Our hunting guide school uses a unique modular approach to providing critical information for hunting guide students in seven distinct categories of learning. Our hunting guide program content is rich in each category with emphasis on not only covering the basics of hunting and guiding techniques as a foundation but also by thoroughly exploring the latest innovations in techniques and gear for hunting. Below we provide the complete descriptions of all course modules including the areas that are unique to our hunting guide program at Swan Mountain.

Hunting & Fishing Techniques

Topics Covered

Hunting of elk, mule & whitetail deer, moose, antelope, sheep, goats, lions and bears including all aspects of habitat, food, behavior, & types; thorough coverage of all hunting techniques including still, spot & stock, driving, dogs and stands & blinds; modern applications of calling, decoys, bait, rattles, simulations; extensive coverage of proper glassing techniques; thorough review of equipment including binoculars, spotters, range finders, scents, calls, clothing, waterproof wear, scent free wear and all aspects of footwear; shot placement; calibers and loads, bullet arch optimizing & sighting in as well as ballistic charts; bow performance, accessories, proper practice techniques; advanced tracking for hunting and finding wounded animals including all soil conditions and blood tracking methods, exploration of new blood tracking products. All aspects of fly and spin cast fishing including extensive equipment review, effective techniques for all bodies of water, float trips, fly casting and related instruction, spin cast instruction and related matters, emphasis on fishing wilderness waters and what works and what doesn’t at different times of the year.

Unique Items Covered

True calling instruction, we’ll actually teach you how to use reeds; extensive tracking coverage including use of casts and showing how to read tracks outside of hunting season for summer guests; complete hunting product review comparing & contrasting different equipment and clothing; true ballistics instruction so candidates can intelligently discuss issues with clients and project trajectories by ammunition type and load for purposes of success at longer distances; details on shot placement by species including resource guides; Mountain fishing instruction.

Professional Guiding Skills

Topics Covered

Personal professional standards in appearance & behavior; customer service including communication of expectations, dealing with troubling issues, controlling client behavior; critical success factors in hunting guiding; critical success factors in fishing guiding; other forms of guiding required of wilderness guides; the guides personal gear including product review and packing strategy for on-back and horseback; Care of game including all forms of field dress and meat preparation and transport under various conditions; trophy identification under the sanctioned scoring methods most commonly used including Pope & Your, Boone & Crockett and SCI; Proper caping techniques taught by a taxidermist from his perspective; review of knives and sharpening techniques; full coverage of hunter ethics and difficult client scenarios; safety for yourself & client around wounded or dangerous game; taking quality photographs of your client’s successes.

Unique Items Covered

Customer service techniques that will earn you better tips; behavioral analysis and how to deal with conflict with clients; learning caping techniques from a taxidermist including what they see coming in from typical guides and why it is wrong; in-depth issues surrounding meat handling from a butcher and what impacts guide handling of meat has on the finished product; full review of knives and sharpening to make your investment last.

Horse, Mules and Packing Techniques

Topics Covered

Saddles and equipment: horse and mule behavior and behavioral issues: horse & mule care & nutrition and common health problems and how to treat with equine First Aid; trailer loading and transportation of stock; repair of tack/equipment; packing horses & mules with Decker & Sawbuck pack saddles; leading a string & common problems; basic horse/mule shoeing and maintenance of foot & legs; all aspects of riding including back country issues, common mistakes, working with green stock, lunging, natural horsemanship; defensive riding, teaching clients how to ride & stay safe; riding in the dark and in serious weather conditions; all aspects of knots used for horses, mules and packing.

Unique Items Covered

Defensive riding; teaching clients how to ride and watching out for them; innovations in packing; alternative methods of working with horses emphasizing gentling; equine dental issues; equine body work.

Outdoorsmanship and Woodsmanship

Topics Covered

Orienteering; including use of compass, GPS, maps, day/night/bad weather navigation; wilderness survival; including safety and prevention of common maladies, emergency procedures & evacuation, emergency shelters and fire starting; camping in the wilderness; including campsite selection and layout, types of tents & erecting tents; camp equipment; including different types and uses, lanterns, stoves, tools and maintenance of such; outback cooking; including cooking with fires & Dutch Oven Cooking, nutrition and safe food storage; bear prevention; minimum impact techniques; camp safety & hygiene; keeping horses in the wilderness; organizing and successful elements of providing pack trips; crosscut saw, chainsaw and axe use; camp knots and applications; camp management procedures; including job assignments, schedules and standards of appearance & behavior; trail clearing techniques and issues.

Unique Items Covered

Bad weather navigation techniques; common problems with chain saws, trail clearing; innovations in backcountry equipment; specifics of hygiene and how to prevent staff and client heath issues; taking pride in appearance of camp and equipment.

Health, Safety & Welfare

Topics Covered

Wilderness first aid; personal health & hygiene of you the guide; watching over clients; water access and management; wilderness ethics; gun & bow safety; safety manuals; behavior towards other campers/backpackers hunters; grizzly bear awareness & protection of humans & the animal; backcountry fire awareness prevention and emergency procedures; you as the source of confidence & stability for inexperienced people in the backcountry.

Unique Items Covered

Wilderness first aid versus standard first aid; Leave No Trace; drilling down on all aspects of safety for client and staff; specialized Grizzly program; safety manuals, wilderness citizenship.

Laws, Rules and Ethics & Responsibilities

Topics Covered

Laws & rules coverage in all aspects of the outfitting and guiding business from the perspective of the federal and state governments including; forestry, parks, fish & game agencies, private & public land use. Most aspects of this session are presented by the governing agencies themselves including: Montana Board of Outfitters, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks, and USFS. These will include; permits & licenses, communication expectations, standards of performance; legal & ethical responsibility of the outfitter and guide and how to handle issues with locals, clients, employees and employers; wilderness rules & regulations; conservation issues including no trace, resource scarcity, environmental concerns, activist group interaction, future impacts of further conflicts between groups, and resulting outfitter/guide responsibilities for survival of the industry; learning how to treat personnel and cultivate positive relationships with governing agencies.

Unique Items Covered

Hearing directly from the regulators themselves and having the opportunity to understand their expectations of guides and ask them questions is truly a valuable experience. Swan Mountain Wilderness Guide School focuses on building win-win relationships instead of adversarial with regulators.

Career Development

Topics Covered

Creating an image that will get you hired and make you more money; creating a resume appropriate for the industry designed to get you considered for employment; thorough review of outfitter hiring behavior and how to make initial contact, follow-up and secure a position; realistic purview of length of employment and compensation; off-season opportunities and how to combat having this be a short lived career; complimentary skill development that will enhance your value in the industry; personal planning & goal setting, formalizing the process of you reaching your internal expectations; understanding the other parties in the business designed to help you be more realistic about your and your future employer’s expectations; how to evaluate a future employer, doing your due diligence; internet tools for finding a job; critical success factors to help you secure employment; getting along with the rest of the employees of the outfit, what to expect.

Unique Items Covered

The depth in which we will cover most of the material is unique to begin with; applying critical success factors in other lines or work to the guide industry; covering the tough issues like getting along with others and what role your personality plays; helping you to take responsibility for getting a job instead of relying on so called job placement.

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