A local man passionate about hunting and fishing said this week he is very much enjoying his new position as a member of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.
David Rael of Cowley was appointed to the post by Gov. Matt Mead in late February and the appointment was approved by the Wyoming State Senate.
Rael is a 43-year resident of Wyoming after his family moved from California when he was young.
“We moved to a place where we have the freedom and right to roam free and do what we want to do,” he said. “I only dreamed of it growing up. I used to read my Scouting magazine and dream about it.”
Family friends from a cul-de-sac in Simi Valley, Calif., gradually moved to Wyoming, Rael said, noting Elmer and Leona Bisby and David and Verda Barrett. The three families chose Cowley because Verda’s sister, Evelyn Tucker, lived in Cowley.
“I grew up with Don Bisby,” Rael said. “We went to Catholic school together.”
Rael said he loves hunting, from birds to big game, and has hunted since he was 14. He said he also loves to fish, though he joked that his wife, Jennie, is such a good fisherman that he mainly spends his time helping get fish off of her hook.
“Hunting is such a vital part of our pioneer heritage,” he said. “When the pioneers moved here they lived on wild game, before the Game and Fish came into play.”
The Game and Fish is not just about laws and regulations, Rael said, it’s about the prosperity of wildlife and the propagation of wild species and proper management, which allows the wildlife to thrive and allows “the hunter to harvest his trophy.
“Hunting is the key management tool of the Game and Fish,” he added.
Rael said he has turned down other boards and volunteer positions because he is so busy running his business, S&L Industrial, but he said local game warden James Hobbs came to him and asked him to consider the commission for a six-year position representing the Big Horn Basin (District 5).
“It’s Big Horn County’s turn (to have a commissioner). We won’t see it again for 24 years,” Rael said as one reason for his interest. “It’s a golden opportunity to help accomplish what I love and most of my friends and family love.
“I couldn’t say no, but I wanted to,” he added with a smile.
Rael filled out the application and sought references from several individuals including Kurt Dobbs, Charlie Monk, Sen. Ray Peterson and the Big Horn County Commissioners.
“They all gave me more than I expected or would have asked for,” he said.
Rael said he’s been to three meetings of the commission so far and said it’s been “an eye-opener stuck with toothpicks,” adding, “There’s so much more (about issues) we don’t know as sportsmen.”
One thing Rael feels very strongly about is that the Game and Fish Dept. maintain its independent source of funding and not have to be funded by the legislature.
“I don’t want to see a tax system set up for the Game and Fish, personally,” he said. “Then we’d be regulated by the state completely. I used to gripe about license increases, too, but a guy will spend $300 to $400 a year on gas to go hunting but (get upset) about a $5 increase in a hunting license.
“It’s not for profit (as an agency), but it has to be there for the benefit of hunting and fishing.”
Rael said the Game and Fish staff has been great to work with so far.
“Director Scott Talbott is one of the finer guys I’ve been able to talk business with, and the rest of the commissioners are all down to earth,” he said. “The budget is coming up in July, and that will be difficult to digest and understand.”
Rael said he is honored to be able to play a role in providing a positive future for Wyoming hunting and fishing.
“A lot of people don’t understand the necessity of the Game and Fish, but it’s a very important entity,” he said. “Jennie and I have 14 grandkids, and I hope the decisions I can help bring about are the right ones for my grandkids.”
By David Peck