He was 18.
Skyler was born Aug. 26, 1995, in Cody, to Stephany M. Anderson and Paul D. Gabel and taken in by Joseph Desson and Carl Sauerwine, whom he considered fathers.
He graduated from Wyoming Virtual Academy in 2013 where he accumulated a number of academic awards including the Wyoming Historical Society Jr. Historian Award (2008, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’13), first place in the Wyoming Fish & Game Essay Writing Contest and first place in the national NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund Youth Essay Contest. He also was a creative non-fiction national semi-finalist in the National Association of Teachers of English Norman Mailer Writing Awards.
Skyler’s love of shooting began early in Patty and Steve Weaver’s back yard. He later thrived under the guidance of Joe Desson and Pete Foley in 4-H shooting sports in both the Sharp Shooter and Sure Shots Clubs, where he earned state titles in .22 rifle, outdoor skills, .22 moving target, air pistol and class D archery. He was also the junior champion at the Wyoming State Youth Hunter Challenge in 2009. Desson, his boys Joe and August, and his wife Mary not only taught him to shoot; they taught Skyler to hunt and invited him into their family.
Skyler did love shooting, but discovered his passion as a 10-year-old sitting cross-legged on the floor at the Park County Library listening to Ron Dube tell about Glen Fales and the Thorofare. Ron became his first mentor in the craft of outfitting. From there Skyler wrangled with a man who stood as a giant in his eyes, Carl Sauerwine, who also took him in as a son, sharing his knowledge and passion for the outdoors.
He was honored to work and learn from Lee and Wes Livingston as well. Passing his guide test the week after his 18th birthday, he thoroughly enjoyed his first season as a guide this year.
An avid trapper, Skyler was introduced to the art and ethics of trapping furbearers at the 4-H/MTA Youth Trapper Camp in Havre, Mont., and honed his skills with his partners and brothers Flint Selby and Ryan Lanchbury. He treasured their companionship. The highlight of his trapping career was the time he spent with professional trapper and mentor Randy Blackburn.
His family was central in his life. Skyler is survived by his mother Stephany; father Paul; sisters Rebekah and Kaitlyn Loberg; grandparents Donny and Jane Anderson and Ed and Josephine Gabel; uncle Donny Anderson (Candace); aunts Sarah Banks (Mike) and Jane Davis (Ed); and cousins Chad Manley, Zechariah, Hannah and Isaiah Anderson, Andrea Davis-Moshier (Derek), Amanda Stirling (John) and many extended family members for whom he cared deeply.
In memory of Skyler, order a Wrangler for breakfast at Our Place and eat prime rib at the Irma. Take a family member or friend out to eat at least once a week and be sure to pick up the tab. Help someone who is stalled on the highway, stop by your grandparents to visit and take your sisters fishing.
Memorial donations in Skyler’s name to the Cody 4-H Sharp Shooters Club are being accepted at Coldwell Banker Antler Realty, 802 Canyon Avenue in Cody.
Services will be held in the Memorial Gardens and Poker Church at Christ Episcopal Church in Cody on Thursday, Oct. 31. An informal vigil will begin at 5 a.m. and continue until the service begins at 10 a.m.
An online memorial is available at www.ballardfh.com.