Western Hunter Magazine July/August 2019 #70 - Page 82

HUNTER MAGAZINE THE HUNTING HORSEMAN Sharing the Backcountry Best Practices, Part 2 of 2 George Bettas hunting & conservation editor I n Part 1 of this article, I shared some examples of interactions I had with an outfitter while hunting in the Clearwater National Forest some 20 years ago. In this issue, I’ll review current situations and outline some “best practices” the DIY hunting horseman can use to avoid conflicts with outfitters who may be operating in the area you may choose to hunt. Outfitters are like any other businessperson in that they need to run a profitable operation in order to support their families and live the life they’ve chosen. The best backcountry outfitters run a good “outfit.” They have quality stock, good equipment, quality guides, and provide a high-quality service to their clients. Usually, they operate in areas where the game animals they seek are abundant enough to attract clients year after year. These outfitters run good enough operations that the occasional DIY hunter in their area doesn’t interfere with their business. Mutual Respect If you’re a DIY hunting horseman who chooses to hunt in an area with an outfitter, it’s important to Montana outfitter, Jack Rich, is a good friend who runs a top of the line outfit, provides his clients with excellent service and is one of the best when it comes to sharing his Bob Marshall hunting area with DIY hunting horsemen. 82 WESTERN HUNTER keep in mind that the outfitter has the same “right” to hunt public land as you do. It’s definitely a two- way street requiring courtesy and respect from both outfitter and DIY hunters to make it work. As a DIY hunter, I give the outfitter and his clients the same respect that I expect from them. If the feelings are mutual, everybody can be happy and have quality experiences. As long as the respect is mutual, all is well. When one or both parties abandons this basic prin- ciple, the train goes off the tracks. A few years ago, I was hunting in Montana and was at the trailhead picking up a load of hay to pack into my camp. As I was organizing my packs, a truck and trailer pulled up. A couple of guys got out, unloaded some really good-looking mules and began organizing their gear. I was curious about them, as I hadn’t seen them there before, so when I had my stock and gear ready to load, I went over to say hello. It was obvious that they weren’t begin- ners and in a short time they had their packs orga- nized and ready to go. Since we were going the same direction, they invited me to trail along behind them, which I did. When we got to the top of the mountain, we stopped, tied off, and took a short break before going sepa- rate ways. I commented on how well behaved their mules were and the guy who owned the outfit said, “Yeah, I’m an outfitter’s worst nightmare. I can go anywhere they go and outhunt their dudes any day of the week.” I had just met these guys, but right away knew they weren’t my “type.” Obviously, this guy had no intention of showing any respect to any outfitter. I can only imagine the conflicts he must have gotten into over the years with that attitude. On the other hand, an outfitter who doesn’t share the mutual respect principle can be a “worst nightmare” for the DIY hunter. I’ve encountered this situation every fall where I hunt in the Idaho back- country. My hunting partner began hunting this area 20-plus years ago with no conflict with the outfitter. The area is on the border of two hunting units with different season dates and the outfitter had moved out of his camp before we arrived, so we never saw his guides or clients. This area is ex- tremely dry, especially at higher elevations where the most strategic campsites are located. As a result, water determines where you camp with stock. www.westernhunter.net