Swan Mountain Wilderness Guide School has developed a new course focused on teaching the skills needed to become a houndsman or mountain lion/bear hunting guide using dogs. This offering is quite different from our other programs. In this course, guide candidates will learn all the facets of how to guide for lions or bears using dogs throughout the various parts of the country. Certain parts of the US and Canada hunt lions and bears differently. Swan Mountain Wilderness Guide School will cover the various methods found throughout North America. The course has been designed from scratch based on interviewing several houndsmen and lion and bear outfitters throughout the country.



Big Game Houndsmen Training Curriculum

We have developed curriculum specific to the needs of outfitters when they hire new houndsmen/guides. The Houndsmen/Lion Guide Training program is a 6 day course and includes the following:

Where to Go

Scouting optimal locations; habitat characteristics; timing both time of year as well as time to hit certain locations; snow conditions, weather impacts on hunting; time of day and factors affecting finding/treeing cats; lion and bear hunting throughout North America: hot spots in the country, opportunities in Canada and Mexico, and seasons.

Hunting Techniques

Jump shooting; scouting; observing; mapping and recording; Weapons used by clients; shooting and placement techniques and helping clients be successful; cutting tracks; pursuit after dogs; what to do when you arrive; guns: types, safety, performance, issues; ammunition: types, comparatives, performance; instruction so candidates can intelligently discuss issues with clients; use of bows and other alternative weapons

Tracking Skills

Reading tracks; wet and dry scents; bad weather impacts; finding tracks: truck and snowmobile use, hunting off of horses, other means to cut a track; aging tracks; terrain obstacles; private/public land issues; checkerboard land and access; use of electronic tracking of dogs; other techniques to find dogs; what to do when dogs get lost

Dog Handling Skills

Dog selection; review of breeds, training issues, age and performance; how to use dog on hunt: checking tracks, when to release, when you arrive; safety and health issues; purchase guide lines; dog care in the offseason; social issues regarding dogs; outfitter expectations

Guiding Clients

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; the guides personal gear including product review and packing strategy; care of birds including all forms of field dress and meat preparation and transport under various conditions; review of knives and sharpening techniques; full coverage of hunter ethics and difficult client scenarios; safety for yourself & client around dangerous game; taking quality photographs of your client’s successes.

Outdoorsmanship and Woodsmanship

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; equipment review.

Laws, Rules and Ethics & Responsibilities

Laws & rules coverage from the perspective of the federal and state governments including private & public land use; legal & ethical responsibility of the outfitter and guide; conservation issues; resource scarcity, environmental concerns, activist group interaction, future impacts of further conflicts between groups; learning how to treat personnel and cultivate positive relationships with governing agencies.

Career Development

Creating an image that will get you hired and make you more money; creating a resume; 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; doing your due diligence; internet tools for finding a job; critical success factors to help you secure employment;

Heath, Safety & Welfare

Wilderness first aid versus standard first aid; drilling down on all aspects of safety for client and staff; hunting in bear country; wilderness citizenship.


When you have successfully completed the Swan Mountain Wilderness Houndsmen/Lion Guide Training you will be ready to apprentice in any hunting operation that uses dogs to pursue predators, you will have the training and experience to do so successfully. We cannot guarantee a guide job for you. The road to success depends on you and the effort you put into your career. But, if you have the energy, the enthusiasm, and the right training, you cannot fail. If you are interested in finding a job as a guide we will provide the training and the advice to get you well on your way.

At Swan Mountain we are dedicated and determined to offer the finest world-class training as well as an extraordinary outdoor experience. You will meet and work with experts in many fields and make friendships that will last a lifetime. Enjoy the course!

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