No matter what circles you run in around Missoula, MT, you have most likely come across the name Smoke Elser. He has spent his life working as a backcountry guide and outfitter, is a staunch defender of wilderness, and has been on the receiving end of almost every award out there. The stats I keep coming back to that define Smoke the best are these:
- Add up all the nights he has slept on the ground, under the stars, sometimes in a makeshift tent ... it's over 22 years!
- He's racked up over well 60,000 miles on horseback.
Throughout 2017 I have been working on a promo video for the Montana Council of Boy Scouts that focuses on Smoke and his contribution to the things scouting stands for. Every time I walk into his barn near the doorstep of the Rattlesnake Wilderness, I have to pinch myself. Walls of saddles, horse bridles hanging over a workbench, antlers, tools, photos of special times in the backcountry. Really, it's more of a museum than a barn. As part of the video project, I recently had a quick photo shoot with Smoke. I love the images i captured and can't wait to see them as part of the BSA's annual ICL campaign.