by Barbara Baird - Monday, July 29, 2013
With more women hunting and sometimes going into “no-man’s land” with a hunting guide, usually male, it’s essential to find an outfitter who will work with you to make your hunt not only successful, but tolerable. We decided to find out what women hunters want and expect from a professional guide.
We asked some of the country’s top female hunters to reveal what they like and what they don’t like, based on their past experiences. Maybe these stories and their advice will help you when you book your next hunt.
Of course, we asked “The First Lady of Hunting,” aka Brenda Valentine, first. As a spokesperson for the National Wild Turkey Federation and a member of Bass Pro Shops’ Redhead National Pro-Hunting team, this woman has proved her mettle afield, and shows us time and time again as she co-hosts Bass Pro Shops’ Real Hunting TV show.
Brenda looks for these qualities in a guide:
She listed five things that totally turned her off to past guides:
One of her favorite guides, Don, exhibits all the “great guide” qualities she listed above. She said, “He is the softest spoken, most patient fella I know,” she said. “He has foregone supper and sleep to help me track a deer in the dark through the worst briar tangles imaginable. We were both exhausted, bleeding with our clothes ripped, yet he celebrated my taking a fine buck as if it were his first.” In fact, Brenda chose the photo of the two of them together to represent herself in this article.
Nightmare in the Canadian Woods
There’s always one bad egg, and Brenda suffered from this rotten one’s lack of attention in Northern Alberta on a whitetail hunt. Brenda reports that a guide dropped her off two hours before daylight, minus zero degrees. With no cell service, and it rapidly approaching midnight, with wolves howling and the stale bologna sandwich gone, Brenda thought, “I will be here all night and frozen stiff by morning.” When her “guide” arrived, he announced that he’d forgotten about her!
As the editor of Turkey Country magazine, the flagship publication for the National Wild Turkey Federation, Karen Lee gets invited to more hunts annually than she can take. You would think that hosting the press would mean she always has a superb experience, but you’ll be surprised when you see what has happened to her.
Here’s what Karen looks for in a good guide:
And then, there’s the turn-off list;
To offset #3 above, Karen said, “I'm up front about my experience, my expectations, what I'm there to accomplish, and that sets the tone for a good time.”
“What just happened?”
Karen recalled an experience that she never would have dreamed would happen while hunting. She said, “I got spanked. Seriously. But it was kind of funny how it happened. I finally killed a difficult turkey after a long, exhausting hunt. My guide (who is old enough to be my dad) was so excited, he just couldn't stand it. I fell to the ground in pure relief, and when I turned over to get back up, I felt a whack on my hindside. I don't believe the guide even realized he did it. I was in shock, then had to just laugh. I didn't want to kill the moment by making it awkward.”
She added, “I have to go on record (half joking/half serious), this does not give any of my future guides license to hit me on the butt.”
As co-host of The Crush, one of the Outdoor Channel’s most popular TV shows, Tiffany Lakosky hunts the world with her husband, Lee.
Here’s what she looks for in a guide:
“We don't do on a ton of guided hunts, but the ones we do go on are usually for elk, mule deer, bear and most recently sheep and goats. Some of these hunts can be terribly grueling and downright hard. You may be socked-in due to weather for days, so personality can make a huge difference,” said Tiffany.
It’s rare that the Lakoskys get paired with a poor guide, as you can imagine. One does come to mind, though, and Tiffany reported, “One I can remember was a gentleman that was a drinker, stayed out late, overslept in the mornings and obviously had no idea what was going on in his camp. He was also the owner.”
When Tiffany and Lee show up, so does their camera crew. Good behavior is expected and recorded for posterity. Tiffany appreciates the bonding that occurs after spending time together on hunts. She said, “It really is a team effort and success when we are out there.”
When asked to relate a bad experience, Tiffany said, “I wish I had a story for you in regard to this, but I really don't. Everyone has always been awesome; however, I'm always there with my husband and two to four cameramen that would have no tolerance for behavior like that with me or any other female in camp. I do remember years ago at a bear camp where another male hunter had a fit because I was wearing pink sweatpants, and said it wasn't appropriate in camp. … About six other guys jumped on his comment and he just avoided me the rest of the hunt.”
Realtree’s blogger Stephanie Mallory keeps tabs on the wild and weird news of the outdoors for the popular camo company’s publication online. She also writes for a variety of outdoor magazines and runs a communications company. So, she’s been on many guided hunts.
Here’s what she hopes for in a new guide when she arrives at her hunting destination:
Here’s the bad and the ugly that has happened to her.
One of her favorite times occurred when a guide took her arrowhead hunting after she’d tagged a turkey. She said, “He knew I loved to do that sort of thing. He went above and beyond the call of duty.”
Stephanie detailed an experience that she calls “funny,” but some women might call insulting in a Realtree article. She wrote, “Let me qualify this by saying, it takes a lot to offend, embarrass or anger me, but Billy Bob manages to do all of the above in one day. We’re walking down the dirt road to our hunting local when all the sudden Billy Bob stops. Has he heard a gobbler? I stop to listen as well. But it’s not a gobbler I hear. No, instead I hear the zipper on Billy Bob’s pants. He’s actually peeing right in front of me. I turn briskly and walk ahead, assuming he’s simply a little rough around the edges…nothing I can’t handle.”
Out hunting at least 140 days last year, producer and co-host of television shows for North American Hunter, including Winchester Deadly Passion, Melissa Bachman interacts with guides in front of and behind the camera.
She admires these qualities in a guide:
Unfortunately, not all her guides have measured up. Here’s what she’s experienced afield that ranks not-so-good:
Melissa almost gave up what would become a dream hunt in Illinois, when the airlines busted her bow case, mangled her bow and lost her warm clothing. She said, “I was ready to just call it quits, but my guide convinced me to go to the local bow shop, fix up my bow and gave me some warm clothes to get through the cold first evening sit.”
She recalled the scene: “After a couple hours into the sit, the field starting filling with deer and to my amazement a giant buck stepped out. After watching this deer for over 40 minutes, I saw a pack of coyotes chase him within bow range. The guide was filming the hunt for me and I was lucky enough to take my biggest buck to date—a 202-inch whitetail with my bow.”
Melissa noted that was her 46th day hunting Illinois. She said, “If it weren’t for my guide that day, I would have stayed in. But, a few words of encouragement got me out on stand and the buck of a lifetime!”
Melissa’s experience proves that we need to be vigilant about our electronics and what we leave behind while we’re out—especially password unprotected. She said, “On a trip a few years back, I came to find out that while I was out hunting, there was someone in camp going through my personal items in my bag and also on my laptop. When I found out, I was very upset and felt violated. This was something that turned a good hunting trip into a bad experience very quickly.”
As the CEO of Próis Hunting & Field Apparel for Women, Kirstie Pike lives to hunt and try out her latest designs of athletic and functional clothing for women who hunt.
Here’s what she likes:
And here’s what Kirstie doesn’t like:
Cooler Packing 101
Kirstie recently returned from a dream turkey hunt. But, she has had her nightmares, too. After leaving Kirstie in a box blind, alone and sans communication until 9:30 p.m., her guide packed all her hog and turkey meat into the same cooler—unwrapped, no ice. She said, “It was just a bunch of combined, bloody meat.”
What to Ask When Booking a Hunt
If you want to find out about the outfitters, ask these questions, according to Mia Anstine, owner and guide at Wolf Creek Outfitters. Mia and her husband, Hank Anstine, offer private land hunting in southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico.
What do you look for in a guide? Share your best and worst hunting guide stories with us in the comments section below!
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