The staff at Outdoor Life magazine followed a meticulous methodology as they researched the criteria, devised a sportsmen specific ratings formula and assigned the rankings accordingly. When the votes were tallied, 200 American towns qualified for their list of best places to live for hunters and anglers. I, like the rest of the residents of #19 ranked Bemidji, Minnesota, am one of the lucky few living the dream in Andrew McKean’s “Paradise Found.” Andrew McKean is Outdoor Life‘s new Hunting Editor and the article “Paradise Found” appears in the April issue of the magazine. According to Editor-in-Chief Todd W. Smith, who profiled McKean and the article in the April issue’s Editor’s Journal,
McKean was the obvious choice to author the cover story on the best hunting and fishing towns in America since he lives in a spot where great hunting and fishing are right out his back door.
This wasn’t an easy task, since we didn’t want to just list great towns for sportsmen, we wanted to rate them.
Living in the heart of the rural West, Andrew is in touch with sportsmen and the many challenges we face with public-land access, habitat loss and conservation issues.
Andrew spent months polling colleagues, gathering information, searching databases and compiling lists. He looked at every state and in the end came up with a list of more than 200 towns nationwide where hunting and fishing come first.
Executive Editor John Snow, who oversees all of our gear tests, is incredible at developing mathematical rating systems. His challenge would be to come up with a set of criteria that takes many of the most important things hunters and fishermen value into consideration. His system is unique and, we believe, fairly rates towns based on a number of points of concern to sportsmen.
I appreciate the efforts of the Outdoor Life staff to reinforce something that I have had the chance to personally discover and come to believe in when I relocated to Bemidji five years ago. The LPR is my own little corner of God’s Country — #19. I was also happy to find that I have had the chance to visit several of the other towns that made the list, and happier still to find that there are many more similar places left to explore…
Molly Miron Bemidji Pioneer
Published Friday, March 28, 2008
For an article titled “Paradise Found” in the April issue, members of the magazine’s staff profiled every population center in the United States with more than 4,000 people. They gathered data on the overall quality of life the towns offered considering factors such as the growth rate of the local economy, the unemployment rate, the degree of taxation, the time it takes to commute to work, the crime rate, housing prices, median household income and variety of cultural opportunities within easy driving distance. They rated each of these attributes on a scale of 1-10. They also rated 1-10 the fishing and hunting opportunities each town offers, the trophy quality of the sporting opportunities, proximity to land, the restrictiveness of the gun laws and whether fishing and hunting is good year-round. To complete the survey, the researchers developed a large database, weighting the sporting opportunities 60 percent of the score and the other quality of life aspects of the towns at 40 percent.
The results put Bemidji at No. 19 among 200 towns that made the “Best Places to Live” list. The researchers rated Bemidji’s outdoor potential as follows:
- Population — 13,291.
- Huntable species — 6.
- Fishable species — 8.
- Trophy potential — 7.
- Year-round opportunities — 5.
- Public land access — 9.
- Gun laws — 5.
“There are a lot of outdoorsmen looking to put down roots in an area with more campsites then condos,” said Outdoor Life Editor Todd Smith. “We went straight to facts when putting this list together to make sure we got the best options. With hard data backing our rankings I know sportsmen aren’t going to be disappointed.”