Guide Interview with Stephanie Lough
Guide Interview with Stephanie Lough

Guide Interview with Stephanie Lough

2019 WSF Guide of the Year

At first glance, Stephanie Lough may not fit the stereotypical mold of a Canadian sheep guide

—but ask anyone who’s ever hunted with her and they’ll tell you she can work circles around most guides.

Raised in Bluffton, Alberta in an outdoor family and surrounded by horses growing up, she’s built a career around her passion and love.

Cutting her teeth working in outfitting camps since the age of 15, Stephanie has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the top sheep guides in the industry. Her track record of success speaks for itself.

Animals/Species Hunted/Guided:

Elk, moose, mountain goat, stone sheep, Dall sheep, desert sheep, bighorn sheep, red stag, tahr, chamois, fallow deer, black bear, whitetail, mule deer, caribou, grizzly.

Valo, Verde, or Vias:

Vias.

Favorite Piece of KUIU clothing and/or gear?

Axis Hybrid Hooded Jacket and Peloton 97 Fleece Zip-Off Bottoms.

How did you get into guiding?

I grew up going into the mountains on pack trips with my family. My dad would load up all of us kids and we'd spend a few weeks every summer packing and riding. Then I started working for an outfitter in Alberta when I was 15 doing mostly horseback pack trips and fishing trips.

Then fall would come around and I'd do some hunts with that same outfitter. One day, I got a call while I was out picking up more clients for a pack trip and it was from my great friend Gwen Norman. She worked for Big9 outfitters and had previously worked for the same outfitter in Alberta that I was working for.

She asked if I was interested in coming to BC to work as soon as I was finished in Alberta and of course I said yes!

So, I headed north for my first year in BC. I started out cooking and wrangling but knew I wanted to work towards guiding one day. It was always something I wanted to do which would enable me to spend as much time in the mountains as possible.

That first year was incredible and at the end of the season I was asked to return for the next season. That next season they turned me loose and started my guiding career. I couldn't have asked for a better start!

How does the preparation differ from a backpack hunt to a horseback hunt?

A lot of prep goes into every hunt. Backpack hunting for myself is quick but tedious in the attention to detail. You can only pack so much weight on your back and planning your food right down to each ounce.

The good thing about that though is once you have your pack set then it’s just a matter of hiking. Backpacking is nice in a way that you can camp pretty much anywhere if you have water. 

While hunting with horses, everywhere I go I’m constantly thinking about water, feed and finding a spot you can turn them out to graze and hopefully they don’t pull out leaving you stranded and looking for them!

There is so much prep that goes into hunting off horseback. Lots of stuff from shoeing the string to fitting saddles to deciding which horses will back and which will ride.

The benefit to all that prep and work to horseback hunt is getting to live in a pretty comfortable camp. I usually run with a wall tent and stove—depending on where we’re going.

Additionally, it allows us to have a larger variety of fresher foods instead of the old standby freeze-dried meals you eat on backpack hunts.

For those of us that weren’t in the room, tell us what it was like to be named Wild Sheep Foundation’s Guide of the Year, and what that award means to you?

This feels like such a hard question to answer, but only because I don’t know how to spit out the words on how it felt.

As I sat at the table Saturday night with my husband Brady, two of my sisters, and a bunch of our close friends. The award was coming up and I asked Brady who he thought was going to receive the award and he just shrugged and said he wasn’t sure—but he knew.

Anyways, as Arlene Hanson started to speak and she said for the first time ever it was a woman! I got excited wondering who it could be and how cool it was going to be to see a woman go up on that stage to get it.

Well, moments later my name was called, and I was in complete shock. The tears started pouring out of my eyes, it was a feeling of how did I get this!? I never would’ve put myself into that category to receive such an award, but what an incredible experience.

I’m extremely honored and humbled to have walked up on that stage and I have so many people in my life to be thankful for and for all the opportunities I’ve been given over the years. Here’s to a memory that will always be held close to my heart.

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What are the 3 pieces of KUIU gear that you would recommend to someone no matter what or where they are hunting?

Last year, I tried out the Kutana Storm Shell Jacket and Pant hunting rain gear and I love it. It’s super durable like the Yukon but more flexible and packable, it’s my favorite of all of them by far. You got to have a set of the zip-off base layer bottoms just depending on what weight they want for warmth and the Attack Pants are an all-time favorite go to.

What’s the must-have piece of gear in your pack that is not KUIU and why?

Civilware’s IBK scalpel knife hands down. In my opinion it’s the best scalpel knife out there.

What’s is in your pack or that you take on a hunt that might surprise people?

Wet wipes for sure, they are a must have item and are great for a lot of thing’s, haha!

Tell us about "the one that got away" that you still think about today?

Well Brady didn’t get away, so that won’t work haha!

If you weren’t guiding what would your alternate career choice be?

Most likely I would be in the construction business. I grew up operating heavy equipment for my dad and uncles and I still work for them in the off season now. I’ve always had horses growing up, so I tend to spend a lot of time riding and working with younger horses so I could see myself doing something like that as well.