Big Hearts Under the Big Sky Banquet – a packed house

A evening of fellowship, celebration and active bidding with a sold-out crowd, the Big Hearts banquet was something we should all take a moment to be proud of. The mission of the organization is alive and thriving in its 15th year. 

Former Montana Attorney General Tim Fox mc’d the evening, where former trip recipients Jason and Alex Allman and Matt Duker spoke through tears about what the experience meant to them and their families. 

Last Saturday night we celebrated 15 years of service and recommitted ourselves to the Mission of Big Hearts under the Big Sky in the future” said Mac Minard, MOGA’s Executive Director.

Through the generosity of many sponsors, donors and Banquet attendees, fundraising goals were shattered.  During the event, an announcement was made that Big Hearts had received a commitment from an anonymous donor to match all funds raised that evening.  Thank you for attending the Big Hearts Banquet and Auction. 

See you at next year’s banquet and auction on January 13, 2024 at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Helena Colonial.




January 24, 2023

Hunters and Outfitters Unite at ‘Elk Camp at the Capitol’
Roll out legislative agreement to improve relationships and wildlife management

More than one hundred hunters and outfitters participated in “Elk Camp at the Capitol’ on Tuesday at the Helena Capitol building.

The event was hosted by the Montana Citizens Elk Management Coalition to facilitate conversations between hunters and lawmakers active in the 68th Montana Legislature. Speakers at the event, including Governor Greg Gianforte, reinforced the need for unity and collaboration between hunters, landowners, and outfitters to help resolve contentious wildlife policy debates.

“Hunting and our outdoor heritage are part of who we are as Montanans,” Governor Greg Gianforte said. “Coming to the table together, the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association and the Montana Citizens Elk Management Coalition have found common ground and built broad consensus among hunters, landowners, and outfitters. We look forward to working with them closely this session.”

“This is about working together to set the stage for new directions and further the conversation about elk and wildlife management in Montana,” said George Bettas, of the Montana Citizens Elk Management Coalition, who emceed the event.

During the event, the Montana Citizens Elk Management Coalition and the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association shared a consensus package of legislation they say represents the first legislative agreement to bring the outfitting and hunting community together since the 2007 Legislature.

The legislative package includes reforms to landowner preferences and the 454 program, strengthens trespass and hunter harassment rules, provides some limits to non-resident hunting tags to reduce pressure on public lands, improves hunter education, and doubles Block Management payments.

They say the agreements are part of ongoing conversations to find common ground and improve relationships between hunters, landowners, and outfitters.

“Managing Montana’s elk population is a complex challenge,” said Mac Minard, Executive Director, Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, “Realistic solutions require diverse interests working together to identify areas of consensus and advocating for policies that will shape the future of elk management. We are honored to be working with the Coalition and leading conservation groups in the state on these policy agreements.”

Participants at Elk Camp also discussed the need to establish a permanent trust account that would dramatically expand the pace and scale of stewardship and restoration treatments across the State.

Although the idea has not yet been introduced as legislation, Senator Jeff Wellborn, R-Dillon, says the proposed ‘Montana Legacy Trust’ deserves a fair shot at a hearing because it’s an investment in rural Montana.

“At the end of the 2021 session, I asked for people to bring solutions forward that unite, rather than divide,” said Wellborn. “The elk coalition has spent the better part of a year bringing the affected interests together. I’ll help whoever it is that carries this legislation.”



48th Annual MOGA Winter Convention

January 12-14, 2023

Delta Hotels Helena Colonial ~ Helena, MT




Book your group rate for MT Outfitters and Guides Assoc




Hunting Experiences Hosted by Montana Hunting Company and Montana Outfitting Company

Nov 1, 2022

Clancy, MT – Big Hearts Under the Big Sky, a program of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association (MOGA), has completed the sixth “family adventure” scheduled for the year. The latest recipients were Nate Jensen of Westby, Master Sgt Jesse Edinger of Helena and Sgt Patrick Wickens originally of Denton.

Big Hearts under the Big Sky covers all the hard costs for qualifying families to participate in outfitter-supported trips. Since 2008, the organization has served hundreds of individuals and their families and donated over half a million in outfitted services.

As Big Hearts under the Big Sky’s trip recipients, all were granted trip-of-a-lifetime elk hunts. The Jensen and Edinger families were led by Outfitter Rod Arnaud, of the Montana Hunting Company at the West Creek Ranch in Paradise Valley, MT and the Wickens family were led by Chris Faber, Montana Outfitting Company on the Big Spring Ranch in Lewistown, MT.

“It was a privilege to host Big Hearts Under the Big Sky for the 9th year at West Creek Ranch,” said Jon Martin, CEO of AMB West, the parent company of West Creek Ranch. “This year’s recipients, Nate and Jesse, along with their families, were a pleasure to take care of; and were an inspiration to our team members. West Creek Ranch is honored to support Big Hearts under the Big Sky and their model of providing deserving recipients and their families a unique, positive, and fulfilling experience. Our team considers this program one of the most rewarding weeks of the year.”

“Big Spring Ranch and the Jones family were honored to be part to the Big Hearts under the Big Sky’s trip for Sgt Patrick Wickens,” said Roy Paulson, General Manager, Big Spring Ranch. “The Jones family has a deep commitment to conservation and service to others making this relationship in complete alignment with the Big Springs Ranch mission.  We look forward to partnering with Big Hearts again.”

Sgt Wickens, a combat wounded Purple Heart recipient, qualified for the donated HD 454 permit as part of the Fish Wildlife and Parks 454 program.  Big Spring Ranch generously donated the permit to Wickens in recognition of his service to our Nation.


 About the Recipients

Nate Jensen of Westby, MT, participated along with his parents and brother. Nate is 19 years old and lives on the family farm. Born with spina bifida, Nate has undergone 11 surgeries and been challenged by multiple medical issues.

Master Sgt Jesse Edinger of Helena, MT, was joined by his wife Sunwoo (Sun), his two daughters and one son. For 20 years, Edinger has served his country proudly and has honored the lives of more than 1000 Montana veterans. His wife, Sun also serves in the Montana Army National Guard.

Sgt Patrick Wickens is originally from Denton, Montana and was joined by his youngest son Carter and his parents Judy and Keith Wickens of Denton. Wickens joined the US Army one month before the attacks of September 11. Wickens was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) during an ambush near Mahmudiyah, Iraq and lost his right leg above the knee and sustained shrapnel wounds and burns on his left leg.


About Big Hearts Under the Big Sky

Big Hearts Under the Big Sky is a program of the Montana Outfitter & Guides Association. While there are many organizations throughout the country that host “wish” trips for deserving participants, Big Hearts Under the Big Sky is unique in that we work with qualified and licensed outfitters and guides throughout Montana to serve both individuals and their families.

The program is dedicated to providing fully outfitted trips to military service members and others who have provided extraordinary service to our country and for children who face life-threatening illnesses. Our focus is on the family experience: “Making a difference, one family at a time!”

Big Hearts Under the Big Sky covers all the hard costs for families to participate in outfitter-supported trips and experience the healing beauty and power of Montana. Over the years, the organization has served hundreds of individuals and their families, with MOGA member outfitters providing the donated trips, all at no cost to trip recipients. 

Big Hearts under the Big Sky will host its annual Banquet and Fundraiser on January 14, 2023, in Helena at Delta Hotels by Marriott Helena Colonial.  Proceeds will be applied to serving the next round of families as part of the 15th year of service. 



Nov 2, 2022

Clancy, MT –  Announced last week at the 95th National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, IN, Choteau’s Carson Crary was awarded the National Agricultural Proficiency Award in Outdoor Recreation – Entrepreneurship/Placement.

Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor FFA members who have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers.

“I am very excited and honored to be awarded 1st place in the nation for the FFA Outdoor Recreation proficiency,” said Crary. “Through this proficiency, I have honed my historical outdoor skills, stockmanship, critical thinking, management and communication skills.  Being part of a team that guides guests in a traditional wilderness setting can be challenging, yet very rewarding.  I am thankful to live where I live and to have grown up in my family’s outfitting business where a strong work ethic is expected and necessary. I am grateful for this life style and for all the help along the way.”

“Carson’s well-deserved national recognition brings awareness to the important role of outfitting in outdoor recreation,” said Mac Minard, Executive Director, Montana Outfitters and Guides Association. “Not only does outfitting provide career opportunities for our young people, but also creates once-in-a-lifetime experiences for clients, supports small businesses across the state and brings millions in additional revenue into Montana.”  

Carson is a member of the Choteau FFA Chapter in Montana and works for his family’s guest ranch and outfitting business, 7 Lazy P Outfitting. Taking guests on authentic backcountry adventures into Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness is their specialty.  Guests ride horses and all the gear for a full camp is mantied and packed on mules.  The traditional trips allow guests to unplug and get refreshed in the mountains of Montana.

Crary is supported by his parents, Danelle and Dusty. Dusty Crary currently serves as president of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association.

More information and an interview with Carson is available at:

Interview with Carson

June 21, 2022


Guides, Outfitters Need Immediate Alternatives to Operate on Public Lands Due to Catastrophic Flooding 

HELENA, MT- In a letter [link] sent to the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, Montana Senators Tester and Daines urged flexibility in the permitting process to avoid severe economic damage to Montana’s rural communities and small businesses impacted by last week’s catastrophic funding in the Yellowstone region.

Mac Minard, Executive Director of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, supports this effort and underscores the need for expedited permitting to allow for flexibility as the busy summer season begins.

“Montana’s outfitters and guides continue to hemorrhage revenue daily and are scrambling to come up with alternatives to be able pay staff and service their clients,” said Minard. “Rafting guides have identified new access points, backcountry guides are looking for alternative trailheads, fishing guides need new put-ins and walk in options.  While they are coming up with creative solutions to try and save their summer season, it’s up to BLM and USFS to allow for the temporary permitting changes.”

Patrick Sipp, of Flying Pig Adventures, is one of many guides working on an immediate solution to benefit his business as the rest of the Gardiner community.

“Flooding has left us unable to access our typical take-out for our half day rafting trips,” said Sipp. “While we are actively refunding customers, we are hoping to be able to run trips again soon and salvage a portion of the summer. To do this, we need to be granted immediate, temporary access to other take-outs until we identify another viable alternative.”

In addition to calling for permitting flexibility, MOGA is advocating to reopen the Yellowstone River for public use and is hopeful this is a top priority of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The Mission of the Montana Outfitter and Guides Association is to protect, enhance, and effectively represent the Montana Outfitting Industry in all its forms.  MOGA is proud to include more than 700 of Montana’s professional licensed outfitters and guides with operations that span the state’s regions. With years of experience guiding hunters, fishermen, horseback riders, skiers and snowmobilers, our outfitters will show you the best of Montana in a vacation that’s personalized to your needs.

BILLINGS, Mont (AP) — A judge restored federal protections for gray wolves across much of the U.S. on Thursday after they were removed in the waning days of the Trump administration.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to show wolf populations could be sustained in the Midwest and portions of the West without protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Please click here for full article

MOGA had an outstanding year of accomplishments because of the tireless efforts of many fine members, and of course, our staff. We are pleased to be able to communicate with our members and friends all what MOGA has done throughout the year and our plans going into 2022.

We hope you enjoy taking a look through the 2021 MOGA Annual Report.

Annual Report 2021

For more information and FAQ’s please click the link below:

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