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“Is everybody who wears orange here a hunter?”
There was a time here where there was no respite from the color orange. Ask that question these days and you might get a completely different answer, as the number of hunters has declined during this recession.
Years ago, “Are you a hunter?” wasn’t a common question. It was assumed that if you lived in the White River Valley, you hunted. If one didn’t hunt, it didn’t bother anyone else, as they assumed you simply ate the wild game that someone else had hunted.
Our high country has always had a palette dominated by the color of pumpkins and it’s not the fall foliage that casts that hue. “Orange Crush” could once have referred to the influx of hunters each fall, rather than the defense of the Denver Broncos.
It was a long time ago that everyone dressed in orange. It wasn’t just hunters either, as one didn’t dare walk anywhere outside of town in anything but orange. Hikers and fishermen soon learned that even wearing blaze orange in profusion was no protection against an errant bullet from inexperienced hunters.
Everywhere one looked, someone had on orange from head to toe. Even if the bottom layer was camouflage, there was still some orange visible so as not be mistaken for an elk or deer. Even the lowly leaf peepers who traveled up the byway as far as Ripple Creek learned if they stepped outside of the car they needed to be prepared. No one said much about it- it appeared to be as important as sunscreen to a beach bather.
These days, however, spotting a giant wave of orange spilling onto the courthouse lawn is difficult, except for the rec district’s Halloween get-together. While we still get lots of hunters throughout the season, they seem to appear in smaller groups downtown or at the grocery store.