Lockdown: A Hunting Guide’s Reality

As a young man, my career plans and life goals were ill-defined to say the least. So, I chose to follow my passions for the outdoors, fishing, and helping others in my early 20’s which continuously opened doors of opportunity.

When those doors were slammed shut due a recessing economy, I was unable to find work as a fishing and hunting guide. I was forced to fall back on my education and acquired a good paying job in the environmental field. However, I quickly figured out I was unhappy with this career choice despite the easy money.

I was now 25 years old with an excess of money and a wandering mind. It was time for me to collaborate my knowledge, personal contacts, and newfound income to better equip myself with the tools needed to excel myself further into the guiding industry.

Investing my $50k savings on a truck, ATV, backpacking gear, and some highly priced German optics took me from a summertime fishing guide to a full-blown western Canada mountain hunting guide. I was primed and ecstatic to pursue big game animals that inhabit the western parts of Canada, particularly wild sheep.

Being that I was born and raised in a small town located in southwestern Ontario, I was definitely unfamiliar with all that is mountain hunting but took the opportunity I was given and felt very fortunate to learn from men that called themselves “Sheep Guides.” These men were the toughest and most humble I had ever met in a workplace. They made objectives that seemed impossible at first glance very attainable with the cost of only a bead of sweat running down your cheeks.

The learning curve was steeper than the mountains we hiked in search of our quarry, but my soul was filled, and I wore a smile on my face even during the worst of times. I became obsessed with the vast lands, majestic animals, and a career with what seems to hold many lifetimes of never-ending learning experiences.

At the age of 28, my thoughts were still somewhat adolescent regarding what it takes to be the sole owner and operator of a successful hunting guide / outfitting business. With the best intentions, I again invested a large sum of my life savings in the attempt to build a successful business and prolong my dream career.

Six years of struggle later, here we are dealing with the effects of a world pandemic and it seems as if life is repeating itself. I’m faced with another difficult decision of fight or flight. Do I write-off the past 15 years of professional guiding and outfitting to being a great experience and find a 9 to 5 job to pay the bills? Or do I endure the punishment and continue the fight to live the career I truly love so much?

The true question is, “What is valued more in life, money or happiness?”

I call myself a “Sheep Guide and Mountain Hunter.” Such means I enjoy the journey just as much as the destination. We mountain hunters don’t give up when a storm blows in. We acknowledge that, with time comes the break in the storm, giving us clear vision and the ability to continue our journey in search of our goals. In the meantime, while we wait, we will rest, scheme, and better prepare ourselves to give it all we got when the time comes.

I can now see a break in the storm, my vision is clearer, and I have prepared to continue living my dreams.

Written by Brian Spitzig

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