Our Best and Worst Outdoors Stories: The Outfitter from Hell — Plus a Heaven-Sent Buck

For the next several weeks, we’ll be talking to our editorial staff about their best and worst experiences in the outdoors.

Our Best and Worst Outdoors Stories: The Outfitter from Hell — Plus a Heaven-Sent Buck

The author’s No. 1 outdoor memory was sitting beside Jake Beckstrom when he arrowed two deer on his first afternoon of bowhunting. Shown above left is Jake’s custom-made wheelchair shooting system; he triggers a crossbow or firearm with a mouth clip. Above right: Jake, Kurt (Jake’s dad) and the author celebrate in the Wisconsin woods.

The outdoors creates memories — good and bad — that last a lifetime. For the next several weeks, we’ll be talking to our editorial staff about their best and worst experiences in the outdoors. Up first, Senior Editor Dave Maas weighs in on a terrible outfitter experience, but it’s balanced by a miraculous buck on a friend's first-time bowhunt.   

We’d love to hear your stories too! Share your stories with us at editors@grandviewoutdoors.com or leave us a comment on Facebook and let us know what your think. 

 

Jumping Deer in Idaho

By Senior Editor Dave Maas

Not catching fish or tagging an animal is part of the outdoor chess match, and I never consider a trip a success or failure based on whether I fill the freezer. When I think about all the places I’ve visited during my long career in the outdoors (I was born in 1965), my worst hunting memory is a whitetail gun hunt to Idaho nearly 10 years ago. I stayed and pursued deer with an outfitter who had invited me and a cameraman to join him.

Over the course of three days, we spotted hundreds of whitetails and some decent-size bucks, but because the outfitter didn’t know anything about filming a show for TV, he insisted on jumping deer (think pheasant hunting). In other words, we constantly bumped deer from thick cover, then he’d yell “Shoot!” as a buck raced away. Of course, this doesn’t make for good TV, and in my opinion, firing bullets at running big game isn’t worth the risk.

After yet another spooked deer and “Shoot!” episode, where again I didn’t fire because we had zero footage of the bounding buck, the outfitter stormed off the mountain in disgust. I remember a surplus of angry profanity directed toward me, too.

The cameraman and I finally found our way to the outfitter’s truck (it was about lunchtime), and during the 45-minute ride back to his house, he didn’t say a word. Awkward!

After he parked and shut off the engine, I politely asked, “So, what would you like us to do?” Meaning, when should we be ready for lunch and the afternoon hunt. He stepped out of the truck, slammed the door and yelled, “I want you outta here!”

We quickly packed our gear (we were staying in the outfitter’s house with his wife and two young kids) and 20 minutes later we were in our rental car headed back to Boise.

The cost of changing flights to earlier dates for the trip home to Minnesota was more than hotel charges, so we spent the final two days of our “dream deer hunt” in a hotel working. I don’t believe the outfitter is still in business — thank God.

A Great Bowhunt

Enough negativity. I have many fantastic outdoor memories, and the one that tops the list is when my buddy Jake Beckstrom, who had been paralyzed from the chest down a couple years prior in a diving accident, was able to get in the field again for whitetails.

He had killed deer with a rifle early in his hunting career, but had never bowhunted. Jake had a family friend rig up his power wheelchair with a shooting support, and I loaned him a crossbow. Jake could aim and fire the crossbow himself, but needed assistance cocking it, loading an arrow and sliding off the bow’s safety.

Jake and his dad joined me and my dad in western Wisconsin on one of our family’s remote food plots, and on Jake’s FIRST afternoon of bowhunting, he arrowed a young doe, then right after sunset tagged a tall-tined 4x4. A first-day double — incredible!

I’ve thought about that bowhunt a thousand times since it happened years ago, and it still gives me goosebumps. Watching that big buck step onto the food plot and sitting in a box blind — one my dad and I built specifically for that bowhunt — and watching Jake bite a custom-made mouth clip to discharge his crossbow to make two perfect shots is something I’ll never forget.

Jake has the heaven-sent buck hanging on the wall of his house, and since that day he’s arrowed eight or nine more deer with my dad and I in Wisconsin, but nothing will top Jake’s first archery afternoon in the whitetail woods.

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