Most of us who live and work in the outdoors have heard a terrible guide story or two, you know the one where the guide does everything wrong with predicatible results. He is stubborn, wont listen to reason, and can’t wait to get back to his woman and his bottle of hooch. But whats it like on the other side? Whats it like to be a guide? I did a little hunting guiding when i was younger so i had the privilege of watching other guides in action and hearing how they talked about their hunters offscreen.
Sometimes it all got pretty interesting. Some hunters got right in there and treated the guide as an equal, a hunting buddy. These were the best ones. They’d at least offer to help with the gutting, the heavy lifting and so on. Those who didn’t help could be forgiven of course. After all, they were paying pretty bucks for these hunts so why do the job as well? Then there is the question of how skilled adn experienced the guided individual is. This is usually pretty apparent and is of course one of the first things you assess as a guide because the experience level dictates what sort of parameters to put on the trip. Physical condition is another. Maybe don’t take that 350 pounder on a rock climb if it can be avoided.
Recently i had the privilege of spending almost the entire day on the water with Martin Brenstrum of New Zealand. He is the author of the book, “Hooked on Hunting” a book detailing his life as a hunter in NZ. It became evident pretty early on that Martin was experienced as an outdoorsman. We spent the morning hours trolling for lake trout without the slightest nibble. Obviously this is upsetting to a guest. When you give up your money for a trip, you do so with the expectation of results. You may console the guide by saying, “that’s why its called fishing and not catching” or “a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work” but deep down, you want something to latch onto that hook and tear your arms off and prove you made the right decision hiring a guide.
Well, August is a tough time to catch a lake trout on teslin lake and i finally made the decision to put the trip out of its misery and head over to the bay for some pike to redeem my tattered pride. And wonder of wonders, Martin responds with, “I’d really like to catch a lake trout.”
Now my memory is not infallible, but in 20 years i don’t think i have ever heard anyone suggest that we just stay where we are and keep trying! Its unheard of. What a compliment to my guiding services, his recognition i was doing my best? And so i doubled down, quietly asking no begging the Creator for the needed fish as the motor ticked away against the power of the wind and waves. The thought came that perhaps the fish had gone much deeper than usual. We had just been through four weeks of unseasonably warm weather. Immediately i dropped the downriggers to 80 feet and voila! (thats french) there they were! One, two, three lake trout within an hour. Not bad for August on a stormy day.
The point of the story is that had Martin responded with despair and given up based on his guide’s suggestion, he would not have caught and eaten that yukon lake trout on this particular day. His lifetime of experience in the outdoors had taught him that nature does not always yield up her bounty without a struggle and a lot of patience . His experience and his faith in his guide on this day paid off for the guided and the guide! A very happy ending that might not have been.