2013 The Meeteetse Ice Fishing Derby

This week’s Challenge of the Hunt Video blog series comes from  Intrepid Outdoors Lead Video Editor Wade McMillin, who competed and documented the 2013 Meeteetse Ice Fishing derby in Meeteetse, Wyoming.

When your sole job is post production for a hunting television show, there’s not much time you don’t spend in front of a computer. Yes, there’s the downtime after an eight-hour workday and weekends, but video editors seldom get out of the office like the talent you see on television and the cameramen who follow them. Every once in a while, though, I get the chance to enjoy the outdoors.

I’m not much of a hunter. Instead, I recreate by fishing. More specifically, I like the kind of  fishing that comes on top of a frozen lake in the middle of winter.

Heidi McMillin makes use of an ice auger during day one of the Meeteetsee Ice Fishing derby in Meeteetsee, Wyoming

Heidi McMillin makes use of an ice auger during day one of the Meeteetse Ice Fishing derby in Meeteetse, Wyoming

Ever since I was a child, I had a knack for ice fishing rather than fly fishing or traditional boat fishing. I have been getting more involved in the activity lately and as of a couple years ago I tried my hand on the competitive level at the Meeteetse Ice Fishing Derby in Meeteetse, Wyoming.

The Meeteetse Ice Fishing Derby is a two-day event on the upper and lower Sunshine Reservoirs a few miles out of the small, western town. My team in 2013 consisted of my wife, Heidi McMillin and good friend Sean Gilchrist. This was Heidi’s first derby and she sure was excited to try it out, and, I have to say, she held her own. After all, not a lot of women would sit in the blistering cold for six hours to catch fish. And although she didn’t catch any fish either day, she had a lot of fun.

Shawn Gilchrist of Cody, Wyoming waits for his fish to come his way at the Meeteetsee Ice Fishing derby in Meeteetsee, Wyoming.

Shawn Gilchrist of Cody, Wyoming waits for the fish to come his way at the Meeteetse Ice Fishing derby in Meeteetse, Wyoming.

Heidi wasn’t the only one with bad luck. In fact, our team only caught three lake trout in the two days and we were somewhat embarrassed when we weighed in both days. It didn’t really matter, though, because that’s really not what the Meeteetse Ice Fishing Derby is all about. The camaraderie at the event is second-to-none and no one really carries that competitive, hardcore nature that you might see in other contests. Instead, it’s more of just a gathering of ice fishing enthusiasts. Sure, there are a few with their eyes on the prize money, but overall, I think it’s a reason for fisherman to force themselves out of the house and onto the ice for an extended period of time. At least that’s what I use the event for. It’s true relaxation to sit back on the ice and keep yourself entertained and intrigued by a possible trout on the end of your line.

The Meeteetsee Ice Fishing derby in Meeteetsee, Wyoming is a two-day event on the upper and lower Sunshine Reservoirs that draws in heaps of competitors from around the Rocky Mountains every year.

The Meeteetse Ice Fishing derby in Meeteetse, Wyoming is a two-day event on the upper and lower Sunshine Reservoirs that draws-in heaps of competitors from around the Rocky Mountains every year.

I honestly believe that’s a huge part in all of outdoor recreation. There are people who hunt strictly to put food in their freezers, but even those hunters can probably take a step back, look at each experience and realize the hunt was relaxing and brought them some sort of inner peace.

Shawn caught this lengthy fish to put his team in the running after day one of the 2013 Meeteetsee Ice Fishing derby in Meeteetsee, Wyoming

Shawn caught this lengthy fish to put his team in the running after day one of the 2013 Meeteetse Ice Fishing derby in Meeteetse, Wyoming

I suppose that’s the greatest thing about the outdoors. Whether you’re hunting, four wheeling, hiking or fishing, you’re truly bonding with the earth around you. There’s really nothing better than becoming one with the beauty outside of your front door; even if it’s in sub-zero temperatures and considered “boring” by others.

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