Any professional in an industry that deals with clients has their fair share of horror stories, and hunting guides are certainly no exception—although in their case, the stakes are often higher. In a recent article, we heard three hunting guides tell tall tales—all 100 percent true—about their worst or most interesting clients. Here, we’ve got three more. Names have been removed to protect the not-so-innocent!
The Perfect Stand
A whitetail guide who operates in the Midwest and Texas had this to say: “I ran deer hunting camps for years, first with the public as an outfitter and then for the outdoor media. I’ve had unbelievable experiences with the public. I worked very hard placing stands, watching deer from a distance, keeping pressure off, putting in food plots and preparing for the hunter’s arrival. I always let an area rest several days before hunting there and wait until the wind is right before I let a hunter in. You wouldn’t believe how often I’ll set up a hunter in a perfect stand under perfect conditions, only to have them take my stand down and move it to a different location because they didn’t ‘have a good feeling’ about the spot.
“One time, I had a very important client coming in, and I really wanted him to kill a nice buck. We had an area with a winter wheatfield, a big creek bottom, a big thicket on the side of a hill and a wooded ridge that all came together in one corner. We watched deer from a distance, as a huge buck would come out of that creek bottom and chase does around the wheatfield in the evening, running all other bucks off. We let that area rest, kept everyone out, and prepared for the arrival of our VIP hunter.
“When the wind direction was right on the second day after his arrival in camp, we took him down to the stand through the creek. We walked in the water to keep our scent to a minimum and got him to the stand. I told him there was a huge buck here, and he’s going to come down this hill and come by the stand to go into that wheatfield. You can shoot him on his way to the field. I showed him carefully and pointed out all the large scrapes, rubs and tracks. After a fellow guide and I put him in the stand and slipped out, we drove around the top of the ridge over on the road so we could glass the bottom and watched. No deer arrived in the field—nothing. All evening, nothing.
“When it started getting dark, right at prime deer time, we saw our hunter walking up across the wheatfield, coming back toward the top of the hill where we were parked by some outbuildings. I got out of the truck and walked down and asked him what exactly he was doing wandering around one of my best hunting spots.
“‘There’s no deer down there,’ he said. I said ‘Yes, there is, we’ve been watching them for a week. Nobody’s been down there (of course I’ve already told him this once) and there are a lot of deer in this area; several smaller bucks, a bunch of does and a huge buck. How did you not see any deer?’
“And he says, ‘I’m telling you; I didn’t see any deer. I couldn’t see the wheatfield from the stand, so I got down about every 20 minutes, walked over and looked both ways at the edge of the wheatfield. And I never did see any deer.’
I’d spent weeks prepping, scouting and saving this spot and this guy went stomping all over it, then wondered why no deer were coming to join him.”
One Western elk guide tells this unfortunate story: “Oddly enough, the worst clients I’ve ever had have been husbands and wives. On one hunt, it was super foggy and rainy. I finally find a big bull bedded down. I go back to the truck to get the husband and wife (they were in their mid 70s), and we put on a stalk. We get to within 80 yards of a particular rock where we could shoot this elk, and it’s dead still and quiet. Suddenly, the husband rips a huge belch and starts talking out loud to his wife. Of course, it was all my fault somehow that the elk spooked.
“The next day, the weather broke and we finally had nice conditions. The company owner (my boss) came along, because we were really trying to get these people an elk. They definitely weren’t prepared for the work involved in elk hunting. We find some elk and go on a long, long walk and finally get up on this elk bedded in really deep brush. All we can see are ears and antlers. We spend an hour sitting on these elk, clients bitching nonstop. They want us to get the elk up—as if we have them trained to stand up and be still on command. The elk finally get restless, but they’re in a really tight space. We’re afraid when they stood up they’d be too packaged together to get a shot on a single animal, so I give the clients the reminders I give all my hunters: Pay attention, look at what’s behind your elk, don’t shoot if one is behind another because you can accidentally kill two animals.
“The elk finally stand up and there’s a nice 5x6 at 95 yards. The husband and wife are both shooting semi-auto rifles. The wife shoots and hits him in the brisket—a nonlethal flesh wound. The wounded bull falls to his knees and elk run everywhere, so now we have to sort out the wounded elk from the live elk. Her wounded elk ended up being lower on the hill, with another bull higher on the hill. Since the husband was still hunting, I told him to shoot the higher bull at 80 yards.
“He airmails a bullet five feet over the bull’s back, scaring the wife, who had been trying to find her bull through her scope but was not fully behind the gun. His shot spooks her so badly that she jerks the trigger on her rifle. She is breaking every gun safety rule in the book at this point, and the unexpected shot rips her nose open. That scares her so badly that she jerks the trigger again and bruises her cheekbone. She’s bleeding, elk are running everywhere, and she’s still waving this rifle around with her finger on the trigger. My boss grabs the rifle out of the air while I resume looking for the wounded bull, which has gotten lost in the chaos. We separate with the clients, trying to settle everything down.
“The husband gets mad and tells my boss that the wife is fine, and he needs to be over there taking care of this elk (which I ended up chasing and never finding; the wound was superficial). We got her bleeding stopped and got her to town to the ER. Then it started. They went berserk. They decided their hunt was over on day four of a seven-day. They were so embarrassed by her injury, I guess, that they started ranting about how it was all the guides’ fault. She wrote a letter to the state outfitter’s board, the law enforcement agency for outfitters, and the Governor’s board, accusing us of being sexist and treating her differently because we had warned her about not shooting two elk. We had to go through a whole investigative process. In the end, the ruling was ‘this sounds like just good guiding.’”
A Midwestern turkey guide shares this tale of a client who gave him one problem after another: “One of my greatest nightmares was the president of a major company, a huge corporation. When he arrived in my camp, he knew absolutely nothing about turkey hunting. On the morning of his hunt, before I took him out, he came to me in camp with a shotgun in his hands and asked me if I knew where the bullets go. I told him the ‘bullets’ go in my pocket, and I’ll give them to you as you need them!
“After we walked in a way to the hunting area and it started getting light out, we heard our first turkeys—and he tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if that was a boy turkey or a girl turkey. OK, whatever, he’s never hunted turkeys before and I’m trying to be patient …
“Long story short, after some work, I got him set up on a gobbler at the base of a ridge and an old, grown-over pasture. That's when I realized I hadn’t given him any ammo, so I quickly leaned around the tree and loaded his gun. When the gobbler was within 20 yards, I had him shoot. This dude shot three times, emptying the gun, hitting the turkey several times. The turkey helicoptered up into the air, pitched off to the right, hit the pasture on the other side of a barbed-wire fence and started running.
“I got my guy up and told him we had to go chase the turkey, quick—but in his haste, he didn’t see the fence. He ran right into it, bounced off, then dove over the fence, tearing his clothes as he tossed his gun over (a safety nightmare) and ran out of sight.
“I gathered up my stuff and hurried around the bend of the ridge and across the field. I could see him in the far corner of the field. The turkey was squatted on the ground, facing him, in the corner of the fence—and my hunter is sitting on the ground pointing the empty shotgun at the turkey with the bolt wide open, both breathing heavily. It was about the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen. As I approached, my hunter says, ‘Hurry up and get over here. I’m out of bullets, but this damn turkey doesn’t know it!’”