Thursday, October 08, 2009


"As we crowd more and more on to public hunting lands, that nebulous something one of my friends calls The Quality Outdoor Experience grows more rare. As more people use less, more laws are passed, some to preserve that quality and some to preserve anything at all, stifling the freedom that is an intrinsic part of The Quality Outdoor. This crowding and regulation doesn't only apply to hunting. These days we have to apply a year ahead for reservations to camp in Yosemite National Park, and something very similar is going to happen to Yellowstone very soon. AS public forests in the East grow not just crowded but actually dangerous to hunt in, more and more hunters come West, to hunt forests already crowded by folks who moved to Wyoming and Idaho and Montana to get away from a crowded California.

And so it goes. Those of us who were lucky enough to be raised somewhere close to the land, with a sense of self-sufficiency and (dare I say it?) The Quality Outdoor Experience, just go deeper. That can mean hiking farther into the Wind River Range, moving to Alaska, or just hunting something not so damn popular, like sage grouse."

John Barsness, Western Skies


Chas S. Clifton said...

How does Barsness' comment fit with what you hear about declining hunter numbers (at least in some places)?

OR even with what I have seen in the news about declining national park visitor numbers?

Do all the people go to only a few places?

Or has John "I'm from Montana and You're Not" Barsness just reached the "old fart" stage of life?

mdmnm said...

Hey Chas,

I think there is a definite Montana and old fart bias there. On the other hand, while hunter numbers are declining the numbers of folks putting in for limited-draw hunts seems to be going up and the general rifle seasons are awful crowded. I guess the overall population increase makes up a good bit for the decline of the percentage of hunters.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Patrick Burns has been giving the numbers a more positive spin, did you see?

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Sage grouse less popular?! Every upland hunter I know (including me) wants to hunt sage grouse! You need a special permit to shoot just one in CA, and I've never had the chance to go after them in other states. Not sure John picked the right critter as an example...

mdmnm said...


I hadn't seen Patrick Burn's post. Thanks! Really interesting breakdown of the numbers and goes a long way to explaining some of the crowding we see.


I think sage grouse have shrunk in range and grown in stature or interest as prey in the last few years. I recall reading Charlie Waterman (and Barsness)writing about going after them as a very exotic/unusual thing back in the 80's. In that same time period, my grandfather was able to hunt them in CA without having to draw a permit or, at least without having any trouble drawing.

On one hand, I like to see a species get a constituency, on the other hand, a little less competition would be nice!

danontherock said...

The thing that I like about our Newfoundland weather is that it keeps people away. We have less people here than Montana.I have seen one other hunter this fall (he was on an ATV) and I have hunted a lot. The weather is what ruins our quality outdoor experience. Just kidding of course. Don't get started on ATV's

mdmnm said...

Hey Dan,

Great to see you blogging and happy to put you on the blog roll!

I just got back from elk hunting in western CO and, this year, there were relatively few hunters or even ATVs. I think the recession has hit a lot of folks hard and they've foregone out of state trips.