*Pictured above: SCI North American Professional Hunter of the Year recipient Bob Milligan with sons Bobby and Billy.
Credit certainly was given where it was due last night as British Columbia guide and outfitter Bob Milligan of Milligan Outfitting was presented with SCI’s North American Professional Hunter of the Year Award at the 46th SCI Hunters’ Convention during the opening banquet in Las Vegas, Jan. 31-Feb. 3.
Milligan, whose entire family was there to see him receive his award, said, “Being recognized by SCI and its membership is an incredible honor. I’m very fortunate to have my wife and sons here with me as I accept it. I’m also very fortunate to have made the right life choices because outfitting is a lifestyle that continues to bring me so much happiness.”
I remembered how it felt when I was in my 20s and received SCI’s North American Bowhunting Outfitter of the Year in 1992. While that was a great honor, nothing compares to getting the North American Professional Hunter of the Year with the level of today’s stiff competition.
I first met Bob Milligan and his wife, Michelle, at an SCI show in the late 1990s when I was booking hunts for the “Wildlife Point Blank” hunting show I was hosting. Milligan’s boat trip for black bears seemed like the ultimate coastal adventure. Not only did he operate the largest territory in the province, but he offered both lodge- and boat-based black bear hunts as well as fly-in and backpack hunts for mountain goats and grizzlies, all of which also offered world-class salmon fishing. I was right about the adventure. At that time it was the most memorable hunt I’d ever experienced. Not only was Bob an incredible hunting guide but he knew where and how to find the big fish and handled the big boat and the small crafts we hunted from as if such tasks were the only things he had ever done. Since that hunt, I have returned for more boat and lodge hunts for black bear and took my only grizzly bear and three incredible mountain goats. American Hunter’s own editor-in-chief, Scott Olmsted, also hunted with Milligan Outfitting a few years back and took a mountain goat of his own.
I have been fortunate to hunt with many quality outfitters over the years, including many who exhibit at the annual SCI show, but none seemed born to do the job like Bob Milligan. We’ve become great friends and I’m proud to say he was a groomsman in my wedding in 2013. From firsthand experience, I can say no one deserves this award more. And I can’t wait until we go on our next Northern adventure.
The Path to an Award-Winning Career
Milligan spent his childhood hunting and fishing on Vancouver Island. In 1984 when he was 14, his father, Bob Milligan Sr., purchased a hunting territory in northern British Columbia. Milligan spent his summers there guiding fishermen and became immersed in the guiding lifestyle. Despite his parents’ suggestions that he go to school to become a doctor or an engineer, he was already focused on becoming a guide and outfitter. Unfortunately, it was a role he would assume sooner rather than later due to a personal tragedy.
In 1989 at age 19, his parents were killed in a floatplane crash. They left the hunting territory to him and his younger siblings, making him the youngest outfitter in British Columbia’s history. The tremendous loss left him with the difficult decision of whether to sell the outfitting operation or run it himself. Determined to keep his parents’ memory alive, he took over the business and never looked back.
In the 21st century, Bob Milligan and his guiding territory—the largest in all of British Columbia—are well-known throughout the hunting community. Of course, with the largest territory come the largest game animals. Hunters worldwide contact him in the hope he can assist them in harvesting a world-class mountain goat or bear. Enjoying an incredible success rate, to date he has guided more than 1,000 hunters—two of whom took the No. 1 Pope and Young mountain goat and the No. 1 muzzleloader grizzly bear. Referred to as the “grandfather of winter goat hunting,” he is the reason for the 100 percent success rate that SCI hunters have enjoyed through the years, which he says is the true highlight of his hunting career.
His accomplishments in the hunting world have earned Milligan one of SCI’s highest honors: the North American Professional Hunter of the Year. No doubt, his parents would be very proud.
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