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The battle between guides vs. DIY hunters

Guides vs do it yourself hunters

Are all guides jerks? Are all DIY hunters more ethical and courteous?

If you have followed me for any length of time you probably know at one time I was a young man who thought all hunting guides were jerks and people with money ruined hunting. To say I was ignorant would be an understatement, but the reality is that this mentality is a huge issue within the hunting community. A lot of guides are frowned upon and do-it-yourself (DIY) hunters are held up on a high pedestal. But why?

There will always be a few bad apples that give each group a bad name. I realize that I am a professional hunting guide, so how can I be objective on this subject? For starters, I am not afraid to say what I believe to be truthful and I am not afraid to come at this from both sides and really pour out my heart. I have heard too many rumors about myself and outfitters in general and I think much of it comes from jealousy.
 

Craig Steele DIY hunting video
The Dream 2 was a 100% DIY hunting DVD I produced in 2003.

In 2003, I produced and sold a do-it-yourself (DIY) hunting DVD in Sportsman’s Warehouse stores. I produced it because I truly felt all of the other DVDs available were mainly guided hunting videos and I knew 90% of the market did not hunt with a guide. So I wanted to make a change in the hunting DVD world. The DVD did very well by hunting DVD standards, but not enough to quit my day job. Why? The market for hunting DVDs wasn’t big enough and the internet was only on the cusp of starting to change everything. For me, it was back to the drawing board. 

Becoming a guide
 

Arizona Unit 9 antelope guided by Craig Steele
The first hunter I ever guided was Wade for antelope in Arizona’s Unit 9.

The following year I obtained my guide license and guided two hunts for a well-known Arizona outfitter. Both hunts were successful, but one hunt went significantly better than the other. The client was an exceptional person and really trusted me to help him. He helped me open my eyes to the joy in guiding. At the time, I was only 23 years old and a full time firefighter/EMT. I was guiding for extra cash and I wasn’t fully sold on guiding for a living. Fast forward several years later and wasn't guiding anymore. I stopped because my wife and I had our children during that time and I did not have the time to guide hunters, hunt for myself, publish a magazine and work a full-time job. In 2011, I guided a hunter named Steve Hatch who completely changed my outlook on guiding. He experienced a tragic death in his family during that hunt and, unfortunately, we did not get to hunt the entire time. Steve is just a great person and to this day we talk regularly. 

Continued below.

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Trophy envy and jealousy in the hunting community

Everyone wants the biggest buck, bull or ram but that isn't what hunting is all about. Seeing the success of guides creates a lot of jealousy from regular hunters. It then creates a divide that separtes DIY hunters and guides.

 

In the end, which is better: guided or DIY?
 

 Troy with his Arizona archery mule deer with Exclusive Pursuit Outfitters
 Troy with his 2016 Arizona archery mule deer taken with Exclusive Pursuit Outfitters.

I am no longer a firefighter or EMT. I am a professional hunting guide, marketer and entrepreneur. My titles have changed and from the “working man’s eyes” (DIY hunter’s eyes) my titles today are not ones that are as respected as the firefighter or EMT. Yet, I am a better person today than I was when I was a  firefighter/EMT. I also work 10 times harder because what I do for a living is what I am passionate about. As a hunter and guide I never want to lose sight of what makes hunting so great. It's so easy to get caught up with the hype on social media.

If you are good at what you do there will always be someone out there cutting you down. I've heard it many times that the image of a guide is hurt when they portray attitude toward other hunters in "their" hunting area, when it is in fact public land. Hunting is a passion for both guides and DIY hunters. Both desire the same outcomes. DIY hunters scout so many days a year to prepare for their hunt and tip the odds of success in their favor and guides scout so many days a year to ensure their client has a successful trip. You quickly see that each are basically the same.

Creative mule deer harvest photo

I want to make one thing very clear: I am not saying all guides are great people. In fact, there are many whom I do not care for, but the term “DIY hunter” doesn’t automatically mean you are a good person. It also doesn’t mean you are not going to have to bust your butt to get it done. If you hunt on your own you should be proud of it, but also need to be cautious of judging someone by their title as a hunting guide. Often you will find there is more to a person than what society has labeled on their so-called title. I still hunt on my own quite a bit and I look forward to the challenge. There are a ton of great hunting guides and bad ones, the same can be said for DIY hunters. In the end it all comes down to attitude and respect for the varying degree of the preferred hunting style. So let's push aside the differences... and get back to hunting.

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