More Than A Backpack Company - An Internship at Stone Glacier

My internship at Stone Glacier started to get set up in 2014 when I arrived in Bozeman for my freshman year at Montana State University. About a week before school started my cousin Kayla, and her husband Bob informed me that they were having a little get together- a backyard barbecue. It was there that I met one of the designers and illustrators for Sitka Gear. As an eager young hunter I picked his brain about all things hunting. I couldn't get enough of this type of knowledge. I was hungry for adventure because I was away from home for the first time and whatever information he leaked to me, my mind soaked up like a sponge. After that day I made sure to stay in touch with this talented dude. That dude was Lyle Hebel.

Upon arrival at Stone Glacier my prior experience at writing press releases was non existent yet Lyle walked me through the process, let me learn from my mistakes, and pushed me to refine my work until it was well polished. Lyle is now the Marketing Director for Stone Glacier and is also one of the soul reasons why I got this sought after internship. What I have learned in college is that you will cross paths with people that will drastically change your life; if you choose to associate yourself with those people that you get a positive impression from, build relationships with them, and work hard with them, good things will come.

My time interning at Stone Glacier has been an incredible experience. Going into my last semester at Montana State, I had the expectation that this would be my favorite semester due to not being a conventional student, not being a full time student, and not being a student athlete, but working at this small business as the PR intern. Truth be told, this internship well exceeded those expectations and provided me opportunities that I was unaware of before.

I was provided with a plethora of tasks at Stone Glacier. From pack assembly, PR work, to hands on conservation volunteer hours, I got to experience what the so called “Ram’s Head Tavern” is all about. All the knowledge I have gained through this work has made me a better employee and it has made me a better hunter. The gear I have chosen to run I now know inside out. From now on when I’m in the field I won't have any questions or doubt in the functionality of my gear. This is because I’ve been given an inside look at product development and assembly. Top secret stuff.

Seeing the great minds work at SG has influenced my thinking immensely. It has created a brand image for me that is honestly unrivaled. It’s one thing for a company to make spectacular products but for that same company to hold a pure gold standard when it comes to customer service relations at the magnitude that Stone Glacier does is incredibly impressive. Seeing this standard has changed my outlook on what good service should be. One of my coworkers Andrew Whitney told me the other day “Under promise, and over deliver.” this resided with me because I had just overheard him tell a gentleman that he could customize a hip belt for him by the end of the week yet had it finished by the end of the day. This is a minuscule example but it exudes SG’s customer relationship philosophy.

In February I got the honor to go to Reno, Nevada for the Wild Sheep Foundation’s Sheep Show. I was flown down and spent the week working all day and partying all night for conservation. My main tasks at the show were related to registration. I spent most days behind a desk on a computer typing up credentials for the members and guest, but did I got spoiled a few of the days working for the MTN Ops guys at the Total Archery Challenge course. Even though I worked all day I still made all most all of the banquets throughout the week. It was crazy fun to witness hundreds of thousands of dollars getting donated to Wild Sheep Conservation. It was eye opening. My favorite night of the show was Conservation Night and the <1 Club Banquet. The <1 Club is a club that sends hunters who have never experienced a sheep hunt of their own to go on one. It’s Electric. Hundreds of people get together, put their name in the hat, honor the conservation efforts that make the club possible, and absolutely rage. In just under two hours this group of Wild Sheep Foundation Members drank twenty- two kegs of beer. WSF CEO Grey Thornton jokes that “We are a drinking club with a sheep hunting problem!” I don't think he’s wrong.

For the entire sheep week I volunteered for many hours, and hit my goal of becoming 2% for Conservation Certified for the second consecutive year. To be 2% Certified you have to donate 1% of your income and 1% of your time to conservation. This certification means a lot to me because there's a BS standard that is common in the outdoor community that consists of individuals that think that they are a “conservationist” just because they buy any outdoor recreation license that is NEEDED for them to be legal. 2% for Conservation is doing big things to erase that stigma. Money + Time= Wildlife.

Left: Jake Purlee (center) with Steven Rinella and Remi Warren. Right: Jake with his 2019 Montana spring bear.

During my college journey I have kept a strong presence in the local hunting community, and especially have this semester through Stone Glacier. Being able to call myself a Stone Glacier employee and intern has given me the opportunity to help expose an image of hunting that is uncommon in the hunting industry. I just feel really lucky to have this improved hunting & conservation model around me. There are a lot of events centered around conservation and ethical integrity that happen on a regular basis in Bozeman. Just this semester I have attended events put on by MeatEater, Wild Sheep Foundation, Outdoorsman of MSU, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and of course Stone Glacier. From a personal point of view it feels amazing to be able to associate myself with this community. SG may be a small company but it's making leaps and bounds and I am truly grateful to be a part of it.

My time at MSU in the English Writing Program has set me up perfectly for my next step after graduation. In this last semester I have made connections with companies and individuals that will give me a platform to share my writing. I am a confident young outdoor writer but I am also grateful for those who have helped me get here. I’m not ready for my time at Stone Glacier to be up and I’m glad its not.

I’m on fire to produce high quality outdoor content, my writing journey has just begun, and there are going to be some big things produced by yours truly in the near future.

As always, Go Cats!

Jake Purlee