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Hunting season: The perfect time to explore the Treasure State

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A pronghorn antelope. PHOTO BY PATRICK HENDRY

By Gus Hammond EBS CONTRIBUTOR

Gallatin County is the second most populated county in Montana with some 122,700 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And that’s for obvious reasons: Big Sky Resort, Bridger Bowl, Montana State University, Bozeman, Big Sky, and more attractions. While this area is one of the more populated places in the state, it doesn’t take too long of a drive to get out—something many county residents are itching to do as general rifle season begins Oct. 22.

Just a couple hours north of Big Sky, there is Meagher County, population 1,964. Meagher County is home to White Sulphur Springs, and not only that but the home of the Smith River.

About seven hours east of Gallatin County, you’ll find yourself nearly in North Dakota. The southeast corner of Montana is Carter County. Carter County and other parts of eastern Montana are some of the least populated areas in the lower 48 states. If you’re an antelope hunter, the towns of Ekalaka and Broadus will most likely ring a bell.

The U.S. Census Bureau states that Carter County is 3,346 miles squared. With a population of 1,428, that leaves a lot of open lands. Eastern Montana has become a very well-traveled area because of the hunting opportunities there. The antelope run rampant throughout eastern Montana and specifically Carter County.

Montana is a place of diverse geography. Driving into Montana from the east, you’d begin in a very desolate and flat area. Carter County is the gateway to Montana, but it only takes a couple of hours to enter the vast wilderness of the Rocky Mountains.

Montana is home to many different places, geographically speaking, but also different lifestyles. Each part of Montana has its own traits; our part of Montana has the Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone National Park. Then there are places in northern Montana that hold the beauties of Whitefish, Glacier National Park, and Flathead Lake. And eastern Montana holds the understated beauty of America’s vast Great Plains.

The Missouri River floats through the American Prairie Reserve of central Montana as the plains collide with the Rockies and where the prairie meets the magnificent cliffs hanging hundreds of feet above the Smith River.

You will find that Montana has beauty all over the state. The beginning of the hunting season is a great way to explore all of what Montana has to offer. By navigating and exploring the wilderness you will find that Montana is called the Treasure State for a reason.

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