Reading with Arnold “Smoke” Elser

This inspirational memoir chronicles the six-decade quest of packer and outfitter Arnold “Smoke” Elser to protect wild lands by bringing thousands of people deep into the mountains of Montana on horseback. With limited financial means and while still in college, the young man from Ohio decided against a promising career in forestry and chose instead to share his love of wilderness with city dwellers by working as a professional outfitter.

Based on hundreds of hours of interviews, Hush of the Land tells the captivating story of Elser’s early days as a packer in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Bitterroot Mountains. Share the joys and thrills of summer rides, harrowing grizzly bear encounters, fishing in clear mountain streams, and many nights around a campfire within some of the West’s last wild lands. In this lively narrative, Elser recounts how his testimony for the Wilderness Act, and the fight to preserve and expand Montana’s wilderness lands, influenced his career as an outfitter and educator and gave him a voice at the center of Montana’s conservation movement.

Arnold “Smoke” Elser is a professional animal packer and a semi-retired instructor of wilderness outfitting and packing at the University of Montana, from which he received a 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award. Elser’s work as an educator and outfitter has been covered in National Geographic and the PBS documentary Three Miles an Hour. He is the coauthor of Packin’ In on Mules and HorsesEva-Maria Maggi, PhD, is a writer, social scientist, and packer and teaches courses on wilderness issues at the University of Montana.

Event date: 
Monday, April 22, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Event address: 
Missoula Public Library
455 East Main Street
Missoula, MT 59802-4435
Hush of the Land: A Lifetime in the Bob Marshall Wilderness By Arnold "Smoke" Elser, Eva-Maria Maggi, Tammy Elser (Foreword by) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781496231000
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bison Books - March 1st, 2024