For the sake of full disclosure, I admit I’m partial to sweeping vistas, rocky peaks, and unadulterated landscapes. As someone who calls Minnesota home, the thought of heading west to backpack, fish, or hunt is more than alluring – it’s an itch I try to scratch at least once a year.
Months ago while sitting in a cramped conference room, the open fields of Montana were slated to provide the backdrop for the first half of our Rooster Road Trip – I was skeptical. Sure, hunting out west is on many of our bucket lists, but to drive past the Dakotas in search of ringnecks elsewhere seemed… foolish. I was wrong.
Arriving in Lewistown, Montana, three days ago, we hit the road running with our Pheasants Forever Montana regional representative, Dan Bailey. Our goal was to scout the surrounding area before the official kickoff to our road trip today and it didn’t take long before my eyes were wide open to the fact that Montana is an amazing upland destination.
Wild public-land roosters, coveys of sharp-tailed grouse, and Hungarian partridge have all flushed off our dogs’ noses in abundant numbers and being able to harvest my first Hun and Sharpie is something I won’t soon forget. Further evidence of the luck we’re having is the fact that as I write this, we have five roosters courtesy of the Pheasants Forever Coffee Creek Block Management Area sitting in the back of the truck from our first hunt this morning.
Putting birds in the bag may not be everything but if we can all be honest for a second, a bird hunter isn’t looking to drive hundreds – if not thousands – of miles only to take a nice walk behind their dog. Bird numbers matter, and so far Montana is holding up its end of the bargain. I’m already thinking about how I can get back out here next year.
-Andrew Vavra is Pheasants Forever’s marketing manager.