A Lazy H Outfitters utilizes trailheads and facilities along the Rocky Mountain Front from Glacier Park in the north to the Dearborn River in the south. Long before us, hunting, fishing, and exploring has long been a cornerstone of inhabitants of this area. The Front has for millenia been prime hunting grounds for American Indians and their ancestors. Early 18th century fur trappers frequented the area harvesting the valuable beaver pelts and naming mountains and rivers in their native French Canadian language. The transition zone from mountains to foothills provide additional rain in the spring and summer, and the foothills captured additional snowpack in the winter. In winter, the proximity to the mountains generated persistent winds which blew the snow free in many places, giving access for winter forage. The Chinook, or "snow eating" warm winter winds also melted snow and warmed temperatures giving respite from the bitter cold in the deepest days of winter. This cycle and the importance of this area to native game species is as important today as it has been for thousands of years.
All manner of native game (elk, mule deer, big horn sheep, grizzly bears, and bison to name a few) frequented this area as prime wintering grounds as well as in the summer for lush grass which lasted longer than the drier plains. As a result, the Front was an eternal battle ground for the various Indian tribes vying to control these precious predictable hunting grounds. The Blackfeet Indians had a strong presence, and were vigilant about warding of intruders from the Cheyenne Indians from the south and Sioux Indians from the east. However, the most troublesome for the Blackfeet were the Flathead and other Indian tribes from the western mountain valleys that would cross the various mountain passes on the Continental Divide and come to the Front to hunt. They would hunt, harvest, and process their kills during the summer then head back into the mountains in the early fall before the snow closed the passes.
Rocky Mountain Front west of Dupuyer
Marias Pass and Glacier Park
One of these passes, Gateway Pass, is among the lowest on the Contintental Divide, and was the site of many fierce battles between the Blackfeet and the Flathead. The mountain names in the immediate area, such as Bloody Hill, attest to the outcome of the clashes between these tribes. Gateway Pass is our primary pass into the Big River Meadows area and our early season hunting camp. Additionally, Marias Pass is a legendary Continental Divide pass on the southern border of Glacier Park. This is the lowest pass with the most gradual grade crossing the Divide in the north central Rockies. It was fiercely guarded by the Blackfeet and was not discovered until 1889 when they were effectively quarantined to the reservation. Our Two Medicine River hunting camp trailhead is very near Marias Pass.
Our outfitting operation took roots just before World War I broke out in Europe, when Jesse Gleason established a hunting lodge on the South Fork of the Teton River at the foothills of the Front. Jesse took hunts and a few fishing trips in the area, but his passion was painting and he used the hunting lodge mainly as a place to get away and do what he loved. Jesse relinquished his homestead claim to his nephew, Kenny Gleason, around 1928. Kenny and his wife turned the hunting lodge into a dude ranch and started taking longer and more consistent trips into the mountain valleys to the west, in what was then the Sun River Primitive area. He established a hunting and fishing camp at Gates Park, on the North Fork of the Sun River, as well as another camp in White River west of the Continental Divide. For over 50 years Kenny took hunters, fishermen, and adventurers through the Sun River Primitive area, now the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Among his earliest guests were his uncle, Jesse Gleason, and Jesse's long time painting friend and famous western artist Charlie Russell. Jessie and Charlie did a number of paintings on early western hunts from the Gates Park camp and Sun River area.
In 1979 Kenny sold his outfitting business to Allen Haas. At the time the Gleasons established the Gates Park camp is pre-dated the designation of the Sun River game preserve. As such, when the camp ownership changed the Haas', in cooperation with the US Forest Service, discontinued hunting from the Gates Park camp and established the Two Medicine River camp. The Gates Park camp is still used on our fishing and traveling summer horse pack trips. The Two Medicine River camp is our general season hunting camp.
In 1996 we purchased Strawberry Creek outfitters and started taking early season hunting trips into the Gateway Creek and Strawberry Creek areas, via Swift Dam. In 2013 we purchased the Steven Johnson estate at the base of Swift Dam for our permanent and privately owned trailhead used for our northern summer trips and the early season hunting.
Alice and Kenny Gleason