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Customers take Utah outfitter to court

Outfitter tent

Photo credit: Dreamstime

When you hire an outfitter for a hunt of a lifetime (or just a hunt in general), once you pay for it, you expect to go on the trip. This isn’t the case, however, if you’ve recently paid for a hunt with Majestic Valley Outfitters. The company, which is based in Roy, Utah, is under investigation for “allegedly taking customers’ money” for hunting trips that never happened, the Deseret News reports.

Tyler Ray Watson is the owner of the company. 16 people have come forward with proof of Watson’s fraud. According to a search warrant affidavit filed in 2nd District Court, Watson collected over “$177,000 from customers who paid for hunting trips that they never went on.” While Watson hasn’t been arrested and there aren’t any charges filed against him yet, it is an active and ongoing investigation.

Watson told the Deseret News that the issue is actually the speed with which the state’s elk tags sold out this year and he puts his own money down to book land ahead of time.  

“There was no criminal activity. I mean, I didn’t take people’s money and do this on purpose. It was just one of those things that was bad that happened,” said Watson. “There’s nothing there. It was an honest mistake. It wasn’t criminal. … It was just a thing we didn’t have control over.”

However, according to police, one of the check’s Watson sent to a customer for a refund was for the wrong amount and it bounced. While Watson says that the customers canceled the hunts, several of those impacted say that Watson was the one “to cancel or postpone the hunt for different reasons,” according to the Deseret News. Watson says this is because tags sold out “before he could get any.”

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"I had no idea they were going to sell out that quick. It wasn’t anything that I had control over,” said Watson. “I can only do what I can do. We’re trying to make it work. We’re trying to make it right with these people. We paid back as much as we could. We don’t have a lot of money to work on … and no new money coming in. I can only work on what I can work on. It was just a terrible year."

This isn’t the first complaint against Watson or his business. According to the Deseret News, in January of 2017, Watson didn’t follow through with a mule deer hunt. The person filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (Majestic Valley Outfitters current rating is D+) and, to date, has still not been refunded the $5,768 paid for the hunt.

Stay tuned to goHUNT for further updates.

6 Comments

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scott s. - posted 1 month ago on 02-07-2019 11:14:56 am

He talks nonsense - was contracted for private ranch landowner tags that he never had access to and that don't "sell out", never had any intention of following through, and lies regularly about refunding the $50,000 plus that he has stolen from this party. Not sure why he's still on the street.

Bryant_Hertzog
Bryant H. - posted 2 months ago on 01-03-2019 05:27:38 pm
washington
goHUNT INSIDER

He truly is a fraud. Seems like every year he has more excuses and the list of victims continues to grow. This is now two straight years he has continued to manipulate the system and keep hard earned money from hunters.

david.pekala@gmail.com
David P. - posted 2 months ago on 12-29-2018 03:21:45 pm
O'Fallon, IL
goHUNT INSIDER

@Benjamin P - You can buy vacation insurance. Also, you can use a place that checks on outfitters before sending clients there. I’ve used Outdoors International (Mat Cervantes) in the past for hunts and will continue to if I’m not going DIY.

Benjamin P. - posted 3 months ago on 12-21-2018 02:32:18 am

I’ve never hired a guide for a hunt but I’ve considered it. How do I best avoid getting scammed or losing money to a guide who can’t or won’t refund money?

Shanedykster
Shane D. - posted 3 months ago on 12-13-2018 01:29:28 pm
Hooper, ut
goHUNT INSIDER

Been an Outfitter for 28 years and one piece of advice I have balance upon arrival.

Gary H. - posted 3 months ago on 12-13-2018 08:29:44 am
goHUNT INSIDER

Sounds like the guy should be on the hook. If he took money and didn't produce a service or refund money I would say he is going to loose in court. Sorry to hear he is stuck with the property lease but that isn't the customers fault.

Who on earth would pay for land before they know for sure if they can get the tags?