Hunting guides and outfitters have an interesting job. It’s part hunting, of course, but with a lot of customer service aspects built in. They deal with all sorts of people from all walks of life, each with their own set of expectations, skills (or lack thereof) and personality quirks.
If you know a hunting guide or ever get the chance to sit around a campfire with one, ask them about their most unusual or most interesting clients. The stories are sure to entertain.
The Two-in-One Shot
I was rattling around a sprawling Texas ranch in a farm truck with a guide as he spilled his guts: “Oh, I have lots of stories. I’ve been shot in the face on dove hunts—not bad enough to be seriously injured, but peppered bad enough to bleed from just under the eye and other places. That’s probably tame compared to some guides. I’ve had guns pointed at me (by accident) more times than I can count. It can be a dangerous gig.
“One client has a story that’s almost too wild to be believed. The ranch I guide on is huge and spans multiple counties. In this region, a hunter is allowed a buck in each county, so technically, a client could shoot more than one buck on our property as long as they were careful about which county they were in. We had a guy who insisted that he wanted to pay multiple trophy fees and shoot multiple bucks, but this is strictly against our policy (due to how many other hunters we had coming in that season) and he was limited to one buck. We went back and forth, because he was bound and determined to shoot two, but we stood firm and wouldn’t allow it. He finally appeared to chill out and accept the rule.
“He’s a bowhunter, so he’s sitting in a blind watching deer, and a handful of nice bucks come out. Would you believe this guy shoots a really nice buck, and the arrow passes through the buck’s lungs, ricochets off a metal post behind the buck, and hits another nice buck, killing them both? He had a cameraman with him recording the whole thing, or we wouldn’t have believed his story. How an arrow even had enough velocity left to penetrate a second deer deep enough to kill it quickly, I have no idea. And what are the chances of it entering the right spot at the right angle for a good kill?
“So, against all odds, the guy who had vehemently argued he should be allowed to shoot two bucks actually did end up shooting two bucks. Craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
"That wasn't exactly a fun call to the game warden, but we got it all worked out in the end. It was a genuine freak accident, and the aftermath was pretty tame, all things considered."
The “Unloaded” Gun
A retired outfitter from the South told me this story over coffee recently. “My ex-husband and I used to run an outfitting service in the South a long time ago, back in the ‘80s. A big-time governor of a nearby state wanted to come deer hunt with us, but before he could come, his security team insisted on coming to hunt and to check the place out.
“So this whole team rolls up, all serious-looking, armed to the teeth with their hunting rifles and sidearms and whatever else. They stand with their backs against the walls, putting on this whole show of security. Very dramatic, very big deal.
“They went out hunting the next morning, sitting out in deer blinds. It had been a slow morning, and my ex headed out in the truck to start picking hunters up for lunch, as we normally did. He gets to one of the security guys’ blinds and, as he always did, asks the hunter if the rifle is unloaded as he’s approaching the blind.
“This big-time security guard replies, ‘Of course it is, see?’ and proceeds to point the gun at the ground and pull the trigger like a complete idiot. You can probably guess what happened next—he blows a hole in the ground between the guide’s feet.
“I don’t know how my ex managed to not kill the guy. He walked away for a while to cool off, or it probably would have been much worse.
“Back at the lodge, we sent the entire security team home immediately. The governor canceled his upcoming trip.”
The Disgruntled Husband and Wife
“One couple had caused so much trouble on a particular ranch I guided for that they’d been told they were no longer welcome on the property,” a long-time friend and hunting guide told me. “They tried to book a hunt the next year anyway, got denied, and instead of just finding another place to hunt, they had friends of theirs book a group hunt, and then they showed up with the friends as part of the group. We decided to do our best to accommodate and just hope for the best rather than asking them to leave.
“It started out fine. We were hunting mule deer, and we were hunting hard. They complained a lot—didn’t like my driving, didn’t like the food, didn’t like anything—but they didn’t complain about the hunting, so I was OK with it. Early in the week, the husband shot a management deer.
“Next day, it’s the wife’s turn to shoot. We found this gigantic mule deer buck bedded under a tree down in a valley, and we’re set up high above it with a pretty easy 140-yard shot. The wife shoots low and blows up some rocks right below the buck. It stands up calmly, and I reiterate how important it is to make sure she’s on the right deer before she shoots again. She shoots and I hear the bullet whack a deer, but the buck has no reaction—and then this doe farther down the valley piles up. The ranch has very strict rules about not shooting does and doesn’t even have tags for this section of the property, so I knew we were in trouble. I let my mouth get the better of me and I spit out, “Well, let’s collect your $4,500 trophy doe so I can go get fired.” I sent them down to the deer while I went off to call the game warden and the ranch manager. The couple absolutely freaks out when I mention the game warden.
“After a few phone calls, I worked out all the legal stuff (the warden very generously let us use one of the ranch’s doe tags for this deer even though it wasn’t technically valid for the area we were on), and we load up the deer and head back. It was a quiet ride home, to say the least.
“Back at the lodge, they commence to telling their entire group how I forced them to shoot this doe so I could get them in trouble because this ranch has it out for them. Their group starts calling all sorts of other people telling this made-up story. It turned into a whole thing — we eventually all had to make legal statements and the ranch sent cease-and-desist letters. At one point the couple even came back to stir up more trouble and caught trespassing charges.
“Funny enough, they left me a $100 tip.”