Go west young man...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by 3darcher2, Oct 19, 2017.

  1. 3darcher2

    3darcher2 Well-Known Member

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    I've searched and read through some older threads but I'll scratch this topic again. My wife and I are researching a move to a western state in a few years after our youngest graduates HS. Now I lied a little bit, because I'll be 57 by then, so not a young man but...

    We are from and live in the Pittsburgh, PA area. We've been to CO once for business for several days (Denver, Vail, RMNP), and I've hunted AZ for elk successfully DIY archery as my only western hunt. I don't want to wind up 80 years old thinking I should have gone back but just never found a way.

    I've been looking for someplace to head to in a few years. I've investigated WY, MT, ID, CO and to a lesser extent NM, AZ, OR, WA, UT and NV. One thing I don't want to do is live in a state where I have to wait years to hunt in state, especially for elk. That eliminates, I believe, UT, NV, and maybe AZ and NM. OR and WA are just a looooong way from our home and family, so they are maybe on thin ice.

    Of the other 4, WY obviously has great hunting and it's available. MT probably falls right in there, ID seems pretty decent too, and CO with their elk herd and licenses are a no-brainer. Some down sides - grizzlies and wolves (I'm looking at you MT and ID), colder weather, high priced housing and less than spectacular scenery.

    Although I looked very hard at WY, then MT and ID, I somehow keep coming back to SW CO. The weather in the dead of winter is much more palatable, the scenery is dynamite, no griz (theoretically) and solid hunting. MT has seasons that can't be beat for length and allow you to go archery and rifle. Northern ID in particular looks to be nice, but also far and wolves/griz seem unpredictable. I like to trout fish too, and although CO looks OK, I think it's a step behind the other three.

    What else am I missing? Besides hunting, what else is there to consider? I've looked at things like tax difference, jobs (I'll be near retirement, hopefully with enough $$$) and keeping the wife happy. Not much on the hippie/weed culture that CO seems to be building to, but thinking SW CO is a little more conservative - maybe not. Durango, Montrose, etc.

    Anyone's current 2017 thoughts?
     
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  2. blumboss33

    blumboss33 Well-Known Member

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    Ok, you have traveled half the country and hunted, no need to gloat and rub it on our faces. you are definitely having too much fun.
     
  3. 3darcher2

    3darcher2 Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure if this is sarcasm? Seriously, I got super lucky and drew an AZ nonres archery tag in 1999. That's the extent of my western hunting, so I know something, but not much. I've been to Denver twice for business and took my wife once. We drove to Vail and then back through RMNP and Estes Park. Of the 10 states I listed, I've only ever been to 3. I didn't list anything for any reason other than to give some perspective. I am not a worldwide traveler, but I am not the guy who has never been west of Philadelphia but wants to live off the grid on top of a mountain in the Bitterroots.

    I certainly wasn't trying to rub anyone's nose in it. Of all the forums I belong to, even though I typically just lurk here, I considered this one far and away the best place to ask this due to member knowledge and general helpfulness. The west is a big place, but this group has pretty much seen it all collectively. I'd consider my western exposure very limited.
     
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  4. Dosh

    Dosh Well-Known Member

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    3, although we'd love to have you here in Az the draw system may be a deterrent. Trophy bull Units are <.01% chance. Antelope is averaging 8-15 years. Trophy mule deer on the Az Strip is the hardest odds in the U.S. Desert bighorn and buffalo are averaging 20-30 years. 10% of all tags are legislated to out of state hunters. Of course we've all seen exceptions to the averages. The only easy tag is Coues deer, if you don't mind hunting amongst the drug runners and human traffickers by the Mexican border.
     
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  5. Barrelnut

    Barrelnut Well-Known Member

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    Stay away from the west coast states of CA, OR, and WA. Hunting is crowded and mediocre at best on public land. And the liberal politics will just raise your blood pressure.
     
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  6. Triple BB

    Triple BB Well-Known Member

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    Colorado and Montana are definitely the holy grail for easterners. Plenty of opportunity, not much wind, palatable winters and access to all of todays modern conveniences...
     
  7. mtwarych

    mtwarych Well-Known Member

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    I am fairly certain you and your family would be welcome in the Bitterroot Vally in west central/southwest Montana.

    We are the "Banana Belt" part of the state. East of the divide may be deemed a little too cold.
     
  8. 7mmHammer

    7mmHammer Member

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    I moved to south-central Colorado with my now-wife earlier this year, and we love it. We just got back from our first elk hunt in SW Colorado (a DIY backpacking hunt in wilderness area) with a truck full of elk meat.

    Durango is starting to have a major homeless population. However, Ouray is possibly the most beautiful place I have ever been to.
     
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  9. BHC

    BHC Well-Known Member

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    I grew up in Grand Junction, CO. Western CO is a much better choice in my opinion for what you would be interested in, less hippies and weed over that way. I will be headed out to hunt the Uncompagre Ntl Forest 3rd season Rifle in a couple of weeks. My buddy lives in Montrose, CO and I stay with him. We hunt 45 min. from his house. The real estate market is coming back again and prices and construction are on the rise, he says. My oldest brother lives in Durango. Great area with lots of fishing and hunting. A little more granola, hippie and tree huggers there seems. Still another great place but more expensive unless you look to live on the peripheral areas. Cortez is a decent spot if you are looking for even a smaller city. Close to good hunting, fishing, and Durango is not far away. Good luck with the search.
     
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  10. RockyMtnMT

    RockyMtnMT Official LRH Sponsor

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    As a MT guy I would choose WY with your criteria.

    Steve
     
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  11. Lpart

    Lpart Well-Known Member

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    +1 I live in Powell, WY and as a former Vermonter we find the winters to be very mild with very little snow. Can't beat the hunting and fishing in any direction from my house. Big Horn mountains are grizzly free to the east and the Absarokas and Beartooths to the west and north can't be beat. A little forethought and the bears are fine.
     
  12. 3darcher2

    3darcher2 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the responses so far. I really like the idea of SW MT. The thought of tucking up a road off the Bitterroot Valley sounds awesome to me but I think that might be pushing it for my wife. She'd rather go to FL or SC, so I gotta be sensitive to her as well. I don't have a great feel for how much elevation will affect temperatures locally as well precipitation. She's not going to be down with being snowed in the house for 2 weeks at a time. But I also can't see me living in town, even in the boonies. Riverbottom maybe? I live rural now, and it's beginning to get too built up here. Of course here, I hunt right out the door. I don't know how realistic that is in the west but I think less so than I imagine, especially in a larger bottomland situation.

    Anyway, some other factors for me are being somewhat accessible to a hospital since I will be an old guy, so maybe 30 minutes at most. I also may have to work somewhere for a few years, so I may need to move to a bigger area and then possibly move again later once I retire, which would give me the opportunity to get the lay of the land so to speak. We're also looking at a home based business.

    WY has such a reputation for being windy - all the time - IDK if that's warranted but it's certainly a negative factor for me. The great hunting as a resident just might not be enough for me to survive my wife's disdain. I've looked at the Cody and Sheridan areas there or down by Medicine Bow NF.

    ID seems just so far, even though it's not much further than MT and you can fly to Spokane. I looked at Coeur d'Alene and Boise, weather is not too bad and looks like good hunting and fishing. Probably still in the mix a little.

    CO I am looking at the areas BHC mentioned. Grand Junction down to NM including Montrose, Ouray, Durango and Cortez.

    I'm a stream fisherman, and I really don't know how western states stream access laws work.

    I'm gonna have a lot of research to look forward to as well as maybe a trip or two out west. I started buying WY bonus points last year so maybe I will get a trip to check out WY first hand next year.
     
  13. RCinSitka

    RCinSitka Active Member

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    Alaska! Its truly amazing.....
     
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  14. BHC

    BHC Well-Known Member

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    SW MT is a lot of snow compared to the western side of CO. Grand Junction is essentially a high mountain desert. Mild winter usually. Montrose and Durango are higher elevations with Durango getting the most snow, but nothing like MT. MT area around Bozeman would be good if you like to hunt, fish and may need to work. There should be work around the Bozeman area but again, if you wife doesn't like snow, MT gets a lot.
    Stream fishing in CO is easy. By a license and I don't remember any problems. Certain areas are Gold Medal waters where catch and release mandatory, however, most streams I remember fishing are wide open and a ready for a fly rod or drifting salmon eggs into a hole for cutthroats.
    I live in FL now so I can attest to the awesomeness of the winters down here. Summers are more difficult because of humidity but still not bad as you acclimate. Hunting is terrible down here from my perspective, having grown up in CO. Shooting a whitetail is like shooting a dog with horns, no offense to the southern hunter. A rocky mtn bull elk is a lot different, lol. Plus I don't have to worry about getting bit by a 6ft eastern diamondback or run into any man eating gators. I hunt MT as well and the predator population has seemingly exploded and the game population has suffered for it. In CO you won't run into any wolf packs or grizzlies, black bears yes but they don't worry me as much as the grizzlies do. Depending on where you live or what piece of land you by in western CO, you could be in good hunting ground fairly quickly. Like I posted before, a 45 min drive from my buddies house in Montrose and l'm stepping out of the truck to hunt elk at 8000ft. He can get to town in 10 minutes as well. Obviously, I'm bias towards CO but western CO has a lot of appeal. Wyoming does have the reputation of being windy but excellent antelope hunting. However, if you get into the four corners area, like Durango and Cortez, NM next door has some good antelope hunting as well, though I am not speaking from personal experience. If you like living up in the high country, more snow obviously, the Gunnison area is an option, though hunting there has a lot of private land. Blue Mesa is the largest lake in CO and is not very far from Gunnison. Buy a small boat and you can troll for lake trout and Kokane salmon in those waters. Best of luck to you and hope you find a good spot.
     
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