Pro Staff Blog

Of Mountains & Men

KERWHOOM!!!! The roar of the .300WSM echoed off the hills as twelve-year-old Brent chambered another round. Several hundred elk were thundering over the ridge. “You hit her!” his guide Ben said excitedly, studying the herd through his binoculars. “That’s the one!” he exclaimed, pointing to one cow trailing behind the others. “The range is 220 yards: When she stops, settle the crosshairs on her heart and put another round in her.”

Brent did his best to slow his breathing and found the cow in the scope. It was his first big-game hunt; adrenaline was coursing through his veins. I can’t believe this city kid from Chicago is really elk hunting in Colorado, he thought. This is so much more real than a video game. 

He tracked the slowing cow as his uncle Casey whispered in his ear. “Make sure there’s no elk behind her,” he said. Like Brent, this was his first big-game hunt, but he remembered what Ben had said as they’d begun the stalk a mile back. 

Tension gripped all three of them as the elk finally slowed to a halt. The cow was broadside. Brent exhaled, steadied the crosshairs on the boiler room, and squeezed the trigger. KERWHOOM!!! And as the elk tumbled into the grass, Brent let out a whoop as huge as the Rockies.

Brent and twenty other young men ages twelve to seventeen were experiencing a big-game hunting adventure through a non-profit called Of Mountains & Men, or “OMM” for short. “OMM’s mission is to guide teens into Christian manhood,” said Steve Osterholzer, OMM’s founder and director. Steve, an Army officer of nearly thirty years, was a Junior ROTC instructor at an inner-city high school in Denver following his time on Active Duty. “I saw the devastating effects on young men who don’t have a father active in their lives,” he said. “America’s in a crisis of fatherless teens; these young men lack a mentor on their journey to manhood. They need a guide as they grow from boy to man.”

OMM guides teens into Christian manhood in two ways. “A critical part of becoming a man is confidence,” said Chad, one of OMM’s Directors. “Confidence comes from skills; we take the young men on wilderness adventures that teach them outdoor skills which breed confidence. 

The scope of OMM’s adventures is impressive. “We have three types of wilderness trips,” said Joel, a firefighter in Yellowstone National Park who’s been fundamental in building OMM. “We do elk and pronghorn hunting in Colorado, wilderness canoeing on the Minnesota/Canadian border, and soon we’ll lead Winter Adventure trips in the mountains of New Mexico.” He smiled. “And next summer, we’ll take young men gator hunting in Florida.”

While the adventures themselves result in the confidence all young men need, the second way OMM guides them into manhood is through their Campfire Talks. “The Campfire Talks are honest discussions about becoming a man,” said B.J., a board member who’s guided both big game hunts and wilderness canoe trips. “The talks are based upon the book, ‘Wild At Heart’ by John Eldredge, and help the young man begin answering four questions every young man wrestles with.” He continued as he stuffed knives and game bags into his pack. “What’s it mean to be a man and how do I become one? What’s this beautiful creature called a woman all about, and how do I become really alive?” 

OMM’s big-game hunts are particularly impressive. “We began in 2019 with just two youths and six people in camp,” Steve said. “This past year, we served twenty-one young men with more than sixty people in camp.”

OMM’s hunts occur on 80,000 acres of private land leased by Tri-State Outfitters, who generously supplies hunting access, tags, and use of their lodge. “This isn’t a typical public land hunt,” said Paul, another OMM board member who guided last fall. “The number of animals we see are incredible; the pronghorn hunters were on stalks all day, and the number of elk was staggering.” He shook his head in amazement. “Imagine being a young man from Florida who’s never even seen an elk, and your first stalk is on a herd of several hundred animals!”

OMM’s success rate is equally amazing. “Last year, nineteen of the twenty-one young men harvested their first game animal,” said Jesse, one of OMM’s founding members. And these aren’t experienced adult hunters; these are twelve-year-old kids who’ve never even shot a squirrel!”

While OMM’s primary target audience is youths without a father, they also take young men who have a father active in their lives. “Sometimes the dad just needs help in teaching his son how to hunt,” said Jesse. Or he needs help in talking to his son about masculinity.” He continued. “I grew up without a father, so I know firsthand how critical this organization is. I didn’t have that role model, that compass in life, that I needed. Because of OMM, these young men now do.”

The hunting skills the young men learn on the four-day hunts are critical in raising the next generation of hunters. Another board member, Joel, described what they take away from the hunt. “Before this hunt, most of the young men had never shot a gun, been on a stalk, or packed out an elk.” He chuckled as he continued. “Harvesting a big-game animal is a serious responsibility. So while we’ll help the boys field dress the elk, they mostly do it themselves. Many of them struggle with the gutting part, but the confidence that results is amazing!”

All of OMM’s adventures are completely free. “We’re 100% funded by individuals and organizations who believe investing in these youths is important,” Steve said. “These young men are often at a crossroads in life and need to know that big-hearted people want to be part of guiding them on their road to masculinity.

Every young man on the hunt has a volunteer guide and mentor with them. “The mentor’s role is to be both a hunting companion and someone the youth feels comfortable discussing masculinity with,” said Ben, helping Brent skin his first elk. “Most youth bring a mentor, but we provide background-checked mentors for young men needing one.”

The hunts have a powerful impact on the young men. Isaiah, a fifteen-year-old whose dad is in prison, expressed it this way: “This hunt has improved my self-confidence, and I’ve seen the beauty of the outdoors for the first time. Before this trip, I spent so much time watching TikTok videos on my phone. Now, I want to get into hunting!”

Braden’s another young man who went on an OMM hunt. “The Campfire Talks really made me think,” he said. “While I know I can’t answer those four questions in a single hunt, the talks gave me something to think about. It was also cool to be surrounded by so many tough outdoorsmen full of honor and heart. I want to be like them.”

He continued. “At the end of the last Campfire Talk, all of us young men were presented a knife with our names engraved on it. We were built to be strong warriors with caring hearts. As men, that’s what we’re called to be. The knife is a cool way to remember I’m a warrior.”

“People often ask how they can get involved,” Steve said. “We’re growing like crazy; we need men of strong Christian character to guide, mentor, and cook on these hunts. Most importantly, we need them to be role models for these young men.”

“We have other volunteer opportunities on our website,” he continued. “ Areas such as social media, fundraising, grant writing, and volunteer coordinator are just a few. He went on. “These hunts cost thousands of dollars to pull off. We feel it’s important they’re free. We need financial supporters willing to invest in these great young men.”

The hunting future of OMM is very bright. “This coming year, we’ll take thirty-three young men big-game hunting for the first time,” Steve said. The support we’ve received from Tri-State Outfitters and Colorado Parks & Wildlife has been amazing.” He laughed, saying, “With more than 120 people total in hunting camp, that’s a lot of mouths to feed!”

“People often ask me why we do what we do,” Steve said thoughtfully. “This generation needs people willing to step up and teach them to hunt. To be role models. To invest in them as we collectively help guide them into manhood. That’s what of Mountains & Men is all about.”

For more information about Of Mountains & Men, please visit

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One Comment

  1. I mentored one of the elk hunters this last January. When I talked to his mother a week after the hunt she said “ I let you have my teen/boy and in four days you returned to me a young man.”

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