Family roots run deep for Tony Bohrer. His great-grandparents homesteaded in Moffat County in the early 1900s and he has been pastor at Apostolic Lighthouse Church in Craig for 15 years.
That long local heritage has given Bohrer a solid understanding of the region’s values and traditions, along with the outdoor lifestyle that has sustained his family for generations.
So six years ago, Pastor Bohrer took a leap of faith and decided to expand his family by opening up his own full-service hunting operation: Ivory Tip Outfitters in Craig.
“There was a time when you could slip the rancher fifty dollars and jump his fence and guides were for rich people,” he said. “Now outfitters are for everyone.”
Colorado’s abundance of public lands and over-the-counter elk hunting tags (second and third rifle seasons) make the state a top destination for outdoorsmen hoping to tag a big bull and the experience of a lifetime. But after beating the brush year after year alongside throngs of likeminded hunters in the U.S. National Forest, many come to recognize the benefits of a guided hunt.
Foremost among those benefits is access.
“One of the biggest things we offer is access to private land,” Bohrer (pronounced boo-yer) said. “We try to do quality over quantity. We treat you the same if you’re hunting a bull or a cow. We treat everybody like family.”
With help from wife Shannon and his two daughters among as many as 10 helpers – cooks, guides, camp hosts and meat runners – per hunt, Bohrer practices what he preaches. In addition to his own hunting heritage, he spent more than a dozen years managing another outfitting operation, learning the ins and outs of the business. Ivory Tip’s clients are the ultimate benefactors of a business model that’s designed to under-promise and over-deliver.
“We are a full-service guide,” Bohrer said. “The hunter can be as involved or as uninvolved as he wants to be. They have free reign. From the time he pulls the trigger it’s up to us. The harvest is up to them.”
Keeping clients in smaller groups by offering two different locations both north and south of Craig, Ivory Tip can feel confident about the quality of the hunts they offer. Qualifying for landowner vouchers and Ranching for Wildlife tags, outfitters can help hunters with licenses, or hunters can acquire their own.
At Ivory Tip Outfitters the extras include everything from a pick-up at the airport to a loan of a camp rifle and transporting the meat to the processor in town. If time is an issue and a client only has a short window to hunt, Bohrer says they can handle that, often getting clients out in the field the very evening they arrive at the airport.
“It’s a high-paced society so we’ve created a well-oiled system,” Bohrer said, adding that his services are equally efficient after a client’s tag has been filled. “First to Gunsmoke Taxidermy for the cape removal and preservation. Then the meat goes to Brothers for processing. We can get you to the airport in 24 hours with frozen, packaged meat.”
With more time, a more relaxed hunt is the norm. A morning hunt followed by brunch and a cooldown period. The evening hunt is followed by a big dinner.
“There are only so many things I can control. The food has to be superb, the place you stay has to be nice, and you have to have a quality hunt,” Bohrer said. “People want a quality hunt. If the hunt goes well, the food and the place are less important to them. If the hunt is not successful, but the food and the place were good, you’re still okay. But if both are bad, you’re in trouble.”
Attention to quality breeds success, and Ivory Tip’s return clientele offer testimony to the outfitter’s success. They open up reservations in December and are fully booked by February.
With his years as pastor and even more in the outfitting business, Bohrer has reason for the 60 percent to 70 percent of clients returning for additional hunts.
“I know stuff happens, so I always send deposit money back,” he said. “If anything goes wrong, I’m the one they are going to call. It’s a reflection on the outfitter.”
That reflection shines well on Ivory Tip Outfitters, where Bohrer’s family continues to grow.
“The hunting world is a small world,” he says. “We’ve found lifetime friends, with values the same as ours.”