Terry WiseRifle, CO Colorado

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June 27, 2012
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A guy who knows the difference between an elk and a horse

Have you run into Doug Furlong at the boat dock or fishing banks? Since February, he has been one of our park rangers at Rifle Gap State Park Complex. Doug's home town is Prescott, Ariz., but he now calls Rifle Gap home. Doug loves hunting and fishing and the outdoors. He grew up in a small town and does not like the hustle and bustle of the larger cities. He finds Rifle has the perfect small town feel and atmosphere.Doug told me the best part of his job is he works where people pay to vacation. It is never the same work day, with different tasks at hand, along with different people always coming and going. Some of the really fun parts of his job are being in a boat, riding snowmobiles and ATVs. He also knows where some of the best fishing is and what they are biting on. Sounds like a pretty good job to me.Doug tells me his funniest story is from his previous ranger position at Chatfield State Park in Littleton. "One fall day, I was stopped by a woman while out on patrol," he wrote. "She wanted to let me know that one of the horses was out from the stables. This was not anything out of the norm and I really didn't think much of it. I asked the woman to take me to the horse. I followed her in my vehicle and she pointed to the animal grazing in the grass. I stopped, looked, and with the best straight face as I could, explained to the woman that she was not looking at a horse but a cow elk! As she drove away, I noticed the California license plates." Doug's best piece of advice, if you are heading to Rifle Falls State Park, is make sure to bring a flashlight. There are a few caves you can explore while hiking around the falls. One of the caves goes back far enough to block out all sunlight. Doug likes to go all the way back with a light, then turn all lights off and use his other senses to find his way out. Doug thinks this is really fun and challenging, but he advises to try not to bump your head on the rocks above.On a side note, when I have a small group of kids on a school field trip, I bring the kids into this cave Doug was talking about. And we do turn off the lights, as long as every kid is good with this. We experience total darkness. The only difference is we turn our flashlights back on to climb out of the cave.If you are up at Rifle Falls on a Saturday, stop me or a ranger and ask which cave we are talking about. I will give you spot-on directions. Just bring your flashlight, like Doug suggested. Come on out and "chat up" a ranger.Become a skull detectiveJoin our special guest, Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Brian Gray, as he explores the adaptations animals make to live in their environment at our Skulls and Adaptations program at the Rifle Falls' Mountain Mist Amphitheatre on Saturday, June 30 at 7 p.m.Is the animal a carnivore, a herbivore or an omnivore? Skulls give clues about how the animal is adapted for survival in its environment. Many interesting and unusual relationships between animals are revealed by their skulls. You can also learn about predator and prey species. This interactive program includes skulls of various mammals found in Colorado. Brian worked for the Colorado Division of Wildlife for 19 years. He said the best part of his job is fisheries management. Brian recommends a hike up East Elk Creek or Main Elk Creek as things to put on your radar. Come on out and have some fun using your detective skills to identify skulls of various mammals found in Colorado. Rifle Gap, Rifle Falls and Harvey Gap are managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, created with the merger of Colorado State Parks and Division of Wildlife. The agency manages 42 state parks, all of Colorado's wildlife, more than 300 state wildlife areas and a host of recreational programs. For more, go online to www.parks.state.co.us and http://wildlife.state.co.us.- Terry Wise is the summer season park naturalist and volunteer coordinator for the Rifle Gap State Park Complex. Reach her at 625-1607.


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The Post Independent Updated Jun 27, 2012 05:34PM Published Jun 27, 2012 05:33PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.