Hunters planning to try their luck in the upcoming seasons often face the choice of going it alone, or using the services of a guide and outfitter. While many prefer pitching their tent and cooking the meals, a number of hunters choose an outfitter to do the daily chores, allowing them more time out in the field.
“Those are the hunters we specialize in,” says Randy Sloan, of High Desert Ranch and Outfitting. “My wife does the cooking. We do everything for them.”
Sloan and his wife Marti spend winters attending sporting shows marketing their product: guided big game hunts in Northwest Colorado. To be an outfitter in Colorado, Sloan needs to be licensed each year by the state of Colorado, as well as permitted by the Bureau of Land Management to hunt federal lands, and by the U.S. Forest Service to hunt the national forest.
“Permits are tougher to get in the forest,” Sloan says. “I think there’s only a couple given out for Black Mountain.”
The annual fee paid by outfitters is determined by the number of hunters each guide hosted the previous year.
Sloan, like many outfitters, also has agreements with private landowners to hunt on their ranches, away from the crowds found on public land.
“It’s a huge difference on private land,” Sloan says. “Last year we had a 90 percent success rate for deer and elk. I’ll bet we were close to 100 percent on antelope.”
With cabins in three different locations, Sloan normally sends a guide with each pair of hunters. The guides stay at the camp to insure early starts, and to be available to field-dress harvested animals and to pack the animal out of the woods and back to the meat processing plant.
Local history is included free of charge in the stories told around the campfire at night, when Sloan recalls hearing from his grandfather about native Americans camping just across the river from them at his family’s homestead in Sunbeam.
A year-round cattle rancher, Sloan spent five years as a guide for other outfitters before starting his own business a decade ago. High Desert Ranch and Outfitting boasts a 75 percent returning hunter rate that Sloan says shows the value of an outfitter.
“For most of my hunters, this is their one big vacation of the year,” he says. “Why not let an outfitter take care of it for you?”
For more information call 970-629-1760 or visit www.highdesertoutfitting.com.For more information call 970-629-1760 or visit www.highdesertoutfitting.com.For more information call 970-629-1760 or visit www.highdesertoutfitting.com.