No Offseason: Hunt Preparation of Guides and Outfitters
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with three KUIU exclusive guides from our Guide and Outfitter program to discuss their hunt preparation strategies. We talked shop about the basics such as staying in shape and locating game, but also spent some time digging in for the more nuanced topics only experienced guides could offer, and how they could help the DIY hunter.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THE UPCOMING SEASON?
In the springtime, I try to stay active as much as possible. I’m hiking mountains and taking my pack up and we'll go do camping trips or overnight stays on the mountain. And gear wise, we waterproof my rain gear every year, check tents, make sure everything's good to go because when you're up there, you're kind of stuck with what you got. Then, yeah, just trying to incorporate exercise into almost everything I do. Like getting into water sports like wakeboarding and skiing. Not very good at it, but it's a workout learning. And I go for morning runs, because we're grain farmers as well so I'll spend 16 hours sitting in a tractor. So, in the mornings I'll get up and go for a run before I end up sitting in a tractor all day, which that's not very helpful right before the season.
These animals are constantly getting smarter. We’re running upwards of 200 trail cameras. We do a lot of aerial surveying both in the fall and then we do spring surveys utilizing our bush plane which helps us get a number on the population, how many survived winter, and come December, where these mature bulls are living. And the less you can really be on the same level as the animal that you're either pursuing or going to be pursuing the better because it's all about education and in our case, not educating them. When we put cameras out, we try to put cameras on the edges of where we know they are. We have target animals that we're going after and we know really well where they are and where they live, but we want to stay on the outsides of that. So, a lot of our pictures are nighttime pictures and that's good. If we start getting daylight pictures we try to back off a little bit because that's actually where they're living.
From when I get out of the mountains, the first thing I do is I go through and I get everything ready for the version of the hunt. So, if I go from stone sheep hunting in BC to desert sheep hunting in Texas, I have all the different bags set up. Texas for desert sheep is a completely different environment. I have everything kind of itemized and separated and the biggest thing for me is optics. I go through a lot of gear and just about every year I get new bino harnesses and I've actually taken some of my older guide pants and made spotting scope covers out of some of them, that way they’re better protected. That’s really paid off for me.
Nathan Theriault -
I'm moose nuts. I love observing and being out there and being around them. I don't claim to be a biologist, but I spend a lot of time out there and I like to pass along what I'm seeing in my areas to folks. Something in Maine that we’re dealing with right now is what's called a winter tick or a moose tick, really only wants to be on moose and has a one-year lifespan. I actually wrote a story on this specific aspect. But you know, changing habitats and other things. We’re in an area here that is ever changing. Our forest is farming forest and a lot of your paper and paper products could come from areas like ours. And so, the habitat's always evolving so that has a big role that gets played within the moose population overall. We trust the biologists and try to inform them as much as we can. And I think that that relationship definitely helps create a sustainable, healthy herd with great trophy quality.
Nathan Olmstead -
The biggest thing that we're fighting with in BC is the grizzly bears. We have more grizzly bears on BC than anywhere else in the world. And the wolves were thinning out like you wouldn't believe. But I mean, that's the biggest thing that's going to sustain our wildlife for the next generation is predator control. And it's another one of those things that sets a good outfitter apart from a great outfitter is that, that total holistic mentality of year-round.
Shayann Tompkins -
For a majority of clients that I do, honestly just putting some weight in your pack and hiking, making sure your boots are broken in and you get comfortable shooting. I've had some people come up where they're not comfortable with shooting and others come up with only having bench shooting experience where everything's perfect. And let's be honest, nothing's ever going to be perfect. So, be comfortable and confident in yourself with your shooting. Get away from the range and get comfortable doing target shooting offhand or on a knee or at different angles like on the side of a hill or just to mix it up and try different things so that you're prepared for any situation.
Nathan Theriault -
One of the things that we want our clients to consider is obviously thinking about the difficulties of the tag and how the economic or financial aspects of getting that tag are tough. What I tell them is to get your weapon whether you're going to bowhunt or gun hunt, have some targets that are set up and do a brisk walk. I tell them a hundred yards and do it as quickly as you can and then get to the location that you want to shoot. Do your first round at 30 yards and just have different increments. Then do it in 10-yard increments and build your heart rate up, get to that location and take a shot. You want standing up, kneeling, sitting down, whatever it's going to be and that will help them to be ready, and that's the in-the-moment prep. You gotta do your homework. Even though Maine is flat, there's a lot of trees. There's a lot of stuff to step over and climb over, trip over. It's tough and a lot of fatigue.
Of course our 3+ hour discussion involved many more questions and topics than covered here, but our aim was to unearth a few simple truths all hunters can add to their preparations this season.
Nathan Olmstead has come to expect that on every hunt, no matter the place, his gear is going to get beat up and he puts in extra effort to protect his optics. He also has the unique challenge of guiding hunts in areas where wolf and grizzly predation is high and encourages predator management. Also busy managing the family farm, Shay Tompkins turns her every motion into an exercise and stresses the importance of her clients being familiar with shooting from unfamiliar positions. And for Nathan Theriault out in Maine, taking a biologist’s approach to hunting by knowing the animal inside and out by keeping his exposure to a minimum helps slow their learning curve and keeps their behavior more predictable.