What’s It Really Like to Be a Hunting Guide, Part Two

This month I am sharing some truths and nuggets about my various years of being both a full and part-time hunting guide. I have already discussed the massive amount of energy it takes to host someone in the field for a full day, let alone an entire week, but there is more to dealing with people than just trying to be a positive influence on the unpredictability of hunting wild animals. There is also something called ‘putting up with people.’ I don’t like to dwell on the stinkers that I have had to guide, but heck, some of them are worth remembering. 

In the mid-90’s, I had a client call me to book a last minute turkey hunt in Washington State. The guy sounded like he was in his 60’s and he said he was bringing his son, too. I was already booked for the season but he kept working me until I agreed to fit him in for a substantial increase in my normal guiding fees.

He showed up the night before his hunt. I freaked out when I went to his motel room to meet him and noticed the hundreds of pounds of medical machines in the room. My mind raced as I struggled to ask 100 questions about what I was seeing, but I politely asked him if he was going to have any issues with climbing small hills and walking about a half mile during the day. I thought it was a benign question given what machines I was staring at. He was sort of offended, but he said he should have no problem doing whatever I wanted him to do. 

When the morning came, I went to pick the father and son up at the motel. They staggered out dragging oxygen tanks and machine that needed a 20 pound battery to run. I was speechless. What does a guy do in that situation? How can you even plan for something like that? My mind raced and my blood pressure built. I was not only worried about safely hunting, but I was also worried about getting these guys on a turkey. As I drove away from the motel, I realized that the burden I was now saddled with was not worth it. It was not worth the money, time or stress. I decided to pull the plug and did a U-turn back towards the motel. I told them I’m sorry, but this hunt was a no-go. 

I will never forget the father looking at me and asking, “Are you sure this is how you want to handle this deal?” I apologetically said, “Yes.” At this time, they both erupted in laughter and told me the machines were all a gag and it was a big joke. They had previously contacted a reference of mine and he had told them that I was a big joker. They took that as literal as possible and the joke was on…me. 

As it turned out, both of those guys could cover ground just fine. Even better, I got both of them a turkey by 9:00am the first day. I will never forget that hunt, because it taught me that you never know what issue you will be faced with as a guide.