Try To Keep Up

Try To Keep Up

By Ethan Hale

I know how it goes: You pull into camp, meet your outfitter and he introduces you to your guide. You take one look at the kid, who’s dressed in Vans and a Quicksilver t-shirt and think, welp we aren’t shooting anything this week. As you shake his hand the first thing you ask is, “How long have you been guiding?” 

The first morning of the hunt comes and he steps out in full Kuiu attire. His boots hardly have soles left; the rubber has peeled off the toe. That’s when you realize he’s in the best shape of his life. Suddenly you start to panic, and you wonder if this kid is going to hike you into the ground.

As a young guide, my success didn’t come easy. Having older brothers who were guides and a father who’s an outfitter, I had something to prove. I scouted my ass off, studied maps late into the night, and hit the gym as often as I could. Finding my own spots was important to me, as I didn’t want a handout. My pride wouldn’t let me ask for help. 

I now reflect on all the times clients doubted me and I proved them wrong. They all hated the fact that I didn’t look like a hunter at times, or that I was the youngest guide in the group. Because I didn’t have a beard or have a Copenhagen ring in my back pocket, some clients took me for more of a liability than an asset. Plenty thought they were in for an unsuccessful hunt.

But in the end, the result was always the same: My passion for hunting showed through and my clients were successful. Indeed, many have become life-long friends who return to hunt with me year after year.

Fact is, outdoorsmen come in all ages, shapes and sizes, and I’d urge you to give them a chance. It’s a high possibility that they are more motivated than some of the old, burned-out guides who are jaded and set in their ways like stubborn mountain mules. 

And to the young aspiring guides out there, just know that it’s not easy. The job is 24/7. But if you be yourself, work hard, scout hard, and hunt hard, you’ll do fine. And here’s my final tip: Pretend if you don’t kill, you don’t eat. If that doesn’t light a fire under your ass, nothing will!