Hunting Guide Outfitter  What They Do

Just the Facts

Hunters and Trappers Career Video

Insider Info

dotHunting guide outfitters are experienced outdoorsmen and women who guide clients on hunting trips. They provide transportation and gear, called "outfitting." They use their expertise to help clients have a good trip in the outdoors. These outfitters also often specialize in guiding fishing trips.

dotHunting guide outfitters are entrepreneurs who run their own businesses.

Outfitters provide their customers with food, shelter, horses, equipment and guided tours. They also take care of everything from finances to guiding the tours. Outfitters often register and employ guides, or assistant guides, to work with them.

dotSpring and fall are usually the main seasons for hunting. For the rest of the year outfitters take care of administration and market their services.

dotSome outfitters run lodges for their customers, or offer camping sites. Yet guides are not resort owners or nature educators; a guide's job is showing customers the best hunting and fishing spots, says Dale Drown, the general manager of an outfitters' association.

dotJanette Skiber loves the variety and difficulty of outfitters' duties. "I enjoy the challenge of running this business. You have to cut your own trails and build your own cabins. You need to learn how to shoe horses and pack for the hunt."

dotGuides work where good opportunities for hunting and fishing are located. Generally, this is in somewhat remote wilderness areas. It is getting more common, however, for outfitters to guide on private property. Those who own large parcels of land, like ranchers, earn extra money by leasing hunting rights to outfitters.

dotIt takes a special kind of person to like this career. "Working conditions are ideal for those who like the outdoors," says guide Erv Malnarich. "It takes a certain breed of person. You have to love the wilderness, wildlife and the mountains. I guess you could say you have to love the romance of the outdoors."

dotThere is an element of danger to this job. Working outdoors puts outfitters at risk of animal attacks, accidental gunshot and knife wounds, and snake and insect bites.

dotPhysically, being an outfitter is very demanding. It requires good physical strength and stamina for the strenuous outdoor work. Long days of up to 16 hours are common. As a guide, you're rarely off-duty. Guides often work weekends.

"A guide must be in top physical condition," agrees Malnarich. "They ride horses all day long. They work from daylight to dusk. When they're not on a hunt, they're on the phone."

dotBeing a female hunting guide outfitter isn't easy. Skiber says many people don't accept a woman participating in what has traditionally been a male sport. "Being a woman is a little difficult. People have a couple of reactions when I tell them what I do. They either say, 'Oh neat' or 'How can you shoot those poor little animals?'"

dotIn order to expand their businesses, some outfitters do more than provide hunting trips. "We have bought 30 horses and will be using our trails six months of the year," says guide Lyle Barsby. "People must become flexible if they want to succeed."

At a Glance

Make hunting accessible

  • Requires physical strength and stamina for strenuous outdoor work
  • Long days of up to 16 hours are common
  • Each outfitter must be licensed by the state