DIY-er & Big Game Outfitter, Can They Mix?

(Originally Posted: by Amber-Lee Dibble, aka Alaska Chick on Thursday, Jan 26, 2012)

DIY-ers & Big Game Outfitters, Can They Mix?

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A good friend and I were chatting on line about the things that had kept us so busy that we had drifted away from touching base with each other and dreams of not only meeting one day in person, but the support and encouragement that sometimes you are lucky (blessed) to have with another in your industry.

She asked me if I would be interested in taking part in an interview of sorts, a kind of a girl to girl chat, about hunting and our different roles that she and I play in the industry of hunting.

DIY-er & Big Game Outfitter, Can They Mix?

Sure! Sounds interesting and fun, I am all in, girlfriend. “Maybe you’d like to see this post, I mentioned you in.” She told me, and I told her I would go take a look, for sure!

I went over expecting to read her current article, learn this or that (because we really do come at and have different roles in this industry), and leave a nice comment on whatever struck me the most to share.

(a few short moments later…) Holy-Moley. O.M.G. Now, what do I do?!

First, how we met…

I met Carrie Zylka on Twitter in June of 2011. I was using the “search interests.” Outdoor recreation, hunting and photography.  I took a look at her profile and knew! After visiting A Fist Full of Arrows (dot) com, I was very interested in getting to know her better because I loved her blog. I have always loved to learn and Carrie seemed to be great at everything I was aiming for and hoped to learn. Then I followed another link, to Zylka Photography and it turned into yet another common passion we shared, photography.

Her “matter of fact” way of saying things really made sense to me.  She was warm, helpful, sweet and had a sense of humor that took me by such surprise, I spewed coffee all over my keyboard a couple of times we chatted on Twitter before I knew to beware!

So, if you don’t know Carrie, (and you should!) you may not have heard that she joined the team at Maximum Outdoors last year. Carrie is posting over there nowadays, so you’ll have to check out what they are up to while you are reading Carrie’s latest post.

After a less than perfect, first foray into utilizing an Outfitter for a long awaited hunt, Carrie wanted to share important points to remember when looking for and choosing an Outfitter to others.

So, I went over and read Tips for Hiring an Outfitter by Carrie @czylka.

Carrie says, “To me, the very definition of an outfitter is someone you can rely on to present you with a reasonable shot opportunity.”

To this I say, all in all, Carrie is right. Exactly right when she goes on to say, “You get what you pay for.” This isn’t to say any Outfitter wouldn’t or couldn’t cut his profit down, if he found it possible to do (as an Outfitter, I would think that most turn all profit- assuming there is one, directly back into his business to better the overall experience for future clients as well).

There are costs and fees a client really has no way of conceiving of. Why should they? Do you really know how much effort goes into the process of procuring, making, packaging and marketing of any product you buy? I think not. In a long ago post, here on Alaska Chick’s Blog, Master Guide Terry Overly covered all sorts of info for one curious mind.

Why would you (anyone) hire an Outfitter? I think Carrie answered this best, “I would be paying for services provided that I wouldn’t be able to provide myself in a week.” Well, yeah. That’s the point!

To this, I can only add, “Carrie, a week?!!” It takes at least two years to become a licensed Alaska Big Game Guide, with all the requirements. That, is only if you have the natural (or learned, although this is, at least 70% of the time, much more effort than many of today’s young adults are willing to expend, in my experience) talents that are required to do what is expected of an Alaska Big Game Guide.

Shot Opportunity

I love this! “To expect a 100% kill guarantee is absolutely ludicrous,…” I laughed and laughed! Yeah, well… you tell it to them, honey!

However, the end of the same sentence is “…but what I do expect is at least an opportunity.” Of course you do. So do your Outfitters. So do your guides. I have almost zero experience hunting in the Lower 48. I speak only for my experience in Alaska. We have no fences, there are no roads to barricade or direct the wild game we hunt. We live in a fly-in area in our nation’s largest National Park. We live on the largest piece of wilderness left and protected from man or progress, in the world.

To steal the middle of Carrie’s sentence, “…animals don’t always cooperate.” Or Mother Nature, or the horses you hobbled, belled and set out to graze as late as you could stay awake.


This is the tricky one, isn’t it?  You can believe in the honesty of your neighbor, good will of man and all that… BUT. Whose fool are you then, having done little to no basic research, if you get cheated?

One of the most annoying things, to me, is the FACT that some people would rather book a hunt with someone that tells them everything they do is always just dandy, than someone that says, this is what can happen and this is how we deal with it, if it does.

This is one of the great things, I believe, about today’s communication and technology. One of the things you learn quickly on line is, if you have your priorities right, BE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE. It is too easy for someone to type your name, your company’s name, your governing body and multiple other ways, and hit “SEARCH.” You are there. I am there. We are all there. Somewhere.

References are an important issue, successful and not successful..but yeah, seriously.. why would anyone offer a “bad” reference?! (That never made any sense to me.)

The best you can hope for, I would think, speaking with a reference, are more personal insights. Impressions of the crew, the country. The overall dedication to the services provided each individual.

For example! Time STOPS when you enter Chisana. Yes, this is an issue, at first. We, here at Pioneer Outfitters, call it “Overly Time,” he has his own time zone, it’s thought. However, it works, it takes a little more time, but what most come to realize, is that each and every single client, whomever, from where-ever is our most important client.

Everything has to be exactly right (err, well as much as we can hope and plan for!). That can’t be done until we meet you. Face to face, in person, and spend a bit getting to know you, your body language, your build, your more obvious habits (as simple as do you drink coffee in the morning or non-stop, do you ask for hot chocolate or grab a tea bag, was it green tea or herbals…)


There is NOTHING more important than safety.

Very cool, Carrie style. Straight forward and classy. I stopped here at “Comfort” in her post because I have run into issues with the Comfort topic as well, and I think we (you and I) will talk more about very soon concerning women in the field.

I thought, well, I can leave a nice comment, help a little when we chat from another angle of the Hunting Industry as a professional guide, working so closely with a well known Outfitter for so long.

Then, I read the comments.

Dude #1 starts off and basically he is right. I cannot personally confirm what we call the “used care salesman tactics” used by Outfitters, but we have felt the back lash of a booking agent using “any means necessary” to impress his Outfitter with his bookings (this is usually in the hopes of a few “free” hunts.). It only took once and was dealt with on all levels in what one could refer to as a decisive manner.

Dude #2 says that “Success still depends largely on each hunters abilities.” No… Some rests there, of course. The movement of the game and the weather also play a big part. The Outfitter, his knowledge of his area, his (or her) experience plays a huge part in the success, Those being the big 3- The Outfitter, the weather and the game. Sure, we all hate a hunter that can’t shoot, but honestly… they are rare.

More often, physical conditioning hampers a client on his side. True we are not miracle workers, good point. The faith has to be in the Outfitter, to pick the guide that will work best with the client, his needs, (including simply being a hunting pal) the terrain for the game he is after along with the client’s capabilities. The Outfitter, to pick and or train his guides. No, I think the scale tips to the Outfitter. (If we are NOT talking about a “guide” that picks you up at “God-oh-back-clock”in the morning to drop you off and drive away “see you in a few hours”.)

That is where I had to stop. These guys were only showing their asses in their comments and two cents at that point.

Jiminy Critters. Ye-Gaads. I could go on and on, but hey, not my blog and more, why? Carrie hadn’t yet responded to the comments and I thought to wait a bit, maybe chat with Carrie about it and what did she want me to do, if anything.

What I have learned, through time, experience, listening and watching the ones that not only have been doing it a whole lot longer than I have, some longer than I’ve been alive, is how to do “it” right.

You don’t sound “right” or appealing on any level when you rip someone else apart. On line, it is even worse. It only attracts the wrong kind of people. Well, the wrong kind of people, for who I want to be surrounded with or attract not only to Alaska Chick’s Blog but to Pioneer Outfitters.

You see, what I have learned is, you can’t expect to be at the top of your game, your business, your life, if you are beatin’ around in the muck with folks with nothing to offer the world as a whole for and by simply existing.

I want to be that. At the top of my game, my business and my life. I want to touch the world and the people in it. To help make dreams come true, to make memories that last. I want to see the Hunting Industry thrive for as long as it can. It is a part of who we are as human beings. We should be allowed to safely and ethically hunt, if we choose. The best way for this to happen is to have fine examples of the Hunting Industry, such as Outfitters lead the way.

This is what I have learned from the best of the best in our industry. You don’t bullshit a client, because it wont make either of you happy in the end. EVERYTHING has to be just right, otherwise your client will NOT be happy, even if he (or she) are successful. And THAT is the name of the game. Happy. Clients.

DIY-er & Big Game Outfitter, Can They Mix?

So, yeah, I’d choose to find an Outfitter for the same reasons Carrie spoke of. I would tend to believe in my Outfitter because of the ones I have known, personally. I also know what to expect, so I think Carrie’s post is needed, along with many more that I am looking forward to, from her point of view.

~I know there are a ton of links here, most lead to posts I’ve written over the last year answering these same points, from another point of view and position in this life that both Carrie and I share. A bond that helped start a friendship at opposite sides of our great country. A friendship that was possible, through the internet, our shared interests and our blogs. How cool is that?

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Unrealistic Expectations: Alaska Wins, You Loose
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How Being Armed and Smart Kept Me from Becoming a Victim

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