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Thread: becoming a hunting guide

  1. #1
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    Apr 2006

    Default becoming a hunting guide

    I was wondering how old you have to be to be able to get your assistant guide licence and how do you get it?

  2. #2
    Member kahahawai's Avatar
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    Feb 2007

    Default Guides

    I'm surprized you haven't got any responses yet. However, I do have a question to add to that: Is it true that most of the Dall sheep hunting guides, that guide in AK live in the lower 48? I've been told that by a few people, to include a friend that has been a FNAWS member for quite some time...wouldn't that affect our local guides whose trying to make a living up here?

  3. #3
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Apr 1999
    Anchorage, Alaska

    Default Guide regulations

    Thanks for the question.

    The requirements to become an Assistant Guide are contained in the guide regulations, produced by the state of Alaska. HERE'S THE LINK to those regulations.

    Here is a quote of the section outlining the requirements to become an Assistant Guide:

    Sec. 08.54.630. ASSISTANT GUIDE LICENSE.

    (a) A natural person is entitled to an assistant guide license if the person

    (1) is 18 years of age or older;

    (2) has legally hunted big game in the state during two calendar years;

    (3) possesses a first aid card issued by the Red Cross or a similar organization;

    (4) either
    (A) obtains a written recommendation from a registered guide-outfitter who intends to employ the person
    as an assistant guide; or
    (B) provides evidence that the person passed an assistant guide training course approved by the board; and

    (5) applies for an assistant guide license on a form provided by the department and pays the license application fee and the license fee.

    (b) An assistant guide
    (1) may not contract to guide or outfit a big game hunt;
    (2) shall be employed by a registered guide-outfitter and under the supervision of a registered guide-outfitter or class-A assistant guide while the assistant guide is in the field on guided hunts; and
    (3) may not take charge of a camp or provide guide services unless the contracting registered guide-outfitter is in the field and participating in the contracted hunt or a registered guide-outfitter or class-A assistant guide employed by the contracting guide is physically present and supervising the hunt.

    Hope it helps!

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  4. #4
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Paradise (Alaska)

    Default becoming a guide...

    bboy....on becoming a licensed assistant guide...feel free to PM me if you are interested in working for a guide-outfitter sometime in the future. I believe you could also contact any of the other guides that contibute to this forum, or Mike S. and obtain additional, useful information concerning involvement in the guide-outfitter industry. Almost everybody, at one time or another, has thought about becoming a guide in Alaska. Most everyone wants to...but few have the time...the time during May, Aug, Sep, or Oct to dedicate to the business.

    Kahahawai...concerning sheep guides being nonresidents....I have some statistics for the year 2006. These stats were released by the Big Game Commercial Services Board.

    Assistant Guides- Total # licensees = 1239
    Resident Assistant Guides = 751
    Nonresidents Assistant Guides = 486
    Nonresident Alien Assist Guides = 2

    Registered Guide-Outfitters- Total # licensees= 536
    Resident Registered Guide-Outfitters = 473
    Nonresident Registered Guide-Outfitter = 63

    Master Guide-Outfitter- Total # licensees = 109
    Resident Master Guides = 101
    Nonresident Master Guides = 8

    Please remember that this list, the numbers of licensees, was compiled for the year 2006, so todays number of licensees will be a bit different. And they are not just sheep guides.

    But clearly, most guides are not nonresidents.

    So why does the rumor persist that "most guides are nonresidents"? Because the "experts" that believe most guides in Alaska are nonresidents do not let facts confuse their beliefs. And they probably have not spent any significant time in a guide camp or involved in the guide-outfitter business.

    Dennis B.
    Alaska True Adventure Guide Service

  5. #5
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    Lets also remember that a bunch of those licensed assistant guides never go in the field even though they have a license. Plus, many of those guys are trying out the hunting guide thing and move up here when they decide to actually get their registered guide license. Being an assistant guide is a tough way to make a living. I know quite a few assistant guides, and like many registered guides also, they have other jobs when they are not hunting. Some decide to hunt all year round and take jobs in other states like Texas that have much broader seasons and this allows them to guide for more days of the year. I have no beef at all with non-resident guides.

  6. #6
    Member Alasken's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Eastern Oregon

    Default what the......?

    Quote Originally Posted by kahahawai View Post
    I'm surprized you haven't got any responses yet. However, I do have a question to add to that: Is it true that most of the Dall sheep hunting guides, that guide in AK live in the lower 48? I've been told that by a few people, to include a friend that has been a FNAWS member for quite some time...wouldn't that affect our local guides whose trying to make a living up here?
    Not only does your post not contribute at all to the question asked by bboy, your question(s) are going to turn this into another non-resident guide, and probably resident guide bashing extravaganza.

    Thanks Dennis for saying what you did.
    Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.
    - Frank Zappa

  7. #7
    Member gusuk1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Portage Creek,ALASKA

    Default may want to test the waters

    bboy,as stated you have to have hunted in the state prior to a guide hiring you,one might look into working for someone that would give you the chance to do this,are you an alaskan? if not you might think about sighning on as a packer.i have had a few guy's come through me and start them off with the fishing season and that way we see if things work out.may have have a need for a grunt for the fishing season if interisted you can pm me. as far as the stats on non re-res anyone with the right address can be consider a res guide as i see it.

  8. #8
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Paradise (Alaska)

    Default guide skills


    Just a few more thoughts, in no paticular order, on becoming a guide in, in addition to learning how to hunt....

    Learn to cook. Learn to cook great meals on a camp stove. Learn to enjoy it.

    Learn to clean pots, pans and dishes, even if you do not enjoy it.

    Learn field taxidermy skills. Learn to properly cape a ram. Learn the proper cuts for a bear rug. Learn how to efficiently flest a bear and how to properly work on ears, noses, eyes, lips and bear paws. When your taxidermist says "You cape/skin just like a guide" he really is not complimenting you. Learn to cape and skin really efficiently, better than a guide. Learn by adopting a taxidermist and spending your free time there working for free.

    Gun safety. Shocking how some guys handle their rifles. Its as if they have no understanding how fast your blood or my blood would flush out of the wounds caused by large caliber high velosity guns. Adopt a good gun safety briefing and insist on it.

    Learn something about guns, gunsmithing, and scope mounting. Again, its startling to have clients come into camp with guns not shot in the last several years, or with brittle wood srews cross-threaded through their scope mounts. (Saw it happen-no lie.)

    Learn proper shooting positions practical for field conditions. Some hunters have never shot their new gun from anything other than the rifle rest/bench at the local range.

    Learn something about down range bullit performance. Again, some clients have only shot at the local range and then only from 100 measured yards away.

    Purchase great optics.

    Learn to fly now, so in 10 or 20 years you will have enough experience to keep yourself and client hunters alive while flying out in the bush. ITS ALSO THE PRIMARY SKILL NECESSARY TO EVER BECOME REALLY FINANCIALLY SUCCESSFUL. Otherwise, without flying skills, you will remain a small guide service forever, which really is great. But somtimes I think making "lots of money" would be better than making "some money".

    Get a good wife. Obtain a wife who understands that your passion for guiding and living like a caveman exceeds your desire to sleep in her warm bed. My advise is to start them young before they learn that they really do control most of what you will ever do. And never, ever tell her how much tip money you get. Sometimes the tip money will add up to more than you might earn. If you tell her how much your tip money amounts too, then you will get to share your tip money. Also, note that some spouses really hate that their husband have a passion for guiding or anything besides thenselves. More guides leave the business because of their spouse than for any other single reason.

    Get or find a good health care team for your back. After hauling 140 pound moose hind-quarters and 200 pound raw bear pelts you will need a good doctor and physical therapist. And you will always remember how happy the client hunter was when you finish hiking in all ten pack-loads of moose, including those 80 pound antlers that you legally transported last.

    Find a good boss at your normal job. Find one that will rehire you after you have been gone, probably earning less money, for the last two months. Note that many, most, normal job employers don't hunt much and really hate that you love another job/carreer. I found a great job that that provides me with a lay-off each fall, but my current boss does not understand the joy and passion of hunting and guiding, so I do not get to brag about myself at work anymore.

    So if your interested in an entry level position (camp boy-packer-assistant guide) in the guide business-then thats great and grand. Regardless of whatever you do for the rest of your life, you will always know that your greatest days on earth were the days you were guiding. Seriously, its hard for me to explain why I get so much satisfaction when a client-hunter whacks a ram or a brown bear...but each time, its the greatest moment of his life, and my life!

    well...just a few notes, opinions...from Dennis/AK TAGS

  9. #9
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Big Lake


    HA i like you dennis!
    Master guide 212

  10. #10


    I'm not a guide and frankly don't have the gumption to become one. But I spend a heck of a lot of time in the hills and count several guides among my closest friends and hunting companions. From the angle of "outsider" looking in, I think I can offer useful observations to support of Dennis' points.

    I DO know business, and if you're going to become a guide you're also going to become a businessman. There's a useful rule of thumb about businesses including the guiding business. Tatoo this on your forehead so you see it every morning when you look in the mirror:

    A guiding business is 5% guiding and 95% business.

    If you don't love and get good at all the other things required to give you those precious hours in the field with clients, guiding isn't for you. The "romance" of guiding is dandy, but the other 95% of your life needed to support it is pure hard work that's often really, really boring compared to the excitement of a successful hunt.

  11. #11

    Default Good Post

    AlaskaTrueAdventure's post was right on. Good post.
    Marc Theiler

  12. #12

    Default Additional experience

    I know quite a few guides, and used to have an assistant guide license just for the few times that one of my friends needed some help. I was always too busy hunting myself to guide fulltime. Dennis is right on the money. If you are still serious about guiding, then I would recommend you try to get a job on a Bristol Bay or Yakutat set net site. It seems like all my guide buddies who started out young, moved to Alaska at about 19, got a fishing job and then started out as packers. Bristol Bay and Yakutat are both remote locations were you can begin building your reputation. BTW, your reputation from that first year will follow you the rest of your life up here, so you will want to do a good job and keep a good attitude.


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