Hunting Elk in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

By Zach Lazzari | Photos by Ryan McSparran

The Bob Marshall Wilderness complex is a massive piece of remote wilderness and true gem in the lower 48 states. The complex consists of 3 wilderness areas totalling 1.5 million acres. The Great Bear, Bob Marshall and Scapegoat wilderness all offer unique hunting adventures for big game and predators. Chasing elk in this region is a bucket list hunt in one of the last great wilderness areas in the United States.

Horseback Advantage

The Bob Marshall is extremely rugged and remote. Using livestock to access the interior is essential. Utilizing a base camp combined with roving spike camps like the Lazy J Bar O outfitting program is a huge advantage. Elk migrate and respond to pressure from predators and humans in the wilderness. Mobility increases your odds of locating game while saving you the energy required to hike and backpack long distances. In many cases, you will use horses to reach drainages with great habitat before hiking into scouting and stalking positions.


Elk and Deer Combo

Elk hunts are the major draw in the Bob Marshall but trophy mule deer and whitetail deer also live here. Purchasing the Montana combo license is opens the opportunity to harvest two species, making the most of your hunt. Hunters choosing to spend a week or more in the wilderness will likely have multiple opportunities for deer. The trophy deer quality in some parts of the wilderness could stand alone as the main attraction for many hunters. Whitetail deer are prevalent in the lower elevations and river valleys with some bands higher in the timber than expected. Mule deer occupy the slopes and high basins where they see little human traffic and have the ability to reach maturity. 

Rifle in the Rut

Rifle elk hunts are rare during the rut. The September rifle season is a rare opportunity to chase bugling elk without requiring a bow. The remote location means they are not call shy like pressured public land elk living near road systems. You can challenge bulls with bugles, sneak and stalk with strategic cow calls and play the game until you’re able to get a shot opportunity. Hunting rutting bull elk is among the most thrilling big game experiences in North America. Imagine an angry, 700-pound animal, crashing into your calls, drooling and snorting, ready for a fight. Watch him pace around until he turns broadside and stops. Then take the shot.  


Lazy J Bar O Outfitters offers exceptional hunting adventures in some of Montana’s most remote and rugged country, including the Bob Marshall Wilderness. For more information, please visit If you’d like to speak with us about details or availability, please call us at 406-932-5687 or Contact Us Online.