A Montana Experience

The Thrill of the Chase

Hunting with Swan Mountain Outfitters is always free chase. While we employ highly skilled and experienced guides, these wilderness big game hunts are very challenging and do not carry guarantees of the harvesting of game.  If the thought of going home without of an animal is not palatable to you, do not book a hunt!

Where We Hunt

Swan Mountain Outfitters is fortunate to have, based on our hunting permits, access to thousands of acres of the Flathead National Forest, in and around the famed Bob Marshall Wilderness. While this hunting area in Montana is open to resident hunters, few choose to pack into the wilderness or leave the valley floor, leaving our guides to help you explore a rich stock of wildlife and vast hunting terrain.

Swan Mountain Outfitters operates our hunting trips under permits from the U.S. Forest Service and State of Montana DNRC.  We operate on both private and public land. All hunts are conducted under the Outfitter’s License (#34041) of Patrick Tabor.

What We Target

For more details on hunts by species, make sure to scroll all the way down this page where we can address each in greater detail. First though, read through the “Know before you go” section to make sure we are the right outfitter for you.

Know Before you Go

At Swan Mountain Outfitters we are committed to providing a quality guided mountain horseback hunt experience. We want our hunters to fully understand the nature and difficulty of our hunts. Call us old fashioned, but we believe in an honest and upfront approach, no surprises. We are looking for hunters that seek an authentic Western hunt experience and all that it entails. So here’s what you need to know before you go!

Success Rates and Hunt Format

In Montana there are essentially two types of hunt formats: private land and public land. Private land hunts allow outfitters exclusive access to animals, and the end result is a higher level of assurance of both seeing and harvesting game. Our hunts are free chase hunts conducted on public land in the Flathead National Forest as well as in and around the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. The reality of a public land hunt is that they are harder and there is a chance you may not see an animal during your hunt. We do our best to overcome these obstacles by employing a team of knowledgeable and professional guides, using best in class equipment and stock and possessing a strong understanding of our permitted hunting territory. It seems that the most commonly asked question is, “What is your success rate?” There is widespread debate as to how outfitters calculate success; is it kill? opportunity? sightings? All outfitters, including us, can cite statistics of past seasons; however, we have found it to be a poor predictor of a particular hunter’s odds for harvest success. If your measure of success is a harvest, the reality of any public land hunt is there are NO guarantees. Before you reserve your hunt, please carefully consider if going home without an animal would negatively impact your experience.

Trophy Hunters

Because of our public land environment we have zero control over the size of an animal. In fact, we consider all of them to be trophies. Although we have harvested admirable size animals in every species, if you are hunting for a trophy size we’re probably not the outfitter for you.

Physically Rigorous Hunts

We want to make sure our hunters are prepared mentally and physically for a free chase hunt in the mountains of Montana. Our hunting territory is the real deal, and is among the most rugged Montana terrain in the country. These are physically demanding hunts that involve both horseback riding and hiking. You do not need to be an expert rider, but you do need to be prepared to spend time in the saddle. On average hunters can expect to ride up to 5 hours in the saddle and walk 10 miles per day. However, in certain conditions it is not uncommon to ride 7-10 hours in a day. Especially if the hunters are going after mountain mule deer, and we lack the snow to push them down from the mountain tops. Building saddle stamina seems to be essential, especially if weather conditions or snow pack are less then optimal. We highly recommend hunters practice their still-hunting, hit the gym, and build saddle stamina before the trip. Having the drive and the physical ability to go where the animals are is a huge factor in a successful hunt.

Weather Patterns

We are located in the mountains of NW Montana. Weather in this neck of the woods can change quickly and can greatly impact the success on any hunt. Weather conditions are unpredictable and out of our control. The temperature can vary from -20 to 70 degrees. We get a lot of questions on temperature and it is important you prepare for the extremes. It’s simply the nature of the beast, and as such we do not issue any refunds due to inclement weather.

Accommodations

Life in an outfitting camp lacks all the amenities of hotels such as TV, flush toilets, and electricity. Our clients tend to view this as part of the authentic experience! Depending on the areas to be accessed, hunters may stay in our lodge, base camp, upper camp, or spike camps. The lodge is a ranch style house that is only used during mountain lion hunts. Base camp can be accessed by dirt road, has some access to electricity, and clients stay in wall tents with woodstoves. Base camp is used as a launch point for early season hunts, and hosts the duration of the late season hunting. Upper camp is a day’s ride from base camp, accessed only by foot or hoof, and completely lacks electricity but still features wall tents with wood stoves. Upper camp is often used in early season hunts. Spike camps are used to get even deeper into the wilderness and utilize alpine tents lacking woodstoves. Spike camps are used in archery elk hunts and the opening week of general season. Our base camp and upper camp feature dedicated camp cooks and meals are served family style at the table. In spike camps, how you prepare and structure meals is simply up to you and your guide. No matter the kitchen amenities, we’ll make sure you are well fed! We never underestimate the importance of good food on a rigorous hunt.

Additional Fees

In addition to the cost of the hunt, hunters should be financially prepared for additional expenses such as:

  • Licenses: license rates are determined by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and are as follows:
    • Deer: $592
    • Elk: $846
    • Elk & Deer: $996
    • Black Bear: $350
    • Mountain Lion: $320
    • *Elk and Deer hunters have the opportunity to purchase preference points for an additional $50 to increase their chance of drawing.
  • Gratuity: You are supported on your hunt by a team consisting of your guide, the cook, camp jacks, and packer. Depending on the hunt, your interactions with and dependence on the services of these folks will vary. What feels appropriate to tip is a personal decision that you’ll reflect on towards the end of your hunt. If you like to plan ahead, you might budget a tip for your guide to be $50 a day or 10-15% of the hunt cost. For a cook/campjack/packer you might consider $15-25 per day.  What we can say with certainty is that staff are always greatly appreciative of tips.
  • Transportation charges to/from camp: Transportation to/from camp is not included. Most of our hunters drive in, but some fly, prefer to rent a car or make other arrangements. We can arrange a shuttle service to pick you up at either Kalispell or Missoula airports. The prices for a shuttle are as follows all prices are per person one-way:
    • $75 transportation to/from Glacier International Airport or other Kalispell location
    • $90 transportation to/from Missoula International Airport or other Missoula location
  • A Hunter Defense Fund: A fee of $50 per hunter is collected from all outfitted clients of Outfitter members of the Montana Outfitter & Guides Association for the purposes of defending nonresident hunting rights in the state of Montana.
  • Processing the meat: elk: $275, deer: $100, Bear: $85-$100 or up to $300 if you go to a smoke house
  • Taxidermy: We can recommend a local taxidermist who in turn ships it to you upon completion. His prices are competitive with those throughout the country.
  • Shipping the meat, cape and antlers: If you harvest and do not want the meat you can donate it to us for no cost. Otherwise the butcher can arrange to have the meat shipped to you. The price will vary depending upon weight and where you need it shipped. An average range is between $100-$300.

Equipment

Ensuring that you bring all the personal clothing and equipment you will need is important for your comfort and safety. We’ve developed a curated gear list at this link.

Check out our hunts

Now lets get to the fun part! Click the hunt below that interests you! You’re almost there, just scroll a little further!

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