Back Country Horsemen of Missoula

P.O. Box 2121 Missoula Missoula, MT 59806

The Back Country Horsemen of Missoula

is pleased to sponsor two scholarships for

Smoke Elser’s Wilderness Outfitting and Packing Course

and a membership to the BCH club.

The main goal of this scholarship is to provide the opportunity for two winners to gain enough experience to safely enjoy packing and riding horses and mules in the back country and wilderness areas.

This class offers hands-on instruction working with packing equipment, horses, and mules. Topics include general horse handling, packing, and minimum impact horse use and camping techniques. Students receive an introduction to safe handling of horses and mules, riding equipment, picketing, hobbling, emergency shoeing, and basic backcountry horse care. The course also teaches packing, loading, stringing of stock, and light on the land travel techniques. Packing horses and mules is a long honored tradition in the West and with Smoke’s help it will be kept a practicing art.

To be eligible for the scholarship, each applicant must submit the required application form, a letter of recommendation, and an essay as described in the application form.

The deadline is December 4, 2015. The application form, letter of recommendation & essay must be received by midnight on the due date to If the essays are mailed USPS to the address below, they must be postmarked by December 4, 2015.

The two winners will be awarded a $200 scholarship to attend the 8-week, 25 hour, Smoke Elser’s Packing Class as sponsored by the Back Country Horsemen (BCH) of Missoula. Classes will begin Sunday January 24, 2016 at Smoke’s place up the Rattlesnake. The choices of class times are: Sundays 2-5 pm, Mondays 7-10 pm, Thursdays 7-10 pm, or Saturdays 2-5 pm (as arranged with Smoke). The winners will also be awarded a membership to the BCH of Missoula club. The winners will be contacted by December 14th. The winners will receive their awards at the BCH membership potluck in February 2016.

The Back Country Horsemen of Missoula is proud of their more than 40 years of dedicated volunteer service (trail maintenance, installing trailhead hitching rails & corrals, horse safety clinics to name a few). The public lands belong to each of us. With use comes a responsibility to care for these public lands. We want to pro-vide interested individuals the opportunity to learn the art and tradition of getting people and pack animals safely into and out of the back country. To learn more about the BCH of Missoula, visit:

For further information, contact:

Back Country Horsemen of Missoula Scholarship Committee

Kellyn Fusfield: 805 Hilda Avenue Apt. #3 Missoula, MT 59801; Phone: 707.889.3206

The application can be downloaded from this link; “Learning How To Pack With Horses and Mules”


 Back Country Horsemen of Missoula Celebrates 40 Years

                                                   By Connie Basham 

Following the vision of the original founding members from the Flathead Valley, it didn’t take much convincing for a few Missoula horsemen and packers joining in kindred spirits, to form the second affiliated chapter of Back Country Horsemen in the early part of 1974.  On April 4-6, 2014 Missoula Back Country Horseman will celebrate their 40th year of affiliation as part of the national organization of Back Country Horsemen of America.   

BCH of Missoula will be sharing this celebration with the Wilderness Association for their 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. 

The unification of these two chapters, later joined by members from Idaho, became the backbone of the Back CountryHorsemen of America, as we know it today.  Thanks to these charter members – Mike Chandler, Smoke Elser, Jim Brogger, Ray Roberts, Chuck Smith, John Lance and Fred Hartkorn, Missoula’s chapter has grown to be one of the largest in the nation. 

Developing a sustained working relationship with many agencies and organizations, Missoula Back Country Horsemen dealt with numerous issues over the decades which threatened stock use on public lands. Issues including trail and trailhead closures and abandonment; access problems; endangered species; user permits; trail sharing disputes; and other land use concerns. 

Working with local, state and federal agencies, BCH of Missoula members have spent countless hours, weeks, months and years pouring over forest management plans,

congressional issues, environmental matters and a host of other concerns facing stock use of the back country.   Vast amounts of time and labor, both human and equine, have gone into building, clearing and maintaining trail systems, trail head facilities, camp facilities, bridges and buildings to protect and promote horse use in Montana.  These efforts have benefited numerous trail users insuring our continued presence while remaining a valued advocate for Montana’s wildland. 

BCH of Missoula/Montana have always been actively involved in wilderness designation and preservation throughout the state. The Missoula chapter was one of many that helped stave off drilling for oil along the Rocky Mountain Front of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, preserving its untouched wildness forever. 

With the objective of educating and encouraging sensible, responsible horse and stock use, Missoula BCH sponsored the Equine Expo for public involvement.   They proudly and actively participate in the use and enjoyment of those successful efforts to uphold our horse heritage in Montana’s back country. 


Upcoming Events

Dec. 5 Christmas Party at the Clubhouse Inn 6:00 PM, State Board Meeting, 10:00 AM


 Mission Statement

  1. To perpetuate the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America’s back country and wilderness.
  2. To work to ensure that public lands remain open to recreation and stock use.
  3. To assist the various agencies responsible for the maintenance and management of public lands.
  4. To educate, encourage and solicit active participation in the wise and sustained use of the back country resource by horsemen and the general public commensurate with our heritage.
  5. To foster and encourage the formation of new state Back Country Horsemen organizations.