How the President of a Tech Company Got Prepped for Her First Backcountry Archery Elk Hunt

Ali has impressed me since the first time we met.  She's incredibly smart... and even stronger in the gym. 

She's the President of a Technology Company called Wisetail here in Bozeman Montana, and has always been a prolific skier.

Just this past year she went on her first backcountry archery elk hunt and crushed the packout of her boyfriends bull.

Her contagious smile and positive attitude influences everyone around her...

This is her story.

MEET ALI: President of a Software Company, Backcountry Skier… and Now A Backcountry Archery Hunter

My name is Ali Knapp. I am the president of a software company based out of Bozeman called Wisetail. We sell training and communication software.

I have two dogs; I have a bulldog named Truck, and I have a new puppy that is a Newfoundland, and his name is Johnny Cash. He's 12-weeks old, so he's a new addition. I live in Livingston, Montana.

I work out with MTNTOUGH, and I spend a lot of my free time being in the mountains, whether that is backpacking, doing backcountry hunting trips, skiing, which has been a passion of mine since I've been really little, or I've found a new love for trail running.

So my 2019 is going to be full of trail running, and started doing that just last year. In the past, I've loved riding my mountain bike as well.

I actually got into hunting probably about five years ago when I moved into Montana, and I got into specifically elk hunting was what I was most interested in. We did rifle hunting, and I went out and I took my rifle for long walks in the mountains a lot and did that for several falls.

Then last spring I decided that I was going to archery hunt, and so I spent the spring and summer practicing with my bow and doing that every evening and I just loved it. It was just a really meditative activity I could do in the evening times, and I'd just go out, shoot my bow. It was really just more about the experience in doing that.

This past fall was my first archery hunt, and I did a big backcountry hunting trip for two weeks.

It was all public land-based and carried my bow around, and we got into a lot of different elk and packed out an elk.

Not mine, but it was a great trip.

Growing up my dad was a big hunter. I grew up in the Midwest, so I grew up in Northern Michigan, and my dad was really into white-tail hunting.

As I've moved out west, he's gotten really into coming out and spending a couple weeks out here archery hunting every year as well. So for the past couple of years I've done trips with him as well, and it's just been a neat experience to be able to experience that with two generations.

I had previously worked with Dustin in a different job, and so just followed his path of where he's going and learned about MTNTOUGH through that.

I had recently blew my knee out skiing and I actually broke the top of my humorous in the same year with a mountain biking accident.

So I was in kind of rough shape and I started working out with Dustin to actually do some rehabilitation on my shoulder, and after a few months we got into a program, I started strengthening it and then started doing the classes, and just loved it.

I love the energy, love the people, and the fact that it was just pushing me harder than I've ever been pushed, so just continued to keep going.

I was super intimidated at first. I mean, I was coming off of a couple of really large injuries, and the first time that I'd ever really gone through surgery and had to come back from something.

So I was just nervous to start this program that seemed incredibly intense.

I went to some of the classes and realized that the people were super encouraging and that the programing was doable. I mean, I could get through these classes, right? Then it just evolved over the past couple of years, it's been about going to the classes and pushing yourself harder and harder.

When I first joined, I thought there was going to be this sense of like, all right, after a few months I'm going to get this. This is going to get easier. I think the point is it doesn't. As you are training, it actually ... you're able to push yourself harder, which makes the classes even more intense and more intense.

But you can start out with not having a huge baseline and work off of that, you just have to have the willingness and the attitude that you want to be there and you want to do it.

I think that's the most important part.

MTNTOUGH has changed me because it has given me something that I'm absolutely not going to miss.

It's like it's become this thing in my life that I have to be there.

I have this commitment, this commitment to these people to come here and work hard, and a commitment to myself too. In previous training regimens and things that I've done like that, I've never felt as strong of a commitment to it, and I think it's a huge difference.

At work, I notice a huge difference in that my focus. If I come to class in the morning and I go in and work, I'm able to handle things better, I'm able to process things better. I have a clearer mind.

I think that it is a stress relief. It's like this time where you can go, you give it all out during that hour, and then it allows you to mentally be able to focus more on that time being in an office, like being in that office environment, so I think that's a big difference.

There's sometimes where on Wednesdays I know I can't make a noon class, and so I get in my truck at 4:50 in the morning and make it here for the 5:30 class just because I know that if I don't make that and I don't make that time to be there, then my day is not going to be what I want it to be.

I've hiked in all of the different mountain ranges.

I've been really deep in the crazies, I've done a lot of hunting outside of Big Sky. When I talked a little bit about my elk trip earlier this year, I mean, we were 16 miles back, we were sleeping out of a teepee for two weeks, so my deer story is not even close to any of those.

But I shot a buck this year and it's a white-tail, and I shot him on our property that we live on.

But it was my first one, and so it holds a special spot for me.

So it wasn't the legendary pack hour or anything like that, it was a pretty simple hunt. But whatever it is, you get one and then that starts the process of more, so that's what I look forward to.

But for the last two years in the fall I've gone out and done a backcountry elk trip.

So this past September I went out with my boyfriend and my dad.

We start the trip with a 14-mile dirt bike ride, and so we have our packs on and we basically go out 14 miles with the dirt bikes. We park them at the wilderness boundary, and then we hike in.

So we've hiked in, the spot where we set up a base camp this year was about six miles in.

So we kind of dropped down into a basin carrying our packs in and set up a base camp next to a little creek. We have a teepee that we carry in, it has a little stove and it's actually pretty luxury for backcountry camping, and had a water source right there.

We typically do day hunts out of that little base camp area.

And this year we were lucky enough to be able to spend a couple of weeks out there. For the first week of my trip my dad was there with us, and he's from Michigan and definitely over the past couple of years has gained a really big interest in elk hunting.

So it's pretty neat to be able to share that with him.

The fact that I can be out there and go all day is, I think, where MTNTOUGH has really made a difference in that.

I mean, they're long days.

We're up before the sun rises in the morning, and then we're coming back with headlamps on at night.

It's not rare to have 10+ mile days back to back. So I think you have to have trained and you have to have a level of fitness to be able to go out and do that back to back.

I think it really shined this year when my significant other got his bull, and we ended up packing out his entire bull with basically the two of us and my dad.

So we packed it out uphill for four-and-a-half miles, carrying it uphill. Pretty heavy packs and had to do a couple of laps, but we got it out of there.

I think what surprises me the most about MTNTOUGH is how the workouts push you harder than where you think that end capacity is for you.

It drives you to go beyond that uncomfortable state where you think you can't do it and you want to quit, it pushes you beyond that. I think there's a lot of other training programs out there that you get to that limit and that's it, then the class is over, or you get to that limit and that's kind of the max of the workout.

It's different at MTNTOUGH.

You're holding yourself at that max level for a lot longer period of time, and I think that there's a couple of different components to that. I think one of them is actually the mental toughness component that is unlike any other workout that I've been a part of.

That mental toughness component translates into the rest of my life because in situations when you're out in the mountains and you're out in the backcountry, and you're done and you want to give up and you're just over it, you feel like there's not a lot left, it gives you the ability to dig deep, and continue on, and push through it.

I've never been a part of any sort of workout program that mentally tests you to correlate and be in these environments where that can happen.

To me, Always Ready means that I could pick up a backpack and go 20 miles into the backcountry, and be ready to pack out a bull.

It means that I could walk into a work scenario and absolutely know that whatever's thrown at me that day, I can handle it, I'm ready for this.

It would mean that I could be able to do a trail run in the mountains that is one of the most extreme trail runs in Southwest Montana. It would mean that physically I would have the physical and mental capacity to do whatever it is that I want to do on that given day.

So I feel like if you're contemplating or you're thinking about joining and being a part of this community, then you're already halfway there, right?

I think make the commitment because it'll change your life, it'll change the way you look at problems, it'll change the way that you just go about and face your everyday life.

I think at the beginning it can be super intimidating, but every single person that is a part of MTNTOUGH, they start somewhere, right? You have to start somewhere.

The community is full of people that want to achieve something. That's going to be different, those goals are going to be different for each person, but it's a welcoming community that if you want to have this drive and this commitment in your life, I think they should do it.

Everyone's a real person, they have a story, and they're starting from somewhere and they want to be at a different level.

So if you want to be around people that are going to push you and motivate you to achieve whatever it is that is your goal, then become part of this community and there's a group of people that will help you get to that spot where you want to be.

Are You Ready To BE MTNTOUGH Like Ali?

If you’re ready to become part of a new type of community that’s never been done before… and transform your body and mind into a backcountry athlete, I invite you to come join us.

That’s why we created The 4-Month MTNTOUGH Backcountry Hunter Preseason Program… to take you through the same journey Justin experienced no matter where you live.  

To help you become the best version of you.

--> Click here to learn more about the program and enroll

My best,

- Dustin