“Smoke Elser is a legend not only in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana but throughout the Rocky Mountain West. . . . Hush of the Land will be read for years by those who want a saddle-high view of a unique and adventurous life well lived.”

—C. J. Box, New York Times best-selling author of Storm Watch


“Smoke Elser is a Montana treasure. His stories about the Bob Marshall Wilderness allow the reader to see God’s greatest cathedral through Smoke’s lifetime of adventures in this incredible landscape.”—Jon Tester, U.S. senator from Montana


“For more than fifty years Smoke has given his clients a brief but delicious taste of life on the trail in the slow lane. Read a chapter of this book, then close your eyes and transport yourself into the middle of the Bob Marshall Wilderness with Smoke on a fine adventure, big campfire, full tummy, huge stars. I tried it, it works! You will be there!”—Steve Running, Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate and professor emeritus of ecosystems and conservation sciences at the University of Montana


“Smoke’s life is the quintessential hardscrabble storybook that most Montanans wish could be frozen in amber as permanent and true. ... As you read, it won’t take long to understand why Smoke is so revered as an outfitter, teacher, advocate, and incomparable storyteller.”

—Ryan Busse, Montana conservationist and author of Gunfight: My Battle against the Industry That Radicalized America


HUSH OF THE LAND is an inspirational memoir that 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.