Ever since I can remember I have wanted to move out West. When I was about 13 my dad had an opportunity to buy a ranch from a friend in Montana right on the Smith River. He decided not to and he is glad that he did. I on the other hand still dream of what it would have been like growing up in the land of giants; Mule Deer, Elk and Trout!
When I bought my first house I instantly had regrets. Why? Because I decided to look at land in Western SD. 40 Acres on a creek that holds trout was selling for pennies compared to what I had just spent…
Luckily I stayed though. A year later I met my wife. We took trips to South Dakota and rode motorcycles through the Black Hills. From there we went to Gillette WY and rode through the Big Horns, Cody, Yellowstone, The Gallatin and into Bozeman. Stopped to see some friends in White Sulphur Springs and we eventually ended up in Great Falls. All the places we saw were beautiful and overwhelming. We have also spent some time in California and an awesome week in Colorado. On that trip we were in Vail and it was during the Teva Mountain Games which was fun to check out. We also got to visit Garden of the Gods and did some hiking in the Vail area.
I have Elk hunted around White Sulphur and took my first Mule Deer by the Smith River (that night I learned the importance of layers in the mountains). I hunted Antelope by Roundup. The last few trips for Elk and Mule deer have been around Twin Bridges/Whitehall area.
Last year we took our son Cole on a 10 day road trip to Deadwood (SD), Absaroka’s (WY), Glacier (MT), Great Falls (MT), Miles City (MT) and Jamestown (ND). This was a trip that I will never forget and I will always cherish. Cole had so much fun every day! I felt like I was going to explode with joy every time he got excited. Everything was new and exciting for him. At our first stop in Deadwood, he got to watch the 4th of July parade! We picnicked at a trout stream on top of the Big Horns. Hiked in Yellowstone. We ate Elk Roast sandwiches in Yellowstone. We stayed at Buffalo Bill Cody’s grandsons lodge in the Absaroka’s and hiked there as well. Cole got to hand feed a mule deer doe on the side of the “Going to the Sun” road in Glacier and built a snowman on Logan’s Pass in July. We even visited the Buffalo in Jamestown.
I can’t wait to do this with Weston along too…
But I am getting off track. I am still trying to figure out a way to move out to Montana. But now with 2 kids it is a lot tougher. Work wouldn’t be an issue. Getting out of our house would be a breeze. But uprooting Cole when he is starting to make friends would be tough. Saying goodbye to our families would be even tougher.
I think the West fits me better. I love open space, mountains, streams filled with trout, mild winters with the option of getting out in the snow. There are many more reasons that I love the West but I think one of the biggest is the people, especially the folks that call Montana home. The people that I know in Montana have always been very respectful, humble and polite. I have known and still know a lot of great people in Montana. Amy, Vicki, Aiden, Cody, Stinky Jim, Levi, Charlie and one of my favorites, Ricky, who I wish I would have had a lot more time with. There are many more that I have met over the years and I am sure there are still more to come. These people are the reason I think I am a little more West then Mid-West.
Another reason that I believe I am a little more West. My idea of hunting is on foot. With a pack and everything I need to get by on my back. I do not enjoy sitting in a truck or a stand. I do it for Whitetail in MN but I don’t enjoy it as much as the mountains. Even in MN I am known to go camping while deer hunting. Something about being primitive and hunting game gives me the true feeling of success. I sleep better in a tent then I do in a bed. Hell even at home I use a sleeping bag unzipped for a blanket!
Another big one for me is the public land in the West. I love trail running and hiking. In MN there are parks but they are very small and more often than not they are paved… The places I have been in the West all seem to have trails everywhere you look, I know a lot of people in the West will disagree with me on this but it’s true (Look into Backcountry Hunters and Anglers http://www.backcountryhunters.org to help keep these lands public). I would love to be able to step out on a trail and be able to go backpacking with the family every weekend. But the nearest one to us that you can camp on is 3 hours away.
I absolutely love the West and every year we talk about what we are going to for a trip and every year I suggest somewhere West. This year Amy won though and we are going to Maine. But we will be staying by a “mountain” for a couple days. So you can bet I’ll get her on one hike at least.
For now I am going to remain hopeful that someday I will be able to move to Montana or anywhere West for that matter. It will probably be after the boys are a little older. It will be up to them. Maybe someday I will ask the boys what my dad asked us, “Would you be ok with living in Montana?”