I will start off giving you a little info about myself. I was born and raised in a suburb, Southeast of Denver, Colorado. I was first introduced to hunting at the age of 13 by a baseball coach and family friend. That coach also had a son my age on the team. He decided to introduce us both to hunting by way of waterfowl hunting. Eventually, through meeting some other friends, I also became a pheasant hunter as well.
Looking back at the 9 years of waterfowl and pheasant hunting in Colorado, I ran into many obstacles and hardships, and loved every minute of it, because I was hunting. All I can speak for is my experiences with waterfowl and pheasant hunting in Colorado. Not someone else’s experiences, and not big game.
The majority of my hunting waterfowl in Colorado took place on a land lease in Northeast Colorado, off the South Platte River. There was numerous ponds that surrounded the main channel of the river. With it being a lease, the hunting was always great. However, It was a lease with multiple other waterfowl hunters, so every morning we had to draw ping pong balls for locations of the property to hunt.
As I grew up my relationship with that friend drifted away because we went to different high schools and played different sports. He continued to play baseball and I played baseball and football. Football took up the majority of my hunting season with it being a fall sport. This is when I shifted gears towards pheasant hunting. I met a new buddy through high school sports, and his father was head of Key Bank in Colorado and did a lot of work for farmers and ranchers in Eastern Colorado, near the Kansas border. We would go out there when we could and run corn fields and tree rows with flushing labs.
After I graduated from high school, I went to college in Southern Colorado. It was a struggle early on. My roommate and I would hunt a local reservoir for doves, rabbits, and ducks. We would walk 8 miles at a time, in hopes of taking a couple doves. It was ridiculous!
My sophomore year of college, I met a guy on my team who was from Fort Morgan, Colorado. His girlfriend’s father was a farmer and dug us a pit blind in one of his corn fields. It was still hard hunting because Fort Morgan has a ton of geese and with a ton of geese, comes a ton of hunters. This field never appeared to be the “X”, in terms of where these geese wanted to be. Our most successful days were hiding in plain clothes behind a pump house in the middle of a dirt field. Often times these geese would fly low near that house, and we would pop out and blast away.
My junior year of college, I met another guy on our football team who was from Buena Vista, Colorado, and his girlfriend’s father owned an excavation pit, that held every duck in that area. I was finally back to good hunting. Man were those some good hunts! Limit after limit.
After saying all of that, if you were going to hunt Colorado, in my opinion, you would need to have hunting connections. If you don’t have those connections, you will be hunting public land that is just mediocre in itself, or public land with about 1000 other waterfowl hunters around that same stock pond. It was like Armageddon, come shooting light or even a couple minutes before, when one mallard entered that pond. I guess one could foresee this, due to the massive amount of people that live in the Denver and surrounding areas.
I recall being in the best shape of my life, hunting in Colorado. It was never easy. Lots of hiking gear in and working hard for your birds. The biggest hindrance to my hunting was the fact that I had to drive at least an hour in any direction to hunt mediocre land.
If you talk to Rick or Todd who were the first people I hunted with in Montana, in year 2013, they would tell you I have had a ton of “firsts” here in Montana. I attest my success to the amount of resources Montana has to offer via the Block Management System. Also, a huge contributing factor to my success in Montana was all the amenities that came with joining the Yellowstone Hunt Club, as far as resources went. Rick and Todd introduced me to what exactly block management was. Rick and Todd have also introduced me to a style of hunting where you pull up to where you’re hunting, in your truck You drop your decoys and gear off right at your blind and when everything is set up you go park the car. When the hunt was over, you brought the truck back packed up and left. What!? are you kidding!? No more mile long treks like in Colorado! Good thing I didn’t hunt big game then. I cannot see myself dragging a deer for miles, honestly.
I absolutely love the fact that living here in Billings, MT, I can be hunting waterfowl, upland birds, or big game in a matter of 10 minutes from my house. Rick introduced me to hunting waterfowl on the Yellowstone River, in both early season and 80 degree weather, as well as, frigid -30 degree weather (never dreamed of something that cold in Colorado). Rick and Todd introduced me to what hunting over pointing dogs was like (awesome). Heck, they even introduced to the semi-auto 12 gauge, and thanks to Todd, the mighty 10 gauge.
I have hunted sharpies, huns, and pheasant from Billings, MT to Homestead, MT in thick CRP. I have hunted ducks and geese in the Yellowstone River, BMA’s, WPA’s, state land, leases, etc. I have hunted swans and cranes near homestead. I have hunted turkeys in Yellowstone County and Musselshell County, along river banks and through thickly wooded mountains. I shot my first deer, thanks to Rick, near Roscoe, MT.
I guess what I’m getting at, is that hunting here in Montana, we are in an absolute hunter’s paradise.
I wouldn’t change a thing about my hunting lifestyle now. To where as in Colorado, I would maybe hunt 10 times a year. I think for the past 2 years in Montana, I have hunted past the 60 day mark, each year. This can be attested to by the close proximity to hunting, and good hunting at that. It also has to do with my crazy buddies/club members that share the same passion for hunting as I do. It takes that kind of crazy passion to sit in a ground blind in -30 degree weather, chasing wing beats and maybe get a little frostbite.
I use to just consider myself a die-hard waterfowl and pheasant hunter, but now, I long for the chance to fill my tags and my freezer with deer, turkey, grouse, huns, ducks, geese, swan, crane, etc. Elk, watch out, because you’re on my radar next!
It’s strange, I hit almost a depression state of mind come for that period of time between the close of goose season in late January to the opening of Spring turkey in April. I need to pick up snow goose hunting! Rick and Brad have also introduced me to paddle fishing and a few sore ribs.
I love Montana and my hunting lifestyle now and wouldn’t change a thing!