Outdoor Life ranks Craig among top places for outdoorsmen.

file photo

Outdoor Life ranks Craig among top places for outdoorsmen.

A reasonable conclusion

By the numbers

Outdoor Life's survey of the Top 200 Towns for Hunting and Fishing included seven Colorado towns, with Craig coming in at No. 41.

The top five

1. Mountain Home, Ark.

2. Lewiston, Idaho

3. Sheridan, Wyo.

4. Cody, Wyo.

5. Pocatello, Idaho

Top five Colorado cities

14. Fort Collins

17. Rifle

28. Durango

41. Craig

44. Grand Junction

— When told the news that Outdoor Life magazine ranked Craig No. 41 on its Top 200 Towns for Hunting and Fishing, locals responded with, "Well, that makes sense."

Among the western mountain towns growing at the base of natural skyscrapers, the little hamlets hidden behind tall trees and old rivers in the American South, and the hills and valleys in between, Craig ranked in the top 50.

A recognition that didn't surprise anyone.

The abundance of wildlife and public land was not lost on the people who live here, but maybe the article can get the word out a little, they said.

"That's a heck of a deal," Mayor Don Jones said. "I'll have to go out and get it."

He remembered back when he used to hunt where Trapper Mine and the Tri-State power plant now occupy the hills.

"I hunted for years and years and years," Jones said. "I loved it. I really did."

Craig Sports owner Joe Herod pointed to the community's banner, The Elk Hunting Capital of the World.

"I would say we deserve to be up there," he said.

As someone who has traveled around the country to other hunting grounds, he couldn't think of a place he'd rather be than Moffat County.

"It's way better," Herod said.

Bill Green, a licensed outfitter who also runs a private land hunting business north of Craig through Pinnacle Peak Adventures, said from the way his hunters talk, Northwest Colorado is up there whether it's in the magazine or not.

"Our hunters, a lot of them are return hunters," Green said. "For the most part, they love it up here."

The area has always been pretty popular, Green said, back to the time he was a boy being raised in Routt County. The combination of wildlife and large tracts of public land make this area what it is, he said.

"We have a lot of elk, a lot of deer, a lot of antelope, and in the winter, they do a fair amount of mountain lion hunts when you go out west," Green said.

"We're not short on hunters."

Outdoor Life researched every metropolitan area in the country with more than 4,000 residents and judged them based on quality of life - factors such as the economy, cost of living, job market - and outdoor recreation, giving more weight to the latter.

Craig came very close to America's top city, Mountain Home, Ark., but fell short when it came to fishing, according to the survey's 1 to 10 scale.

Craig was the fourth-highest Colorado town on the list, coming behind Fort Collins, Rifle and Durango.

"That's an honor, no doubt," Jones said. "I can't understand us being rated below Rifle."

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