By now, lots of Montana hunters have been scouting, comparing notes and speculating on how the dry conditions might affect the early seasons.

Our good friend Brad May from H & H Meats in Missoula, spends lots of time on his side-by-side in the mountains of western Montana. Brad is a great source of information, as the peak season for his wild game processing business is fast approaching. So, he pays pretty close attention to things like that, trying to gauge what business could be like in the weeks ahead.

Brad says he is seeing elk and deer in areas he has never seen them before, likely looking for more food sources while foraging in drought conditions. That's just one of a number of changes Montana hunters could see as a result of widespread drought in Montana. A story published by Associated Press also suggests potential access closures and fewer animals surviving to adulthood. The growth of grass that big game animals feed on in  many parts of Montana has been stymied by the heat and lack of moisture.

Things start to ramp up for hunting seasons beginning September 4 with the start of the six-week archery season. While some analysts say the size of animals might not be what Montana hunters are accustomed to seeing, the deer and elk herds did enjoy a relatively mild winter.

Only time will tell, and we know Montana hunters well enough to figure they will adjust and adapt, just like the game they are pursuing.

LOOK: Here are the best lake towns to live in

Many of the included towns jump out at the casual observer as popular summer-rental spots--the Ozarks' Branson, Missouri, or Arizona's Lake Havasu--it might surprise you to dive deeper into some quality-of-life offerings beyond the beach and vacation homes. You'll likely pick up some knowledge from a wide range of Americana: one of the last remaining 1950s-style drive-ins in the Midwest; a Florida town that started as a Civil War veteran retirement area; an island boasting some of the country's top public schools and wealth-earners right in the middle of a lake between Seattle and Bellevue; and even a California town containing much more than Johnny Cash's prison blues.



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