GUIDED OR NOT – LOCAL OR ABROAD
By D. I. Hay

BlueCollar

How many times have these words passed through our minds? Usually at the end of the hunting season or after we have heard of a friend’s friend harvesting a trophy animal. First, I am an avid hunter and have been all of my adult life (now 65 years old and the knees feel like it – smile). My first introduction to a guided hunt happened many years ago and at that time I was in the same financial position that most of us find ourselves in while trying to raise a family to the best of our ability. A couple of rather disturbing realities quickly entered my mind, all detrimental to me pursuing this idea further. But, fortunate for me, I was able to deal with the most unsettling
1. The problematical one was concerning the financial obligation with regards to taking on the total cost of entering into an agreement with a potential Outfitter. What other costs were associated with a fully guided hunt?
Well, what did I know about a guided hunt, not much at the stage of my life where I was. In those days, the luxury of owning a computer and the vast amount of information readily available, was something we didn’t visualize. Not it is so much easier to gather information, as not only do we have the Internet, we have the numerous Hunting TV Shows, so many that there are complete channels devoted to the hunter and today there are many more magazines available than back then – if my memory serves me correctly we had Outdoor Life, Field & Stream and Sports Afield. I used to buy these monthly and in the back there were listed Outfitters from all over North America with the animals they offered. Today we are also provided insight into hunts from all over the world, and most are within our (the working man’s) grasp. So, here was the word which summed up my requirement to acquire the necessary funds to partake on a guided hunt – SACRIFICE. Wow, now I was getting to the “nuts & bolts” of solving my dilemma. I realized the family financial commitments could not change one penny, so all that was left was my personal spending. This could be defined as how bad did I want to go on a guided hunt and the associated costs? Well, back in the days before computers, I did a lot of letter writing and discussed, honestly, my position with each Outfitter. I used to wait and anticipate every day’s mail as I would receive another brochure\letter in response to my inquiries. Today, it is almost instantaneous over the Internet. If the questions are posed in the off-season, chances are the Outfitter will be close to his\her (yes, there are lots of female Outfitters in the world today) computer. So, a cold hard fact we are facing is “How much can we honestly save every payday?” In my case I had stopped smoking, so was able to put that money into a savings account – remember SACRIFICE. Well, I also was not drinking, but by no means am I suggesting that everyone has to give up smoking (probably a healthy decision though?) and instead of going to the corner Pub with the boys, bring a case of beer home and enjoy it in the comforts of your home (much cheaper also). So, here are a couple of ways to put some cash aside. Other areas where money can be saved would be to utilize one’s current fishing (I presume we all fish also?) tackle and hunting gear. I always agreed with the saying “The only difference between Men & Boys is the price of their Toys” So one can save a bit here. One point I would like to make abundantly clear, is that pennies add up to dollars and dollars add up to you chosen guided hunt.
The other costs associated with a hunt will be discussed in some detail in a future article – don’t worry, I am not going to leave you hanging out to dry – smile.
2. Which animal(s) are we going to hunt and where?
This question is one which cannot be addressed by anyone but the hunter themselves. We all have a love for an individual species. Mine has always been Mule Deer, as is to this day. This doesn’t mean I have not hunted other trophies over the years with an Outfitter. I have hunted most Provinces in Canada, Alaska, New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming, Namibia & Zimbabwe. I guess we now get into the area which separates the men from the boys – we all would like to hunt elephant, lion, sheep, brown bears, etc., but to be honest, most of us just cannot afford that outlay of funds, especially if we are raising a young family. With absolutely no disrespect meant, success on archery hunts can be somewhat low and that is not implying archers are not good shots and hunters, just it is extremely difficult to get close to some of these animals so as to pull off a humane killing shot. From the outset, I have always selected at least two animals to hunt on each adventure. You may find this a bit odd, but I always wanted insurance against tagging out the first day or two of a guided hunt and then because I only selected one trophy, sat around camp waiting for my plane to arrive (I mean the big bird which would take me home). Hunting in North America can present a problem in this respect. If we only select one animal and tag out early, we are somewhat out of luck, except for Alaska where most Outfitters can sell tags. Africa is a totally different kettle of fish. If you are hunting Plains Game, you will probably provide a list of animals you would like to harvest and your PH (Professional Hunter – same as our Guide here in North America) will try to secure you shots at most of the animals on your list. Also, if he sees an exceptional specimen, he may offer you a shot at it, but only if you are interested in taking it. In my case, I started out with my favourite animal the Mule Deer and hunted it in Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico and here in British Columbia. I did mix in an Antelope hunt in Wyoming during this time. I had always dreamed of taking an Alaskan Brown Bear, but at the start they were way out of my price range, no harm in dreaming? One day my dream came true and I was able to successfully hunt them in Alaska.
I have also taken a trophy Musk Ox in Nunavut.

Later in life I found a safari in Africa which was within my price range and literally jumped at the opportunity. The curse of hunting Africa, as most who have hunted the Dark Continent, once is never enough, so plan on returning if you ever get the chance to hunt there for a first time!!

Well, the purpose of this first article was to let you “wet your lips” and maybe even do some serious thinking about the contents so far. I am just heading out the door for a Mule Deer hunt in Alberta and will try to do some work on the next article during that time. I will guarantee I will have the next article up before Christmas. Which brings me to a very important side-note. Many hunters are dedicated to the entire hunting season, but while planning a guided hunt, you will live the whole year through the planning stages, organizing your trip and completing the hunt and culminating in the post hunt process.
See you in a month or so.
Take care and stay safe.

Yours in the Field

D. I. (Ian) Hay
Owner
Blue Collar Adventures
www.bluecollaradventures.ca
bluecollarhuntz@gmail.com