COMICAL AND ODD MEMORIES OF AN OUTFITTERS CLIENTS (WILDEST STORIES OVER 12 YEARS OF OUTFITTING)
Having been a hunt outfitter for decade I have eye witnessed hundreds of the most comical and oddest hunt scenarios you would ever believe or imagine. Prior to reporting these comical and odd events I want to attest to the fact they are all 100% factual and true, however unbelievable the stories may seem to be.
THE NAKED MAN
In 2004 two hunters arrived from the east coast. One hunter we will refer to as Tom was a pencil necked accountant who had never harvested a mature buck in his life but was determined to get the job done. The other hunter who we will refer to as Billy was a bit odd upon first impression. Day one of the hunt I placed the pair on a farm in Illinois entitled the Clark Farm. Upon entry into any IMB Camp the hunter is processed through an orientation wherein camp rules are reviewed and we discuss issues ranging from how to field judge deer to how hunters will be transported to stands. Literally when the client leaves one of our orientations he or she fully understands all that is expected and understands camp rules, signs a liability waiver, and relinquishes the balance of his or her hunt. One strict rule we employ here at IMB is that no client can get down out of the treestand and roam the farm or farms for any other reason than to go to the bathroom, harvesting of an animal, or an emergency. We employ such a rule because hunters that walk around simply spook deer, mess up other peoples hunts, and promote accidental trespassing. Day One of the hunt was a strong one slap in the peak of the rut of Pike County, Illinois. The Superbowl of Deerhunting. All a hunter could want with monster bucks chasing rutting does round about farm tracts throughout the entire day.
Upon conclusion of Day One the accountant, Tom requested to speak to me regarding a bad experience he had accrued. Tom stated, “Billy was on the same farm I was on. He got down from his stand and walked right by me.” I then replied, “I am so sorry. I will speak to Billy about this as he knows we have strict rules about our hunters not walking around and stressing the importance of staying in the treestand. As I began to walk off Tom stated, “Darrin that’s not the end of the story. Billy walked right by my stand and waved at me.” At this point I couldn’t believe what I was hearing as it was obvious that Billy had really foiled Tom’s first outing in Pike County, Illinois. “I again apologized and told Tom I would pull Billy into the office and talk to him immediately and that he might even be sent home as we just would not permit Billy to be walking around. Again I apologized and turned to walk away. Then Tom dropped me the “bomb”. Tom stated, “Darrin, when Billy walked by my stand and waived he was totally naked with the exception he was wearing his boots.” At this point I laughed as I thought Tom was pulling my leg. I stated, “Tom you gotta be joking with me. Its November ninth and its only 30 degrees. No way did Billy walk by you naked and wave at you in the treestand.” Tom insisted he was telling the truth and I went off to investigate the situation at hand.
I immediately pulled Billy into the office and stated, “It was reported that you were down out of your treestand roaming about the farm today. Is this true?” Billy boldly stated, “Yep!” Then I further stated, “It has also been reported you walked right by Tom and waved at him. Is this true?” Billy again boldly stated, “Yep!” Then I stated “It has also been reported you were not clothed and completely naked except for your boots. Is this true?” Billy again boldly stated, “Yep I was completely naked and waved right at him as I walked by.” Baffled and trying to hold back the laughter surrounding the insane situation I ask one more question. “Why would you do that?” Billy stated, “At first light I began seeing big whitetail bucks chasing does and I quickly recognized this was the best farm I had ever hunted in my life. I got to figuring if I took all my clothes off and walked by Tom naked and waved he would think I was crazy, request to be moved, and I would have the whole farm to myself.”
How I kept from laughing aloud I will never know but I told Billy he plan had worked. Tom does think your crazy but I need you to go pack your stuff as your going home without a refund. Billy was sent home and Tom to this day has never been heard from again. Just weeks later I was contacted by the Better Business Bureau regarding my decision not to refund Billy’s money. I submitted the narrative complete in its entirety and never heard another word about the situation.
MR POOPY PANTS
During the rut trophy whitetail bucks often travel all day in search of hot does and at times we try and talk our hunters into staying in the treestand all day and provide them with a sack lunch. Its not mandated but some hunters do sit all day. Knowing where a Boone and Crockett buck was bedding on a regular basis I had a hunter in camp we will call Dave. I told Dave of the big buck and begged him to hunt in the stand all day. He was very apprehensive as he was not the kind of guy that liked to hunt all day. I made a deal with him that I would meet him at the entrance of the farm near a gate at 11 AM. I told him that if he wasn’t there that meant he was staying all day and that if he couldn’t sit all day then it was no big deal.
I arrived at the farm at 10:45 AM and waited until 11:30 before I was convinced he had elected to sit all day. That also told me he was seeing big deer.
At dark I reported back to the farm to pick Dave up. At dark there Dave stood at the gate. I took his bow from him and helped him put it in the case. Put his backpack in the truck and opened the door for him. As we started to make our way back to the lodge I ask him what he saw. He replied, “At first light a monster buck came in and bedded 60 yards from my stand where he stayed all day long with a doe.” I quickly noticed my truck began to smell terrible. Dave began to explain that after a few hours he decided he had to go to the bathroom. Dave stated, “The buck was out of bowrange and I didn’t want to spook him so I pooped my pants on purpose and sat in it all day. Do you care if I hunt back in there again tomorrow?”
$45,000 FOR A BOONER RIGHT NOW
A Boone and Crockett buck must score 170 inches typical or 190 inches nontypical antler to meet requirements for entry. While the hunt industry has killed many behind a high fence pretending to be in fair chase conditions and made hunters believe its easy to harvest a “Booner” it is actually very tough. In fact the harvest of a whitetail over 170 inches is a feat one in several thousand hunters ever do in a lifetime much less on a five day bowhunt with an outfitter in fair chase conditions. Sure each year our hunters harvest some animals exceeding the minimum requirements for entry into the Boone and Crockett Record Books however usually only about 7 or 8 “Booners” are killed with IMB annually, which believe it or not it fairly good. Now Pope and Young bucks are much easier to come by as requirements for Pope and Young are 125 inches and are very respectable animals. In fact during most of our hunts its harder not to get a client a shot at a Pope and Young than to get him one, however “Boone and Crockett” Bucks just simply are bucks of a lifetime if your ever lucky enough to harvest one. In fact Im on 27 pro staffs and own the largest whitetail outfitting service in the nation and I’ve never harvested a 170 plus buck in my life and maybe never even taken a shot at one. Hopefully someday I will but the general rule is nobody expects to kill a Boone and Crockett buck. If it happens fine but you don’t expect it.
In 2007 I sold 3 annual passes to clients at $15,000 per man. An annual pass allows the hunter to access all 50,000 acres in5 states we possess on an unlimited basis. This means if you buy an annual pass you can legally harvest 8 bucks,9 turkeys, and get all the predator hunting one can stomach. Most annual pass holders harvest multiple animals per year with the average being harvested around 145 inches.
The 3 annual pass holders began their journey in Pike County, Ilinois after the spending of $45,000 cash. After their first day of the hunt from the 4 Star Facility they approached the Illinois Manager and stated, “We saw some great bucks today but we didn’t see any bucks over 170 inches within bowrange.” The Illinois Manager then replied, “Pike County Illinois is the #1 County in the Nation for Number of entries in the Boone and Crockett Record Books however their aren’t 170 inch plus bucks behind every tree.”
To that response the 3 hunters stated, “Well that’s all we had to hear. We are heading home.” They never returned and of course we kept the money as contracted.
THE GHOST HOUSE
In 2006 we had a nice couple spending their honeymoon hunting with us in Missouri. Wow what a great gal huh? How would you like to have your wife want to go on an outfitted whitetail trophy hunt for the honey moon. They were great people but on Day Three of the Hunt she decided not to go hunting and sleep in while he went out into the timber in pursuit of a whitetail buck. Upon returning from the evening hunt she had all their belongings packed and sitting on the front porch of the lodge. Baffled we asked her why their stuff was packed and out on the porch. She replied, “I saw a ghost today at the lodge and we are going home because I’m scared.” I tried calming her down and assured her their were no such things as ghosts but she would have none of it. Convinced she had seen a ghost that was going to harm them she insisted they go home and we went looking for Scooby Doo and Shaggy too. By the way, no more ghosts or goblins have been seen since.
PUT UP THAT CRACK PIPE
Early in 2006 we booked a guy from the “City” who seemed to be your average run of the mill guy. He reported to camp and was assigned to a new guide named Doug. Doug being a new guide was an expert turkey caller and knew right where to go in an effort to make sure the client would return home with 2 birds. After Day One, Doug the guide approached me to report the client was continually missing easy shots at trophy gobblers as Misssouri is the #1 , County in Nation for harvest of record book entries in the NWTF Record Books. I ask Doug what he thought the problem was. Doug being a bit naïve stated, “It must have something to do with that pipe.” I replied, “What pipe?” Doug then replied that as soon as he took the client into the turkey blind the hunter began rustling through aluminumfoil and started loading up a pipe he was lighting on fire and exhaling the smoke.
As a long time law enforcement officer it took me about 5 seconds to figure out our “City Boy” was indeed hunting turkeys but missing them due to his efforts to fire up his crack cocaine pipe every 10 minutes or so. I began laughing uncontrollably as sick as it may seem you just had to be there. I got a guy that is so obcessed with smoking crack he can’t put his pipe down long enough to shoot his damn turkey.
Next I took the client into the office to confront him on the scenario. Initially the client denied using crack until I told him he could either leave without a refund or I could call the K9 Unit and Police down to search his room. The client went home but sent a letter weeks later that stated that if our orientation would have covered our discouragement of drug usage he would never have brought crack cocaine to camp. Yeah, right! I’ve heard of using corn to attract turkeys but not crack cocaine. Wonder if turkeys could get addicted to cracked corn?
DENNIS DOESN’T DOES PUSHUPS
In 2005 Dennis hunted with us. In the AM hours prior to hunt one or day one Dennis was awoken by his roommate who was doing pushups in the nude. At first Dennis was appauled but for some reason Dennis decided this must be IMB protocol. Dennis then dropped to the floor of the spacious bedroom and began doing a few pushups himself. Needless to say it didn’t help a bit in the field.
FORKHORN OUTSIDE THE EARS
On the opening morning of Pike County, Illinois first gun season which we simply refer to as the “’Superbowl of Deerhunting” all hunters had been fully trained on how to field judge deer the day prior by IMB Management. One of the phrases we use to indicated to hunters on how to determine how bit a deer is by determining if the earset is outside of the ears. 10 minutes into the hunt the guides phone rings. The hunter yells into the phone, “I’ve got a monster buck down.” Upon arrival guides discovered a small forkhorn lie dead. The guide politely ask, “Did you make a mistake”? The hunter stated, “Hell no look here.” The hunter picked the deer up by the ears folding them behind he deer’s head and said “See this rack is outside the ears.” That’s when we had to tell him to determine width its done when ears are out on and erect, not back.
JIM DOWNING IS HILARIOUS
During the 2005 deerseason funnyman, Jim Downing shot what guides call a penalty buck. That’s a buck that doesn’tmeet the minimum 120 inch requirements the camp imposes. When the Guide arrived it was plain to see the deer was much too small. The guide tried to appease the hunter by saying “Good buck, congratulations Jim”. To which Jim said, “Bullshit,it’s a dink, it’s a dink, I know it’s a dink.” So the guide said, “Yeah your right it’s a dink, but good shot.”
SON KILLS FIRST
A group of 3 hunters arrived. One father and two sons which held ages of 19 and 20. Upon opening morning the youngest son shot a whale of deer. Upon returning to the lodge the father became enraged the son had killed before he did so he made them pack up all their stuff and made them all go home. By the way this is a good way to ruin children on hunting.
We took a client several years ago on a late season hunt who arrowed a nice 150 inch deer. Upon arrival to the deer an antler had fallen off where he lay. The guide stated to the hunter, “Don’t worry our taxidermist can fix this.” Then after gutting the animal they began to drag the deer to the truck. Within a few feet the other antler fell off. Then the guide stated, “Oh my God”.
During the 2006 Season I had been watching several shooter bucks working a cornfield that didn’t have any trees around it except for an old abandon shack. Opening morning of the Missouri Gun Season I placed a hunter in the ole shack to harvest one of the bucks. 10 minutes into shooting light the hunter called me and said he had left because I stuck him in an ol shack. I explained we had been seeing many big deer on that field and for him to return to the shack and he would be successful. He declined. Over the course of the next 3 days we harvested 3 bucks scoring over 150 inches from the old shack, meanwhile the mad hunter went home empty handed. It’s a good” lesson on sitting where the outfitter tells you to sit.
POT SMOKERS AT THE HOTEL
My first year as an outfitter I drew guide duties on two old Vietnam vets whom had not left all their bad habits in Nam.
Don’t get me wrong I have no problems with Vietnam and am grateful for them defending our nation, however on this day I would accrue a strange experience. I showed up at their hotel with an aerial map and walked in to spread the map across the table to start explaining where we were hunting. A odd odor was in the air and in a nearby ashtray was several marijuana joints and some even half smoked as well as a bag of pot. The pair simultaneously stated, “Oh crap”. And ran to hide the dope. One looked at me and stated, “This would be the best time to tip you’. They laid several hundred dollar bills on the table for me and by golly we went hunting that night. Of course now I would just kick them out of camp but I didn’t know what to do back then.
These are but a few of the oddities I have witnessed. Maybe someday I’ll write a book of outfitter oddities.
Darrrin Bradley, IMB