LARAMIE — It’s called the trophy room, and it sits on the west side of the longtime west Laramie business, The Boardwalk.
Inside, more than 50 trophies of all shapes and sizes are mounted on the wall and displayed in cases, along with saddles, antique guns, American Indian artifacts and family heirlooms. The room is open to visitors who pass through the store.
Owner William “Rob” Vogel, an Albany County native, has run the family business for more than 45 years. The trophy room is his museum of memories, and it shows off his passions for hunting and history.
“Some of my most fond memories of my younger life were getting out. No telephone, no cars, no nothing,” he said. “I have a lot of good memories.”
Vogel, 63, was born in Rock River, where his father, Bud, served as mayor and ran a lumberyard and motel. His grandfather homesteaded near Arlington, where his grandmother was the postmistress.
The Vogels moved to Laramie in the 1960s and opened The Boardwalk in 1967, remodeling the original building and constructing additions as they expanded. Inside, custom woodwork adorns the rafters and doors. A back room with one wall made of logs reflects the teenage Vogel’s desire to live in a log cabin, his wife, Crystal, said.
Today, the Vogels sell and repair saddles and tack, repair shoes and boots and run a Western-themed gift shop.
In the trophy room, a collection of rifles dating back to the 1800s hangs on one wall. One belonged to Vogel as a child living on a Rock River ranch. His mother gave him five bullets at a time, and he had to make them count.
“I couldn’t just shoot them all up. There were a lot of jackrabbits around the ranch, and they’d just eat you out of house and home. I had to shoot a couple of jackrabbits,” he said.
His first antelope is mounted high on the wall near the entrance. He got that one when he was 16, hunting with his grandfather.
Vogel said he enjoys hunting antelope. Another half dozen antelope trophies are prized for their size or unique horns.
“It’s something there’s a lot of, and they’re a lot of fun to hunt,” he said. “You see them within 20 feet of your vehicle when it’s not hunting season, and then when it comes to hunting season, then they’re a long ways out there.”
One display case shows a couple beavers and a muskrat.
“I got the beaver and the muskrat right here on the Laramie river north of town,” Vogel said.
Another display shows a coyote fighting a badger. Vogel and his father created them to show authentic Western scenes.
“That’s one thing you see in Wyoming. That was one of our first scenes that we put together,” he said.
On the wall one can also see black bear, mule deer, elk, caribou, buffalo and wolverine. A Dall sheep and a bighorn sheep both came from hunting trips to British Columbia.
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A moose from Canada represents one his most memorable hunts. He shot the bull about 15 miles from a hunting camp in northern British Columbia after tracking it for two days.
“We were out in the middle of the boonies,” Vogel said.
He returned the following day with four pack horses to bring the moose back to camp. It yielded more than 500 pounds of meat in addition to the trophy. Vogel spent the whole day loading the animals and headed for camp that night in calf-deep snow that had started at noon and was still coming down.
On the way back, the pack horses were acting up, so he retraced his steps to see what was bothering them.
“We went through a little park, and I went to my back mule and was looking around, and I saw what looked like little flickers of things,” he said.
It was a pack of wolves.
Wolf permits were easy to come by in Canada, and Vogel shot the lead male first, hoping it would disperse the rest.
“He was a big boy. I saw him and thought that would run them off, and it didn’t run them off,” he said.
Then he shot the alpha female and the rest left. Those two wolves, one black and one white, are now on display at the back of the trophy room.
One of the newest trophies in the room is a European skull mount of an antelope, taken just a few years ago. A photo above the mount shows Vogel with a group of friends. In this photo, Vogel is sitting in a wheelchair.
When he was 36, a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed. It didn’t take his ability to hunt, though, thanks to a device that mounts to his wheelchair and steadies the rifle.
“I still hunt antelope. I like target shooting a lot,” Vogel said.
Vogel said his trophies aren’t the biggest you’ll ever see, but that’s because he’s never done a hunt just for the size of the antlers.
“They were all meat hunts. My moose is a good moose, but he’s not gigantic,” he said.
The trophies also honor his father, who grew up hunting to feed his family.
“My father, he always wanted that kind of stuff and he was never able,” Vogel said, referring to the trophies. “He hunted to survive.”