Hunting for Solitude and Sustainability

A fledgling hunter seeks a more intimate relationship with land

Trenton Kriz didn’t’ grow up hunting and isn’t from Montana.

Last year, he discovered the beauty of hunting during a weekend program exploring the intersection of sustainability and hunting. A year later he values the sport in a spiritual way. Kriz moved from Seattle to Montana for the open space and vast lands and he said hunting is an incredible way to experience and access what Montana has to offer.

“It is a completely different way to connect to the land and have a more intimate relationship with the animals on the landscape.” – Trenton Kriz

Kriz is a non-traditional student at the University of Montana studying parks and recreation management with minors in wildlife biology and nonprofit administration. He interns at Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. In addition to hunting, he enjoys backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and rock climbing.

He hunts with friends, but he often hunts alone seeking the solitude of being out alone in the woods. For Kriz hunting also provides a community.

From hunting mentorship programs to sharing recipes, to the general energy and ethics surrounding hunting in Montana makes the community an amazing aspect of it, Kriz said.

Along with the community and peace of mind aspect, Kriz values the sustainability of hunting. He hasn’t bought red meat from a store in years and focuses on hunting locally and butchering and processing his own meat when he can.

Trenton Kriz hunts on public land in the Lolo National Forest on Nov. 5, 2019. He hunts to get away from the day to day, but also to eat sustainably.

He uses a mapping application called onX Hunt to find what land to hunt, how to get there, and how to avoid crossing into private land.

The Missoula-based company, onX Hunt provides maps for hunters and other recreationalists. It shows the boundary between different types of lands and lets the user place markers. The map has offline capabilities, which is super useful since a lot of public lands don’t have cell service. The company released a study in conjunction with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Foundation about landlocked public lands in the U.S.

Left: Kriz uses the onX Hunt app to navigate while hunting on Nov. 5, 2019. The app has been used by more than 5 million people since its inception in 2013. OnX works with other organizations and agencies to fight for the public’s right to access public lands.

Right: Kriz helps a friend butcher a deer on Nov. 25, 2019. He’s only butchered two deer before, but picked it up fast and was willing to help a friend with less experience. He said helping each other out is an integral part of the hunting community’s values.

In Montana, three million acres of public land are landlocked. Those acres are inaccessible to the public because they are surrounded by private land.  The only access would be through access to private land owners, which can be difficult and tedious to obtain.

Because he didn’t come from Montana, Kriz feels blessed by how much land is available to hunt and recreate on, but still feels strongly about the landlocked issue.

“It definitely does bother me that there is so much gridlocked land you can’t access,” he said.

Kriz hopes to continue living in Montana and hunting for his meat. Someday, he wants the outdoors to become the core of his life, not just an escape from the day to day work.