Hunting guide outfitters are experienced outdoorsmen and women who guide
clients on hunting trips. They provide transportation and gear, called "outfitting."
They use their expertise to help clients have a good trip in the outdoors.
These outfitters also often specialize in guiding fishing trips.
Hunting guide outfitters are entrepreneurs who run their own businesses.
Outfitters provide their customers with food, shelter, horses, equipment
and guided tours. They also take care of everything from finances to guiding
the tours. Outfitters often register and employ guides, or assistant guides,
to work with them.
Spring and fall are usually the main seasons for hunting. For the rest
of the year outfitters take care of administration and market their services.
Some outfitters run lodges for their customers, or offer camping sites.
Yet guides are not resort owners or nature educators; a guide's job is showing
customers the best hunting and fishing spots, says Dale Drown, the general
manager of an outfitters' association.
Janette Skiber loves the variety and difficulty of outfitters' duties.
"I enjoy the challenge of running this business. You have to cut your own
trails and build your own cabins. You need to learn how to shoe horses and
pack for the hunt."
Guides work where good opportunities for hunting and fishing are located.
Generally, this is in somewhat remote wilderness areas. It is getting more
common, however, for outfitters to guide on private property. Those who own
large parcels of land, like ranchers, earn extra money by leasing hunting
rights to outfitters.
It takes a special kind of person to like this career. "Working conditions
are ideal for those who like the outdoors," says guide Erv Malnarich. "It
takes a certain breed of person. You have to love the wilderness, wildlife
and the mountains. I guess you could say you have to love the romance of the
There is an element of danger to this job. Working outdoors puts outfitters
at risk of animal attacks, accidental gunshot and knife wounds, and snake
and insect bites.
Physically, being an outfitter is very demanding. It requires good physical
strength and stamina for the strenuous outdoor work. Long days of up to 16
hours are common. As a guide, you're rarely off-duty. Guides often work weekends.
"A guide must be in top physical condition," agrees Malnarich. "They ride
horses all day long. They work from daylight to dusk. When they're not on
a hunt, they're on the phone."
Being a female hunting guide outfitter isn't easy. Skiber says many people
don't accept a woman participating in what has traditionally been a male sport.
"Being a woman is a little difficult. People have a couple of reactions when
I tell them what I do. They either say, 'Oh neat' or 'How can you shoot those
poor little animals?'"
In order to expand their businesses, some outfitters do more than provide
hunting trips. "We have bought 30 horses and will be using our trails six
months of the year," says guide Lyle Barsby. "People must become flexible
if they want to succeed."