|Guide E-Mail A Lightning Rod
I read the letter from Steve Baker in which he draws a pretty negative image of guided hunts, and more importantly to me, he draws a damning picture of the guided hunter.
I have two different lines of response to this. First of all, I have to agree to some qualms over the kind of hunt Mr. Baker uses as an example... the Texas tree-stand over a bait plot. In my opinion, this is slaughtering livestock, and has nothing to do with hunting. I won't condemn slaughtering livestock, since on these Texas ranches the deer are raised better than most cattle. But it's certainly not the same as hunting.
On the other hand, this example isn't really representative of all guided hunting. By painting this picture, Mr. Baker has taken a page from the anti-hunters and drawn his conclusion based on a "worst case" scenario. There are a lot of different kinds of guided hunts, and lot of different people guiding and being guided. They are not all simple cases of being led to a bait station and told to pick your animal.
A few years back, I had the pleasure of hunting with William Murray of Murray Outfitters in the Central Coast area of California. Mr. Murray guides wilderness trips, often on public land in the Los Padres and Ventana Wilderness. I worked as hard on that trip as I ever have on my own outings, and enjoyed the experience just as much. I relied on Mr. Murray's knowledge of the area because I had never been there before. Without his knowledge and experience, I'd have spent the first day of the weekend hunt just looking for a good place to start hunting.
Many people use guides in this way, to experience a hunt in an area they have never visited before. This is really practical when you're talking about hunting out of state. Given the cost of nonresident tags, you'd be foolish to drive or fly to an area you've never seen and expect to collect game.
At any rate, I suppose I'm really saying that generalizations such as Mr. Baker made are dangerously off-base. I agree wholeheartedly with questioning practices which make hunting look bad in the eyes of the antis (or more importantly, in the eyes of the non-hunting public), and I challenge them myself on a regular basis. But attacking guided hunting based on the Texas game farm example is just wrong. It's a disservice to the guides and hunters who don't fit his stereotype.
I don't have a real problem with guided hunts as much as I do game farm hunts. How do these make any record books? There is no fair chase on a 2000-acre ranch. Where are they going to go to escape? Nowhere, just around in circle.
Everyone has to make a living and guides do a service to get you where others aren't. Even at a drop camp, not all of us can afford to keep horses around .... but we wonder why more people don't hunt. Well, it's called money and the luck of the draw. How many young hunters can afford to spend $700 for a rifle he may get a chance to use every 2 or 3 years, and the hassle of filling out draws that cost the average nonresident $300 for deer upfront and $500 for elk most young hunters just can't swing these high prices.
This is in response to the e-mails against guided hunts. All my life (54 years) I have scouted and hunted on my own and have done well and enjoyed every second of it. Last year my partner Steve and I took a guided hunt in Montana and each scored a nice bull. This was my first-ever guided hunt and I learned a lot by watching the guides and listening to what they had to say which is my point. There are many reasons for using guides, including all that Jerry mentioned and more.
There are some who just plain have a lot of money to throw around and there are others, like myself, who want to learn a new area and don't have the time nor the money to travel the distance to scout the area as it should be scouted. I had to save a long time in order to be able to make this trip but It paid off not only with a nice bull but also information about the area which I will use the next time I go there and hunt without a guide. Guides serve a purpose and are useful and as far as I am concerned, They don't take anything away from being a hunter.
Thanks for your time
I have been a reader of Western Hunter and California Hunter since their inception and feel that both are and were very informative resources. In reading your last article to the editor from Steve Baker, I guess he just doesn't get it. Guides are not just people to help the hunter in the field, they generally put in hundreds of hours in the field scouting, gaining permission for hunting on private land and assisting older clients as well as younger ones wanting to get started. Yes, unfortunately, guiding and booking is a business and they perform a service, just as a doctor, lawyer, carpenter or salesclerk do.
The good thing is they are not forced on anyone. They are there if and only if you desire to use them.
I have guided hunts for bucks up to 32" sporting 6X6 racks but the hunts that I remember most are those special hunts. Like the hunt with an 80-year-old man from Sacramento who had hunted for over 60 years but hadn't harvested a deer in over 20. Our hard work paid off handsomely with a 24" 4-point buck that the client claimed was the best hunt of his life! On the other end of the spectrum was the father and son from the Central Valley who were booked into Saskatchewan, Canada on a waterfowl hunt. His younger son was brought along as a guest that could not hunt due to his age. That gentleman called to thank me for the best waterfowl hunt of his life and was super thankful that he could enjoy it with not only his hunting son, but the special arrangements I made for his younger son to come along at no charge.
There are also hunts that increase the hunters' odds at obtaining hard-to-get tags. Those special drawings increase their odds, in some cases, by 10 times the normal draw rates! I don't consider myself a "bad person" and I don't consider my clients as "bad hunters" just because they may need a little help whether it be in obtaining tags, scouting, finding new exciting places to hunt or fish, or need a little help in the field. I think everyone should do what works for them. If a guide is not needed, then have a great time in the field on your own. It's not a contest. Hunting and fishing are a great way to get time away from everyday pressures, and should be enjoyed whether it's with a guide or your best friend.
Motion decoys electromechanical, wind-powered, hand-pulled string in duck and geese hunting all serve the same purpose: pull 'em in low and slow.
That is a good thing for all hunters, bird watchers and the overall waterfowl population in general. The ability to pull the birds down via effective decoys and calling allows the hunter to clearly identify species and gender, then take a slow, well-aimed, effective shot. The end result is less cripples and better selective management through "targeted" bag limits of specific type and gender.
A delightful bonus of motion decoys is a reduced temptation toward "skybusting".
One would think DFG would be considering making motion decoys MANDATORY, not illegal; one would think.
John P. Joyner
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