Guides are always sensitive to their hunter’s feelings.  The best Guides, like Tim and Larry, always aim to build up the hunter’s self esteem thereby increasing the hunter’s confidence.  The Guide only encourages, and is very careful to avoid mentioning any mistakes made by their hunter.  As an example, consider the following interchange between Larry and me.  “Man you did great”, Larry exclaimed!  “You really held your composure and were patient and then took the shot when it came.”  I had just endured 30 minutes of my guide trying to irritate a trophy elk into stepping from behind a screen of trees. It had worked, and we would soon discover that the 250 grain Nosler Partition from my .35 Whelan Improved, custom-built rifle had done its job.  “Yeah, I’ve had hunters yell at the animals instead of shooting, jack all of their cartridges out onto the ground without pulling the trigger, and look everywhere for the 800-pound bull, everywhere that is except 40 feet straight in front of them where it was standing in the open.  But boy not you, there must be John Wayne amounts of ice water running in your veins!”  Not wanting the celebration of my excellence as a hunter to stop, I prompted Larry one last time with a humble “Well, are you sure I did everything just right?”  I sat back, half closing my eyes, and waited to have the compliments waft over me.  He looked at me out of the corner of his one good eye and said, “Now that you mention it, I noticed you fiddling with your scope magnification.  And I just want to tell you that if you had missed your only opportunity to shoot that elk because of it, I would have been all over you like stink on a skunk!”

            The very best Guides, like Larry, enrich the hunter’s experience by also involving them in the post-harvest tasks. I already mentioned that I got to hold the meat while Larry tried to chop my hand off, but I wanted to do more.  I had been watching Larry and the other Guides and I was certain I could tie up the mannie packs as well, and as fast, as they.  “Are you absolutely certain that I can’t help you mannie the meat and get the packs onto the mules”, I asked for the 15th time?   Larry slowly straightened up from where he was crouching over one of the packs.  He turned toward me and said very slowly, almost like he was talking to an idiot child, “There are three things you can do for me.  Number 1 quit asking me that question, Number 2 stay out of my way, and Number 3, and most importantly, get off my rope!”

            To conclude this essay let me state again what I said at the outset, the most gifted Guides are master communicators.  They never use ten words when two will suffice, they always express themselves in clear, certain tones and they always – repeat always – encourage dialogue between themselves and their hunter.  An excellent example of just such a positive interaction occurred between Larry and myself concerning the fact that, in addition to my elk tag, I carried a permit for a black bear.  I had already collected a trophy black bear two years before, but if the opportunity arose, I sure was interested in getting another.  In this vein, I asked Larry if he thought a bear might be drawn to the remains of my elk.  He looked at me and brought our dialogue to a close with, “God, I hope not!”  I must have looked shocked because he answered my stare with “I am an Elk Guide.  Bears are nasty, greasy, tick-infested animals and if you shoot one, you will be gutting, skinning and carrying it out yourself!”  I thought about asking Larry whether he would be willing to tell me how he really felt about bears, but he seemed to be grumbling under his breath and had once again picked up his axe…

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