Not So Typical Guide Applicant Questions

Yep. Sometimes it is easy for any of us to get into the mind-set that we have all the questions answered, but sometimes (as is the case today) we get the not so typical Guide applicant questions too!

What we are going to discuss in this post are a few random but pointed questions about:

  • Suitable clothing
  • Saddles & Horses
  • Guide equipment
  • Random thoughts

Alrighty! Paul (along with his awesome wife Allison) Preston have been preparing to begin Alaska Guide Training for some time now. They are amassing their fortunes and making babies before heading into the wilderness. They are also the human Grandparents to my sweetest man, Solomon’s Wisdom (My registered English Mastiff sent to me from California as an early Christmas present!).

Guide Applicant Questions

Guide Applicant Questions

First, here is the latest note from Paul about his coming to Alaska and what he will need:

“I have read different opinions on down filled parkas what is your opinion?

What bars and gullet fits your horses the best? From pictures it looks like your horses are big and high withered?

What brand and power binoculars do you prefer?

Why a passport?

Is there a specific sleeping bag you recommend? I have found a -60, Cabelas has a -40, and the military uses a multi layer system.

Wool verses the newer tech clothing?

Well that’s the short list… I look forward to your reply. I’m SURE it will be entertaining as always!”

The title of this post could have been Tech, Feathers, Weather and Other Topics but I don’t think I could have pulled off the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) required if I had given in to the urge.

Ready? LOL

Suitable Clothing

Again. It’s Alaska. Even more, it is Interior Alaska with it’s flaky weather changes and humbling (and deadly) cold.

“I have read different opinions on down filled parkas what is your opinion?”

Down is wonderful and incredibly warm. A down- filled parka is perfect… as long as there is no chance of it getting wet.

A wet down-filled parka is worthless.

We wear our own down parkas for warmth when it is very cold. Very cold means temperatures between -40 to -60 and with very little chance of getting wet.

Wool verses the newer tech clothing?

Good wool clothing, like bibs, hunting clothes, pants and glove liners are wonderful. Wool tends to be as warm as you can get.

A major advantage to wool is that whether you get soaked from a dunking or a rainstorm or not- you will stay warm.

Wet wool is heavy, but still warm.

Make sure what you buy is good wool and not some sort of wanna-be-wool-synthetic and make sure it is lined to keep it from being overly itchy, which bothers me at times.

Saddles & Horses

What bars and gullet fits your horses the best? From pictures it looks like your horses are big and high withered?

My response? “Huh.” For years now, I have been more concerned that our hunter’s butts may not fit our saddles than which saddle fits our horses! So I had to go to the Boss with this one.

Really, what we here at Pioneer Outfitters prefer in a horse and typically get are horses that are “short and squatty, all ass and no body” (as I have heard for years).

Master Guide Terry Overly’s response didn’t sound very promising, as I had hoped for a short and sweet answer either with, “Huh? Is he talking about pack saddles or riding saddles?”

Well. Down to the saddle barn I went.

Yep. Them be saddles.

Alrighty then, Google is my friend.

Guide Applicant Questions

Guide Applicant Questions

Guide Applicant Questions

Guide Applicant Questions

Guide Applicant Questions

Wow, lots to learn there. However, I am still unsure how to answer Paul’s question. What I know, is how to fit a horse to his saddle and how to match a rider to his saddle. While unsure as to what the terms and measurements may be, but the fit after I have chosen has rarely been brought into question or dispute.

I did have to ask a few more “cowboy” type individuals that I look up to and their own responses made me feel a little bit less ignorant. Mostly, I was answered by “What?!” or “What’s that?” Lol, so, Paul, when you get here, we will all learn a few things I’m thinking.

What brand and power binoculars do you prefer?

I began using a very small and incredibly inadequate set of bird watching binos, so each step up I took was not only a long and frustrating climb to actually being able to see well enough to count. I know that when I finally bought my first set of Nikon Monarch 12 x 42 ~ I was in heaven! Absolutely love them! Bright and clear, I was without fail confident in what I was looking at and able to make professional decisions as to what our next moves would be.

For the last few years, I have been fairly spoiled. One lucky day (for me) out hunting with Master Guide Terry Overly, he was getting a bit cranky as the infection he had in his eye at the time was bothering him, and the rain and fog were frustrating as we were trying to keep watch on the Dall sheep moving in and out of view, he thrust his binos at me and asked “Can you see better through these?”

Ha! “Yep, sure can!” I responded back and simply continued to use them. Quickly removing my own binos from their harness and attaching his own, I packed mine away safely into my saddlebags and got on with it. Every once in awhile he remembers and asks about his binos, and I simply remind him they are safe and happy, usually as I pat my chest harness where they are nestled. Lol, yes, Terry’s Zeiss 10 x 40B Binoculars by far out vision my humble Nikons.

However, I must remind you that going all the way to Germany for good optics is not necessary to be a Professional Guide. They are an incredible luxury. Nikon is a wonderful producer of great optics that we can all afford.

Why a passport?

Sigh. Because I say so. LOL, no I am certainly just joking. (sorta) Passports are necessary so that we (including you in these occasions) can travel with ease into Canada and home to Alaska again. We generally bring in new horses by way of historic trails that put into the wilderness inside the Yukon.

Is there a specific sleeping bag you recommend? I have found a -60, Cabelas has a -40, and the military uses a multi layer system.

Absolutely. I always recommend and use Cabela’s Alaskan Guide® Rectangle Sleeping Bag. I also recommend going with the -40*F and Long. Proper rest is one of the most important things in a Guide’s life. Comfort helps this. Rarely is it ever that cold during our hunting seasons, but unzipping the sleeping bag makes a fine air-conditioner and I would much rather have the warmest bag available than to ever be chilled as I try to rest. A waterproof compression bag solves the issue of packing space, quite nicely.

I own and have used one of the old Canadian Woods bags- the multi layer system and it is indeed a grand and wonderful sleeping bag. It also takes up the space of an entire top pack load on a pack horse! No, I was and continue to be thrilled and snug in my Alaskan Guide Bag.

Wool verses the newer tech clothing?

Well. I am still waiting for Under Armour to discover me and adopt me. I would be happy if they just finally gave into my reminders that they do so and simply make me their own mascot. Otherwise, it is really hard to argue with the lighter and newer tech clothing available now. Under Armour, Prois, Captive M Outdoors and KULU are all among my personal favorites although a major issue for me here at Pioneer Outfitters and representing Master Guide Terry Overly is that we do not wear camouflage. (no reason to) I wish that black was always an option and at the very least, I wish that a mostly black camo was made available by each.

So! I hope I answered this latest (and well over due, I am aware) list of questions to your satisfaction, Paul. I know that you are probably a bit disappointed with the bars and gullet answer, but hey, what else are you gonna teach me?

Related posts:

The Line Between Fear and Respect
Leadership Alaska Guide Training
Know Your Enemy

2 Responses to Not So Typical Guide Applicant Questions

  1.’s not just me! LOL..but they forgot BOOTS!!! BaaWaaaHahaha..
    Actually we found by chance about the difference in wool socks this summer camping. I’ll not by anything but Merino woo for next to the skin AND warmth ever again! Costs a few more $$, but well worth it!
    Mow..what kind of clothes do we need for mid June to mid July????? I know my Meriono socks are cool no sweaty feet AND warm!

    As Always ~*~

  2. LOL, Ann, you never cease to crack me up- I don’t know how I missed seeing this comment!

    June-July… it is still Alaska. It could be a cold and wet season or hot and dry, just think layers and bring your wind-proof rain gear! Then you will be fine. If you have a tendency at home (your home) to be chilly, easily, add another hooded sweatshirt and an extra pair of sweatpants or cozy sleepwear.

    Layers are always key here. All in the same day I have been in a snow-squall, bundled up against the wind and wet snow, for over 2 hours! Only to ride later that same day in a short sleeve tee-shirt and wearing sunglasses!

    All silliness aside, Alaska is a tricky one, even before all of the strange new weather began, to predict the weather for. And being so deep inside the mountains, all bets are off.

    Let’s just keep our fingers crossed and have faith that you will enjoy Alaska’s beauty and not Mother Nature’s fickle side!

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