This list is forever changing and increasing with the guides and outfitters we use and trust for our hunts. Saving up for a guide and pulling the trigger on spending your hard earned cash for a few days of hunting is a big deal. You need to trust the people you’re paying for a hunt of a lifetime. The below list is who we trust for our adventures. If you don’t see a guide or outfitter listed, send us a note. Maybe we’ve used the specific guide or outfitter and they didn’t measure up and make it to our Top Shelf!
Coues Deer, Mule Deer, Elk
Contact Van at (928) 587-3799
Trophy Outfitters, owned by Van Hale, has been running Coues deer, Mule deer, Rocky Mountain Elk, Black Bear, Antelope, Cougar and Turkey hunts since 1981. Operating in both New Mexico and Arizona, Van is a good guy and a straight shooter. He’s fair and employs good guides. If you want an opportunity at a giant elk with any weapon, he’s your guy. I’ve done several guided hunts with Van’s outfit and can tell you, first hand, his guides are good and he runs a really good operation. I’ve hunted elk in NM and mule deer in AZ with Trophy Outfitters since 2013 and I highly recommend them. I’d never hesitate to hunt again with them myself and I’m happy to refer folks to them because of the quality of their operation. In NM, you have access to either the draw (Van will put you in for the outfitter draw so you have a much higher chance at success) or landowner tags (which are now unit-wide) and it’s a good bet you’ll have a chance to see big bulls. In AZ it’s more of a draw type thing, but Van can help you figure out for which hunt, weapon and season to apply. If you’ve never hunted elk in NM, it should be on your bucket list. AZ has giant mulies, big Coues bucks and monster bull elk. There may not be two better states in the country. Van also does guided cougar and black bear hunts with hounds in AZ on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation. Visit them online at www.trophyoutfitters.com.
MacKenzie Mountain Outfitters (MMO)
Dall Sheep, Mountain Caribou, Moose, Wolf and Wolverine
Contact Stan or Helen at: (250) 719-8340 or email@example.com
Canada is the last great opportunity for big Dall Sheep and big Mountain Caribou! Alaska is still decent, but the Northwest Territories of Canada is the premier destination today. MacKenzie Mountain Outfitters (MMO), operating since 1972, is owned and operated by Stan and Helen Stevens. It’s a true family affair as two of their sons are guides there as well. Located in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Stan and Helen hunt 9,000 square miles of untouched wilderness full of world-class game. The terrain varies from Arctic tundra to low rocky, rolling mountains to rugged limestone peaks. There are no roads, access is via float plane, wheeled plane or helicopter then on foot. Stan’s outfit has great guides and operates with safety and hunter satisfaction as the top priorities. Because their hunt area is so vast, opportunities at harvesting animals runs in the 95-100% range. With the variance in terrain, Stan is able to match a hunter with an area commensurate with their physical condition and hunting experience/ability. Whether interested in a Dall Sheep, Mountain Caribou (the largest caribou in the world), or a Yukon moose, MMO has combination hunts to meet your needs. If timed right, a hunter could bag all three. And wolf and wolverine are included in every hunt, in case the opportunity presents itself. Operating out of a base camp and accessing spike camps from airplanes or helicopters, a hunter should be prepared for a backpack hunt. I did a combo Dall Sheep/Mountain Caribou hunt with MMO in late July and early August 2019. I took a solid typical ram but the big Caribou bulls had not migrated in yet. To their credit, they let me know they’d prefer I didn’t shoot a small bull since it’s very common for them to harvest a 400” + Caribou bull. I complied and was rewarded with a beautiful female wolf! My guide, Ryan Hartling, is an outstanding professional and a very accomplished hunter. I’d hunt again with MMO and am considering going back for a Mountain Caribou and Moose one of these days. By the way, if I’d have had my gun off my pack on day 1, I’d also have taken a Wolverine! Visit them online at www.mmo-stanstevens.com.
BACKCOUNTRY Hunting Logistics
Contact: Jake Black, Justin Dykes, Andrew Sundell
Jake Black: (307)262-2779
John Bowers of the Eagle Cap team used Backcountry Hunting Logistics to plan and scout an archery elk hunt in Wyoming, Unit 7. His primary contact was Jake Black. John can, without a doubt, endorse Backcountry Hunting Logistics for helping plan a self-guided hunt in Wyoming. Their team is very familiar with critical factors, such as access to public land, obtaining trespassing permission to cross private land to get to public, and where to camp to increase your likelihood of success. They also scout the area and provide trail cam footage of the current year elk traffic. All of the advice and referrals John received from Backcountry Hunting Logistics checked out and were spot on. While their advice led to a very successful hunting trip in Unit 7, had John sprung for the full guide package, there is no telling how much better things could have been. This outfit is trustworthy and is well connected with the local landowners in a unit where access to private land to get to the National Forest is important. They also have connections with some private ranches that have incredible elk herds with notable.
Fonzy Haskell at Four Horse Outfitters
Antelope, Mule Deer or Elk
Contact: Fonzy (307)689-2865 and firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve only hunted Antelope here, so I’ll keep my comments centered around the speed goat. With over 300,000 acres of private land access, if you are looking for a short (2 day), affordable, fun hunt look no further than the NE corner of Wyoming, near the town of Gillette, with Fonzy Haskell at Four Horse Outfitters. Antelope hunts are reasonably priced and it’s hard to drive 20 minutes without seeing a new herd of antelope. There are so many antelope here that it’s easy to be selective while trying to find the antelope of the size you’d like to harvest. Talk about a target-rich environment! I hunted with Fonzy and we spotted multiple bucks in the 75-78” range on day 1. I’d told him I was looking for 78-80” if we could and we’d fall back to the 75” + range if need be on day 2. Well, the morning of day 2 came and the first thing we did was spot a big buck, figuring he’d score in my desired range. After I took him, we came up on him and he had grown to just over 82”. Fonzy will tell you he can’t promise you’ll get one this big, but there is a good possibility. And it’s about a no-brainer to find a solid buck in the 75” + category. Fonzy runs a nice operation and the lodging and food are excellent. The shooting range out back of the lodge can be challenging due to antelope wanting to graze all over it, but it’s a great place to get practice shooting long range in the wind! I know Fonzy runs Mule Deer/Antelope combo hunts and I understand he runs Elk hunts too. Whether it be rifle or bow, I’d hunt with Fonzy again!