Current issue: January-February 2015


In this issue:

34th Annual Photo Issue


When I travel to other parts of the United States, I’m often struck by how unsightly, identical, and overdeveloped so much of it is. The same office parks, the same residential areas, the same freeways with off-ramp retail spaces filled with identical box stores. One place resembles the other, and very few look like somewhere I’d want to live.

Of course, people need somewhere to work, live, and shop, not to mention roads to connect it all. Those highly developed landscapes undoubtedly make economic sense, especially in places packed with people. They just aren’t for me. Or you, either, in all likelihood.

A person can find at least some open space in urbanized communities that make hiking, cycling, and wildlife watching a priority. Unfortunately, those tiny nature reserves usually are ringed with multi-story houses and glass-walled office towers, making the land no wilder than a bored bobcat in the local zoo. Still, while visiting urban areas I sneak off whenever possible to these undeveloped parcels—usually wetlands and swamps too expensive to drain or fill—just to get a whiff of nature. But too soon I’m forced to leave and reenter the world of traffic, billboards, parking lots, and airport security lines.

Then I return to Montana. Whew.

What I find here is in large part represented by the remarkable images you see in this 34th edition of our photo issue—beauty, diversity, wildness, grandeur, and, above all, the sense of freedom that comes from being surrounded by such vast space and abundant public land and water. A place where you can drive around, look up at a mountain, and say to yourself, “I might hike up there someday,” or pass a river and think, “I might fish that stretch next summer.” And, in all likelihood, you could.
In this state of seemingly limitless outdoor possibilities, a person could see any of the scenery or wildlife featured in this issue of Montana Outdoors, depending on the season, the location, or happenstance. It’s likely that few of us will ever spot a lynx, or a hoary bat, or bighorn rams engaged in combat. As much time as I spend outdoors, I’ve never seen a mountain lion in the wild, or a wolverine. But someday I might, if I’m lucky enough or willing to hike a bit deeper into the wilderness.

Knowing that we live in a state where all these animals are actually out there, alive in the wild, in numbers often equal to what explorers found here 200 years ago, is just another reason why those of us who leave Montana, even for just a few days, can’t wait to get back.

—Tom Dickson, Editor

ACI stampFor the past nine years, Montana Outdoors has been ranked among the nation's top state conservation magazines by the Association for Conservation Information. In 2012, the National Association of Government Communicators awarded Montana Outdoors first place magazine. See our collection of award-winning stories. AWARD WINNERS >>


Get the latest news on Montana's wildlife, fish, and parks management, conservation issues, and endangered species in Montana Outdoors.This captivating color magazine provides an in-depth look at what's going on in Montana's mountains, rivers, reservoirs, prairies and forests. For a special website offer of just $12 per year, you'll get the latest information on Montana's trout rivers, elk management, state parks, wolf and grizzly delisting, and more. Plus you'll find recent updates on seasons, laws, and regulations, not to mention some of the best outdoors photography in the country.

Montana Outdoors is a bi-monthly publication of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks that promotes the conservation and sustainable use of Montana's fish, wildlife, and state parks.

Web Extras:Read exclusive content not found in the magazine here.

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The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation


Fishing for Serenity

Yellow Light on the Yellowstone: FWP proceeds with caution as it works to maintain the lower Yellowstone River’s diverse native fishery in the face of diversion dams, water withdrawals, and growing numbers of anglers.


Black bears

More Fangs in the Forest: Montana is home to higher numbers of large carnivores today than any time since the 19th century. Now what?

Natural World

Black bears

The Land That Time Forgot:What are West Coast rainforest creatures doing in northwestern Montana?


Pictograph Cave State Park

Standing for Montana: Strange stories of how the bitterroot, grizzly bear, mourning cloak butterfly, and Montana’s other state symbols came into existence.


Pictograph Cave State Park

Welcome to Montana Elk Hunting: Advice for residents and nonresidents on where to hunt, obtaining reliable information, and negotiating the licensing and permitting process.