ELK 101: Botched Hunts/Definition of a guide/Outfitters

taz_gerstman

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Nov 27, 2017
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alabama
Good evening everyone. So I have just returned from my very anticipated 2020 New Mexico rifle elk hunt and to be honest I am extremely disappointed with the overall results as in no Bull harvested. Now before I get into details about why I am so disappointed I wanted to cover a few topics within this one thread if I may. I believe this would appeal to only those who have used or continue to use outfitters for their big games hunts in general. So I wanted to try to break this down into 3 different questions as shown below. Please provide as much detail as you can. If you want to PM me that is fine as well. I can always go into the details later as to why I am asking these specific questions. I have used this particular outfitter before about 4 years ago for an archery hunt so I am pretty familiar with the guides and area (public land). This time I had the same guide as I did during the archery season but this time it was just me and the guide whereas last time it was me, a friend and the guide. I am really on the fence about ever going back to this outfitter and I have talked to several friends of mine who are hunters and they feel the same way that I do but I wanted to get other opinions or feedback to the questions below. Feel free to even add a subject that I might not have thought about. Thanks

1. Is it possible for an outfitter/guide to "throw" a hunt? What signs gave you this impression or how did you determine as such? What was done about it or what was said?
2. What is everyone's true definition of a guide or how do you expect them to be at their job?
3. Names of solid, repeatable outfitters. Why? Weapon of choice? What species? Where?
 

stonewall

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Jul 29, 2016
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TX - Texas
I haven’t been on many guided hunts. I guess it’s possible for a guide to intentionally throw a hunt but I can’t imagine why they would. I prefer diy personally
I would expect a guide to be with you for whatever length of time is contracted and to hunt with you all day. And to know what they’re doing
As far as outfitters in New Mexico, I’d call Joseph graham
 
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taz_gerstman

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Nov 27, 2017
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alabama
Thanks for the info. For anyone who wants to comment keep in mind that I am not asking about DIY hunts as I know those are probably better in the long run. I am looking into that with a few friends but for now I am analyzing outfitters/guides. I am also looking at different states like Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Utah, Kansas, etc.

I would expect the guide to do the same as well. I would expect the guide to conform to what the clients capabilities are and not try to exceed those but the hunter needs to keep in mind to that if they are limiting the guide or making it difficult for them then that is on the hunter.
 

JoshOR

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Oct 1, 2020
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20
I’m sure a guide could throw a hunt but why? Repeat clients are the goal. There are only so many things a guide can control. If those things are done than he’s done his job. Animals and humans can’t be controlled and many things have to come together for success. It’s a tough one....
 

Explorer

Junior Member
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Dec 28, 2018
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40
Yes, it happens. Trophy animals by definition are hard to come by. Which means sometimes you go home empty handed. It also means sometimes bigger animals are saved for certain clients and B clients get a runaround. Bad tippers or guys with a bad attitude also don't get as much effort. Sometimes guides have bad days too.
That being said, good outfits always seem to go the extra mile for you.
If you feel you are always getting the run around and no effort is being put in, you are probably right.
 
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taz_gerstman

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Nov 27, 2017
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alabama
So just so we all are on the same page I am not a trophy hunter. Yes I would like a good rack so to speak but would be happy with whatever I am presented with especially to fill the freezer. I am aware there are things that cannot be controlled. I have been hunting for more than 30 years so. In this situation yes I feel that I got the run around while the other guys that were there got the special treatment. maybe ill go into the details later but the opinions are interesting here. I tip well so that is not an issue and I give 100% all of the time no matter what so me as a hunter and my actions are not an issue for sure or the outfitter owner wouldn't let me come back.
 

Goodtimekiller

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Jun 29, 2017
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468
I have been on 2 guided elk hunts and 1 mule deer/whitetail hunt, all expensive to me and all horrible.

The first elk hunt we booked after seeing beautiful lodge pictures on the beautiful ranch at 10,000’. 100% shot opportunity for archery. Guide talked us into going the first week of season $4200 per person for 1 guide, 2 people. We got there with a day to acclimate before the hunt. Our guide got there a day later, no scouting, no trail cams nothing. 7 other elk hunters in camp. Everyday when we got back to lodge at lunch they had a big dry erase and would mark animals seen and shot opportunity. Knowing we were after bulls one day when we had a cow at 60 yds (cows were legal in the unit) the guide marked us with a shot opportunity. Another group had a bull at 70yds through brush and was marked as a shot opportunity. This happened several times. Even though we were staying on a huge private ranch, advertised to us as “ you can walk out the door of the lodge and hunt,” we got up every morning and drove to public land and fought other hunters. The manager shot a 190” deer opening day, with a deer hinter in camp. The private ranch was saved for the more expensive rifle hunts. Also, there were many friends of guides in camp that were hunting the same areas we were hunting but not paying. At least 2 groups left early on a 5 day hunt and only 1 bull was killed or even shot at by hunters(it was me).

Next year, i’m much smarter. Guide tells me 100% shot opportunity on bulls under 40yds. He sends me trail cam pics throughout the summer. Even called hinting fool as it was one of their sponsored outfitters and was told “he’ll work his tail off for you.” We get there and realize we are hunting the same 1 mile river bottom where 3 bulls gave been killed this year. Only 3 bulls killed out of 18 groups. Of the 6 groups that were in camp our week (3rd week in sept), no one even got drawn back. Our closest elk were 1700 yds through a rangefinder. These elk were going from private to blm land that was surrounded by the owners ranch. He had decided not to get a permit for this blm this year. We were hunting with owner and he couldn’t call at all. We never got 400 yards away from a ranger. One day it snowed and i thought the guide was going to make us stay in camp because it was too wet to drive. The elk we saw, the owner tried to get around in the ranger and we watched them run wide open for over a mile away from us. We continued to hunt that spot every day. After that i decided i could do better on my own.

The deer hunt was 2 guides per 6 people. Those who wanted to hunt whitetail were placed in stands those (me) who want to mule deer hunt were spot and stalk. The first morning we snuck up on a mule deer 150yds and guide told me to shoot. I looked at the deer and asked really? He looked again and said, oh no, i was wrong. I ended up shooting a deer the first evening, no one else even saw a shooter but someone had killed a 190” on the farm the week before, the farm they had told us no one was hunting until we got there. We stayed in a trailer and the neighbor lady cooked lunch and supper. We paid to eat out 2 meals a day because it was so bad. Luckily this trip was paid for by a sales rep. At the end they charged him an extra $5000 because 2 of us had hunted mule deer and that was an extra charge.

The western guides i’ve been with suck. They should have an idea where elk are, a place that is not severely over hunted, and if they advertise private, you should hunt private. They should be decent callers if they plan on calling in elk.


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Jardo

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Aug 7, 2017
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432
Location
Hawaii and Utah
NM allocates a bunch of tags that can only be drawn with an outfitter application. This system makes for a bunch of crappy outfitters trying to get a piece of the pie.

I also just finished a hunt in NM with a highly recommended outfitter who was terrible. i killed a decent bull for the unit i drew but I found it, ranged it, quartered it and hung it by myself. He got it out by horse but it nearly spoiled in the 70 degree temps while he farted around and took his sweet time getting it out.

i’ve been on a few guided hunts. this guide borrowed my rangefinder, did not have a spotting scope, did no preseason scouting, did not help quarter my elk or my brothers, did not have a knife, did not bring game bags, and thought he was the best outfitter in NM. he spent his time in camp cutting firewood for his home to burn all winter... running a chainsaw near where he claimed all the elk live. he also set up camp 30 miles from where the elk were and made me drive and use my gas every day. i never saw the inside of his truck.

The game processor who cut my brothers elk had never seen an animal so poorly taken care of. Grass, rocks, hair, and mud all over the meat. IMHO, the outfitters number one obligation is to care for the meat. this outfitter was only concerned about getting to his next hunter and getting my hunt over with.

With all things, live and learn. New Mexico outfitters are first salesmen... i’m just glad i was a better hunter than my guide was. In NM, do not count on your outfitter unless you know him personally.


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rgrx1276

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Dec 27, 2014
Messages
81
Met a couple guides at a restaurant in NM this year. They had just driven up from southern NM, a 4+ hour trip, and had not been in the area scouting. Elk season started the next day.
That's one of the many reasons why I don't use guides.
 
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5MilesBack

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Feb 27, 2012
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Colorado Springs
You posted that you used this same outfitter and even had the same guide 4 years ago. How did that go? It obviously went fine if you booked again this year. So all you can go off of is what you've experienced so far.......one decent experience and apparently one lousy one. You're 50/50. You use all that info and experience to determine your future plans. Sounds to me like you wouldn't book again with this outfit, so you've eliminated something from the equation. That's what you do while moving on or moving forward.
 
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taz_gerstman

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Nov 27, 2017
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150
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alabama
So yes and no that it went ok. See I have no other outfitters to compare this one to and when I went last time it was a total different hunt. Meaning it was an archery hunt during the rut so the elk probably made the guide look good because they were answering calls. Now, even then he had some tactics that I did not agree with and neither did the other hunter I was with. So going into this rifle hunt I wasn't sure what to expect and I did not request the same guide. His tactics were still the same as if though it was archery season. No scouting was done prior to our hunt and he didn't arrive to camp until like 9pm the day before the first hunt. So here are a few things that makes me think the way I do right now.

1. I was told by the owner of the outfit several weeks before leaving for NM that my guide would be Rusty. I was good with that. Didn't know the guy but hey it is someone new.
2. There would be two other guys from said state in camp as well.
3. Night before the first hunt my guide was changed to the one I had. Not sure why.
4. The first hunt day my guide informed me that all the elk had went silent due to hunting pressure and locals/visitors riding atvs, etc. on the closed roads. This I can totally understand. It was very dry. A lot of water holes had dried up and the wind never did corporate. however the guide insisted on busting thru the timber and deadfall like raging bulls thinking we would sneak up on something. Same strategy as during the archery season. 95% of the time I was in areas where my visibility was only about 40 to 45 yards max. I am using a rifle here.
5. During the course of the hunt I get to know the other two guys and questioned how they knew about the outfitter. One of them proceeded to tell me that they had a very wealthy friend who had used the same outfitter for about 10 - 12 years now and brings lots of clients but is also only guided by the owner. I was also told that his wealthy friend recommended Rusty to be their guide. This is why I think my guide was changed at the last min.
6. I was also told by my guide that all of the guides and the owner usually have respect for each guide and typically do not go into areas where each one is guiding, etc. I can understand this but this is public land so to me all bets are off if a guide is not going to be in that area. The two guys killed their bulls in areas where only the owner was known to guide and areas where he guided the wealthy friend.
7. No matter how many times I told my guide I wanted to sit water holes or wallows he refused and even when we did we would only sit for like 30 mins max not to mention it would take for ever to walk to these areas.
8. My guide, as he has done in the past, consistently stayed 10 to 15 yards in front of me when walking. I tried my best to keep up but you have to remember I am a flat lander and not used to that environment out there but I did the best I could to keep up but due to him being so far ahead he would bust elk.
9. 9 out of 10 times I saw the elk and he didn't. He did very little calling and it appeared he refused to change his tactics when knowing what was stacked against us already.
10. When we were hunting he was always scouting. Marking areas in his gps etc. The other two guys noticed this about their guide as well. Appeared they were scouting for the next weeks hunt rather than focusing on our situation.
11. On the last evening hunt of the trip the other guide told my guide where we should go and showed him on the map (on x). We get there and it was an awesome spot. Same spot where one of the guys took is 6x6. As we approached the spot where we were told to sit my guide insisted that we keep walking. We ended up in this bowl of thick brush and down fall. Again the max distance was 40 yards. He did very little calling. One time on the bugle and once on the cow call and that was all.
12. My guide started having truck issues and felt it unsafe to travel to other spots that were far off. I agreed. So one morning during a hunt he decided that we would walk back to camp and he would go home and get his other truck. I had no issues with that because I felt that it was putting a limit on us going to other places. He said he would be back for the evening hunt. He didn't get back until 9pm.

I felt as if though he had no urgency or concern to find bulls. We want to so many different spots and walked miles each day and saw nothing. The most we saw was 4 cows but yet the other guide within the 2nd day goes right to a spot and starts tagging out. Sorry but this is just to fishy to me. I understand you have factors that you cant control but as a hunter I feel the guide should have changed his game plan and I feel that he should have scouted prior to our hunt. He did tell me that they put out game cameras prior to the archery hunts so why not ours. These guides don't depend on this money as their sole income. They are retired and have other jobs as well so it is not like they are under the gun to perform at a certain level with fear that they will lose their job if clients don't harvest. So often I wondered if he was a wanderer or an actual guide. I have yet to relay all of this to the owner but I intend to do so soon to see what his response is. I am pretty sure I will never go back to them again. I will say that their cooks are out of this world. We ate like kings for sure so that part was awesome. Again, I am a long time hunter and I understand issues, external factors etc. but I also understand that we alter our game plans when things change and I feel that he didn't bother to do so regardless of the outcome.
 

AaronMColeman

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Nov 20, 2018
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Wyoming
I know every story has two sides but this guide sounds less than stellar. I don’t know if he was up to anything through. Maybe just a bad guide.

I’m an ok elk hunter, lots to learn but not brand new either. My friend and mentor takes me out sometimes and we find elk but nothing giving a shot so far this season. He took out another friend who shot a nice bull first day! There’s no way my mentor was holding out on me or doing something shady. It was just good luck for him bad for me so far. I don’t think your guide was great, but I also don’t think he was Pauli’s fully keeping you from bulls. Sometimes you win some you lose. That’s hunting. Plus I would think most guides would love to get you on bulls. It’s more fun for them (and better tip $$$). I just don’t see a reason he wouldn’t get you to them if he could. I just think he sucked.
 

Jaker_cc

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Feb 24, 2016
Messages
394
Who was the outfitter? Pm me if you want, I’ve got a couple hunts coming up in NM for deer and would choke someone if they treated me like they did you.
 

trophyhill

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Feb 27, 2012
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1,461
Location
Tijeras NM
I can’t see a guide “throwing a hunt”. Unless he’s had his eye on a particular animal that he promised one of his buddies and doesn’t value his job or his clients.

Nevertheless another reason to hunt solo. This way all you have to do when things go south is look in the mirror 😉
 
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