May 9, 1932 – Dec. 27, 2017
Jack Atcheson, world-renowned hunter and outfitter, was born in Puxsutawney, Pennsylvania in 1932. His came to Butte with his parents as a young boy and would call Montana home for the rest of his life.
When he was 15 years old, Jack left home to work in logging camps near Libby, which he did for two years before enlisting to serve in the Korean War. After five promotions in the space of a year, he became a sergeant at age 20. He was tasked with locating North Korean and Chinese troops in their mountain hideouts—a good fit for Jack, as he always had an eye for spotting people and game at a distance.
Upon his return from Korea, Jack married Mary Claire, his Butte sweetheart, and started college. Jack and Mary Claire opened their taxidermy business in 1955 and ran it for nearly three decades. A skilled taxidermist, Jack had an artist’s eye for preparing a beautiful trophy mount. Jack and Mary Claire’s three sons (Jack Jr., Keith and Brian) and daughter (Kristie) grew up with the business—the taxidermy shop was located just off of the house, and as teenagers they pitched in to help run it.
During the course of that business, Jack became well known among western outfitters, and began a booking and travel agency that specialized in matching hunters with high-quality outfitters in the eastern U.S. and Alaska, Canada, Africa, and Central Asia. He was an agent for many founding MOGA members, including Howard Copenhaver, Smoke Elser, Claude Saylor, Jack Wemple, Erv Malnarich, and many others. Jack himself especially loved to hunt elk and sheep, and he eventually started his own outfitting business.
In 1983, Jack sold the taxidermy business and the travel agency to concentrate on serving as a hunting consultant and outfitter around the world. In the course of his career, Jack became well acquainted with many of the prominent outdoor writers in North America. He penned two books of his own, Hunting Adventures Worldwide and Real Hunting & Campfire Humor: Short Stories from a Lifetime of Travel and Adventure. Jack once had a seat with the Dali Llama while hunting in Asia, and hunted with the Shah of Iran.
Jack was an active member of MOGA for many years, and served on the Board of Directors in the 1980s. A gifted public speaker generous with his time and money, Jack was especially proud of his work in promoting public access to 5.3 million acres of Montana State Trust Lands. He was instrumental to the 1984 passage of the Montana Stream Access Law, which opened up river access to millions of people in perpetuity.
In 2000, Jack received the Outdoor Life Conservation Award “in recognition of a lifetime of achievement in the conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat, and [his] tireless efforts on behalf of hunting and fishing access for American sportsmen.” His work in conservation has also been honored by the National Wildlife Federation.
Jack passed away in Butte on December 27, 2017 at 85 years old. His sons, Jack Jr. and Keith, keep the Atcheson family legacy going by booking and outfitting hunts around the world.
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