home invasions and mass shootings.
A second valuable reminder that becomes obvious from the one-shot hunts is that guns and people who enjoy shooting often support worthy civic causes -- regardless of overheated rhetoric and politics.
Since 1975, the Lander One-Shot hunt has raised thousands of dollars for the Water for Wildlife project. Entry fees and sponsorships for the Lander event have funded more than 400 fresh water tanks and drinking ponds that provide antelope, deer, elk, bears, cougars, and other wildlife precious water resources in 11 states.
The new Women's One-Shot hunt will fund important civic programs, too.
``Money raised will go back into Wyoming communities to fund grants,'' said Women's Foundation executive director Keinath.
For example, the Wyoming Family Home Ownership Project helps single moms and their kids get into a home.
And there is support for science, technology, engineering and math courses that encourage bright girls in Wyoming to find careers in science.
All of this good work, and more, will result from having 37 women get up early and go hunting for antelope this week.
Only in Wyoming.
The women's one-shot hunt was first suggested by Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kite -- an avid hunter. Justice Kite mentioned the idea to Richelle Keinath at leadership training program a couple of years ago.
Keinath shared the idea with the Lander One-Shot leaders and sought their ideas and approval. The Lander crew heartily endorsed the idea -- and wrote a letter of support.
That's how the idea took hold, found sponsors, and surely will take off in the years ahead.
It's not something every woman would do, nor every state.
But Wyoming has women who will hunt for a good cause.
That speaks well of the state's unique heritage and its fearless, female leaders.