Montana and the Grand Western Conference
- Firstly, here are some facts about Montana from my conference notes. The
items about guns and hunting are courtesy of Gary Marbut of the Montana
Shooting Sports Associations. Other items are courtesy of Montana State
Representative Joe Balyeat.
1. "Concealed carry" as defined in MT means "on your person, concealed by
clothing". A gun in a car or in a lady's purse is not considered to be
concealed & does NOT require a CCW. Of course, a CCW is only neccessary in
town above the high water mark of any body of water. 98%+ of MT is NOT in
2. A resolution has passed the Montana Legislature that feds working within
MT have to work through the local county sheriff. The eventual goal is to
give this the force of law.
3. MT has exempted itself from the Gun-free Schools Act.
4. Nuisance lawsuits against gunmakers are against MT law. (True product
liability suits are a different matter, of course)
5. If you have a CCW, you are considered to have had your Brady Law
background check already done for all future gun purchases.
6. The MT legislature have declared an official "Right to Keep and Bear Armes
Week" & an officaial "Hunting Week".
7. There are no state laws regarding machine guns and silencers. Only the
federal laws apply.
8. A constitutional amendment providing for a right to hunt on top of the
existing right to bear arms, will be on the next ballot.
9. Montana currently is the largest population Congressional district in the
country. An influx of even 10,000 porcupines would mean that MT picks up
another Congressional district at the next redistricting. Hmmm....porcupine
congressman with no incumbent opposition, anyone?
10. TAX DECREASE! In order to resolve it's budget problems this year, MT has
raised taxes on cigarettes, rental cars, and lodging. This has enabled them
to LOWER the top income tax rate from 11% to 6.9%, as well as LOWERING the
capital gains tax rate from 11% to 4%.
11. According to the Missoula Missoulian, on 5/25, MT governor Judy Martz
currently enjoys a whopping 18% approval rate.
12. While it is not required that MT schools teach gun safety, it is strongly
recommended, and the MT Shooting Sports Association provides materials to
many schools for the purpose.
13. Under MT law, a non-resident child of a MT resident may hunt as a MT
Corey and I packed up the truck, and set out with our 2 dogs for the
conference late at night on 5/20, driving straight through MO, KS, and CO, to
camp for the night on 5/21, in Glendo, WY, between Cheyenne & Casper. I
would warn anyone not to take the toll road that skirts Denver. They think
that $1.75/5 miles is a reasonable toll for a 20 mile long road! When I said
something about it to the person at the toll booth, I was told that the
amount was in line with other tolls in country. However, I know for a fact
that we spent $1.75 to travel 50 miles of KS tollway, and Chicagoland tolls
do NOT approach that amount, unless they've more than tripled them since
March! Glendo State Park was a very pleasant place to camp
The next day, we continued up I-25 and I-90, through WY and into MT,
traversing the Crow Reservation (the only place in MT where I saw a lot of
anything that approaches the "tar-paper shacks"--houses and trailers badly
needing repair--that some have said all westerners live in). The scenery in
all of WY and MT that we travelled was absolutely, indescribably gorgeous!
We saw literally hundreds of deer, antelope, prairie dogs, and even buffalo,
along, of course, with cows, horses, and sheep.
We travelled I-90 through Billings, Bozeman, and Butte, arriving in Missoula,
at Gary Marbut's place, about 11pm. Gary was nice enough to let us camp out
on his land. We spent the next day being utterly slothful & getting
sunburned, enjoying the fact that hot weather in MT means you can still wear
jeans into the 90's without dissolving in a puddle of sweat, which you would
in MO. My allergies also were absent the whole time we were in MT and WY,
and we both found it much easier to breathe, meaning we had a lot more energy
than we do at home.
We saw more cops in 24 hours in SD on the way home than we saw the whole week
we were in MT & WY.
Billings and Missoula both had farms, complete with cows and horses, right in
Casinos in MT are ubiquitous, and are often an aspect of a multi-use business.
We began to think of them as the "spam" in the Monty Python "spam, spam,
spam" skit. We saw "gas station, laundromat, bar, and casino", "gas station,
liquor store, car wash, and casino", "go-kart track, video arcade, putt-putt
golf, and casino", and many other combinations. The casinos have no age
restrictions that we could find out.
After the conference, which was fantastic, but I'm not going to repeat the
descriptions others have already made, and, for us, included an excellent BBQ
party at Gary's house on Saturday night, and stimulating conversation with
Amanda Phillips, Gary and his son, the Johnson's, and some others, whose
names I never caught, on Sunday night, as well as getting to talk a bit with
Claire before we left Monday morning, we headed back down toward the
Butte/Bozeman area, making a loop south of both, and going through the
Virginia City and Nevada City ghost towns. We got to Nevada City too late in
the day to ride on the steam train, but we got to see the locomotive before
they shut it down, which was cool! We took jillions of pictures on our trip,
and I will post some when I get them back. We failed to hook up with the
Orhai's that night, as we had hoped to, and spent the night at a campground
in the Gallatin National Forest, Corey and our German Shepherd had to rescue
our cockapoo out of a raging, flooded river. We thought the cockapoo was a
goner, as he is little and old, but he had washed up unharmed on a little
island, thank heaven! Other than that, we spent a very nice night all by
ourselves (no one else was using the campground) in the forest.
We met Quincy Orhai in Bozeman the next morning, and he showed us around a
bit, taking us into some of his favorite thrift stores, and directing us to
Job Service. We spent most of Tuesday exploring Bozeman and points south and
east, taking advantage of the opportunity to get clean and enjoy Chico Hot
Springs, along the way. We also saw a functioning one (maybe two) room
schoolhouse, near Chico. We spent part of that evening in the laundromat, in
Livingston, taking care of chores. The proprietor was nice enough to suggest
(I did not ask) that we could let the dogs inside the laundromat, as long as
we were the only ones there, which was much appreciated.
Once we were done with the laundry, we looked around a bit for a good-looking
campground, and then decided that we were awake, and pretty much done seeing
what we wanted to see in the area, so we set out for home, sleeping at rest
areas along the way.
Wednesday afternoon, after travelling through the Black Hills in WY and seeing
Devil's Peak, which was cool, we crossed the line into SD. For some reason,
SD actually has staff at some of their rest areas, ostensibly to help
travellers plan their trips. We decided to see Mt. Rushmore, the Black
Hills, and the Badlands, as they were on our way. Unfortunately, the feds
thought people should pay $8 just to park at Rushmore, and they had closed
off all the spots along the road provided for people to take pictures of Mt.
Rushmore and other scenery, making the road very dangerous, as people were
stopping and taking pictures anyway. Camping near Mt. Rushmore cost as much
for pitching a tent as a motel room costs, so we kept on going. The Badlands
were $10 just to enter the park, and more to camp, so we returned to Wall,
where we had left I-90, had buffalo burgers at Wall Drug, and kept on going,
with a minor layover at Vermillion, till we got home, Friday afternoon.
SD might have been nicer had we gone through on the way to MT, rather than
after having spent a week in MT & WY.
MT & WY were very, very clean, and the roads we were on were smooth as
glass--even secondary and tertiary roads. Some of the dirt roads were a mite
rough, but roads that actually go places were paved.
Without the humidity, the cars do not rust. I saw cars that I know from
personal experience, were awful rustbuckets, without a speck on them.
Strangely, and probably due to the low humidity, one does not need a shower as
quickly there as one does in MO. The dirt just doesn't seem to stick.
People were all friendly, and would wave at you if you met up with them on a
2-lane road. Those who were described the FSP to were interested, as getting
government out of their lives seeemed to ring a bell with most.
In short, our trip was excellent, MT & WY, but especially MT, were gorgeous,
and we would move there in a minute.
"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits
drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the law,'
because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates
the rights of the individual."