McGowan Outfitting, based out of Challis, ID, is a licensed outfitter through the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board (IOGLB). McGowan Outfitting operates on roughly 400 square miles of public land through permits issued by the BLM and the Salmon Challis National Forest. The licensed areas take in portions of Fish and Game Hunting Units (FGU’s) 37, 37A and 51.
McGowan Outfitting is a family owned and operated business. Our operating area allows us to offer a wide variety of services. We specialize in physically demanding hunts for hunters who share our enthusiasm for taxing backcountry outings. We use our dude horses and broke mules to access the backcountry. McGowan Outfitting is expanding, constantly seeking new opportunities to benefit the outdoor enthusiast. Big game hunting species include, elk, deer, moose, pronghorn antelope, big horn sheep, and goat. Predators include bear, lion, coyote and wolf. McGowan Outfitting has angling access to some of Idaho’s best waters including an assortment of backcountry streams, creeks and high mountain lakes. Species swimming these mountain waters include rainbow trout, white fish, cutthroat trout, incidental steelhead trout, brook trout, and bull trout. Contact us for referrals on waterfowl and upland bird hunting as well. The terrain is vast. We look forward to hunting and fishing with traditional and compound archers, muzzleloader enthusiasts, rifle hunters, shotgunners, and fly fishermen alike. As an outfitter in Idaho with a documented history of good operations, we can guarantee tags for a select number of hunters on most of our offerings. We will also assist in the application process for those seeking to acquire a controlled tag with no allocation. It can take years to save up for a special outdoor experience, so let us put your mind at ease and provide some of the necessary gear for you. We work with local processors and taxidermists to help make your trip hassle free.
Meet the McGowans
My name is Calvin McGowan, and along with my wife Jenna, we own and operate McGowan Outfitting Inc. We were both born and raised in Challis, Idaho and the addition of our daughters Macie and Kelleigh adds to our deep roots in the area. Both of our families have a long history of ranching, hunting and trapping in Central Idaho.
Following High School, I left Challis to pursue a Biology Degree and jumpstart a career as a wildland firefighter. I worked for the Boise BLM Smokejumpers where I had the opportunity to travel the American West and Alaska jumping out of airplanes to fight remote forest fires. While this job was rewarding, it confirmed to me that my true passion is hunting and fishing in Central Idaho.
I returned home and began guiding in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and then in the White Cloud Mountains, Lemhi Mountains, and Pahsimeroi Mountains. When the opportunity arose, we decided to purchase our own business so I could share my passions with visitors from around the world. We feel very fortunate to call the Lemhi and Pahsimeroi mountains home and to pursue our dreams in the very mountains we grew up in. These two mountain ranges are admirably rugged, remote, unknown and have a high density of trophy big game.
I am constantly in the field scouting, exploring and guiding hunters and fishermen throughout the year. When Jenna isn’t cooking up great food in camp she is handling the office duties and corresponding with clients, all while being a full time mom.
Look no further than McGowan Outfitting Inc. for a superior outfitted hunting, fishing and/or riding experience.
McGowan Outfitting will cover all food, accommodations, stock, tack, field dressing, storage of meat and non-personal gear once you arrive at base camp until the hunt is complete. McGowan Outfitting does not cover license, tags, processing, taxidermy, gratuities, long-term storage of capes or meat, shipping or personal gear. A minimum 10% gratuity on the cost of the hunt is an industry standard. McGowan Outfitting does not rent or lease firearms, binoculars, or any tactical equipment. Special accommodations can be made prior to the hunt for use of specific hunt related gear. Please consider options for meat transport prior to your hunt. If you are driving, bring coolers large enough to fit all of the meat. If you are not driving, the processor can ship meat. Shipping expenses typically exceed $400 for an elk. McGowan Outfitting will assist with logistics and advice; however, all harvested animals will either be prepared for transport via vehicle or dropped at the processor at the hunters expense unless previous arrangements have been made.
As a licensed, bonded and insured outfitter in the State of Idaho, McGowan Outfitting has the ability to control certain measures of the hunt. Great food, tags, special access, top of the line guides and staff, comfortable accommodations, seasoned stock, good gear and tack, safe transportation, and security with personal information. We do not, however; have the ability to control animal movement, hunting pressure outside of our own, weather, fire, client fitness, client experience or seasonal mating activities. Every year offers something new and unique. We live in the area, operate in the area, and know the area as good as any man or woman. Our goal is to provide you with a successful hunt and an unforgettable experience. Hunting is hunting, it’s as simple as that. Nothing is set in stone. We chase free range animals and do so in an ethical manner. We do not “road hunt,” run minimal usage of blinds and ATV’s and pride ourselves in our abilities as outdoor survivalists, hunters and conservationists. Booking a hunting trip is a commitment, a commitment of time, money and resources. We understand that, respect that, and will work tirelessly to make your trip the best it can be.
Booking: McGowan Outfitting requires a 25% deposit to book your spot over a year in advance. Within the year a 50% deposit is required. The remaining 50% is due 60 days prior to the hunt. As a licensed outfitter, McGowan Outfitting collects payments for license and tags and secures those on behalf of the hunter. It is important to secure tags well ahead of the hunting timeframe. McGowan Outfitting will collect money for license and tags following the initial deposit. McGowan Outfitting will also have all hunters complete a contract, acknowledgment of risk form and activity registration form. All payments to McGowan Outfitting are non-refundable. Hunts are non-transferrable between seasons or species. Protect yourself and purchase trip insurance! McGowan Outfitting employs numerous guides, wranglers and cooks, all of whom are experienced, professional and true backcountry adventurers. We do not commit specific guides to specific clients at the time of booking. McGowan Outfitting will place you with a top of the line guide prior to your hunt and you will have the chance to communicate with that guide prior to arrival. We take into account a wide arrange of factors when placing guides with clients and trust that your guide will exceed your expectations.
Trip Insurance: Buy trip insurance! Trip insurance is an additional expense, but can protect your investment into the trip. Payments to McGowan Outfitting are non-refundable. Trips are non-transferrable to another year. Protect yourself in the event something happens that prevents you from coming on the trip. The insurance works and is affordable. Remember, “you don’t need it until you need it.”
Incidental tags: Prior to the hunt, most of our hunters will be provided the opportunity to purchase incidental tags for other species. Deer, wolf, bear, and mountain lion are considered incidental for an elk hunt. If the opportunity arises to harvest one of the aforementioned species, while the season is open, with the appropriate incidental tag, clients can choose to do so at no additional expense. An elk hunt with an incidental tag does not mean it is a “combination” hunt inclusive of that incidental tag. Once the target animal is harvested, the hunt does not turn into a “deer” hunt with an incidental deer tag in hand. If a deer is harvested during the course of pursuing elk, then that is a different scenario. McGowan Outfitting will book true combination hunts, including mixing different camps to try and harvest multiple species specifically for an additional cost at the time of booking or prior to pursuing the secondary species. Please inquire.
Preparation for your hunt: Training, practice, patience and physical fitness will dramatically increase both a successful outcome for the hunt and the enjoyment of the hunt itself, especially for backcountry hunters. We cannot stress fitness enough. Big animals are big for a reason. They are smart and have evaded harvest for years. They will not be easy targets and typically do not reside in easily accessible areas. Killing one requires training, hard work, effort and mental toughness. Our hunts are conducted at elevations ranging from 3,200 feet to 10,000 feet. We have backcountry camps located at elevations therein. It is difficult to train for elevation, especially for those visiting us from low elevations; however, physical training at any elevation will help. Consumption of copious amounts of water once you arrive in Idaho and throughout the trip is very important. There is a difference between mountain shape and aerobic shape. The two are symbiotic; however, learning how to hike in the mountains, how to place your feet, travel efficiently and quietly, travel up inclines, down declines, across sidehills, and through rocks with weight on your back is paramount to a complete western, free range hunting excursion. Not every person has access to the geography nor time in their schedule to train in the mountains. That being said, the best thing you can do to prepare for your hunt with McGowan Outfitting is to hike in the hills, on trails (off-trail is far better), canyons, mountains, whatever you have access to, with a backpack. Get out and hike! A treadmill is good, hiking is far superior. It will help with your instincts, spotting and help assimilate you to the outdoors. We work with plenty of people with minimal or no horse experience. Horse experience is not necessary for your backcountry hunt; however, reading up on horseback etiquette, proper positioning and the like will better prepare you for a backcountry hunt in the event horses will be used. If you have the opportunity prior to the hunt, and can spend some time horseback, that is even better.
Train with your bow or rifle. For our archery hunters, practice shooting on inclines, declines and sidehills. Pay attention to your level. Watch hunting video. Run through scenarios in your mind. Try to be as prepared as possible to capitalize on an opportunity. Very few people can say they have harvested a free range elk with a bow and arrow. It is elite. The more comfortable you are with your weapon, the better off you will be in the field. Try to get comfortable at the range shooting out to 50 yards or more in various scenarios. We have a block range at base camp. Upon arrival and prior to the hunt, your guide will have you shoot your bow. It gives us an idea on range, ability and accuracy. We are an ethical outfit, we do not take unethical shots and try to keep wound loss at a minimum. If you are a rifle hunter, dial your gun in at the range. Get comfortable shooting prone out to 400 or 500 yards. That will make a 200 or 300 yard shot in the field feel comfortable. Once the gun is sighted, practice shooting off of shooting stix, from a sitting position, from a standing position with a rest, kneeling using a backpack as a rest, etc. Practice taking the gun off of your shoulder, getting set up, acquiring the target and shooting in an efficient manner. We will always do our best to get you comfortable for your shot. We do not take unethical shots; however, prone setups, bench rests, and inanimate targets are not the reality in the field. The more you practice prior to the hunt, the more comfortable you will be when the time comes to release the arrow or pull the trigger with McGowan Outfitting.
Gear: McGowan Outfitting will send you a complete gear list and is available anytime to assist with gear recommendations. Good gear is also crucial to an enjoyable hunt. Good gear is not necessarily the most expensive or trendy gear, so discuss various gear options with McGowan Outfitting and we can help outfit you appropriately and affordably for your hunt.
Opportunity and success rates: The best way to judge an outfit is via reputation, quality booking agencies, references from hunters who succeeded and those that did not, accurate photographs, client and employee retention, acquaintances and research. We will provide you with answers to your questions and the information you need to do your due diligence on us. In a world where it seems 350″ bulls and 100% success rates are the norm, the truth is that those numbers are a fallacy and totally abnormal. Outside of a high fence, advertised “100% success rate” claims should be met with skepticism. There are plenty of mechanisms available to stack the success rate, mechanisms that do not reflect a quality outfit but, in fact, reflect the opposite. Legitimate claims do exist, but do your due diligence. High fence ranches, trophy tags, dishonesty, lack of regulation and exaggeration has created an environment wherein very little trust should be put in “success rate” claims without further due diligence. At McGowan Outfitting we are good at what we do. We find and harvest mature animals with our clients in an area that supports good trophy density and exceptional diversity. We would put our guides and our area against anybody. Period.
Accommodations: McGowan Outfitting hunters will stay at the comfortable backcountry camp. For Lion or Bear hunts we will accommodate you at a bed and breakfast with all meals included at the McGowan’s residence.
If you are arriving the day prior to your hunt or need to book a room for the evening your hunt ends we recommend The Townehouse Inn (208-833-2252) or the Holiday Lodge Motel (208-879-2259).
License and Tags: Please find a complete list of license and tags via the Idaho Fish and Game Website @ http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/licenses/fees/displayFees.cfm?resType=Nonresident&feeType=Tag.
Adult Nonresident Hunting License: $185.00
Adult Nonresident Elk Tag: $651.75
Adult Nonresident Deer Tag: $351.75
Adult Nonresident Bear Tag: $231.75
Adult Nonresident Wolf Tag: $31.75
Adult Nonresident Antelope Tag: $342.75
Non-Resident Lion Tag: $204.50
Depredation Fee for all Hunters: $10.00
Archery Permit: $81.75
Muzzleloader Permit: $20.00