Connie and Mack Long
Montana is blessed with many invaluable natural resources on her landscape. Some of the most splendid and magnificent resources, vistas and pristine areas are those found in wilderness. Mack and Connie have developed a deep appreciation for them and want to be able to share that wealth with those that otherwise might not be able to enjoy them.
Connie took her first wilderness pack trip with Mack over 25 years ago. Since then, she has taken numerous educational classes to further her passion for visiting the wilderness on horseback. She is a recent past state chairman and the first woman state chairman for Montana Back Country Horsemen. She is a Leave No Trace (Stock) Master Instructor and has taught numerous students over the years. She began guiding in 2007. Connie is a BSN trained Registered Nurse and maintains an active license with the State of Montana and stays up to date with current medical practices.
Mack has BS degrees in Fish and Wildlife Biology and Administration of Justice. He has worked professionally for over 30 years managing, protecting and perpetuating the natural resources of Montana. During his years in fish and wildlife management throughout the state, he has been fortunate to work in every wilderness area in Montana. As a result, he has logged thousands of miles in the backcountry on horses and mules. Mack is also a Leave No Trace (Stock) Master Instructor and has taught Wilderness Skills since 2001.
Both Connie and Mack are active in Wilderness protection and education.
We can’t thank Smoke and Thelma Elser enough for being our mentors, friends and advisers. They have shared with us their nearly 60 years of outfitting experience, knowledge and history. To say that their help and guidance is priceless is an understatement. Smoke still goes with us on pack trips whenever he can and continues to work hard for the wilderness he loves. Smoke is the author of Packing in on Horses and Mules. This is a book that anyone who wants to be a packer should read. It has been in print for 3 decades and is used as a reference book for several classes, including his own Packing Class that he holds every January to March.
Evelyn (Ehvee) Hartung
Ehvee is Mack and Connie’s daughter. She is a very important part of our business. She helps keep things running smoothly at the ranch when Mack and Connie are gone on wilderness trips and business meetings. She runs the supply inventory and packs the food for the summer and hunting trips. In the off season she helps with the registration process and answers questions and emails of folks who are inquiring on trips. We can not thank her enough for the wonderful job she does for the business.
Cloy as you may have guessed is Mack and Connie’s son-in-law. Cloy is very important to the business as he keeps things running smoothly at the ranch all year long. He takes care of the stock that are left at home in the summer and fall, and helps with the maintenance of the ranch as well. He fills in as a wrangler on wilderness trips when needed. He is one of the packer/wranglers for the drop camps and DIY drop floats that we do.
Avery is Mack and Connie’s grandson. He joined the crew in 2015. He is currently 11 years old and spends as much time as he can in the wilderness on our trips. Avery is quickly becoming a valuable crew member. He helps our guests set up their cots, pitch their tents, he helps in the kitchen and he works with the wranglers in caring for the stock while in camp. He has learned that he loves fishing and will soon be a valuable fishing guide. He loves every aspect of a wilderness outfitting business and wants so badly to grow up way too fast so he can be one of our packer/wranglers. He wishes he could go on every trip throughout the season but only gets a chance to go on a few.
Oliver is also Mack and Connie’s grandson. Oliver is currently 9 year years old. He has been going of a few trips the past 2 years. He loves the time he gets to spend in the wilderness setting and loves helping our guests every chance he gets. He is becoming a very good fisherman and enjoys the opportunity to fish the exceptional fishing streams every chance he gets. He will someday be an excellent fishing guide and can’t wait until he is old enough to be an employee for Mack and Connie.
Jeff is a great asset in every aspect of the outfit. Jeff helps with planning, packing, wrangling and is a valued adviser to our business. Jeff was a wrangler and packer for Smoke Elser some 35 years ago while attending the University of Montana. Jeff has his Ph.D and worked as a research biologist in Australia for nearly 30 years. When he’s not busy with us he works for his own Biological Education and Research consulting business. We are very fortunate to have Jeff to give us a hand when he can.
We are lucky to have Jared with us this season as a packer, hunting guide, and resident rodeo clown. Jared brings with him a wealth of horsemanship experience having spent the last two years as a trainer with Lytton Performance Horses. When he isn’t back in the woods with us, Jared serves as a wildland firefighter for the Montana National Guard. In addition, Jared and his dog, Jedidiah Ulysses Lee Rubel, will be hard at work on the ranch this off-season chasing chickens and getting our stock ready for their work next summer.
Our cook, Will, is the first one up in the mornings to start coffee and the last one to bed after washing dishes. Will’s experience as a private chef in Missoula left Mack and Connie with no doubt about his abilities in the kitchen, but they were a little nervous to see if this New York boy could keep his seat in the saddle. Watching Will and quarter horse Hank mosey down the trail today, you’d never guess that this was their first summer together. The logistics of packing a complete kitchen into the backcountry is no small task, and Will does a phenomenal job of managing that responsibility.
Kevin grew up ski-racing in the White Mountains, but came to his senses about six years ago and traded up for the Rockies. After a few years wrangling for Swan Mountain Outfitters, Kevin decided he was going to learn to pack from the best and attended Smoke Elser’s packing class not once, but twice! As lead packer for our operation, Kevin makes sure that the loads we put on our mules are balanced and will travel safely down the trail. Each mule can carry roughly 1/5th of its body weight, so when you arrive at the trailhead, Kevin will be the cowboy weighing out your duffle bags and playing Tetris with our camp equipment as we pack up to leave. It’s all in the details, and whether it’s a dozen eggs, a guitar, or a 6×6 elk rack, Kevin will find a way to make it ride.
Claire is our lead wrangler and works to match each guest with a riding animal that fits their needs, comfort level, and experience. Claire grew up with horses in Illinois, and came out to Montana in 2015 to pursue her master’s degree in writing. After taking Smoke Elser’s class for (like Kevin) the second time, she was told by one of the instructors, “you’d better just go on and get a job with a packer or you’ll never get it out of your system!” This is Claire’s second season with us, and since she’s seen what the Bob has to offer she says her backcountry bug has only gotten worse.