Frustrated by tight-lipped outdoors people, Missoula man shares his knowledge of the area online
Written by DARYL GADBOW, of the Missoulian
Like many newcomers to Missoula, Dave Krueger was attracted to the area by the prospects of finding excellent hunting, fishing, hiking and camping.
After finishing college in Utah, Krueger and his wife, Denise, came to Missoula on vacation in the spring of 2001 to check out those prospects.
"We both loved to camp," says Krueger. "I said 'Let's go to Missoula. A good movie was made there - "A River Runs Through It." Let's go see it.' Probably two-thirds of the people who come here come because of that. We camped up Rock Creek and happened to hit the salmonfly hatch on the head. We were hooked. We moved up here in December, 2001. We had no jobs."
Krueger landed a job with a security company, and recently was hired by the Missoula Police Department, as a law enforcement officer.
Since moving here, he says, his rosy expectations of living in an outdoor recreation paradise have more or less been fulfilled.
However, that dream was slow to materialize.
"Unfortunately," he says, "the first year I spent in Montana was filled with constant searching for places to hunt, fish, hike, shoot, camp and the like. It was extremely difficult to find places to do all of my beloved hobbies. It seemed that everyone I talked to that had a good place to fish or hunt was adamant about remaining tight-lipped about its whereabouts.
"Now I am fully aware that our wilderness is diminishing at an alarming rate and that every hunting or fishing spot is to be cherished. But I was frustrated to find that no matter how hard I tried, almost no one would give me specifics about the outdoor locales that I so much desired."
Rather than resign himself to becoming a couch potato, Krueger set out to remedy his plight.
"I bought a Montana Gazetteer Atlas," he says. "I would drive around, get out and talk to people, and do a little fishing. More or less, honestly, it was putting in hours, getting out there walking around. Duck hunting is one of my major passions. So I would get a map and go out there and walk around for hours at a time."
"I think I've probably spent hundreds of hours bent over a map, and walking around the woods, and I've probably only found 2 percent of the places to go in western Montana," he adds. "But I've been happy with it so far. I got a five-point bull elk this fall, just by getting on maps, and scouting."
Now other outdoors enthusiasts can benefit from Krueger's intensive exploration and research through a Web site created by him and his friend Matt Bremmer of Missoula.
At Krueger's and Bremmer's www.WildMontana.net, Internet users can find where-to-go and how-to-do-it information about hunting - including a special elk hunting section, animal identification, fishing - including a special fly-fishing section, fish identification, stream insect hatch charts, river flow charts, local fly shop contacts, day hikes and backpacking routes, campground features and locations, dog training tips, survival tips, rock climbing locations and routes, rock climbing gear, Glacier Park facts and history, local weather, community chat room/question board, fire restrictions and a guide to Missoula restaurants and hotels.
In addition, the Web site includes links to other outdoor sites, including Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' excellent and comprehensive site.
"The FWP site is a wonderful source of information," says Krueger. "We have links all over our Web site going to all sorts of FWP pages. So somebody can read a hunting story, and on the same page, get the hunting regulations from the FWP link. We get all the important regulations and notices updates."
Bremmer, who worked with Krueger at the local security company, had some experience building Web sites in high school, according to Krueger.
"I love to write and he loves to build Web sites," says Krueger. "It was a pretty good coupling. We just thought this would be a place that, when people come here, they would be able to find a restaurant to eat at, and a fly-shop to go to, or a place to go rock climbing. That's why I built this. So somebody can come here and find anything they need - anything from hotels to hunting spots."
Krueger and Bremmer launched the site about eight months ago, packing it with information about hunting and fishing gleaned by Krueger, guides to hiking and backpacking provided by Bremmer, and extensive rock climbing tips and locations contributed by another Missoula friend, Chris Alexander.
Once the site was up and running, they began to solicit and receive paid advertisements and link connections from Missoula hotels, restaurants, fly shops and other businesses. Krueger says he hopes to attract more business advertisers in the future.
"I guess that's where I hope it all comes together," he says. "So people can get everything on this one Web site. But to tell the truth, if it didn't make a dime, I'd still write for it, because I love to write about hunting and fishing. I hope it makes it simpler for folks moving into Missoula. It was frustrating for me. I just think everybody should be able to enjoy the outdoors. This is a place to send them in the right direction."
The hunting and fishing location information provided by the Web site is quite general, by design, Krueger says.
"I give very basic directions for people to go," he says. "Not so much to keep my places secret, but because everybody likes to hunt a spot differently. Plus, it's kind of neat to find a place by yourself."
Krueger's suggested elk and deer hunting locations, for example, list stream drainages, main roads and highway exits, as primary guidelines.
"I give a little more specific locations for duck hunting," he says. "But you've still got to go out and find a place that suits you. By no means am I trying to give away people's secret spots. If somebody looks into it, they'll find all the sites I have listed here. This just cuts down on their tracking time. This map doesn't say 'Elk are here.' It just says 'This is a good place to look. Why don't you get a map and go hiking around?' "
About the time he and Bremmer got their Web site established eight months ago, Krueger says, he "really got into hunting and fishing and put it on the back burner for awhile."
He recently entered the 12-week training program at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy in Helena as preparation for his job with the Missoula Police Department. When he completes the course, Krueger says, he expects to have more time to devote to his Web site.
"We could conceivably have updates every single week," he says. "We'll be expanding, getting more hunting and fishing sites as I find them. I'm not trying to keep them under my hat. I hope to have more restaurant, hotel, store and fly-shop links. And we love to get feedback from the public. If we start getting lots of e-mails about something, and I don't know about it, I'll find somebody who does and put information about it on here.
"Something I think is really neat," he adds, "is that hunters
and fishermen love to boast about their catch and the trophies they've gotten. So if they'll e-mail us a picture, we'll put it on there. Overall, the site is just a navigation tool. You still have to do the work. This just points you in the right direction.
I know how fiercely Montanans guard their secret spots. This is all public knowledge. I'm just putting it in one spot so people can find it."
Reporter Daryl Gadbow can
be reached at 523-5264 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.