Hunt for Purpose

Guiding Combat Veterans to Purpose Through Archery Elk Hunting

Hunt for Purpose is designed to guide post-9/11 combat veterans to a greater sense of clarity around their identity, values, potential, and purpose. For many post-9/11 combat veterans, purpose is found by rising to meet a meaningful challenge. Our newest alumni program, Hunt for Purpose, is an intensive, 6 month pursuit to plan, prepare for, and execute a successful archery elk hunt in Montana’s backcountry. Along the way, participants will learn the basics of elk hunting and backcountry survival, improve their physical fitness, and work alongside fellow Warriors and loved ones toward a common goal.

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Finding Purpose through Hunting

Elk hunting is not the objective of the program; rather it is the mechanism we’ll use to help our participants achieve clarity of what they believe, who they are, what they can do, and what gives their life meaning. We’ll do this by interweaving a guided-discovery process around the areas of identity, values, potential, and purpose with the process of preparing for and conducting a week-long archery elk hunt. 

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Program Details

Participation in this hunting experience consists of three 6-8-day trips to Montana, as well as virtual training and a fitness program to be completed throughout the year. Hunt for Purpose is free to participants, including travel to Montana, lodging, food, gear, and education. Participants should be ready to challenge themselves both physically and mentally, and grow and learn in a group environment.


  • Clarifying who you are, what you believe, what you can do, and what brings your life meaning through commitment to a challenging pursuit

  • Improving nutrition and physical fitness habits

  • Improving social well-being through connection and camaraderie

  • Applying the skills acquired in the program to the pursuit of other personal and professional goals in life

  • Planning, preparing for, and executing a successful archery elk hunt

Typical Hunt for Purpose Schedule

Participants will complete virtual learning throughout the year, as well as three separate trips to Montana in the spring, summer, and fall. Each program will be tailored to create the best hunting experience for the group. Here’s generally what participants can expect.

In spring, participants will make their first trip to Quiet Waters Ranch to meet their cohorts, collect and learn their equipment, and learn the fundamentals of archery and elk calling. Each day, participants will have designated time for reflection and personal development workshops.

In early summer, participants make their second trip to the ranch to train their bodies and minds for a successful hunt through physical fitness regimens, nutritional education, and spiritual exploration. Meanwhile, they’ll learn functional skills like elk hunting tactics, bear safety, backcountry resourcefulness, and wilderness medicine.

In fall comes the culmination of everything participants have learned over the year: a week-long archery elk hunt in the Montana backcountry. Here, participants will put their skills to the test and seek to harvest an elk, accompanied by veteran elk-hunting companions. If successful, harvested elk will be processed locally and a year's worth of perfect organic protein will be shipped to participants at their homes to enjoy.

Prior to the first trip, participants will complete virtual training through the University of Elk Hunting. Throughout the year, they’ll communicate virtually with their hunting companions to plan their hunt and obtain the necessary licenses and tags. In addition, participants will work through the MTNTOUGH Backcountry Hunter’s Fitness Program – a 9-month physical fitness regimen they will follow on their own to prepare for their hunt.

Meet the Organizations that have made Hunt for Purpose possible

Participant FAQs

Yes, Quiet Waters Ranch is accessible for people with disabilities. We work to accommodate all disabilities to the fullest extent possible. Our staff, guides, and volunteers are well-versed at accommodating various types of disabilities and conditions (including those who are visually and audibly impaired) to ensure a positive and rewarding experience.

Applications to apply for one of these programs will be available winter of 2022. Historically, Warrior Alumni have been able to email our program team, and we ask that you use this application for all future programs.

Yes. WQW has a service dog acknowledgment and agreement that allows service dogs to go fishing with participants.

Built for More is our foundation now—a richer, fuller program that can foster even more powerful results than our shorter outdoor immersions. Once you’ve gone through Built for More, you can take part in shorter alumni programs, but first time Warriors must complete Built for More first.

Nature, respite, and camaraderie are key motivators in making the big changes this program encourages, so the in-person outdoor excursions are required. Many of us are veterans ourselves and understand hesitation to travel for various reasons. Please reach out so we can do whatever is in our power to make this trip possible for you.

Yes! Everything from clothing to equipment is yours to keep. Our goal is to set you up with everything you need so you can continue to tap into your new skills independently without gear as a barrier.

No, you DO NOT have to be a Purple Heart recipient to qualify for our programs.

Let us be the judge—we have many years of experience carefully choosing participants who we predict can get the most out of our programs. We also have multiple Built for Mores happening at the same time and enable hundreds of participants to complete our programs each year

First—are you a post-911 combat veteran who deployed to a combat theater and engaged with or were engaged by enemy forces in the post-9/11 era? Secondly, do you feel stuck or ready to make a major change in your life—even if you don’t know what it is? If the answer to both is yes, apply. Our program is designed to meet you where you are in every sense, even if it’s different from where others in your cohort may be.

Currently, we get more applications than we can accept, and we choose those who we think can benefit most from our programs. Good fits who aren’t chosen this round will be waitlisted for future programs. These applicants will be the first to hear when there are new openings.

WQW has an active zero alcohol policy on all experiences.

Built for More discusses spiritual fitness, not religion. Essentially, there’s space in our program to incorporate any spiritual practices that contribute to your growth. We do not take or encourage any particular religious stance (including being religious at all), and we ask that you respect religious differences across your cohort.

Absolutely. WQW strives to build long-term relationships with our participants and we are always looking to have you return for more experiences or as a volunteer. However, Warriors who attend their first experience are not guaranteed an invitation to return for future programs.

Yes, there is wifi and cell phone service at the ranch so that participants can connect with their loved ones as needed while they’re away. However, the ranch is an ideal place to take a break from your devices and reconnect with yourself and your community. We highly recommend being fully present as much as possible for this one-of-a-kind experience.

While we relied on experts to develop our program, it is completely non-clinical and non-medical. That said, we support Warriors in getting all the care they need, and you’ll continue your existing care during the program. If therapy or psychiatric care is something you choose to start during the program, we’re happy to make recommendations for veteran-focused organizations.

The program is designed to be challenging in the right ways, at a reasonable pace. If you can commit to the two weeks of travel and six months to a year of spending a few hours a month on yourself, you can do this.

If you’re facing something exceptionally tough, please let us know in the application. In many cases, we’ve worked through it before. Sometimes, we know another organization that could be a better resource.

These proven expeditions are still the bookends to Built for More—but now, there’s an essential new program in between. Over the years, Warriors were impressed with how these reflective outdoor adventures could serve as a turning point in their lives but requested more guidance for making long term changes. Built for More answers that call with a structured, expert-driven program that still relies heavily on those original excursions.

There are still a number of shorter specialty programs for alumni, but all first-time Warriors now start with Built for More.

Built for More is a program we developed ourselves, rooted in in-depth research, evidence-based expertise in wellness and psychology, and our own years of experience. It’s structured to be challenging, but not overwhelming, as you dive into self-exploration, identify areas of growth, and develop healthy habits. You can expect elements of video, facilitated group discussion, reflection, and skill development exercises.

WQW programs are at no cost to the participant including paid-for air travel to Montana, comfortable lodging and home-cooked meals, professional instruction, and gear for trip’s activities.

Built for More programs launch throughout the year and are timed around the best outdoor conditions. When you apply, we’ll work with you to figure out where you fit in best. Sometimes, this means the program moves more quickly over six months, or a bit more slowly over a year. In every case, it’s doable.

For this proof-of-concept run of Hunt for Purpose, WQW opened applications to WQW program alumni in January 2022. Five participants were selected for the first cohort of Hunt for Purpose. Applications will open again in winter of 2022 for the second cohort of this new program.

All applications and service documents are thoroughly reviewed for qualifying criteria by our Program Team.

Selection for a WQW program is NOT GUARANTEED even if all program criteria are met. Selection is at WQW’s discretion and we appreciate your understanding.

Our experiences are for post-9/11 combat veterans and their loved ones who are looking for a new way to connect, grow, explore purpose, and thrive.

While our application is open to all post-9/11 combat veterans, our selection process strives to select and place applicants with the greatest need. Even if all selection criteria are met, selection for our programs (first-time and Alumni programs) is solely at the discretion of Warriors & Quiet Waters. Requirements for selection include:

  • Must be a Post-9/11 Combat Veteran

  • Must provide a DD214 Member-4 copy and current photos

  • If active duty, current service record will be requested

  • If you are a caregiver, we require the above information on your care recipient

  • Must be committed to positive growth

  • Must be willing to engage in a supportive group environment

Currently, we’re focused on making our programs richer and more effective for the same number of veterans annually. For now, we aim to grow in impact, not size, working hard to offer transformative experiences to roughly 300 veterans a year.