Winter Weather Drops By Bozeman

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Helena National Forest, Helena, MT

Tyler Zaichkin took this picture up in Helena last weekend, click photo to enlarge

It’s well known that Montana weather can change at the drop of a hat and it frequently does, yet when it does we still find ourselves in shock. This is typically evidenced by the dire need of almost every person on Facebook to post an embellished account of the severity of the weather outside, which is exacerbated by the need to not be out done by the rest of Facebook. Ironically, the most recent below zero temperatures didn’t rattle as many cages as one would typically expect. In fact, this may be the only dramatic response to Old Man Winter’s first firm grasp on Bozeman. Certainly, it doesn’t compare to last year when it was colder in parts of the U.S. than on the surface of Mars.

There are few surprises more exciting in the morning than a fresh blanket of fine powder strewn across the lawn (except a larger amount of powder on a ski day). Much like it’s own inert nature, fresh snow expertly layers mixed emotions of serene calm with intense excitement, which works as a salve to an otherwise infuriating drive to work (Bozeman should be listed in the Top 10 Worst Drivers in all of America, maybe the world). One would think that drivers in an arduous mountain region such as Bozeman, MT would be, at bare minimum, capable of the most basic fundamentals of driving. Unfortunately, the general driving capabilities of the adult populace of Bozeman rival that of a highschool freshman class in Drivers Ed (alright, alright, rant over, rage expunged). Aside from fresh snowfall there was another treat this morning, the temperature had a risen a hearty twenty degrees, it had risen to 10 degrees out…

The elevation in temperature signals the quest to escape the house, where many Montanans have been holed up waiting for the cold snap to abate. This recent cold snap, while not uncommon for this time of year, comes as a slap to face, as we were broken loose from the false comfort of our sustained Indian summer.  Even in Montana where the weather does as it pleases, it is very rare to see temperatures above fifty degrees throughout most of October. The change is quite welcomed here at TRG, as the excitement at the office is palpable. The fresh snow coupled with the heralding of a new weekend has set our hearts afire. The hunters are stoked for the excellent aid the snow will provide in tracking wild beasts in the backcountry of Montana. The skiers(boarders too) have begun their preseason rituals (this includes Travis doing odd workouts around the office) as we draw increasingly closer to the beginning of the ski season.  Still others are content with watching winter unfold from the comfort of their favorite armchair. Whatever the cause for rejoicing we can all agree that winter is finally here and not a moment to soon.

Speaking of watching winter unfold from the comfort of your favorite armchair, the elk pictured below decided he cared about the storm front moving in last weekend as much as he cared about humans or their silly “No Parking” signs.

Elk near Boiling River, Yellowstone National Park

An elk taking watching over the Boiling River parking lot

Hunting Season is Upon Us

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A gorgeous spot near Bozeman

An awe inspiring view near Bozeman

Observations on Hunting by TRG’S Nick Esposito

This coming weekend will mark the beginning of this year’s deer/elk hunting season in Montana. Unless you possess the prowess to wield the mighty Bow and Arrow, in which case you will have already gotten a leg up on the season. Unfortunately for me, I am at best a mediocre archer, as I have distinct trouble hitting fairly large stationary targets at close distances, let alone smaller moving targets at further distances.  Before I can confidently stalk through the woods in search of prey I have much ground that I must cover. I mean this quite literally, as it seems that mother-nature is rather fond of stealing half my quiver of arrows each time I commit to “practicing”. With rifle season days away it seems that I will yet again be shelving this year’s quest to be Robin Hood.

Growing up in Vermont I was exposed to hunting various forms of woodland wildlife. Wildlife that ranged from various birds, to elusive whitetail, even the occasional patch of soft moss from which I could hunker down and deduce great wisdom from the insides of my eyelids(or as my dad refers to as napping). Yet, it wasn’t until three years ago that I set out on my first expedition into the rugged hunting lands of Montana. It couldn’t have gone much better (which was both a curse and a blessing), as a dear friend granted me access to a stellar stretch of land, from which my household of college cohorts was able to reap generous rewards. I wouldn’t be so lucky in the following years… No in fact, I was skunked the next two years, which is partially to blame on my final charge through my college career, and everything that entails. Ideally, it would have been great to have a freezer swollen with meaty delights for those last years of malnutrition (or college as some call it), but alas it wasn’t to be. Honestly though, I can’t say I am that disappointed, as the true trophies from hunting season are of the stories of horror, humor, and companionship. Be it a man-eating-beaver (or so my dad would have us believe), a snoozing bear, or the simplicity of spending a day in the woods with great company. It’s always these hunting memories that will be remembered and recounted at family gatherings years down the road, especially the man-eating-beaver.

A picture of what could be a man-eating-beaver

Moving forward, with only a handful of days left before the hunting season starts, I realize that I still haven’t purchased my tags, my hunting gear is in disarray, and more importantly the absence of properly vetted out wildlife encampments. Yup, sounds about right. I also find myself wondering if this late season heatwave can hold much longer (mostly hoping that it won’t). The last four or five days have been hovering around the seventies, typically at this time of year I would expect at bare minimum a dusting of snow on the ground. Heat of this nature isn’t particularly good for anyone, especially the wool-clad man trudging around the back-country in the sweltering heat. Granted the flip-side of the coin is that it could be twenty below and windy enough to freeze even the most monumentally mountainous of men. However the end result is always the same that no matter the conditions, it’s game time, pun intended!