Ok - not to start a fight, but this has been my hobby for the last 20 years (much in the AF - stationed mostly out west) - deciding where to I want to live when I grow up. I've debated all the usual suspects here (MT, WY, ID, CO, AZ, AK) - there are lots of great others with great people, but once you have mountains and elk in your blood, ya just gotta look at mountains. I grew up in rural CO, and have a brother in MT and have spent a LOT of time there too (and blowing through WY literally, to and from).
Seems to be a lot of votes for MT, and it is definitely up there as a good choice. Here are a few of my personal pro/con observations though, just in the interest of full disclosure:
- Lots of hunting
- Long seasons
- Not a lot of people
- Mostly good people
- Some very beautiful parts, but also quite a few parts of the state have little to no major mountains. (I always thought Judith Gap was beautiful when driving through to Great Falls -
- It isn't the hunting paradise I thought it would be. Places like CO and AZ(maybe?) have a lot more public land. Colorado you make 20 stops and throw a rock you can just about hit public land every time. Much tougher finding hunting grounds sometimes in MT, and several times when I deer hunted with my brother, we saw hunters everywhere - even hiking quite a ways back in - since the public areas were small in places. Again there is definitely good hunting, I was just surprised how much more limited public land was than CO. Just a downside you don't always hear about, and you think somehow MT is more open, wild and free - not so when it comes to public land in/around the mountains.
- Much of it is DANG cold. Mountains come at a price, but lower lattitudes often mean warmer temps and long winter days (more daylight), and you can often look at bigger mountains.
- Wolves and Grizzlies - If you head South, the herds are still big and you don't have to watch over your shoulder as you gut your elk. I think I read in the RMEF magazine that something like 60-80% of MT hunters had quit hunting in the last 10 years (I'll have to look it up). Maybe that is good - less competition, but there must be a reason for it.
- Wind - Ok Rockies = wind, but geez. This goes double for WY! Not all places, just do your research. Living with 60-100mph winds is a DRAG (been there, done it too long). Not just winter. In many places Spring and Summer are as bad or worse. Nothing ruins a beautiful summer day quicker than a 40mph wind (fishing, camping, shooting, whatever). I HATE wind.
There is more, but that is just some of my short-list.
CO real quick
- TONS of public land. You can easily hunt about any unit and not see people if you don't want. Millions of acres.
- Lots of elk and deer (bigger Mulies than MT - that's why my Brother comes to CO to hunt em when he can).
- Lots of Mountains - you have to be careful, large parts of WY and MT don't have big mountains, but neither does Eastern CO...
- Country people are just as country, redneck, and conservative as WY, MT, ID and elsewhere (there is a BUT to this below)
- Sometimes/places, not as much wind as MT/WY - do your research.
- Seasons not as long - can't hunt as much as MT. For example, can't hunt archery for a species and then later rifle hunt them etc.
- Politics - It is a disagrace to be in a state that overall voted Democratic. Urbanites tend to equal liberals in many cases and the Denver/Boulder area have just kept growing. The urbanites are obviously outnumbering the country folk. MT could have the same problem in a few years. WY may be safer? ID - I don't know? AK should be safe - I've considered that, at least part year.
- More people. If you can avoid the NE Corner of the state and the I-70 corridor that cuts across the upper half, you have similar conditions to WY and MT. Except sometimes the Texans seem to take over part of the Southern part in the Summer (Argh). In any case - tons of wilderness with almost no people in much of the state, but the Metro areas are big.
I've actually kicked around AZ. I've lived there too, and while drawing tags is tougher, the quality for elk is AWESOME. You can also hop over to CO with $500 to hunt a bull. Weather is very nice and they actually have a lot of forest and small mountains - lots of wildlife. I was surprised.
Been through ID a few times, and much looked great. Always wanted to spend more time around Salmon. I saw a few votes for that. Can't give a lot of Pros/Cons there.
Just saying I'm not sold on MT from all my time there with my Brother. Lots of good things, but some not as good as you think and I didn't see them mentioned.
Overall - not saying one state is better than another, they all have pros/cons, I just think the MT arguments were being a little one-sided. I love the state and may still move there, but I figure full-disclosure for anyone kicking this around is only fair