Is there anything you can do when you have a bad experience with a guide/outfitter?

drra

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Aug 7, 2022
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I recently returned from a guided Alaskan Grizzly/Brown Bear hunt and there were some events that at the very least were not professional and likely not ethical (at least in my opinion). I'll outline the events of my experience with Stephan Lake Lodge below. Is there anything I should do, agencies I should contact, reports I should file or is this just one of those experiences that you can't do anything about?

On day one of the hunt another guide with the same outfitter (Stephan Lake Lodge) went through the valley we were hunting with his two Pursuit Channel clients (doing a hunting show - maybe I should also contact the Pursuit channel?) and setup their tent on the ridge which was in what my guide said was the kill zone for the valley (he predicted grizzlies to walk from left to right and exit on the direction of that ridge). They were setting up their tent (three of them milling around on the ridge) at the same time we set out to stalk the only grizzly bear we saw on the side of the creek we could hunt in our seven days at the site. After we left camp on the stalk, we never spotted that Bear again. It will be interesting when the episode comes out to see what footage from that site appears in the show.

On day eight of the hunt the guide takes me to a creek and after sitting for at least an hour he comes over to me and says he doesn't see a scenario where we could shoot a Bear if it did appear since he thought the Bear would likely end up in the creek which was raging. Why would we go to a location we couldn't hunt - a wasted day.

On day nine of the hunt we were overlooking a creek and we see a Bear chasing something in the creek (barely visible) and shortly later (minute to two minutes) a Brown Bear walks across the creek broadside in front of us giving us ample time to shoot (we were setup, gun loaded, Bear in the sights) - what was likely only a few seconds seemed like an eternity since the guide had told me not to shoot unless he said I could, he never said I could shoot. He told me that he couldn't tell if it was a two year old bear or if it was older and that is the reason he didn't let me shoot. Shouldn't a registered guide be able to make that determination? Might not have been a trophy to others, but it would have been to me.

The Pursuit channel hunters and the other guide ruined my chances for likely the first two or three days spreading their scent in the valley and I don't believe my guide had any intent on letting me shoot a Bear on either creek we sat on (he was concerned he would make a mistake and get a ticket from the Troopers and he didn't believe that hunting on a creek gave him enough time to judge the Bears).

Is this a bad experience that I just need to live with or is there something I should or could do? I don't believe I had a reasonable chance of success with this outfitter or the guides in camp and they posted and are currently posting that they have 100% success (bookyourhunt) which is not true as you can see above.
 
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drra

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Aug 7, 2022
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My guide was very upset that they were walking through the valley (they could have flown to the site that they were going to hunt) and he was just as upset as I was with them setting up their tent on the ridge. I don't know why we stayed in that location after they set up a tent like they did. When my guide talked to the outfitter about the incident he told me that he said that the guide shouldn't have done that. Also, after they did harvest one Bear they flew over the valley (low) four or five times.

I was told by my guide that I would be contacted about coming back at a discounted rate at the end of the hunt, but I haven't been contacted by anybody.
 

eddielasvegas

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Feb 2, 2020
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They are paid the same whether you tag out or not, right?

I know that they all go this route, but that's at least a small part of the problem as the incentives are aligned with their compensation.

Online reviews remind me of the advice from EAP: Believe nothing you hear, and only half that you see.

While not fool proof, word of mouth is still the way to go for references, especially high dollar activities like a guided hunt.

Also, and just my opinion, but unless they did something illegal, escalating to F&G or some other state department is not likely to get you anywhere as the actions could be classified as judgements or the like.


Eddie


P.S. Just saw your discount offer reply. Don't hold your breath and if they do step up, anything less than a 50% discount would not be a reason for me to spend more money with this motely crew.
 

Mykolaivka887

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Jan 15, 2022
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Doesn't seem like there was a violation of State game laws or State guiding laws, and you weren't on federal land, so the federal government isn't going to become involved, either.

Basically, your only recourse in this instance, if a guiding law or game law wasn't violated, is to try to work something out with the outfitter or cut your losses and move on.

You can file a complaint with the Alaska Dept of Commerce, Div of Licensing, Big Game Com Service Board, but no guarantees that they'll be able to get some or any of your money returned to you.

At this point, I'd say "live and learn" and better luck next time. It's always wise to speak with unsuccessful client references before booking a hunt with an outfitter or transporter, to get a full picture.
 

Southern Heritage

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Jun 14, 2020
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Man I hate to say it but you need to remember the good and forget the bad. I got screwed on a 15 day moose hunt where my guide didn’t want to hunt and told me he hated his job etc each day. I saved over 10 years to do that hunt.
‘when people first asked me I was bitter and told them all the bad. It hasn’t even been a year and now when I think of the hunt I think about the adventure it really was. The scenery, horses, negative temps Etc was pretty awesome. I’m glad I went I hate who I went with.
Also the only time I heard back from out fitter was after getting on here just explaining what happen. He created a account to tell me I was childish and that was it. I had called and emailed him multiple times just wanting to talk about my experience.

I hope you can get back out there one day and make it happen.
 
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drra

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Doesn't seem like there was a violation of State game laws or State guiding laws, and you weren't on federal land, so the federal government isn't going to become involved, either.

Basically, your only recourse in this instance, if a guiding law or game law wasn't violated, is to try to work something out with the outfitter or cut your losses and move on.

You can file a complaint with the Alaska Dept of Commerce, Div of Licensing, Big Game Com Service Board, but no guarantees that they'll be able to get some or any of your money returned to you.

At this point, I'd say "live and learn" and better luck next time. It's always wise to speak with unsuccessful client references before booking a hunt with an outfitter or transporter, to get a full picture.
To me it does appear to be a violation of the Alaskan APHA ethics and after talking with the guides and hearing of this past season hunts (and lack of success) I know that the claims of 100% success (or shot opportunity) are lies and that is what was advertised last year and what is currently being advertised. There are consumer protection laws but probably not worth my time pursuing them, although probably should to protect others (would have no benefit to me personally which is probably what outfitters like this are counting on). As noted in another post I should probably try to focus on the positives - if I could go back with a different outfitter to Alaska tomorrow I'd be gone and as you noted I too deserve some of the blame as I should have done a better job on my homework (checking references, online posts, ....).
 

Mykolaivka887

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To me it does appear to be a violation of the Alaskan APHA ethics and after talking with the guides and hearing of this past season hunts (and lack of success) I know that the claims of 100% success (or shot opportunity) are lies and that is what was advertised last year and what is currently being advertised. There are consumer protection laws but probably not worth my time pursuing them, although probably should to protect others (would have no benefit to me personally which is probably what outfitters like this are counting on). As noted in another post I should probably try to focus on the positives - if I could go back with a different outfitter to Alaska tomorrow I'd be gone and as you noted I too deserve some of the blame as I should have done a better job on my homework (checking references, online posts, ....).


APHA (Alaska Professional Hunters Assoc) is a 501c3 non-profit organization, not a government entity. Therefore, a violation of their mission statement doesn't get you anywhere in terms of recourse.
 
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drra

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APHA (Alaska Professional Hunters Assoc) is a 501c3 non-profit organization, not a government entity. Therefore, a violation of their mission statement doesn't get you anywhere in terms of recourse.
Hence my question in this forum, what can one do with an experience like this? One thing for certain - there are consumer protection laws that apply if one wants to pursue them.
 

CorbLand

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Hence my question in this forum, what can one do with an experience like this? One thing for certain - there are consumer protection laws that apply if one wants to pursue them.
You seem to know about these consumer protection laws, so I would start there. Probably more effective than asking a bunch of morons on an Internet forum.
 

Mykolaivka887

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Hence my question in this forum, what can one do with an experience like this? One thing for certain - there are consumer protection laws that apply if one wants to pursue them.



In a previous post within this thread, of which you quoted, I provided information in reference to the state agency that governs guiding activity in Alaska. You must of breezed over it and didn't notice the info.
 

Mojave

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Jun 13, 2019
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I’ve been on lots of bad hunts they are par for the course a good outfitter is booked years out and hard to get into. The best thing you can do is forget about it tell people how bad it sucked and how young figure screwed it up and Move on.

Alaska Canada North America New Zealand is Africa Australia there are bad outfitters everywhere. Makes it really hard to have a good hunt to spend your money especially if you’re middle-class guys even Savin.
 

grfox92

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Mar 14, 2017
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Oh look. A brand new member on here that's come to complain about an outfitter.

Just being honest dude, I always question how much 'truth' we get when you see that happens.
I've never seen an outfitter complaint thread where it wasn't the OPs first post.

Sent from my SM-G990U using Tapatalk
 

Theringworm

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Jul 30, 2019
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9 times out of 10, if your outfitter has a hunting show client or someone of notoriety in camp, you are are going to get the lesser of the two guides and the lesser of the two hunting areas. It’s the nature of the game.

Cut your losses, save your wasted efforts and move on. A bad review online is about all you can do,
 
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jimh406

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Seems to me that you should also should be giving your guide some of the negative credit. In my mind, part of his job is to ensure you have an area to hunt that won't be covered up with other guides. I think an experience guide/outfitter would know if someone would likely come into his area or not. I guess it's possible the Pursuit guide was in an entirely new area as well.

I only have experience from talking to friends who guided in AK. They typically hunt where they were far away from anyone else. I don't think any of the more experienced guides wouldn't want anyone near them and would talk to the other guides to make sure it wasn't going to happen.

Just my two cents that might be worth less than that.
 

MattB

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Sorry to hear about your experience, but bad reviews are probably the best you can do. All I can recommend you do is check references more thoroughly next time.
 
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