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Thread: Questions for Alaska Hunting Guides

  1. #1
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Exclamation Questions for Alaska Hunting Guides

    This is addressed to assistant guides, registered guides, master guides and transporters who have held or currently hold a license. If that is not you, feel free to read on, but I'd like to keep this thread limited to folks who have been directly involved in the industry. I don't want this to turn into a bash-fest of guides and transporters; some of our members have done that many times elsewhere on this site. This thread is for folks in the industry, please.

    You have probably received a letter from Juneau by now, informing you of some pretty severe rate hikes being proposed. Here's an overview:

    Increase to application fee for initial license: $50 (current fee) $100 (proposed new fee)

    GMU Examination fee (per GMU): $50 (current fee) $200 (proposed new fee)

    Class A assistant and assistant guide initial license application fee: $50 (current fee) $100 (proposed new fee)

    Transporter license: $50 (current fee) $100 (proposed new fee)

    Nonresident fees: (for all license types) Double the proposed resident rate.

    While I have no problem at all with paying for the privilege of helping other hunters take game in Alaska, this one has me scratching my head. To be blunt, I don't trust the government to efficiently run this program. To whom are they accountable for the allocation of these resources? Who is watching where this money is going, and who gets to determine when enough is enough? Are these reasonable numbers, or is this yet another form of taxation, in which we have little or no say?

    My fear is that with the present economic downturn we are seeing, where many of our commercial operators are experiencing reductions in business of 30% or more, how many of them can survive these rate hikes, some of which are quadruple what was being paid before? Some of the wealthier large operations that think little of crossing many of the ethical boundaries we have discussed in these forums will have no problem taking up the slack offered by the smaller operators who go out of business. Yet many of these smaller operations are run with the highest standards of conduct; these are the very people we should be advocating for. Instead, we tax them to death.

    There is no question that the hunters themselves will pay these costs in the end, just as they always do (let's not forget that we're not only talking about guided hunters, but also anyone who uses a transporter) . So when the economy of the whole country is a mess, the State of Alaska decides to hike the rates, in some cases as much as 400%!

    What are we thinking?

    -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.
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  2. #2

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    In the old days it was $10.00 for two years. I am no longer licensed, having retired. I was licensed in about 16 units maybe 18 units. I don't have an answer. The truth is the whole industry is structured wrong. I fear that license fees are the least of the industries problems. It was never intended to function the way it does now. What is needed is a commettee of five old guides that have no current economic interest in the business, but have a full understanding of it to be charged with creating a whole new system.

  3. #3
    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Some of the wealthier large operations that think little of crossing many of the ethical boundaries we have discussed in these forums will have no problem taking up the slack offered by the smaller operators who go out of business. Yet many of these smaller operations are run with the highest standards of conduct;
    The implication of your post is the larger operators are mostly unethical, while the smaller are all good guys. I suspect that is less than completely true.
    I'm guessing your also posting from the aspect of one of those "smaller. more ethical" operators.

    When was the last time these fees were raised? I don't know, myself. I'm not sure the amounts you quoted are unreasonable, if fee's haven't been hiked in quite some time. As to basing it on the economy, any biz suffers or succeeds from bad or good economies. I'm not sure govt licensing fees should be based on the economy. What are the states costs in managing the guide license laws? That should be the determining factor. Many here thanked the lord, so to speak, when the CSB was reimplemented by Murky. Costs money to have those meetings.

    Guiding is a service industry. Guide biz fail or succeed based on the service they provide and the cost of that service. I didn't see you piping up when times were good, and fees low. Maybe fee increases are long overdue.
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  4. #4
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default well...

    MT,

    I tried to be careful with my wording and if you re-read what I said, I did NOT say that just because a guide service was large it was crossing boundaries. I also did NOT say or suggest that the smaller operators had higher ethical standards. Such claims are absurd; the size of the operation has nothing to do with it in some cases. I would say, though, that some operations have grown larger simply because they are willing to do things others are not willing to do. For example, keeping airplanes in the air every day and such. Outfits that do this have higher "success rates" as a result, and this draws hunters to them. But that is all for another thread. I think we have one for that already...

    As to the rate hikes, why is it so easy for us to accept increases of this kind, for ANY reason? Are we so trusting of our government that we believe this is appropriate? For example, just this year we have had two postal rate hikes, and are looking at a third. It would be easier to justify this if there was an increase in the services offered for this extra money. But I just dropped a package off at the Post Office today, which was going to one of our soldiers over in Iraq, and the Post Office could not tell me if it was going to take six weeks, two months, three or four months to get there! I don't trust our government to run these programs efficiently, and I have to wonder where the accountability is. Who is watching this to see that our money is not wasted?

    Anyway, my point is that we almost expect to pay more for the same thing year after year (or even to pay more for less service, as I mentioned earlier). We have become accustomed to these rate hikes, and we pass them on to our customers, but eventually we reach the ceiling and folks lose their businesses. They have done this to us so frequently that we think it's normal...

    This brings me to my final issue; is it appropriate to see such significant increases under our present economic conditions? I don't think so.

    Now, if we assume your position is correct and the new proposed rates are indeed appropriate, then what of the inefficiency of not scaling these increases incrementally over time? Why these huge increases of up to 400% and even 800% in the case of a nonresident? No, I'm not buying the idea that the state is on top of this, and that this is being handled appropriately. The proof is in the rate of increase.

    -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 AK Ray's Avatar
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    And here we all thought the State was going to let Big Oil pay for nearly all the state government forever. Times must be tough.

  6. #6
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I wish non res guideing of all kinds would got to ten or twenty thousand a pop.Glad sitting around and cooking some is still zero dollars

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    "... - ..."
    I'm not certain what the overall regulating and administrating the guiding industry cost. Certainly the administrative costs of licensing, holding public meetings, at least twice a year, testing and everything else is expensive. How those costs compare with revenues generated from licensing certainly could be learned by inquiring with the BGCS.
    How judiciously the funds are expended I don't know, however, I do know that in Fairbanks, when there was an opportunity to save a substantial amount of money regarding the location of the meetings, they (the BGCSB) immediately took advantage of the possible savings.
    Joe (Ak)

  8. #8

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    Thought these numbers might be of interest - though probably not relevant.
    In 1910 Governor Clark issued regs requiring;
    First class guides license $25.00 ($584.43)-for two years
    Second class guides $7.50 ($175.33)-for two years
    Guides could charge from no less than $5.00 (116.89) or more than $10.00 ($233.77) per day-
    Packers were to be paid $2.50 (58.44) per day and had to register their names and addresses.
    Joe (Ak)

  9. #9

    Wink

    It's been awhile, but things haven't changed much, except gotten much more expensive administratively. The cost of licensing and exams don't even put a dent in the true cost to the state. Shoot it wouldn't even cover the travel, hotel and bar tabs when the CSB meet. The fees are established, just to make sure one is serious about wanting to play the game or not. There are many on the forum, even some of the faired haired ones that are constantly arguing for fee increases in the hunt/fish arena and they seem to garner a fair amount of support in doing so. Taxation? Yes, absolutely. That is what government is all about. This is why it has been awhile!
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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I always wished they would have a land use lincenes.Anyone who picked berrys or looked at birds or camped in the woods would have to have one even if it was just five or ten bucks a year. If you had a hunting lincenes you wouldn't need it.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amigo Will View Post
    I always wished they would have a land use lincenes.Anyone who picked berrys or looked at birds or camped in the woods would have to have one even if it was just five or ten bucks a year. If you had a hunting lincenes you wouldn't need it.
    I too have wished for this. I have been in meetings where it came up, but the old argument was always "there is a difference between a consumptive user and a non-consumptive user". Well.....given the low percentages of those that actually consume nowdays as hunters, I think their argument is moot. It is too the point where it might just fly, if enough were to persue it, in court.
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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Where would this money go? If into the general fun, I wouldn't be too excited about it...but if this money goes to ADF&G, I'd be more likely to be in favor of such a cost hike. I am no guide and don't really know how this would affect their operations, but in general I would like to see an increase in license and tag fees so that ADF&G can get adequate funding.

  13. #13
    Member sharksinthesalsa's Avatar
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    Default i for one

    have not decided whether or not i will re-new my assistant guide license.....325 dollars is a little steep....i haven't even used it for two years and the only reason i paid up then was just in case my one registered guide friend really needed help....i had given up pursuing a registered license after all the changes a few years ago which basically made the whole game cut-throat where now as an assistant guide you get looked at crossways by a registered who hires you because he thinks your just racking up days in his unit so you can get your registered and take over his spot.....i am all for the hunting concessions where a guide has to farm his animals.....thats just about the one thing canada has gotten right...plus its much more fun to hunt for myself and with my family and friends
    "early to bed, early to rise, fish like hell, and make up lies"

  14. #14
    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Not sure of the relevency, but some commercial fisheries permits are as much as $3000 per year. Makes the proposed big game guide increased costs seem fairly minor. I think the proposed assistant guide fees are less than a commercial fisheries crew member license at least for nonresidents.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by wantj43 View Post
    Thought these numbers might be of interest - though probably not relevant.
    In 1910 Governor Clark issued regs requiring;
    First class guides license $25.00 ($584.43)-for two years
    Second class guides $7.50 ($175.33)-for two years
    Guides could charge from no less than $5.00 (116.89) or more than $10.00 ($233.77) per day-
    Packers were to be paid $2.50 (58.44) per day and had to register their names and addresses.
    Joe (Ak)
    Are the numbers in parentheses adjusted for inflation?
    "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."

  16. #16
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default not in the industry...

    ...so I won't comment on specifics.

    However, the BGCSB is lacking funds and I would imagine this rate increase is to better fund the BGCSB and any other guide concession program that may happen down the line. It is my understanding that guide and transporter fees go to fund specific guide and transporter programs and oversight.

    Also, since the head of the guide lobby, Bobby Fithian, told ex-Gov Palin's staff last year that one of the reasons the guide concession program had to go through was because guides were causing "biological harm" to Alaska's wildlife populations...it could be this is also an effort to decrease the number of guides by imposing higher rates. "Could be" being the operative term.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackfoot View Post
    Are the numbers in parentheses adjusted for inflation?
    Yes - Converted using a website found with a google search.
    Joe ( (Ak)

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    ...so I won't comment on specifics.

    "...Also, since the head of the guide lobby, Bobby Fithian, told ex-Gov Palin's staff last year that one of the reasons the guide concession program had to go through was because guides were causing "biological harm" to Alaska's wildlife populations...it could be this is also an effort to decrease the number of guides by imposing higher rates. "Could be" being the operative term.
    It is truly amazing how quickly and the "conclusions" some can jump to with a little hear-say information. The willingness to use names in this connotation could be suggestive of the individual's actual attitude towards certain issues. "Could be", in this situation is not the "operative" term.
    You never seem to miss an opportunity to "slam" the guiding industry - though granted - usually through some attempt to use seemingly innocuous innuendos. Does the guiding industry have issues - absolutely - but rather "hiding" behind the hear-say statements so often used - take the time to learn what the issues are; what attempts have been and are being attempted to resolve them.
    Joe (Ak)


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    I've let my assistant guide license lapse and PART of that is due to the cost

    But overall I think the cost of licensing is way way down the list of concerns for the industry

  20. #20
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Bump

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Want
    You never seem to miss an opportunity to "slam" the guiding industry - though granted - usually through some attempt to use seemingly innocuous innuendos. Does the guiding industry have issues - absolutely - but rather "hiding" behind the hear-say statements so often used - take the time to learn what the issues are; what attempts have been and are being attempted to resolve them.
    Joe (Ak)


    Joe, I've spent quite a bit of time learning what the issues are and the attempts to resolve them. Not hiding behind hearsay at all.

    So if guides like Mike Strahan really want to get down to the nitty gritty to answer the questions, here on a public forum viewable by anyone, well here's something to consider:
    "Currently, overcrowding of guides on State lands combined with decreasing wildlife populations is stimulating social disorder between hunter user groups and biological harm to our wildlife which leads to establishment of the restrictive drawing permit hunts. This is especially so in South-Central AK which is the venue for the next Board of Game meeting....

    It is vitally important the Board of Game, the public and the guide industry know that the Guide Concession program has the support it needs to be established in a timely manner. DNR had requested a $200K budget request for this project that eventually came through at $50K.
    " - APHA exec director Bobby Fithian Dec 2008 in letter to ex-Gov Palin's chief of staff.

    And if Mike S and others in the industry really want more answers about further rate increases, here is the rest of Fithian's letter that speaks to how the guide concession program will operate and be funded:
    "There have been approximately 225 guide business opportunities developed on State lands. Mimimum fee requirements for participation in these opportunities is going to be $1,000 per year. Additional renumeration will be part of the selection process but will not be scored over 15% of the total criteria points. What this shows is annual revenue generation of at least 225K and probably 300-400K. The need for support now is jumpstarting the program.

    Please help us if you can, or suggest our options at this time to develop additional funding."

    Again, I've spent quite a bit of time learning what the actual issues are and the political machinations behind the attempts to resolve them. Mike S is concerned about a $50 increase in his guide license fee, wondering where that money even goes. How about having to pay at least $1,000 more though, Mike, beyond guide license fee increase, for the opportunity and privilege to guide on state lands?

    Just to be clear, I'm attempting to inform, not bash. I firmly believe the head of the guide lobby, Bobby Fithian, has the best interests of the guiding profession and our wildlife and resident opportunity in mind. Having said that, though, I pay attention to how something new and different will be funded and what it may end up costing guides and how it will affect so many of the small time ethical guides I am lucky to have as friends. I think the increase in guide license fees is in part a way for the industry to show it will ante up more money to fund oversight and any guide programs.

    Back to hunting tomorrow. Best to all,


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