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19 responses to “New to Hunting or Fishing Guides? Read This”

  1. will

    My last trip out mirrored your first point exactly. I had a father and son trout fishing in southern Mn. Dad had fished the big rivers in Montana and fancied himself an expert. Son had never caught a fish on a fly rod. Dad was more interested in telling son what to do than listening or fishing. Once I was able to take son away from pops, it was amazing how quickly he picked it up and caught fish. Dad was another story and I couldn’t ever convince him that just because you can toss dry flies the size of baseballs out of a drift boat doesn’t mean you can stalk trout on a spring creek the same way.
    The result was simultaneously the most frustrating and rewarding day I’ve had guiding. It was amazing watching a youngster pick up the sport so quickly and have success in the process. It was painful when I would attempt to advise dad and he had no interest in listening.
    The only thing I would take exception with on your post would be the story aspect. I love hearing people’s stories, as long as it doesn’t turn into a game of one-upping. You get to know someone by the stories they tell, for better or worse.

  2. Steve

    Thanks for a timely post. I’m looking for a way to add food to my table and you pointing out that food at the store is cheaper is important to remember. Maybe dding experiences to life is just as important.

  3. ESL-Donna

    As always you are so right on. Don’t tell your wife , but I think I may be falling in love with you.
    I adore everything you write, and I guess James Beard foundation feel the same. Bravo!

  4. Doriantake

    YES. I (somewhat) desperately looked for info like this before the first time I had a guided hunt, found nothing very helpful. Having this info before you get in the field definitely takes the stress off.

    I will be pointing fellow noobies here,


  5. chanman

    Women probably tend to lose heat faster than men due to the cube-square law that governs the ratio of surface area-to-volume for a body. Since they generally (of course there are obvious exceptions) tend to be lighter and of shorter stature, they will proportionately have more surface area to lose heat from.

    And speaking as a native of the Pacific Northwest (Canadian side), not only is rain gear a must, but so is dressing in layers. The changes in temperature and humidity from a drizzly morning to a sunny afternoon to a crisp night even in the city means any single outfit will be at times too warm/too cool/not water repellant at some point.

  6. Janine

    An even bigger reason I consistently go out with the same skipper for my sea fishing than the excellent sausage sandwiches and cups of tea he serves up, he’s totally trustworthy. He wants us to enjoy the day, he’ll advise whatever rigs and bait will be best on the day, he’s got spare gear for when you snag your last weight on a wreck (although you do have to have a thick skin for the ribbing you get then). If the conditions mean he thinks you’ll never see a bite, he’ll cancel the trip and offer another date. He’s actually refused payments (then finally accepted a reduced price to cover his fuel) on one totally dire day out when he’d got his tide/condition calculations wrong and no sign of a fish for anyone. He matches up his clients to get a mix of abilities, helps out the newbs and is just as proud of your catch as you are.

  7. Barb Manning

    I thoroughly enjoyed your article. Though I am not a guide I am a retired commercial fisherwoman and avid Pacific Northwest hunter. The one thing I would add is that wearing quality boots and wool socks and keeping your feet dry is imperative!This greatly helps retain body warmth. At the end of a long grueling day, warm, dry feet is one of the greatest pleasures one can experience. Congrats on your James Beard Award, one of the highest accolades one can receive!!!

  8. Phillip

    Nice work, and useful stuff, Hank.

    Lots of folks could benefit from this information. There’s a lot to making the most of a guided hunt.

    It seems like one of the most common questions I hear (and often from folks who don’t even know I guide) is how much to tip. I think the guidelines you have here are good, and I encourage folks to, at the very least, consider 10%. To the outdoorsman, guiding may seem like an enviable job… and in some ways it certainly is. But it can be one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have, and it’s not always pleasant.

    One point that I didn’t really see here, especially for big game hunts… ask for references, both successful and unsuccessful, and then check them. Make those calls. It’s some extra homework, and not an appetizing task to the introverted hunter or fisherman, but it can really save you some bad experiences (and misspent money). And if a guide/outfitter won’t provide you with references, you really should reconsider giving this person your hard-earned money.

  9. Peggy

    My husband and I just recently took up fishing within the last year. I definitely think a guided trip would benefit us both!

  10. Irina @ wandercrush

    Thanks for sharing this! Otherwise, it’s hard to know where to begin when you’re new to this kind of thing…

  11. Who Won 2013 Beard Journalism Awards and Why | Will Write For Food

    […] Hank’s been nominated three times for this award, and I’m thrilled he finally got his due. A former line cook and political reporter, he puts a serous amount of work into his blog posts. Even if you are not going fishing or hunting, read this post as an example of voice and rich language. […]

  12. Michael Tosser

    Honestly? Most of this sounds about like common sense to me – You wouldn’t tell an English professor they didn’t know the English language, would you? I mean… I wanted to, but I didn’t. You don’t refuse to tip the waitstaff if they’re doing their job, let alone if they’re busting their balls to make sure you enjoy your experience, right?

    And yet, I know – from my limited experiences in he service industry – that there are people out there who, no matter what the situation, think they’re better than you, know more than you, are more manly than you, etc etc etc.

    In all, thanks for this tidbit – I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to afford a guided trip (and certainly not here in Florida, after hogs – or in the big blue, looking for more than just another load of table-fish) – but you helped to bring to light things that, in the way it seems most of us do, I’d overlooked.

    Thanks a ton for your time, and maybe – Just maybe – the next time (if we’ve missed it, or this time if not) that you’re around Tampa Bay my wife and I can skip out and meet you.

  13. Suburban Bushwacker

    This is great advice, it mirrors my experience on both sides – as the sport and as the guide.

    I’ve seen guides get huffy and defensive while still sitting in the highseat, I’ve seen them blush with gratitude when myself and the other sport have taken blanking in good spirits.

    I’ve taken to telling them upfront ‘You’re going to have to be a sportsman about this sometimes it all works out and sometimes its just for the fun of trying’ expectations are dangerous things and need to be managed.


  14. Food Rover

    Hi Hank,

    Ive been enjoyng your blog hunter angler gardener cook. In fact, it helped me butcher a whole rabbit recently for a dish with wild ramps & morels.

    I am visiting in Port Charlotte, FL and wonder if you or anyone out there may recommend a local fishing guide or know someone who could. Don’t want to go far out, and it’s for catch to eat. My experience is limited on boats, but I learn fast and can handle adventure trips. This’d be for half a day, ideally small group or one-on-one.

    Kevin Novick

  15. PJC

    While looking at multiple guided hunt brochures I noticed that several lodges (we were looking in the south) required a 10% tip AT check in. We, of course, did not book at these lodges. I have no problem tipping and tipping well, but seriously, shouldn’t it be AFTER the service?
    And a reminder- don’t forget the housekeeper & cook. They can make or break a multi day hunt. At one lodge the housekeep would wait for everyone to go to bed then clean their boots. Yes, she did. Each morning all the boots were clean and dry and ready to go. Talk about earning a huge tip…
    It works both ways I guess 😉

  16. CB

    All sounds good. I recently went on a guided pig hunt in Nor Cal. Coast me $800 to hunt for FOUR hours (cost was all day but it took just the morning) with a guide and my wife, who was not hunting. The guide’s company/owners were mediocre at best but did have access to good land. I listened and walked and walked and found my own hog and stalked it and dropped it on my own. I’m no expert but the guide did NOTHING. He took me for a walk-that’s it. When it came time to gutting and skinning the animal I did NOTHING. I figure the expense was access only, but i enjoyed not handling that monster sow, only because I wasn’t about to expend any more effort for the cost. I tipped him $100. I will hunt with guides again but it was kind of a lame experience to call it a guided hunt. Morale: You never know. I would not have bagged that delicious pig without the cost and the hunt was enjoyable. $800/150lb+/- = $5.33p/lb (not counting travel, etc.) of fantastic California hog and well worth it in the long run.

  17. Marin Lisica

    Some great tips here. Never been on a guided hunt yet, but have been thinking of it. It’s great to get some advice before going on one, and also see the things that would annoy the guide and what to avoid…nothing worse than those awkward moments lol.

  18. Luis Fisher

    Great guide! exactly what I’m looking for, thank Hank Shaw for sharing!

  19. Steven Fisherman

    Thanks hank for sharing this amazing guide. Feed us more with this type of amazing articles 😀

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