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Idaho/Montana Hunting?

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by JeffRaines, Oct 1, 2016.

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  1. JeffRaines

    JeffRaines Member

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    So, story time. I apologize in advance for the length, but you'll understand at the end.

    I grew up in south Alabama around Mobile. The only person in my immediate family that hunted was my grandpa. I have fond memories of sitting around the kitchen table when I was 4-5 years old watching him clean his guns. Although he wanted to take me out, my mother and grandmother weren't having any of that. My family wasn't the best off financially. We never had to worry about food and such, but the luxuries were definitely a rarity. Also while at my grandparents I remember reading books and seeing pictures of trout and fly fishermen and thinking that looked awesome... always wanted to go but where are you gonna catch trout in Alabama with pricy fly fishing gear? Probably no where even if I had it! I wanted to live in a place with those pretty mountains and streams full of fish.

    As I got older my interests changed as they often do. When I was 15 I found myself talking with my girlfriend at the time about where I wanted to settle down. I remembered being young at that time and I knew I wanted to go west. But where? This was back when google images was a new thing - so I started typing in states and places. Soon enough, Montana came up and I said wow. That's where I want to be! That relationship went the way most all high school relationships do - but the dream didn't die.

    My early twenties found me my wife now and moving around a good bit experiencing life. We've finally made our way west which is awesome. We're in Washington now, and while this area is beautiful and awesome, a lot of other people feel the same way. People are coming in by droves and while I'm only 29, the thought of living in a slower area sounds so nice.

    I've been joking with my wife about moving to Idaho/Montana, and up until recently she hasn't been too sold on the idea. She's warming up quickly though. While it will still be a few years before any decisions are made, I would like to hear from some people who live or have lived in the area how the hunting actually is. I know that it's romanticized on every website and video you see but what's the reality of it? I'd mainly be targeting deer, elk, bear, pronghorn and small game. If you wouldn't mind letting me know the good and bad of each, that would be awesome!

    As for current residents - don't worry. I'm not coming to try and change your state into something it's not. I want it just the way it is if we end up moving! The reason for the long story is the inevitable folks that will say "you shouldn't move to a place just because the hunting is good". I've wanted this for awhile.

    Thanks for reading.
     
  2. jim in Anchorage

    jim in Anchorage Member

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    You might want to look into Alaska. Far more public land then the states you mentioned. It's a real joy to go hundreds of miles and never see a fence.
     
  3. 25cschaefer

    25cschaefer Member

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    Here in NW Montana, it is very crowded (I guess that is relative) near the main population centers but if you get out, 30-40 miles away from the big towns, there is more wildlife and fewer hunters. It seems hunters up here are pretty lazy, the closer to town you are, the more people you see and the more road hunting you see. Owning an RV is a huge advantage if you are pursuing big game, but not a necessity. The biggest draw back to living in this area is that most people don't have much time for hunting, there is not a whole lot of year-round employment and you have to work harder for less money than in other areas of the country. Construction jobs pay well, $15-25 an hour but it is seasonal; machinists make between $10 and $17 an hour but they get laid off/hired through multiple companies throughout the year.

    So, if you are rich or retired and can spend a week or two or so each year 30-40 miles from town, the hunting is great. Even better if you have a mule train and can pack into a wilderness area. If you are a working man/woman and work two jobs 6 days a week to pay a mortgage, you take what you can get, if you can get it.
     
  4. JeffRaines

    JeffRaines Member

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    Yeah from what I gather the economy isn't great out there. My wife is a nurse and I'm a diesel mechanic but also have my CDL so I would hope we fare a little better. It will ironed out later - to be honest I'm not sure where we'll end up.

    I do appreciate the insight though. Thank you.
     
  5. JeffRaines

    JeffRaines Member

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    While I'd love to visit Alaska I'm not sure it would be ideal for us... but who knows, when I finally make it up there I may change my mind!
     
  6. jim in Anchorage

    jim in Anchorage Member

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    Well the hunting can get costly. Count on buying a 4 wheeler, if you don't fly in.walk in hunt's unless you are willing to road hunt (bad idea) aren't practical. However a diesel mechanic and a nurse would have little trouble finding employment. Count on 2 week hunts but after 1 year or 2 you should have that much vacation.
    Some of the seasons here are year round (bear). Some times it can be hard to decide what to hunt. Sheep? Moose? Caribou? Goat? Bear? Deer?
    But it sure is interesting.
     
  7. adcoch1

    adcoch1 Member

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    If your wife is a nurse there are probably lots of work available for her there, and with a cdl you have a leg up on the average Joe. I moved from my hometown in western Washington chasing the dream like you want to, getting an engineering job woth a small land development company... it was a disappointment for both them and myself, and i had to move back home. But the hunting opportunities are shocking! Mostly the length of all the seasons is the best part, but if you are willing to walk a bit there is public access land all over, and LOTS OF GAME! i wasn't there long enough to go elk hunting, but the bird hunting alone could keep the freezer stocked. I am moving back someday myself, but it will be to a place that i fully own so work will be less of a problem and I can focus on the hunting.

    Sent from my LGLS740 using Tapatalk
     
  8. JeffRaines

    JeffRaines Member

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    We're currently in the Seattle/Tacoma area and if it wasn't for the droves of people here I would just stay. It's not getting any better either, they're still coming in by the boatloads. Traffic is playing too big of a role in my motivation to go anywhere. I just can't justify spending 4 hours driving to/from a location when it should only take 2.
     
  9. adcoch1

    adcoch1 Member

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    I know what you mean, i live south of olympia and i used to commute to king county for work. Traffic is nuts here! Missoula was busy, but much better than anywhere in the greater Seattle area. And outside of every montana town is just country... gotta love it.

    Sent from my LGLS740 using Tapatalk
     
  10. ChefJeff1

    ChefJeff1 Member

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    I moved to Idaho from New Jersey over 17 years ago. I couldn't imagine ever going back. Here, the rivers ARE full of fish and the mountains are full of game. You can drive a few minutes and hike or fish for days and rarely see anyone, except for the popular trailheads. Living away from cities isn't for everyone though. The nearest shopping areas are an hour and a half away and my small town is pretty expensive.

    The mountains are amazing but that comes with some potential downsides. They are wicked steep and unforgiving. I'm a 911 dispatcher and people are always getting lost with some tragedies when people underestimate the terrain. Also, the weather can be extreme and winter lasts for about 7 months. A few days ago it was 80° and today we had snow. The summers can be blistering.

    All in all, I have no plans to lave until I'm too old to get up the mountains.
     
  11. JeffRaines

    JeffRaines Member

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    Yeah, the wife definitely wouldn't enjoy living that far from town so we do have to be close to a population center of sorts. But that's besides the point - as I mentioned I'm just looking for how it really is. Thank you for sharing!
     
  12. ajd3530

    ajd3530 Member

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    This too is my dream. Somewhere out west. Montana. Wyoming. Heck even the western Dokotas or western Nebraska... But that seems like a dream to wait till I am an older man. If ever.

    I hope you get your chance.
     
  13. JeffRaines

    JeffRaines Member

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    I hope it works out too! There's a lot that needs to happen before then to make it realistic. As for you - get to work on it! It might take you a few years at least but if you don't start trying to figure it out today it'll just take longer.
     
  14. TwoFirstNames

    TwoFirstNames Member

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    south central Idaho
    I suggest you take a look at the Twin Falls/Jerome area, the Burley/Rupert area, or the Pocatello/Idaho Falls area in Idaho. None of them are really mountainous, but they are all close to mountains. Good hunting and fishing is less than a couple hours away, great hunting and fishing is a bit farther, but still doable in a day if really wanted to. They all have a huge demand for nurses and diesel mechanics/CDL. They are all small to medium sized towns with a good deal of amenities for their respective sizes.
    They are all growing like crazy though, so real estate prices are higher than you might expect.
    My family moved to the Magic Valley a few years ago and we love it. You have to like sagebrush and wind though, because they are the only 2 constants.
     
  15. Gtscotty

    Gtscotty Member

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    Your story sounds really familiar. My interest in the West was ignited when my family came out to Glacier National Park when I was a kid. A few summers during college working odd jobs in Yellowstone, Teton and Anchorage sealed the deal, I was determined to spend some time living somewhere with mountains and relatively few people. According to my wife, one of the first things I told her when we started dating seriously was that I was going to be moving either out west or to Alaska.... Once I graduated and found a job. It took a while, but I eventually found a decent job in Wyoming, not directly in the mountains, but with decent mountains and wilderness within a few hours drive in any direction but East. When it comes to limiting human proximity, very few places compare with Wyoming... My main hunting area is in the Laramie range, and that place can be pretty desolate, and brutal even ( coldest temp I saw on the truck thermometer last year while hunting was -26 degrees) during the late season.

    I really like the area, although like you, my first choice would have been Montana, or parts of Idaho. You have to take the best overall deal you can find though, and a raise to come to Wyoming beat a $20k salary hit to go to Montana, so here I am.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
  16. JeffRaines

    JeffRaines Member

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    This is true about the money - glad it worked out for you! I know we're likely to take a hit since we're living in the Seattle/Tacoma area currently, but it would be worth it to lose all the traffic. Even living in Bozeman/Missoula/Billings/Boise/Coeur d'Alene would be 100x better than here as far as population is concerned.
     
  17. Paul7

    Paul7 Member

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    Especially if you're getting older and appreciate a mild climate, take a look at Albuquerque. 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix, no bad traffic, and within three hours of here I've taken elk, barbary sheep, and antelope, an oryx and bear are next on my list. One of the best trout rivers in the country in the San Juan. Great hog hunting next state over in Texas.
     
  18. Bush Pilot

    Bush Pilot Member

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    Try driving on Reserve in Missoula on a Friday afternoon around 430 and tell me Seattle traffic is worse.
     
  19. macgrumpy

    macgrumpy Member

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    Seriously? Evidently you've never lived in a really big city like Seattle. Seattle's population is only a little over 53 times larger than Missoula so I'd expect that even if you put every car in the city of Missoula on the road at one time it wouldn't even come close to rush hour traffic in Seattle - at worst, the traffic in Missoula could only be 1/53rd the problem of Seattle's traffic.

    I have a friend who runs a construction company in Seattle and he's ready to chuck it and move to Montana. He told me that just a few weeks ago he spent 8 hours traveling a total of 15 miles from his office to two job sites and back to the office.

    If you dream of living ruraly then do it when you're young, my wife and I waited until we retired (at 55 years old) before we started seriously looking for a place in Montana. It took a couple of years but we finally found what we wanted but the one problem that few people think about is age. Now that we are older it's harder to work on the property and even doing the fun stuff is much tougher. And what's even worse is since we are retired we are on a fixed income and we can't afford to do the things we want without having to scrimp over months.

    If you start out younger you have more time, energy, and money to work on your property and go out and do the recreation things that you want to do.
     
  20. JeffRaines

    JeffRaines Member

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    I was thinking the same thing in regards to Montana/Seattle traffic. The problem with Seattle/Tacoma is the road system is horrendously outdated... I'm sure if you rolled the population back about 500,000 or so the traffic might not be so bad. I see them scrambling to 'improve' the roads by repaving and adding a lane here or there when really most of the major highways just need more lanes. I could go on and on but my complaining won't make anything better.

    Age does play a concern as well - I know we're still relatively young, but its not going to be that way for forever.
     
  21. Bush Pilot

    Bush Pilot Member

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    Now that you mention it, I have an office in Seattle and 20 acres with a house 30 miles east of Missoula. My personal residence is on the Washington/Idaho border 75 miles south of British Columbia. I do know both sides of the coin.
     
  22. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    Thing that sounds obvious be really isn't to most people is that stores and services in sparsely populated areas are typically far away. I hunt on a ranch in SE Montana. County seat has 820 people. Closest hospital is 90 miles. Shopping mall is also 90 miles, which is about three hours each way. Going to get supplies is a day long ordeal.

    We lived on a lake in a semi rural area of Indiana. Most of the homes are owned by Chicago folk. They'd come out for the country atmosphere, then stay up until 4am screaming and partying with the radio cranked all the way up. Then bitch because they didn't have a dozen restaurants close.

    Obviously employment opportunities would be limited. But I'd love it. I could go to town one day every couple weeks and be happy.
     
  23. ZeroJunk

    ZeroJunk Member

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    I've always liked Augusta MT or Choteau MT . From there with a good horse and pack mule you can slip in to the middle of nowhere, either over Badger Pass, up the Sun River, or up the Dearborn River.

    But, other than that you had really better have the ability to entertain yourself. Outside of hunting there is just not much to do for several months out of the year. I have seen more than one gentlemen move out there only to come back in a year or two and get back to playing golf year round.
     
  24. Orcon

    Orcon Member

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    As a Montana native and (almost) lifetime resident, I always feel the need to inform people that Montana is full. What's more, the locals are hostile and the climate is unbearable. Speaking of bears, bears kill thousands of people in Montana every year, thousands. Where I grew up there was only one working phone and tv in the entire county and it was held in trust at the county seat, Libby. The first weekend of every month we would pack up the wagon and rig up the mules and make the 2 day journey to town for supplies and to watch the most recent Matlock re-run. Did I mention modern plumbing is practically unheard of in MT? In summary, Montana is a terrible place to live. I hear Idaho is nice!


    Whaaaat? There's tons of fun to be had year round! Fly-fishing, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, snowmobiling, ice-fishing just to name a few. Though I would suggest taking up a hobby such as woodworking for when the weather is just too disagreeable to enjoy the outdoors.
     
  25. Bush Pilot

    Bush Pilot Member

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    Orcon is correct, bears kill tens of thousands of people every year. It doesn't get much press so as not to scare uninformed tourists. We're trying to train them to eat the Californians first.
     
    papaairbear likes this.
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