Survival & Guide Training FAQs

Welcome to Pioneer Outfitters Survival & Guide Training.

Survival & Guide Training is a professional training course designed to train the skills and help you learn to apply those skills and hone the ones you arrive with.

These Survival & Guide Training FAQs will help you prepare to embark upon a historic and life long career in Professional Guiding.

If after reading these FAQs, there are still unanswered questions, do not hesitate to give us a call 907-734-0007, send an email [email protected] or leave your question via the “Contact Us” page here on this website.

We are pleased to answer any and all questions.

Survival & Guide Training


Survival & Guide Training

This isn’t a “school-room” environment, if your application is accepted, you will be trained amidst my guides, live in one of the most remote, harshest areas of Alaska.

You will live as one of the Team, work side by side with some of the most impressive Professional guides in Alaska, while being trained and observed.

This Training requires dedication, it was not created for a Summer break or vacation.

Pioneer Outfitters Survival & Guide Training was created to fulfill a great need for the right individuals to become professional, licensed Alaska Guides.

The experience, ethics, skills and knowledge required by the State of Alaska is respected all over the United States as the most stringently trained, fully prepared, experienced guides available in the entire industry.

These high standards, set by the State of Alaska, the Alaska Commercial Services Board, Alaska Guide Board, and of the Master Guides and Registered Guides of Alaska, demand a commitment from the individuals that is rarely seen in any industry.


Pioneer Outfitters Survival & Guide Training, in the normal course of what is required by the State of Alaska, is between 1 to 2 years. (Based individually.)

(PDF of Assistant Guide Requirement / State of Alaska Application.)

First, The Boss.

Master Guide Terry Overly is a licensed State of Alaska Master Guide Outfitter. Living and growing up in Chisana and guiding in the area have made the knowledge and understanding of the remote interior mountains first and second nature to him.

With more than 8 decades (3 generations) of Pioneer Outfitters being family owned and operated, living a lifestyle that many people have forgotten, the personal and active experience in the Training, Guiding and Hunting industry, Terry Overly and his team will provide you with the experience and skills required of a Professional Guide of Alaska.

PIONEER OUTFITTERS Conducts ALL Adventures & Excursions & Big Game Hunts on Horseback

The only time what we do is not done on horseback, it is done on snow-machines.

Your Physical Conditioning
The terrain in Alaska can be difficult to negotiate. Using horses allows us to provide comfortable camps and a measure of safety. However many people who are unfamiliar with horseback riding are unaware that it is very hard work, itself.

We do not discriminate. Each applicant is reviewed on a individual basis. We have a minimum age requirement of 19 years old (unless otherwise with parental consent) and good physical and mental health is a must, due to the nature of this course and the guiding lifestyle. Attendance is obviously important as well as student conduct; anyone uncooperative will be dismissed without refund.

Day to day living in the bush, of the Interior of Alaska, walking the walk, to borrow a phrase, as well as time out on the trail and taking part in  the Adventures, Excursions and Big Game Hunting with Pioneer Outfitters, practicing skills and gaining knowledge and experience are each essential parts of the Survival & Guide Training.

(Still with us? Alright! Here is more…)

Suggested Gear List for the Trainee (at least!)

Foot locker with padlock
State of Alaska Hunting License
Home state Drivers License
U.S. Passport
Birth certificate
First Aid / CPR card (if you have a current one.)
Three ring binder + large and small note pads + pens/pencils , envelopes, stamps
Laptop (optional)
Personal toiletries (Ladies, bring what you may need!)
Alarm clock, battery or wind-up (both are better)
Sleeping bag good for up to -40 degrees F*
duffle bag (for gear to camp, water proof is best)
waterproof boots (mud boots)
Camp shoes / sneakers / slippers
Hunting Boots
first Aid kit (band-aids, moleskin, neosporin, alcohol wipes, tweezers, fingernail clippers, toe nail clippers, 3 safety pins, ace-bandage, Tylenol, ibuprofen, benadril or allergy medicine)
3-4 (2-black) Hooded sweatshirts
3-4 Jeans (1-2 Black)
5- tee shirts -shirtsleeve (or tank tops) (1-2 black)
5-long sleeve shirts, tee shirts or other (1-2 black)
2- flannel long sleeve shirts
2- turtle necks shirts (1-black)
10- sets long underwear
15 pr. wool socks
20 pr. other socks
Laundry bag
Rain gear (or Long Rider) pants and jacket
stocking warm hat, neck gate, face mask (all for warmth and protection during the winter)
gloves; (LOTS) jersey, wool, leather- lined and unlined
cowboy hat and/or brimmed hat
5- bandanas
Knives; skinning, a small blade for caping, a pocket knife, sharpening stone
Bug repellant (you will need it), sunscreen (if you tend to need it)
Spare set of prescription glasses (if
Small sewing kit
Magnesium Fire Starter
Wood/Bone saw (I like the Wyoming Saw in the pouch, sold by Cabella’s)
Cold weather bibs or cover-all (or wools if you have them)
Flashlight + spare set of batteries
Smokes (if you smoke- bring your own, no begging!!)
Water bottle
Digital camera and extra Battery + cords

Money… (For yourself) a credit card is better, in case you want to order something, buy something.

** Remember: You are making a short-long term commitment. You will be treated as family here with us at Pioneer Outfitters and as family, we want you to be comfortable and happy.

** Bring, send or have sent what makes you happy. Do you have a hobby? Do you enjoy listening to your music? Do you like to have pictures of family and friends near you? Do you tie flies? (for fly-fishing!) (you get the idea) Bring them!
Optional Gear:

Thermarest pad
Range Finder
Spotting Scope
Fishing Gear (with Alaska Fishing license)
*Your own horse tack (saddle, bridle, pads, etc.)
*Pioneer Outfitters will approve the gear before being used on our horses.
State of Alaska Trapping License
Firearm (To be approved by Master Guide Terry Overly before you ship it.)
Archery Equipment
Maps (listed in these FAQ’s)

Shipping Address: If you choose to mail your gear, or to receive mail, this the address.

C/O Your Name
Pioneer Outfitters
Post Office Box CZN
Tok, Alaska 99780

Lodge Schedule and Habits:

Breakfast is at 8:00 am every morning. You are required to arrive no later than 7:30 am. Breakfast and dinner are served family style.

Lunch is buffet style. It is available from 11:00 am until 2:30-3:00pm every day. If you are hungry, eat. If you are busy, it is out for this length of time, as to not interrupt a project or lesson.

Dinner is served family style at 7:00pm.

You will be on Dinner clean-up schedule with the rest of the Pioneer Outfitters Team.

When you have laundry to be washed, bring your bag/basket to the laundry room at Breakfast, it will be done by the end of the day.

When you enter the Lodge, be polite, bring in an armload of firewood for one of the three wood stoves that keep the Lodge, your gathering, entertainment and your together place.

Maps and Location:

If you would like to have detailed maps, the following URL will take you to the NPS Topographic Map Index. You will need the Nabesna Quads A3, A4, B3, B4 and McCarthy Quads D2, D3 and D4 to cover Pioneer Outfitters’ area.

Pioneer Outfitters is located in the Wrangell St. Elias National Park.
Chisana’s location is as follows;
Latitude 62* 4min 3sec North.
Longitude 142* 2min 7sec West
Pioneer Outfitters airstrip elevation is 3200 feet.

We typically hike, when and if wished, from 4000 – 7000 feet, sometimes up to 8000 feet on our Adventures and Big Game Hunts.


Our weather vary considerably from May, when our adventures begin, to the beginning of October, the end of our last adventure. You, however, will be dealing with October through the following May, as well.

It is important to consider the weather and to bring the appropriate clothing and gear. Being in the interior of Alaska as we are, our weather is usually mild and stable compared to some of the coastal areas.

On clear, sunny days in May thru June you may see temperatures in the mid to upper 80’s with the evening temperatures of 40* to 60*.

Rain is more likely in July and August with the possibility of a little snow at higher elevations. August snows as a rule will melt off in a day or two. Cloudy and stormy days in August will bring temperatures of 35* to 55* and usually with winds of 10 to 20 miles an hour.

In September temperatures and weather may change considerably between the beginning and end of the month. 50* to 70* is not uncommon on clear, sunny days and likewise 20* to 40* is not uncommon on cloudy, stormy days. Very little rain is usually expected in September and as mentioned before, and snow is likely at anytime.

By October, we generally have had our first snowfall, (if you want to knock one of your teammates with a snowball to the back of the head, now’s the time!)and it will stick by the end of the month.

Here is a summary of our weather’s what’s what:

This season is long, dark, and extremely cold with highs of 5-7ºF and nighttime lows dipping to -50- -60ºF! Temperatures may remain below freezing for five months. Daytime skies are usually clear and at night the aurora dances overhead. Exceptionally dry snow covers the ground to around two feet. (this means no snowballs or snowmen!)

In the spring, clear skies, increasingly longer days, and warming temperatures break winter’s hold on the land with dramatic quickness. Average highs are 40-50. Lows may still dip into the teens and single digits.

Wildflowers and mosquitoes peak in June and July. Consider bringing a head-net. June and July are also the warmest months, with highs reaching near 80 on some days, but it can snow any month of the year in the highcountry. The prime backcountry season is June 20 to August 20 due to snow depths at higher elevations. Drizzling rains are not uncommon throughout the summer and, in general, rainfall increases in August and September.

Autumn arrives early; willows and aspens begin to change color by mid-August. This season can be delightfully clear, spectacular, and mosquito-free, but it often too short. First snows often fall in September.

Remember that in any season, the weather can change quickly, so it is wise to pack with clothing that can be layered, ready to peel off or add as conditions dictate.

It comes down to this, folks, even on the nicest, hottest days (which by the way, it can be in the upper 90’s*) in the interior of Alaska, it’s cool and can be wet, and that can be dangerous if not prepared.

The Learnin’ Begins:

Familiarize yourself with the current State of Alaska Hunting Regulations, paying particular attention to Unit 12, where Pioneer Outfitters is located and operates.

Familiarize yourself with the State of Alaska Big Game Commercial Services Board Statutes and Regulations. (Look for BGCS Statutes and Regs in left side bar, near the bottom)

Familiarize yourself with the Alaska Wildlife Notebook Series.

Read, To Build A Fire written by Jack London.

Still here? Wonderful!

It isn’t easy, folks. It isn’t meant to be. The end result, the goal, isn’t an easy way of life, but it a fantastically gratifying and a free one.

Now, push the Book It button, fill out the Contact Us form and I will have Master Guide Terry Overly give you a call and you can ask all the questions I may not have been clear-enough on. We are looking forward to having you be part of us, and an industry that needs more capable and determined people, just like you.


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