How Being Armed and Smart Kept Me from Becoming a Victim

“Have you stopped writing?”
“What is going on?”
“Is Pioneer Outfitters no more?”

~ No, I just finished my new book, Revelation, An Inspirational Adventure.

~ Getting back into the swing of Home schooling, getting ready for a long, cold and hard Alaska winter.

~ LOL, good grief no! Pioneer Outfitters is going through some changes and has had a couple of rough blows over the last couple of years due to uncontrollable circumstances and of course worrying about the same things everyone else is. At 90 years old and counting though, some aches and pains just go with the territory.

The lack of stories and sharing the experiences of this past Fall Big Game Hunting Season has been in large due to my own thought-jam in my own mind and recent experiences.

We need to talk.

Victim

This past fall, I had an experience that in the 22 years I have been a part of Pioneer Outfitters, I had never endured before.

I am a Professional Guide for the state of Alaska. Generally speaking, I am armed and most often considered by the toughest of Alaskans; dangerous. I am also a woman in a career that even today in 2014, is still a predominately male field.

In the past we have spoken about the very real worry and fear for women hunters who wish to hunt big game in areas, states and even countries not their own. A woman alone, traveling anywhere at all, needs to be aware and cautious of dangers that she may be exposed to.

My own personal experiences with Big Game Outfitters and Professional Guides have all been as a part of Pioneer Outfitters in the very remote Chisana, Alaska. I feel very confident that any woman who chose to visit and or hunt Alaska with Pioneer Outfitters would be treated with respect and consideration.

This respect includes the complete and total shared disgust at any form of sexual harassment.

This was my first experience dealing with the disgusting reality of sexual harassment. It was shocking and disappointing in equal parts. It was shocking because while I have lived this life, surrounded by flirtatious men of all ages for a long while, I had never before been demeaned and propositioned in such an inappropriate manner.

Being Armed and Smart Kept Me from Becoming a Victim

It was also a very disappointing experience as well because it confirmed so many of the most recent changes in the Big Game Hunter clientele we here at Pioneer Outfitters have witnessed become more prevalent over the last ten years. Some of those changes include intolerance, impatience and a misplaced sense of overwhelming entitlement.

You may be wondering how was this handled, what happened, what did I do and so on. Well… this was in descriptive terms: a particularly sucky situation.

As a Professional Guide my job includes being a constant, knowledgeable and attentive companion during a client’s adventure, excursion or Big Game Hunt. As the manager and lead guide for Pioneer Outfitters one of my main responsibilities is public relations and dealing with, chatting with and spending time with potential and current clients. As one who has learned to listen carefully to the old-timer Outfitters I have been honored to know and learn from, I also fully understand what is required of me as an Alaska Professional Guide. (Hold that line.)

Being Armed and Smart Kept Me from Becoming a Victim

Smart actions? First, I told my boss, the Outfitter, that I had been propositioned and really didn’t believe that it was  the typical harmless flirting and that I intended to discuss and warn my hunting partner, another Professional Guide that has worked for Pioneer Outfitters for many years as well of the situation that seemed to be brewing.

Our profession relies upon successful and positive word of mouth to continue and grow. Pioneer Outfitters has the added pressure of upholding a near century old reputation for being the toughest, most knowledgeable and real-deal Alaskan outdoorsmen and women.

Along with letting the Boss and my hunting partner know what was happening, I made sure that the client understood that I was not interested in playing the games he was offering but I was looking forward to his Alaska Big Game Hunt. (~ It didn’t hurt to make sure it is obvious I am always armed.)

It didn’t end there, of course.

Nine days of avoiding physical advances, inappropriate remarks and propositions and thinly veiled threats that unless I satisfied all his dreams and desires of his Alaska adventure, not only would I not receive a tip but he would be sure to let his interested friends and acquaintances know that Pioneer Outfitters was definitely not where to look for their own Alaska experiences.

So, the results of this disappointing adventure for me? A very beautiful Alaska-Yukon Moose was harvested and I received not only no tip for the hard work and long days that is invested into each client but no thank you either.

I hope by sharing this experience with you all will be cathartic for me and now I will find the words to share the more positive and exciting moments from our Fall Big Game Hunting Season with you.

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15 Responses to How Being Armed and Smart Kept Me from Becoming a Victim

    • Jane!
      It is not my place to judge, this I know. I tried to just let it go, not dwell or think on it and I thought that I was succeeding, actually, but I was also unable to write ANYTHING… So, each time I asked myself, what happened that I can share with the world.. This kept surfacing, and I would continue to push it away leaving me with nothing of the wonderful moments to share.
      So.
      I was loud and proud as I spoke with my friend Carrie a few years ago in response to her own article about women traveling alone to the unknown- to hunt. Confident and grateful to be surrounded by such good men and women who would never think to disrespect, not only another person, but themselves in such a way.
      I had to acknowledge the horror and disgust… and yes, the fear that this caused.
      I have been training a young woman for the last three years (only so long because of her young age) to become an excellent Professional Guide and I have to admit, it was never out of my thoughts that if not for a change in plans for the 2014 Fall Hunting Season, she could have and would have been by my side. I would probably not have been able to handle the situation quite so well had she been exposed to this as well. God certainly must have had His hand in that path.

      • I was wondering if she was with you! Thank goodness she wasn’t..that’s just NOT the way most of the male species is! God does work in great ways indeed.

    • It wasn’t nice and it certainly was no fun. And tip or not, I am happy. It is over and I was a professional ~ and pleasant about it~ no matter how insulting or disgusting the situation was. There was simply no room or time for an emotional upheaval.
      … I hoped that by sharing this, I would be able to let it go because obviously, it bothered me more than I could allow myself to think about during the season.
      A gentleman on Face Book mentioned that he hoped that most are much more respectful and appropriate ~ They are! But as this was happening and since then, I have been thinking about this a lot. (as you can imagine) THIS is only only one piece of the rot that is causing such a problem for respectable and professional Outfitters and Registered Guides of Alaska to find and KEEP good and ethical Assistant Guides to offer clients and guests.
      We live a blessed life, those of us who have found a good and worthy career sharing our love of Alaska, the outdoors, the wilderness and the wildlife with others. Protecting them and having a part in making dreams come true. But. People are changing. They, more and more, seem to care less about the glory of what this magnificent and unchanged place in the wilderness has to offer, less about the amazing critters that live here ~ that some have chosen to pursue and challenge themselves against and above all, less about the effort and work that goes into their own adventure.

      • Sad but true..I know! how much work you put into making every guests Adventure Awesome and it’s a huge undertaking..people have no idea..Michael and I will enjoy..just being there and hanging out is a very special thing and not only because of the beauty of the place you live but the very, very special peeps that we’ll be spending time with! Big Smile thinking about that always!

  1. I’m sorry.. that you went through this. I’m glad you weren’t further victimized. Hoping this individual meets with their demise sooner rather than later. I don’t think this life form morphs into a decent human.. they only seek more victims. Trust your instincts Amber.. by now they are honed to a keen edge.

    • Aww, Michael!
      I had to laugh as I read your comment because well, Yeah! But I’ll leave it God to sort them all out. It shamed me because it DID shock me. Oh sure, guys, men, boys and even older gentlemen love to flirt and their levels of ability vary.. but I had never felt put in such a position as this one. And after my hard-line defense of our own Guides and Outfitter and the other Outfitters I am honored to know.. I felt stupid. I am 44 years old. I have worked with men my entire life and worked hard as well as alone with them. What!? What am I to teach, to tell; the young women who are also called to the wilderness, to become a Professional Guide? That even here too, that they may be victimized? It turned my stomach.
      Thanks for being here, Michael. It means the world.

  2. I guide on Alaska also, and have had some trying experiences with clients and one in particular that would have come to handcuffs had the hunt gone one more day. Some clients’ ideas of entitlement are beyond those of comprehension, but when sexual harassment becomes an issue………gloves off ! I would have taken said client on a death march to and from the second, third, and fourth load of meat. I would have made sure we started late and didn’t make it back to camp that night and experienced a long nite. Some people need to be ” broken “. If he did this to you he has done it before and will do it again. Oh, and KARMA is real !

    • Derek,
      It means a lot to have a fellow Guide chime in. (lol, not to mention your support.) I believe, and as I promised when we brought Pioneer online and added the blog- that I would share the good, the bad and the UGLY ~ so that people could have the chance to understand more of what we (as Professional Guides) do, how and why. You are not the first to mention that not only could I have not been his first victim, but most assuredly- I would not be the last. This is another heavy weight to carry ~ why should he be allowed to inflict himself on someone who may not be prepared to protect themselves? I find that I have no answers but I do feel much better now having spoken of it, shared the experience.. and hope that by doing so that maybe if one reads this post it will help, especially a young guide be a bit more prepared and know what and how to handle an ugly situation.
      Basically, only professional guides truly know the responsibility that a guide must carry. Lives are at stake and as a Professional Guide, those lives are our most important focus, above all else. It really is silly and foolish to disregard and disrespect your guide.

  3. Gosh! I can’t believe this! Yeah! Good for you in sharing with all of us. Attitude of gratitude. Everything happens for a reason, right? Well, perhaps the universe is manifesting itself through you right now. But you can’t go in life by only taking from others. Thanks for being such a great giver Amber-Lee.
    Johann

    • Johann,
      Yes, that is exactly it ~ Everything happens for a reason. The problem for me at times is the patience to see what that reason may be… Thank you for stopping in over here (I am well aware how many balls you are juggling as you are having so much fun! LOL). I just had a comment on Pioneer’s Face Book page mentioning that it (these actions described in this post) “goes with the territory”. Hmm. I feel very strongly that it is exactly this attitude and beliefs similar to this that enables these things to happen.
      I am living with an Attitude of Gratitude that I was given what I needed, to stay alive, to be safe, to protect and help others and the courage not to mind the hard line.
      :) ~ Amber-Lee

  4. Great answer Amber-Lee! The only thing that we control is how we manifest our energy. I salute you for being an exemplary leader and woman. I’m always here supporting, just like you are with everyone.
    Blessings
    Johann

  5. Hey Amber,

    You are so strong in mind and body and I can’t even begin to tell you how honored I am to know such a woman. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Although I was tense the whole time reading because of my disgust, I am glad you shared it for all us females to read and be strong.

    Stay safe and warm.
    Allie

    • That means so much to me, Allie, coming from you. It was difficult to write but as soon as I hit “publish” it was as if a clean rain washed the dirty feeling and hard thoughts away. Allowing the wrong to be hidden or feelings of confusion to keep us from speaking out is a mistake (as I discovered for myself) ~ not only does it help others to raise their voice but it also removes the enabling these actions of fear, shame and disgust from the occurrence and possibly it will help still this unacceptable behavior in those predators that are hidden in all walks of life today.

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