I've been fortunate enough to spend a considerable amount of time over the years with hunting guides in a number of states and provinces and also Africa. This has allowed me to gain a bit of insight into to how to maximize the enjoyment of the time you spend together, and maybe also the amount of success you have. In this two-part blog, I'll offer 10 tips. Here are the first five:
|Don't always expect to bring home a trophy, as the odds of doing so are slim even in the very best of areas. (photo courtesy of David Vey)|
- Full disclosure. The first step actually takes place before you even arrive on your hunt, when you are still in the planning stages. Be forthright and honest with your outfitter in terms of what kind of a hunter you are. Are you still young and spry or do the hills seem to be higher and steeper every year? Guides are just like hunters in that no two are the same, and many outfitters employ a number of guides. Most outfitters will try to assign their guides to clients that are well matched in terms of personality, temperament, preferences for hunting methods, etc. The more your outfitter knows about you in advance, the more likely he will be to pair you with a guide that will be well suited to you.
- Have realistic expectations. If you've done your homework in terms of choosing a quality outfitter (see some of my previous blogs for tips on choosing the right outfitter), you should know what's reasonable to hope for. Sure we'd all like to bring home a record book whitetail, moose, sheep, etc., but the odds of that are very slim even in the very best areas.
- Don't judge a book by its cover. Due to the physical demands of the job, many guides are fairly young people, but don't assume youth equates to inexperience. Many guides have grown up in the areas they hunt and are intimately familiar with the land and the game. While you may spend a few days or even a few weeks hunting each year, some guides spend months in the bush. Same goes for female guides. Although I've never had the pleasure of hunting with one, many experienced hunters who have count them among the best guides they've ever hunted with.
- Don't guide the guide! You've spent a lot of time, money and effort to make your hunt happen, and you've hired a guide/outfitter for their knowledge and expertise. So make use of it. Leave the decisions about where, when and how to hunt to them. Dave Vey, my guide from a recent Vancouver Island bear hunt, put it best: "Most of the time your role is to sit back and enjoy the experience until the time comes to make a loud noise." Your guide generally knows best, so listen to them.
- Leave the ego at home. You may be a master deer hunter back home, but that doesn't make you an expert in the moose bogs, bear bushes or sheep mountains. Again, that's what you are paying a guide for. He is doing what he thinks is best to make your hunt a success. If you're a high-powered executive who's used to giving orders, you may find it difficult to be told what to do by someone half your age. You need to get over it.
In Part II, we'll look at some more suggestions to help maximize your hunter-guide experience.