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What Do Women Want in a Hunting Guide?

We asked some of the country’s top female hunters to reveal what they like and what they don’t like in a guide, based on their past experiences. See what Melissa Bachman, Tiffany Lakosky, Brenda Valentine and more had to say on the subject.

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.

Brenda Valentine
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:

  1. Good judgment in all situations.

  2. Knowledge and experience on the particular property.

  3. Respect for me, the environment, wildlife, other hunters and himself.

  4. Complete knowledge of all local game laws.

  5. An upbeat attitude that lasts even when things go “south.”

She listed five things that totally turned her off to past guides:

  1. Constantly dropping the F-bomb to see if I would cringe.

  2. Trying to impress me with his looks or past experience. I don't care how far you can shoot or how many animals you have on the wall, buddy. This is my hunt.

  3. Repeatedly comparing me to his wife or putting her down because she doesn't hunt. It is her choice and you are the one that married her. I don't want to hear how much you wish you had a woman like me.

  4. Walking too fast for me to keep up, then smirking about it has caused me to straighten out more than one guide. I tell them to run right on ahead, but nothing is going to happen until I get there since I'm the one with gun.

  5. Arriving to a filthy camp with lazy guides watching videos and drinking beer with no offer to help me unload gear, sight-in bows/guns, find a bed or a bite to eat.

Brenda Valentine and Don, a farm manager and head guide at Mallard's End in Mississippi.

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!

Karen Lee

Turkey Country’s Karen Lee with Sammy at Primland, a sporting resort in Virginia.

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:

  1. A sheer passion for hunting. That they still want to hunt despite that they've been in the field getting game for others all season.

  2. I love how most of them stick with good ol' standbys when it comes to gear. They know what works for them or the game they're pursuing, not what's new or hot that season.

  3. Flexible attitude. One that can read a client and almost predict what he or she is feeling and wants to do.

  4. Guides that aren't afraid to talk about "stuff," you know, life in general. I'm usually on assignment when I'm hunting, so an open book is what I'm looking for.

  5. Guides who engage me in the hunt, ask my opinions and really make me feel like a "co-hunter" and not a client.

And then, there’s the turn-off list;

  1. I've been cussed at—not good.

  2. I've been pressured to take shots I wasn't comfortable with, and shame on me letting them, but that only happened once.

  3. I've fallen victim to guides who seem more interested in getting me a bird at any cost then checking to see how I feel. It's annoying when it becomes the personal vendetta of someone else, instead of what you want as the client.

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.”

Tiffany Lakosky

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:

  1. An upbeat personality, confidence, cleanliness.

“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.”

Red Creek Outfitters guides with Tiffany Lakosky on her Utah mulie hunt.

However …

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.”

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2 Responses to What Do Women Want in a Hunting Guide?

Robin wrote:
July 30, 2013

My fear is the male chauvinist pigs! I know so many out there are OLD school and don't think women can or should hunt! It's refreshing when you meet guides who embrace their client, their needs and provide them with a good time no matter the harvest outcome! Keep up the good work ladies and whip those poor guides into shape so hopefully they'll behave in the future! robin

Howard Day wrote:
July 30, 2013

As a guide in the UK I'd like to think I gave all my clients the treatment and respect mentioned above, not just the ladies. A paying client deserves to be treated professionally regardless of sex.