Yelling, to be heard over the roar of the river channel, I call out, “Spread out! Keep them heading up river! Head right for me, pack horses, down river!” Reminding the trainees following me, the main points of crossing the flooding river, avoiding the shifting quicksand.
Sitting on a knoll, glassing for Dall Sheep, spotting them, explaining what is dialed in on the spotting scope and playing “musical chairs” with it. Talking about what is required by the Alaska Fish & Game Hunting Regulations to be a “legal” sheep and the different ways that is possible.
Explaining different types of hobbles and teaching how to tail-tie the horses to be led out to graze each night. Training to be alert, even in the exhausted sleep that comes each night in Hunting Camp, for the sounds of horse-bells, to come awake at the sound and jump. If the horses head for home, it’s a long damn walk.
Looking for Grizzly Bears and knowing where to look and how. How to distinguish a Grizzly Bear from a Black Bear, how to distinguish a sow from a boar and how to size them. Constant reminders of just how small this year’s cubs are and how to diligently watch for them as well as 1-3 year olds still with the sow. Color phases and habits are also on the unending lists of “what a guide needs to know.”
Teaching and adjusting saddling techniques as well as saddling pack horses and distributing loads in pack boxes and the dreaded “diamond” to be tied again and again until it can be done blindfolded. Calling “Do-Over” as the Boss pulls and tosses saddles for trainees to re-saddle, yet again. Having the trainees re-saddle and re-tie until they are right and tight.
Unending pow-wows and discussions of ethics and ethical behavior, care of clients, even the ones that a guide would rather find a crevice to stash one in, stock care in camp and care of the camp itself.
How to deal with all kinds of clients, a completely different breed than the Horseback Adventurers they have already met. Multitudes of different personalities, in clients and guests, co-workers and following the lead guide of the camp. Anticipating the wants, needs and moods of Pioneer Outfitters clients and guests.
Most importantly, the indisputable fact that none of these important jobs, obligations and responsibilities of a Professional Alaska Guide is more important than understanding, dealing with and being in control of oneself, first and last. Being a Professional Alaska Guide.
Calling in the Alaska-Yukon Moose, where to find them and why. Most importantly, here, is NOT making the same error over 90% of first year Guides make with Alaska-Yukon Moose; exactly what 50” looks like. How to judge a moose and exactly how much work there is to be done on the largest specie of the deer family on the planet, once one is harvested.
This is only the “tip of the glacier,” as we say at Pioneer Outfitters Survival & Guide Training. This is the “hands on” each trainee has waited for.
It isn’t easy. It isn’t a joke or a “walk in the park.” Lives and dreams are Pioneer Outfitters priorities. Keeping our clients and guests safe and making every effort to see those dreams realized is our specialty.
The Pioneer Outfitters Guide Trainees of 2012 are (in order of arrival) Makinzi, Wes, Kaleb and Jeff. They are our charges, they are part of Pioneer Outfitters team and they are the future of Alaska’s Professional Guides.