Continental Divides

Chance Encounter Reveals Worthy Mission

Montana Grit’s mission is to provide a solid foundation for personal growth by facilitating an environment that allows participants to discover their capabilities, strengths and freedom

By John McCaslin

Breane Lindvall epitomizes Montana grit and outdoors.

Sporting a baseball cap, boots, blue jeans and sculpted elk belt buckle, I stumbled upon the thirtysomething married mom of three boys in a back alley of Bigfork, “better organizing” the contents of her SUV.

“Philipsburg, born and raised,” Lindvall said she was on a western Montana road trip, “hanging up fliers in all the little towns and businesses to raise awareness of what veterans and first responders do for our country.”

But there’s much more to her story.

“We take women veterans, women first responders, women of a Gold Star Family, women survivors of first responders, and women who’ve lost somebody to PTSD who had served as a first responder or in the military, on all-inclusive guided hunts around the country,” she revealed.

The “we” is Montana Grit Outdoors, a fledgling Philipsburg-based nonprofit organization Lindvall founded two years ago.

“I come from a military/first responder family, and I’m a very avid elk hunter, and I know what hunting does for me. I wanted to help people and share my passion at the same time,” she explained. “So I decided to combine them.”

Women of all ages and backgrounds have been turning to hunting as a form of recreation, sport, and way of life. Many “huntresses” say they want their families consuming healthier meat, free of hormones, steroids and antibiotics.

Still, Lindvall estimated “98 percent of my applicants have never hunted before,” which makes Montana Grit’s mission — to provide a solid foundation for personal growth by facilitating an environment that allows participants to discover their capabilities, strengths, and freedom — all the more worthwhile.

“It gives them the opportunity to grow through fear, to make a decision while they’re uncomfortable,” Lindvall described. “They’re in a place they’ve never been, they’re with people they’ve never met, doing something that most of them have never done before.

“They will also get to build a relationship with each other,” she continued, “and it will hopefully grow from that to where they can network with each other. It’s like a support system.”

Anywhere from one to ideally three applicants will participate in fully sponsored hunting trips, with the much-anticipated inaugural hunt to take place in late summer.

“Our very first hunt takes place this September outside of Portland, Maine,” Lindvall said. “It’s a bear hunt. The gal we’re taking served on the swat team in Charlotte, North Carolina. So in September … we’re going to do this bear hunt and it’s going to be awesome.”

“Montana hunts,” she pointed out, will be “specifically for Montana residents.”

For the upcoming hunt, Montana Grit has secured sponsors and contributions to provide “rifles, optics, head-to-toe camo, and a phenomenal trainer,” Lindvall said.

“We buy their guns, we buy all of their gear, we source emotional support, and we set them up with whatever training they may need to equip them with the skillsets and confidence that they will need to carry out the hunt as efficiently as they can. The comfort level is important.”

Apart from sponsorships, support from businesses and individuals will also play a key role in the success of planned hunts (more information, including how to contribute, is found on the Montana Grit Outdoors website).

“We’re definitely looking for sponsorships,” said Lindvall, who needed little reminding that the Flathead Valley is home to a thriving firearms industry.

“Right now we just want to get our name out there and tell people what we do, and where we’re from, and the why behind the mission.”

John McCaslin is a longtime print and broadcast journalist and author.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.