Outdoor Adventures with Local Outdoorsmen

June 1, 2024

written by Rebecca Stewart | photos by Brittany Smith, Seth Kroft and Dave Fisher

We live in Montana; odds are the outdoors are calling in some way – even if you consider yourself to be an avid indoorsman. Fortunately, there are options galore at our fingertips. It’s a pick-your-own-adventure buffet that allows you to find the best fit for your level of interest and ability. To get us started, we talked with three local outdoorsmen who gave us a peek at doing the outdoorsy thing that they love best. From wind in our face, to feet on the trail, and lines in the water, let’s get outside, Billings! 

NATHAN SATRAN | Motorcyclist & Photographer

You’ve seen Nathan’s name and gorgeous architectural photos in our pages, now he’s taking us on the road with his latest outdoor passion: motorcycling. Not something his younger self would have allowed – too risky for a young man who liked to push the limits – now, though, Nathan recognizes his limits and works within them. Whether it’s, as he laughingly wonders, a midlife crisis or not, motorcycling has been his thing for the last year.

Riding his motorcycle, Nathan shares, allows him to be fully in the moment, it’s as if “none of the drama of the world exists.” When you’re on the bike, the risk is greater, he acknowledges, but you’re also more in tune with what’s going on around you. “You have more senses being affected,” he notes, “You know if the air temperature changes a hundred feet down the road. It’s the fresh air and the smells…You have to be on your A game all the time and aware of your surroundings.”

Getting Started
  • Have a valid Montana driver’s license
  • Take the written and driving tests
  • Nathan recommends taking the safety course 

Nathan notes that it’s important to start off slow, “working your way into a rhythm and understanding the bike and what your capabilities are. It takes time and experience.” With just a year under his belt, he recognizes that there’s still much for him to learn.

A Day in the Life

This day in the life is pretty straightforward: Get on the bike and go. Whether it’s on his own or with the guys, it’s having the opportunity to take in amazing views while having the wind in his hair. So to speak; the helmet is a constant companion. Favorite spots? “Hitting the backroads going out towards Huntley or riding along the river out by Duck Creek or taking Buffalo Trail north of Laurel.”

When staying within the Billings area, Nathan loves getting out to use his fine art photography skills- photographing Four Dances or the Rims, capturing the amazing views in our backyard.

Nathan was also kind enough to drop a few words of wisdom for us amateur photographers on our own adventures. First, he says, “The best camera you can have is the one that you have available to you.” Meaning, take the photo, no matter what. Even if it doesn’t completely capture the feeling of that moment, “it’s still important to be able to have the memory to look back on.” His most simple, yet highly effective piece of advice? Make sure your camera lens is clean

SETH KROFT | Hiking & Photographer

Another frequent flyer in Simply Local’s pages, Seth is known for his stunning nature and wildlife photography. His favorite outdoor activities? Hiking in the Beartooth Mountains or going to Yellowstone National Park. His YNP adventures are more focused on wildlife photography, while hiking is something he enjoys with his wife and two boys (with another on the way this summer!). For our purposes today, we’re hitting the trails with Seth and his family, join us online to go behind the lens.   

Their first summer of married life, Seth shares that, nearly every weekend, he and his wife would go camping in the backcountry of the Beartooths. Bags packed and in the car Friday morning, they’d head out after work, get 5 or 6 miles in before settling in for the night, hang out in the morning, hike out, and be home by dinnertime on Saturday. “It was the perfect balance,” he recalls. But, when you’ve got two children under the age 4, things change, “We’re a little more casual with it now, just staying in this area, throwing a fishing pole with a hook and some worms; the kids love that.” Of course, he notes, it requires planning, lots of prep, and the right equipment.

If you’ve been thinking that you need to wait until the kids are older to hit the trails, then take heart, it’s doable. Seth tells us that last summer when the boys were 1 and freshly 3, the baby was in a pack, while their oldest was hiking under his own steam. The hikes might have gotten shorter, but a notable outing last summer saw the 3-year-old tackle the Twin Lakes trail. Seth grins as he recalls the photo he captured of his son lying on the ground (500 yards from the car) declaring that he couldn’t possibly go a step further until his parents pointed out how close he was. Energy renewed; he finished the trek.

Must-Haves (Hiking with Kids Daytrip Version)
  • Comfortable, appropriate thin layers and (broken-in) footwear depending on weather and hike location/distance
  • Water (The Krofts usually bring in one or two water bottles, plus a lightweight water filter. Be in the know about water sources along the way)
  • Snacks/Food (Both for nourishment and distraction purposes)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Raincoats (Also, backpack rain cover)
  • Sunhat
  • Sunscreen, Chapstick
  • Mosquito Repellant
  • Bear spray (Be sure to educate your curious littles about the spray)
  • They say to make a lot of noise on the trails; kids are naturals!
  • Map/Field Guide
  • Headlamp
  • Matches/Flint
  • Toilet paper / Baby wipes (And plastic bags to seal up and pack out the products)
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Camera

For Toddlers/Babies

  • Diapers
  • Baby Carrier / Backpack

The key to hiking with littles is to take your cues from them. Seth explains, “If they’re having a good time, you’re having a good time.” On the flip side, if they’re having a rough time, adaptability is key – you might have to turn around early, or plan for nap stops, he says.

Behind the Lens

As a successful and talented nature and wildlife photographer, we wanted to know how Seth sets himself up for success to capture the perfect image. While he admits that there’s certainly an aspect of right place, right time in play, he has established ways to hedge his bets.

It starts with the equipment, “I have very good equipment – it doesn’t matter if I’m in the right place, right time if my equipment’s not that great.” He shares, “I worked hard, saved money, and have the top-of-the-line equipment for wildlife photography.” Beyond that, it starts with the little things like making sure your batteries are charged and memory cards cleared. From there, it’s honing his craft. Over the years Seth has learned more about animals and how they move through different seasons. He elaborates, “You learn their habits and how to respond to them when you see them – knowing what’s safe and what’s not.” The biggest thing, he concludes, “is putting in the time,” and, you know, it helps that he’s not averse to capturing those moments at first light.

DAVE FISHER | Fly Fisherman

For Dave, his fishing adventures began as a kid with his grandfather who lived in North Central Montana. He fondly recalls spending summer vacations fishing the creeks and rivers flowing from the Rocky Mountain Front. Things got serious between Dave and fishing during college, and a summer spent at East Rosebud “really ignited my passion for fly fishing.”

Now, a father to three young boys, he has found that being able to include his boys, though not without its challenges, has also added a whole other layer of fun and learning opportunities. Having adaptable expectations regarding what a typical fishing day encompasses is important, as he’s aiming to “keep the experience exciting and, hopefully, successful.” Dave recognizes that flipping over rocks to make bug discoveries or throwing rocks into the river might be just as entertaining for the boys. This dad also knows the value in coming prepared with plenty of snacks, being ready to untangle constantly tangling lines, and allowing for the possibility of cutting a day short if things aren’t going well. Still, he says, “Seeing them catch fish and be excited about it is a very rewarding experience.”

Whether you’re new to fishing or an experienced angler, Dave has found that keeping a fishing journal has helped him become a better fisherman. Not only that, “But,” he says, “it also includes the people I am lucky to fish with, and some of the great places that fishing has allowed me to experience and visit.” In the journal, Dave records the memorable things he’s seen, noting dates, weather, river flows, particular flies that were successful, insect hatches, notable fish caught, and river section floated. It’s something that he’ll be able to pass along to his boys.

Dave leaves us with this for the rookie fisherman: Though getting started can feel overwhelming, he notes that fly shops, local fishing clubs, the internet, and fishing classes through local parks & recs are great places to get support. Though he points to finding a more experienced someone to tag along with as the best way to learn. “Most people that have a passion for fishing,” he says, “are always willing to share a day with someone new, and that can really lower the learning curve.”

Here's to outdoor adventuring this summer.

Originally printed in the June 2024 issue of Simply Local Magazine

Never miss an issue, check out SLM's digital editions here!  

related articles: 

Get local updates, events and special offers!

Local Events