When To Abandon Your Guide On A "Guided" Hunt


Well-Known Member
Jul 10, 2001
I'm still miffed about the poor hunting skills of my guide on my recent "guided" elk hunting trip. So I spoke with a very experienced big game hunter at the VFW the other day and he said that there are times when, in order to save your hunt, that you just have to leave your guide and go hunt by yourself. Or at least stop following him, and instead, have him trail behind you while you attempt to make it on your own. He said that there are excellent guides out there, but they are relatively rare. He said most are either incompetent or of medoicre quality. I was just wondering what everyone else here thought about this?

Not sure who your buddy is but if he is that good maybe he should guide.
I agree there are some very marginal guides out there. Some are even poor. This is why I tell most people to call references from the outfitter. Make sure to ask for a list of names that didn't kill an animal as well. The second thing you should do is as soon as your in camp meet with your guide TALK to him make it a point to spend time talking about what you expect and what your after. Guides are huiman and make mistakes too. We all realize that you are on a hunt of a lifetime and that you've spent a good deal of money. But we are not Gods and cannot just make animals apear. ( especially trophy ones)
I realize you are dissapointed and I hope you spoke to your outfitter about your dissapointment. But please remember not every hunter goes home with a trophy or an animal for that matter.
I would NEVER recommend that you go it alone. Unless you have extensive knowledge of the area you are hunting. Not may guys in this area make a mistake and live to tell about it. Hunting the west is not like hunting the east or midwest where you can eventually run into a public road. Here you may never run into anything but something that can hunt you!
The biggest mistake that a hunter looking for a guided hunt can make is asking to few questions ad not researching the outfitter enough. I hate to say it but there are outfitters who only care about the money you give em.. that's it.
I would not hessitate to talk to your outfitter and discuss what happened. He may have givben you an unexpierienced guide or a new one. He may even cut you a good deal onanother hunt with a good guide!!
Wyo Speaks from experiance.

From the pictures I saw of his facility he has in Wyoming when I was at the Sportmans show in Harrisburg, PA, I would take his advice.

I also have a friend who "was" a guide and went on a guided hunt in Whyoming, recently. He told the guide that was assigned to him that he was not going to take him to the same place he had been going day after day.
He said I'm going over in this direction and he killed a huge bull elk with the Guide following "him". No thanks to his guide at all. He was a bit miffed at the guide to say the least.

This does happen, but it is rare. My friend is a hardened horseman in PA. (raises high dollar horses) and an accomplished short range and longrange hunter.
He understands the problems that can arise in the western mountains because, he still hunts them every year.

You may want to book a hunt at Wyo's place sometime if you plan on hunting Wyoming?

Thanks for the response all:

Wyo - My friend makes BIG bucks in the job he has, and hence travels the world taking big game in any country that allows big game hunting. He rattles off stuff to me that he needs such as the last of the five different types of mountain goat that lives in the mountains of Urzebizkstan or whatever. I've hunted a lot, but ****, he's hunting stuff I've never even heard of. He's taken all the common stuff, like elephand, lion, leopard etc....in addition to a lot of stuff which I've never even heard of. Hence if he were to be a guide in Wyoming, he wouldn't be able to travel the world hunting, and he couldn't make the money that he makes now.

I've already detailed all of the failings of my guide in previous posts, so I won't bore you all here repeating my concerns. I've hunted a lot (out East) and backpacked extensively throughout the Rockies (although not in winter). So I believe that yes, I would be taking a risk, but what do I do when my guide can't go out for a whole day because of his own stupidity (see previous post)? I mean, they couldn't even get up on time in the early morning. They'd say, "I'll wake you at 4:00 a.m." and then nobody would wake me till 5:30 (my alarm clock broke the first day). When confronted there was always a host of excuses about who was supposed to get up first (guide vs cook vs wrangler) - I mean this went on for FIVE DAYS. They could never get it together. Every morning a new excuse. Counting the expense of my license, transportation, cost of the guided hunt, plus other miscalenous expenses, - I'm paying about $1,000.00 dollars a day! My guide couldn't hunt one day because he was sitting on his own horse and shot his gun in the air, spooked his horse and got thrown/dragged. I mean it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that shooting guns near horses MAY spook them. The next day he was too sore to hunt, so -POOF- there goes a grand, because of his stupidity.

No, I didn't speak with my outfitter. My guide was a "life long friend" of the outfitter. Hence he wasn't the least bit interested in anything I had to say about the failings of his "good buddy". He was clearly ****ed at me just because I felt dissappointed.

I'm not ****ed because my guide didn't make animals appear, I'm ****ed because I wasn't even out hunting because of his bungling. I was not looking specifically for a trophy, just a fair hunting experience.

Maybe I should book my next hunt with you, Wyo.

Ian - I realize that I'm now buying an elk, and yes UFO's was one of the excuses they used for not getting up early in the morning when they were suposed to.

I appologize if my first sentence seemed harsh.. Didin't mean for it to come off like that.
I don't know what state you hunted in but if things were honestly that bad there is a state board of outfitteres who will right a wrong. I wouldn't hessitate to contact them. You may get your money back.
I am a guide for an outfitter who leases our ranch for his outfitting operation. I can get you a quality hunt.
I will admit I am looking into my options to purchase his outfitting business. I need a partner though.
I take pride in the hunting oportunities we provide for hunters. I, as well as 90% of the guides realize this is ALOT of money for some of the guys and we break our a$$es to make it a WHOLE experience for the hunters. From the home cooked family meals in our lodge which is actually our home we open up to the hunters to use as their own, to the comfortable private cabins.
Ian is right what most people booking a hunt need to realize is that they are buying an experience not an animal. You need to be in that frame of mind. You would be amazed at what the correct mindset can achieve on a hunt. The right frame of mind 9 times outta 10 produces a quality experience and more often than not a quality animal.

Here's a general checklist for a guy wanting to book a hunt.

1. Select several outfitters who seem to be what you want.
2. Ask for references, those who killed AND those who didn't kill
3. Can ( circular file ) the outfitters who can't produce name of those who didn't kill
4. CALL ALL OF THE REFERENCES. If you're gonna sink $5000 into a hunt you can spend another $100 on a phone bill!
5. Ask all of the questions you can think of. Don't be a fraid to call a guy back.
6. Have a friend call and ask the same questions. Evaluate the answers.
7. Once you pick an outfitter call him several times befor the hunt STAY in TOUCH with him.
8. Prepare yourself, read all you can read absorb as much info on the animal you are hunting as you can. Take all the information as NOT the truth but a close estimate.
9. GET IN SHAPE, walk, walk, walk .. and NOT on FLAT surfaces.. up and down steps and hills... When that feels good put on your pack load it up then start all over!!!
10. Shoot your rifle, shoot your rifle pick a load an know it inside and out. Did I mention get in shape???
Here's a good list of questions to ask: 1)References,call previous years clients and ask "how it was". 2)how many days are firmly booked? 3)How will the actual hunting be done? On foot, horseback or bed of a pickup. will you be camped reasonably close to where you will hunt? Or spend a couple non-hunting hours a day on the road? 4. How many hunters at a time will the outfitter have? How many per guide? GET THIS ONE SPELLED OUT IN A LETTER! 5. Who supplies what gear? Do you bring your own saddle scabberd for a horse hunt? 6. Insurance Coverage?does outfitter have any? (BIG ONE!) 7. Will guide be hunting simultaneously for himself? If so who gets first shot? 8. House rules for liquer in camp? 9. What are pay terms? Non-refundable deposit, rest on start of hunt? 10. Some outfitters keep rates low by having clients help with camp chores. 11. Aside from outfitter, how good are the guides themselves? 12.What is expected in the way of tipping guides and camp staff? 13. Does outfitter have any taxidermy tie-in available? If not, is there an extra charge for crating your trophy for shipment? 14. What sort of food is offered? 15. Will there be any additional fee's for extra good trophies? sometimes assessed by landowner, not guide. Just a start, wouldn't mind seeing any added to these if anyone has any.
Good advice, we are buying a hunting experience and it is a purchase just like buying a new truck, computer or rifle scope. Some guys forget that they are NOT buying a freaking elk, they are purchasing the opportunity to hunt one and to experience a quality outing.
If killing something with a big horns on its head is all-important then the hunt-farm industry will make that happen without the individual having to raise a sweat.
We build websites for a lot of outfitters and I get to do quite a lot of hunts each year. Have been fortunate to meet and hunt with a lot of outfitters in the last few years. Most have been super individuals who want the hunter to succeed as if it was his own kid hunting. Been with a couple of losers, guys who should have had "mentally defective" tattoo'd on their foreheads, but that happens in any game.
Booking a hunt is a buyer-beware experience - you will minimize your chance of a gong-show if you do good homework. Unfortunately sometimes even the best outfitters have an off period and the hunts don't produce game.
If the guide did everything possible but the weather, game movement or UFO's resulted in no kill, the hunt can still be a complete success. Unfortunately spending big dollars on hunts drives up the need to show a tangible result - as in a rack or rug. Just getting into superb wilderness with quality people should be worth the price of admission.
Roadrunner has every reason to be ****ed-off, and if the outfitter is any good he will fix that.
Correction to my last post, should read "I realize that I'm NOT buying ..."

Wyo - No offense taken. I hunted in the great State of Wyoming. I didn't know that there was a board of outfitters, how do I get in touch with them. I guess I didn't ask for references from this guy; well that was my mistake. Getting in shape is not a problem. I hiked my guide into the ground.

Littletoes - Excellent suggestions. I'm gonna print this string off and store it in my hunting file.
Wyoming State Board of Outfitters in Cheyenne, Wyo...

Not sure of the pnone number. But I am sure they are in the directory. you the the 5551212 stuff. The number is probobly 307 777 ???? something
call them and talk to them....
The original question asked when it's time to leave your guide? Here's ten reason's I came up with off the top of my head. Don't take me too serious I'm just having a little fun here.

1. When he walks in your tent and says, "I'm going make ya squeal like a pig."
2. When he mentions he thinks Charles Manson was just a misunderstood young man that got a raw deal.
3. When he tells you, "you don't need any stinking licenses, just shoot whatever you want. We will worry about the tags after you kill something."
4. When he says, "Hey have you ever used one of these compass thingies?"
5. If he says, "Man you have a nice butt."
6. If you run out of ammo and he tells you to use his 25.06 shells in your 30.06, "cause they'll work just fine."
7. If he tells you that it's alright if you don't kill something in the day light as you can always get one later that night in the spotlight.
8. If he says, "We have special permission to hunt the park this year. Now be quiet and crawl under the fence."
9. If you notice that all the local sheep run when he is near. You should be afraid, very afraid.
10. If he talks more about UFO's, articles in National Enquirer, bad drug trips, alcholic binges, and accidents with knives or guns, than hunting.
now that was funny,,...
whats really funny is that you know somewhere that happened to someone...
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