View Poll Results: Name the most important aspects in your choice of an Alaska hunting guide

Voters
93. You may not vote on this poll
  • Reputation as posted on online rating sites

    22 23.66%
  • Referrals from past clients (how do you find past clients)?

    57 61.29%
  • Age / experience of guides

    17 18.28%
  • Quality of camps & food

    13 13.98%
  • Condition / quality of provided gear

    16 17.20%
  • Guide's longevity in that location

    26 27.96%
  • Number of hunters in camp

    23 24.73%
  • Pre-hunt communication from guide

    43 46.24%
  • Quantity or variety of game sighted by previous hunters

    23 24.73%
  • Size of animals taken by previous hunters

    19 20.43%
Multiple Choice Poll.
Results 1 to 19 of 19

Thread: Questions for Guided Hunters (or those who want to be)

  1. #1
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    5,761

    Default Questions for Guided Hunters (or those who want to be)

    Hi folks,

    In an effort to make portions of this site more useful for folks who are hiring a guide for their Alaska hunt, I thought a series of posts intended to dialogue directly with them would be useful. This is the first of a series of threads designed to collect information we can use to help out our guided hunters.

    This thread is not intended for commentary on Alaska's guide service, the legal aspects of guiding, the politics or anything else other than dialogue with hunters who are using or intend to use a commercial hunting guide in Alaska. All unrelated comments will be deleted.

    The question for this poll is this: How do you figure out what guide service you will hire for your hunt? Please feel free to mention aspects not covered by the poll. Poll results are confidential, so your name will not be associated with your selections. Choose all that are applicable. And of course we welcome your comments in this thread, as they relate directly to the question at hand.

    Thanks for your help!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  2. #2
    Member scott_rn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    power commuting twixt the valley and anchorage
    Posts
    802

    Default

    My sheep hunting partner (without a tag) this year is a nonresident who will be hunting sheep in 2015. He also told me he chose his guide based on word of mouth recommendations and that previous clients had harvested 11 and 12 year old rams.
    My only gear sponsor is the salvation army - Dick Griffith

  3. #3
    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Beaver Fork
    Posts
    3,853

    Default

    Might want to add "Is your Alaskan Guide also an Alaskan Resident?" to the checklist......
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

  4. #4
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    5,761

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaHippie View Post
    Might want to add "Is your Alaskan Guide also an Alaskan Resident?" to the checklist......
    Hi Mike,

    You might re-read the original post, as it addresses this issue with the following verbiage:

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    ...Please feel free to mention aspects not covered by the poll.
    Our poll software only allows 10 choices, and since there are many more than 10 factors, I was hoping hunters would include those in their post.

    I hope that's clear?

    -mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  5. #5
    Member hodgeman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Delta Junction AK
    Posts
    4,036

    Default

    My single instance in hiring a guide was based on the fact the guide lives in the area he guides and has done so for 20 years. Of course the guide is in Namibia but the principle is the same. I want a guide who has significant experience in the area and lives there on a full time basis in as much as that's practical. No replacement for local knowledge- that's exactly what I'm paying him/her for.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

  6. #6

    Default

    Talking with past clients is a good way I believe. Also talking with the outfitter and getting a feel of his or her operation is invaluable too.

  7. #7
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    5,761

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleddog View Post
    Talking with past clients is a good way I believe. Also talking with the outfitter and getting a feel of his or her operation is invaluable too.
    Sleddog,

    How are you able to find past clients? Do you go with references they supply, or do you go to sites like this or others, looking for past clients?

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Sleddog,

    How are you able to find past clients? Do you go with references they supply, or do you go to sites like this or others, looking for past clients?

    -Mike
    Mike,
    Mostly I go with references the outfitter supplies. Most outfitters have quite a few listed. I think the better outfitters have references of clients that did not "catch" what they went for as well as clients that did.
    Repeat clients are a good sign in my book as well.
    A tool that I believe you get great feed back from hunters on outfitters is a publication ( I am not sure if I can say on here) that publishes reports(good and bad) with all parties able to weigh in. You can read numerous reports on most outfitters and it helps with the decision making process.
    I think forums like this help. I do like to read all views, But I am not sure I would base a decision on an outfitter off a forum only.

    Bob

    Bob

  9. #9
    New member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    8

    Default

    As someone who has gone on a few guided trips I can tell you the first thing I do is call the reference list as this is "as good as it gets" no one on the reference list usually gives a bad review. Then I do a google search for the outfitters reviews from independent sites where the good is mixed in with the bad. I find these sites give a more realistic picture of what you are getting into. Also taking it all in with a grain of salt.

    Second is outfitter communication, if they are hard to get a hold of or non responsive its a no go for sure.

    Third is average trophy quality and game numbers in the area

    Fourth it is put in black and white on paper what is included and what isnt so there is no negotiating in the field.

    Fifth since I have been over sold on hunts before, I only pay a base fee and shoot everything on trophy fee. Most outfitters will accomodate me on this and those that dont I walk. I am not picky or hold out for the next record book animal I just want to have opportunity and find this works best

    6th - If your going to charge me big $$ for a hunt I expect more than a wall mart tent, no chairs and and mountain house for 10 days. I expect value for my money. Making a living for a year off of four hunts is not reasonable so price accordingly

  10. #10
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Eagle River, AK
    Posts
    7

    Default

    My first guided hunt was for Sheep in AK. Should have been a dream, "once in a lifetime" hunt, right? Turned out to be life threatening (even more than a normal sheep hunt) ordeal. It started when I booked with one guide 18 mos. in advance and he bailed in June before an August hunt. I panicked and believed it when a guy from N. Pole told me he luckily had a "cancellation". I find out after he has my $ that he can't bend his right knee and his left hip is bone on bone! I should have checked him out but he's got my $ now "so I takes my chances". It ends with the horse that he's been beating for 9 days rearing back and falling on top of the "guide" and stomping him. I truly thought this low life would be spitting up foamy blood when the horse finally got off him! No such luck. In between I spent several nights in my tent with a loaded gun and unsheathed knife because I didn't know what this worthless ********* might do. Bottom line: Do your research and don't rush into anything. Check references and all the resources available. When I booked this hunt I was a NR and had to have a guide. Even now as a resident I use a guide for sheep. I have been lucky to find a wonderful young (25 y.o.) man with a lifetime of experience in AK that runs as good an outfit as the other guy's was bad. There are many exceptional guides in AK that do absolutely everything in their power do provide you with a wonderful hunt. Unfortunately there a lot who just want your money and my experience is that the state does little to weed out the bad ones. The first "guide" had 20+ years of experience, the young one has been a guide for 6 years so I'm not sure how much stock to put in length of guiding. Guiding in AK is a TOUGH business and very few ever get rich at it but I suspect there are many who burn out. Do your research and you can expect to have the time of your life.

  11. #11

    Default

    Anybody who isn't checking at least 66% of the boxes is ignoring a lot of factors. I've been on some very good guided hunts, and I've been disappointed to the point of wanting to physically assault a terrible outfitter. There's no point going into the details of what happened, but suffice to say that I was victimized by my own eagerness to hunt on short notice while listening to voices I should have ignored.

    Most important to me is a referral from someone I know and trust. I could care less about outfitter-supplied references, as I know they will almost always paint a fine picture. When someone I know and trust tells me an outfitter is good, I'm far more likely to use him. I find most of my referrals through the members of organizations I belong to.

    Communication is paramount when building trust and rapport. If I can't talk, or if I get brushed aside by an outfitter or other service, I'm very unlikely to use them ever. I've experienced that on multiple hunts, and it frankly disgusts me. Talk with me and answer my questions or I'll be hunting with someone who will.

    Age, longevity and overall experience DO matter. I'm over half-a-hundred years old as are many others, and I've seen/done a lot. I have certain preferences and expectations. I don't hunt for the same reasons I did at age 18, and I don't want an 18 year old guide taking me out. I want a peer if you will...someone who is nearer my age and understands my philosophies on hunting. The more he's seen and done, the better for me. He's wise and knows I'm in no rush to find a pot of gold....I'll take the rainbow today and be happy. So will my guide.

    I doubt if I'll ever find an outfitter through online dating .... but I'll use the web to check him out. Ratings mean almost nothing to me. It's akin to looking at restaurant or hotel ratings. Again: what means the most is when a guy I know stands in front of me, looks me in the eye, and tells me that a certain outfitter is simply as good as it gets....THAT outfitter will be a strong candidate for my dollar and desires. I will always do as much as I can to avoid risk when it comes to selecting an outfitter.

  12. #12
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    5,761

    Default

    Giving this thread a bump as I would like to do something with the information, but the sample size is too small. I can certainly see a trend here, but would also like input from a few more folks who haven't seen this thread. How about it, folks?

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  13. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Palmer
    Posts
    338

    Default

    I would never go hunting with someone named Mike!

  14. #14

    Default

    Interesting poll/thread.

    Being as I've hunted locally for years I never experienced working with guides/outfitters/transporters, but have in the last few years as I shifted focus of areas.

    Am I the only one experiencing transporters/other that seem to prefer working with out of state clients? The last few I have talked to have either told me that directly, or hinted at it. The guy in Mcgrath flat out told me that he preferred out of staters... as they have less problem with the fees. Vanessa with 40 mile told me the bunk house was full last year, and was reserved for "high dollar clients"..(it was empty and three guys paying the same thing I was paying) were staying there from Pennsylvania. And today a guy I was emailing when he found out I was from Alaska went from send me a fee to hold to "we are full for 2015".... but may have a cancellation.

    I guess out of staters make better clients. They come once then leave. But it's an interesting dynamic.

    For the record, I've twice approached Mike(the site owner), and found him over the top helpful. He seems to go out of his way to be helpful. Good opportunity the say thanks Mike, for the individual help, as well for the great site here...

  15. #15
    Member 4merguide's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
    Posts
    9,545

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by anchorrivercrowds View Post
    I guess out of staters make better clients. They come once then leave....
    Until next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, etc... If some rich guy has a good hunt there's a real good chance that he'll come back to that service again and again for many years. And when there's some big bucks being thrown around then the guide no doubt will cater to him over folks he doesn't know....resident or non.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  16. #16
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    N. California
    Posts
    45

    Default

    This is a good topic, as I'm sure there are many out of state hunters that go through this issue. I made the decision based on many discussions before booking, and had a few changes occur 3 weeks prior to the hunt. This should have been a red-flag, but I was eager to get on the mountain. As it turned out, the assistant guide was absolutely not well prepared. The outfitter/guide is a stand-up guy, but the operation was marginal at best. I learned more after the first time out from referrals and recommendations, meeting folks at shows, and then selected another area with a long-standing guide. Better experience overall, with a far better guide.

  17. #17
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Big Lake
    Posts
    8,110

    Default

    Mike I'll weigh in a few examples I've been told first hand about booking hunts b
    Several clients booked soley from seeing s outfitters name is a high profile outdoor magazine...no references or anything. Good enough for me they said.
    Others have booked hunts with outfitters because they don't drink or smoke...perhaps a bad experience at another outfit before has burned them to booking a hunt in a environment like that. They also said that a non smoking camp smells better.

    It seems that some things are deal breakers that wouldn't often be considered based on a potential clients past experiences.
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
    Master guide 212

  18. #18
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Willow, AK
    Posts
    3,285

    Default

    One thing I hear a lot from clients that makes a hunt go bad is physical condition of guide. Guide needs to be in condition to meet demands of the hunt he is guiding. I also hear of guides overselling hunt quality. Its important to the hunter to have a good idea going in what realistic game numbers and quality are going to be. I do a lot of hunts where we may only see 1 target animal in 10 days, but chances are it will be very high quality. A client, knowing that in advance, will still book the hunt if presented right by the booking person. On the other hand, if client expects to see multiple criitters, on a daily basis, and doesnt, he may consider his hunt to be a bust, even if he rnds up successful. The last thing I would mention from my clients has been work ethic. If the guide hustles and is always trying, they understand hunting is that, and not always killing. These are things its sort of tough to narrow down and assess before booking, but I think client and peer referrals can be a good tool.

  19. #19
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    440

    Default

    When I guided most of my perspective clients contacted my referrals which were all previous hunting clients. This was important to them and on their dime they could call the previous client and ask any questions about me, the camp, opportunities to take game, game taken, logistics and all of the events that make up a successful hunt. I learned early on in my career that people hunting for a bargain by adding more people to the hunt than would work out etc. were to be left strictly alone. All in all those situations were a "good deal" for no one. I'm retired now after 10-years operating my own business and 8-years previous working as an assistant all over the state.

    I believe one qualification to being an Alaskan big game hunting or fishing guide is that they live in and call Alaska their home and main residence. However, for some quirk counter to common sense this is not legally the case.
    That country was so hungry even the ravens were packin' a lunch.... HUNGRY I tell ya'!!

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •