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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-06-2011, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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On the subject of calling references

I would like to relate a story about such a call. Way back when I first retired, I wanted to book a moose hunt, so I checked out a couple of booking agents. One agent recommended an outfit in northern Alberta and gave me a list of references. The first one I called was a guy from Illinois who shall remain nameless. The conversation went something like this:
"I got your name from XXXXXx lake outfitters. How did you like the hunt?"

"Well, if you want my advice, don't go there."

I was about ready to hang up, but thought I would ask just one more question. "Did you get a moose?"

"Well, yeah, but it wasn't a very big one."

About ready to hang up the phone again, but one more question: "Did you get a bear?"

"Yeah, I got two of them."

Now I'm really intrigued. What is really wrong with this hunt if the guy got a moose and two bears, so I asked: "What didn't you like about the hunt?"

"I'm a big guy and the bed was too short. It was cold at night. One evening the dinner didn't agree with me and I had an upset stomach. They got me up way too early in the morning."

I thanked the guy for laying it on the line and hung up. I called two more references and got good reports, so I called the booking agent back and booked the hunt for September of 1994. The photo below shows the result. The point of my posting this is that sometimes you have to read between the lines and ask a few more questions.

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-06-2011, 01:46 PM
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Re: On the subject of calling references

Sound advice !!!!
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-06-2011, 02:36 PM
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Re: On the subject of calling references

George:

Good advice for sure. Nice moose too!

Here's a similar example. I can think of a hunt that 5 friends went on. All had a great hunt, except one. They hunted the same land, ate the same food, slept in similar beds and used the same bathroom. 4 guys wanted to go back and one guy would never go back. Different people have different expectations.

In my business, I get to meet and talk to a lot of people. Somewhere along the line, I heard or read a story about a guy that called 3 references before booking a hunt. All gave glowing accounts of the hunt and spoke highly of the outfitter so the guy booked. When he arrived at camp months later, the outfitter introduced him to the guides and for some reason their names sounded familiar. He got to thinking and then it hit him - these were the references he had called. He felt a knot in his stomach and rightfully so because the hunt ended up being a bust. The red flag should have been they all had the same area code as the outfitter.

Regarding outfitter reviews on the internet, I have seen instances where outfitters make positive posts for each other or guys that I know guide for an outfitter make positive posts for him.

I had a situation where a new outfitter was recommended to me by another outfitter I was booking for. I had hunted the area that the new outfitter hunted and I knew it was good. Actually I had his area on my hit list. I called the outfitter and we talked for over an hour - I really liked the guy. He emailed me photos of the past few seasons and they showed some impressive trophies. I then called a bunch of references and asked a lot of questions. The references all gave him good grades. The last step I took was to call the state G&F headquarters and get the name and phone # of the local game warden. I called the warden, told him who I was and that I was considering booking hunts for the outfitter. I then asked if he had ever arrested the outfitter or had any trouble with him. His response was, "No I have not arrested him yet but I sure as heck plan to." He proceeded to tell me about trespass issues, shooting at night and deer being shot out of season. He was convinced it was the outfitter doing this stuff but couldn't prove it. It scared me enough to back out of the deal.

If you book hunts on your own, references need to be checked but like George said, they don't tell the whole story.

Thanks for making it to the end of my rambling.

Larry Holjencin

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-06-2011, 02:50 PM
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Re: On the subject of calling references

So George......was it cold? Did they get you up early? Did the food not agree with you? I know you wouldn't have had trouble with a short bed so I won't ask about that....LOL>
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-06-2011, 05:06 PM
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Re: On the subject of calling references

Quote:
The last step I took was to call the state G&F headquarters and get the name and phone # of the local game warden. I called the warden, told him who I was and that I was considering booking hunts for the outfitter. I then asked if he had ever arrested the outfitter or had any trouble with him. His response was, "No I have not arrested him yet but I sure as heck plan to." He proceeded to tell me about trespass issues, shooting at night and deer being shot out of season. He was convinced it was the outfitter doing this stuff but couldn't prove it.
Quite slanderous of the "warden" if you ask me. He flat out told you he SUSPECTED the outfitter of these violations, and also said had no proof. The warden's remarks to you were at best unprofessional. He should have told you that due to his profession and affiliation to the "industry", he couldn't comment. WHAT IF this outfitter was clean, and the wardens suspicions were not only unfounded, but incorrect ? WHAT IF the Wardens daughter was beaten by the outfitters son, and that's the cause of his allegations ? What if the outfitter keeps hearing these slanderous stories about him, and decides to sue said warden and his agency ? Unless this unprofessional warden actually filed charges, and won his case in the court system, he should probably shut his trap. Dumb Warden. Just my .02, and my guess is that the "wardens" on this board would concur.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-06-2011, 05:15 PM
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Re: On the subject of calling references

Fleero:

I too was surprised he said what he did considering he had not caught him yet. He asked that I not tell the outfitter which I did not. I believe he wanted to save me some problems down the road so he said what he did.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 02:12 AM
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Re: On the subject of calling references

its hard picking one because they are business people. thats there bread and butter. in the late 90's me and a buddy booked a hunt in ga. trophy fair chase county had 15" min. his rule was 16" thats fine i didnt want to go that far to shoot a scrub. Outfitter was typical nice southern guy on phone gave us references we called 2. 1 was even a preacher think he would lie? Well we got there outfitter was a total jerk didnt even act like he wanted to speak to us after he got our money. the preacher was actually there and was a member of his club where he had so many members on initial start to back him, yes preachers do lie. Went to canada in mid 80's that guy was a con artist so please tell me how do you choose an outfitter.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 12:47 PM
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Re: On the subject of calling references

You can do everything right and still get a jerk. I did that on my first trip to Africa and more recently a trip to Quebec, was a hard learning experience. In the end it will always cost the outfitter more than he made off of me.
For Example :

Do Not Book ever with Caesar's Lodge in Quebec the lakes are fished out , staff is not helpful, food is nothing special, and entire lodge and outpost cabins are in sad state of disrepair. Please contact me if you want a more in depth reference.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
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Re: On the subject of calling references

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Originally Posted by Paul C
So George......was it cold? Did they get you up early? Did the food not agree with you? I know you wouldn't have had trouble with a short bed so I won't ask about that....LOL>
Well, Pauly, it was unseasonably warm that year. The guide let me sleep in as long as I wanted to, but since I usually get up around 5:00 AM that was no problem. The bed was a tad on the lumpy side, but I am used to sleeping in tents where the only rock ends up being smack in the middle of my back and my pillow is a sack with my dirty underwear in it, so I can't complain about the bed. Compared to my cooking, the food was gourmet quality, but then, so far I haven't found much in the way of food that doesn't agree with me. My W 1 FE unit thinks I have a cast iron stomach.

On a serious note,this particular hunt was the first big game hunt I went on after I retired. I really did not know what to expect, but now that I have been around the block a time or two, I realize that it was not the best moose hunt on earth. The outfitter books too many hunters for the territory he has, and as a consequence, his success rate is pretty low. Looking back on it, I was lucky to have taken a bull moose as good as I did. Name of outfitter witheld for a fairly good reason.

I book most of my hunts myself, but I will say this. If I could only book one or two hunts in my lifetime I would rely on the expertise of a guy like Larry Holjencin. You can save yourself a world of hurt.

I am probably easier to please than most guys. I even went fishing a few times with PaulC and had a good time. Out of all the hunts I have been on, and there have been a bunch, I can think of two times when I did not enjoy myself to the fullest. One time, one of the guys threw a huge temper tantrum and acted like a three year old that had been refused ice cream. He and I used to go everywhere together, but not any more. The other time, I went on a hunt I was not in good enough shape for and spent a week suffering with sore muscles after the first day. I have never made that mistake again. Been there, done that, have a drawer full of tee shirts.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 06:09 PM Thread Starter
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Re: On the subject of calling references

Quote:
Originally Posted by outofstater
its hard picking one because they are business people. thats there bread and butter. in the late 90's me and a buddy booked a hunt in ga. trophy fair chase county had 15" min. his rule was 16" thats fine i didnt want to go that far to shoot a scrub. Outfitter was typical nice southern guy on phone gave us references we called 2. 1 was even a preacher think he would lie? Well we got there outfitter was a total jerk didnt even act like he wanted to speak to us after he got our money. the preacher was actually there and was a member of his club where he had so many members on initial start to back him, yes preachers do lie. Went to canada in mid 80's that guy was a con artist so please tell me how do you choose an outfitter.
You got bit, my friend. Not all outfitters are like that, believe me. First of all, the advice I gave in the post before this one is sound. If you want to avoid most problems such as that, use the services of someone like Larry. There are several booking agents that I trust to tell me the truth, and their services are at no cost to you because their fee comes from the outfitter.

A second thing you could consider is to ask people who have been on the type of hunt you are considering to recommend an outfitter they trust. Sometimes this works out. For example, a guy who posts on here by the name of loridr asked me to go along on a hunt in South Carolina with him two years ago. I went and had such a good time that I went back again this past October.

I always tell folks who ask me for advice that my advice is free, and is worth exactly what you pay for it.
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