"The Other Montana"

July 26, 2007 By: Marshall Cutchin

I first saw the other Montana while helping my friend, a beekeeper, collect honey from hives an hour or two north of Big Timber. As we drove his flatbed into the plains, the houses dotting the landscape became fewer and fewer, the landscape more skeletal, and the sky, of course, bigger. If you spend most of your time in Montana fishing the southern or Western ranges or around the park, you never see this stark and incredibly beautiful expanse, where a tractor-trailer hauling cattle toward any semblance of grass looks like a tiny, shiny ladybug in the distance. Bill Schneider writes about it in New West: “Montana has been known as Big Sky Country since The Big Sky, a best-selling book by A.B. Gutherie, Jr., came out. And if he were alive today, I bet Gutherie would agree with me that the sky is especially big out in eastern Montana, bigger than it is west of the Continental Divide.” Don’t be fooled, either. There are plenty of fly fishing oases in the middle of all that emptiness. They just never get written about, and are that much better for it.