We asked professional outfitters what makes for the "client from Hades" and how you can avoid that reputation with hunting guides.
As a full-time writer, I've had the opportunity to do a little guiding on the side — waterfowl and turkeys, primarily. There were some deer clients over the years too. Not many, but enough to know that professional hunting guides must be a patient lot. They must be understanding, level-headed, calm, collected. And did I mention patient?
And why this lengthy list of necessary personal qualities? The clients, of course. The human variable.
But what specifically trips guides' collective triggers? Or better yet, what can clients do to ensure a smooth back-and-forth between them and their guide during their stay in camp?
We asked professional outfitters their thoughts on what makes for the "client from Hades" and how hunters can avoid that reputation.
"I think it would be a guy that calls me 20 times prior to our hunt, asks the same questions, and then still shows up with unrealistic expectations," said Jerrod Gibbons, owner of Okanogan Valley Outfitters. He's operated OVO for 17 seasons, and while he admits he hasn't seen it all, the man has experienced his share of dealing with people.
"Three hours into the hunt," he said, "and I have guys asking to move to another stand for any number of reasons. It's important that clients trust the guide's judgment. Trust the guide's decisions.
"Some hunters," he continued, "think I have animals in cages. I just push a button, and they magically appear. That, and the weather. Guides can't do anything about the weather."
A client's familiarity, or lack thereof, with their hunting tools is another thing that irritates Gibbbons, as are hunters who show up at camp physically unprepared.
"It's very frustrating for us," he said, "when a hunter gets to camp and then screws his broadheads on, having not practiced with the equipment he's going to hunt with. Or the guy who shows up with his scoped rifle in the original box, saying 'The guy at (the outdoor store) bore-sighted it.' It's always a good idea to take the price tags off your hunting clothes. And there's a difference between running (physical) shape and hunting-hiking shape. Be prepared physically."
Gibbons' one bit of advice to clients across the board? "Get to camp with open expectations and have a good time," he said without hesitation.
Larry Porter and his son, Tyler, have operated Ken Tenn Hunting (731-699-3781) for the past eight seasons, guiding whitetail hunters on properties they own and lease.
"When a prospective client asks if ours is a guaranteed hunt," said Porter, "that sends up red flags. It turns me off immediately when they ask if they'll get their money back if they don't (harvest) an animal. That's not the type of hunting we do here."
As for guiding the guide, Porter has his thoughts on that, as well. "I've had clients like that, who want to guide the guide. And I'm not offended if a man believes he knows my farms better than I do. I'm OK with that. I'll listen. I absorb a lot. I want my clients to be successful, and I'll help in any way I can. But some have expectations that are just too high."
Porter's idea of the perfect client? "My ideal hunter would listen. He'd listen to what the guide or outfitter has to say. He'd put his time in. He wouldn't complain. And his success rate will be better if he does these things. This is the guy who is always welcome back."
And that's a guarantee.