Horsepacking Skills for
Aspiring Hunters


“We are so grateful that you are doing this. It helps the kids grow in so many different ways and connects them with other people and places in our great outdoors!"
—Parent of Horsepacking Expedition Student

Expedition Overview

Dates: July 28 - August 8, 2023
Age: Entering grade 11 - graduating seniors
Group size: max 8-10 students/2 instructors
Length: 12 days
Tuition: $5,040
This 12 day expedition emphasizes skills in both backcountry horsepacking and hunting skills in Montana, along with Leave No Trace Ethics, leadership and team building techniques.

(Please note that there is a weight limit of 250lbs for this expedition)
Packing List 
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Expedition Highlights

  • Horsepacking in remote wilderness areas
  • Backpacking both on and off trail in a remote wilderness area
  • Navigation, orienteering, and wilderness travel skills
  • Wilderness decision-making and communication skills
  • Traditional map and compass and GPS-navigation skills
  • Expedition team-building, backcountry decision-making and communication skills
  • Understanding wildlife patterns and behaviors
  • Understanding the history and importance of public lands for recreational access now and into the future

Expedition Description

New for 2023!
This 12-day course pairs two skill sets that have deep roots in Montana - backcountry hunting, and horsepacking. Where we live, it can be extremely challenging to transport harvested game and hunting equipment to and from remote locations on foot. Horses provide an amazing solution to this problem, and significantly open up the number of places we can go to seek out wild game. This course is designed to introduce students to horsepacking skills needed for hunting deep in the backcountry.

Section 1

The expedition team will spend the first 5 days backpacking into a remote elk summer range, learning all the fundamental skills needed to thrive at a backcountry hunting camp from their instructor team (camp craft, cooking, and map and compass navigation, among others). Students will also learn about elk behavior, habits, and needs, and how this knowledge can help us find elk and plan future hunts. Importantly - we’ll also discuss & practice strategies for staying safe while hunting in bear country

Section 2

From here, students will transition to horseback for the remainder of the expedition. The team will rendezvous with an experienced horsepacking outfitter who will teach the team to saddle, bridle, and pack horses & mules for travel. Students will learn step-by-step what it takes to control and communicate with their horses and ride safely in the mountains. In addition to these core horsepacking skills, the instructors will introduce the group to elk hunting & calling strategies, tracking techniques, and best practices in hunting ethics. The team will move on horseback between several different backcountry camps, working together to plan “mock hunts” and look for herds of elk in high alpine basins. Hunting regulations and field care of game will also be covered.

For more information about MWS core curriculum and expedition progression, check out Expedition Life

*NOTE: This course does not involve active hunting, pursuit of game, or weapon use of any kind, and is focused solely on wildlife education and theory.  

Expedition Objectives and Learning Outcomes

Teamwork and communication skills

  • Learn positive communication skills with diverse group members to create a healthy community, build trust, and make sound decisions in the backcountry together
  • Develop an expedition philosophy, apply it to the course, and understand how it can transfer back to the student’s home environment

Safety and wilderness based decision making

  • Backcountry hazard evaluation and risk reduction guidelines and tools
  • First aid awareness for backcountry settings: identification and treatment of common backcountry illness and injuries
  • Learn to collaboratively make decisions in remote environments that prioritizes individual and group safety

Conservation Ethic

  • Use basic observational and interpretive skills to demonstrate an understanding and respect for the natural environment
  • Discuss the history, facts and potential solutions to pertinent environmental and social issues affecting the wilderness in the expedition area
  • Reflect upon and discuss the conveyance of wilderness conservation ethics into personal life and build a capacity for commitment and stewardship to wild places
  • Develop comprehensive understanding of Leave No Trace© ethics and apply them during the expedition

Backcountry camping and navigation skills

  • Use safe backcountry kitchen practices to cook nutritious meals on a camp stove or fire
  • Demonstrate an ability to select an appropriate campsite and set up a shelter while minimizing the impact on the ecosystem
  • Understand and demonstrate how to stay healthy, warm, and comfortable in the backcountry
  • Understand and demonstrate techniques for camping and traveling in bear habitat
  • Use various navigation and route-finding tools and methods for on and off trail travel
  • Travel efficiently in the alpine environment using map and compass skills

Technical Skills

Horsepacking + Aspiring Hunter Skills
  • Learn how to care for animals appropriately
  • Learn to properly pack and adjust a saddlebag for horsepacking
  • Become competent in horse travel in alpine environments
  • Develop essential skills for extended travel in the backcountry
  • Travel efficiently both on and off trail in the alpine environment using traditional map and compass skills and GPS-Map technology
  • Understand the backcountry hunting regions and how to identify public land areas of interest for future hunting pursuits
  • Learn specific wildlife tracks and scats and understand identified wildlife behaviors
apply Now
Montana Wilderness School
PO Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771

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