Lone Wolf OutfittingOther
Website Address posted for sponsors only
My father, uncle and I hunted with Yukon outfitter Lone Wolf Outfitting (Yukon Concession number 19) owned and operated by Dirk Krumsiek, and son in law Manuel Baumann in about the third week of Sept of 2012. We were referred to Lone Wolf and booked through hunting consultant Duane Watlington of Watlington Outdoors LLC. Duane assured us that this “outfitter has excellent moose, caribou, and grizzly”. Each of us signed up for a one on one guided 8 day combo horseback hunt that allowed for moose, caribou, brown, or black bear and wolverine at a base cost of $15,500 each. In addition there were Trophy Fees -Grizzly $6000, Moose $3800, Caribou $3000, Black Bear $1600 and Wolverine $700 which according to the LoneWolf website and Duane Watlington would be payable AFTER the hunt. Contrary to that, we were then informed immediately prior to the Hunt that the Trophy Fees would be required in advance which resulted in our having to wire an additional $30,000. Before booking the hunt we were informed both by Duane Watlington and Lone Wolf owner Dirk Krumsiek in writing, that per the Hunting Regulations/Requirements in the Yukon, and per the Lone Wolf website, that each of us would each be hunting with our own guide (one on one hunts), and that each of the guides had prior hunting experience in the Yukon with Lone Wolf Outfitting. Upon arrival into base camp I was informed by the lead guide that I would be hunting with a guide that had never guided with Lone Wolf prior to this season, nor had he ever been to the Yukon prior to this season, and furthermore was not experienced enough to take a hunter out by himself. This meant that my father and I had to hunt together which was essentially a 2 on 2 hunt and not the one on one guided hunts paid for. We pointed out throughout the hunt that splitting up may improve our chances, as we were seeing virtually no game and each time we were advised that due to my guide not being experienced he was not able to guide on his own. After 8 full days (total of 24 hunter days) of hard hunting on horseback and walking, each day in a different area, neither my father nor I ever saw a single moose - bull / cow / or calf, nor did any of us ever see a single bear- black or brown. In 8 full days of hunting my uncle saw one immature bull moose and one immature bull caribou. In 8 full days of hunting my father and I saw a combined total of two mature bull caribou. Of the two caribou bulls one was a nice bull and I shot it. There was virtually no fresh sign anywhere and the handful of sheds we did see were many years old. We were advised by the guides that they had never experienced anything like this in their years of guiding – and confirmed that there had been no scouting of the area in advance of the season. In short between 3 hunters hunting 8 full days each- one bull caribou was harvested at an all in cost in excess of $60,000. On a positive note the two experienced guides were very professional and continued to hunt very hard and cover a lot of ground every day in an attempt to locate animals. Had we had a better hunt, which could have included even seeing animals, we would have easily overlooked the exceptionally poor quality and quantity of food and very marginal camp facilities, but that just added to our disappointment. While we are all experienced hunters and have been on a number of these types of hunts – with varying degrees of success - and understand why it’s called “hunting”, we all felt that this hunt was simply grossly misrepresented, based upon, 1.) our not having the one on one hunts promised/paid for, 2.) having a “guide” that lacked the knowledge/experience to guide independently, 3.) Lone Wolfs lack of scouting the area in advance which would have allowed them to select a different area within the Concession and 4.) misrepresentation of the timing of payment of Trophy Fees. In short, a poor hunt from start to finish - particularly at an all in cost of nearly $60,000. On return to Whitehorse we told Dirk and Manuel exactly how we felt and Dirk acknowledged that the hunt was not as represented and that something would be done to make it “right”. We also immediately advised Duane Watlington of our concerns who agreed with our assessment and assured us he would work with Dirk to come up with a resolution. We suggested to both Dirk and Duane that we felt a return hunt for the three of us at a $6200 discount per hunter would be fair (this discount would have represented aprox a 1/3 of the total cost of the hunt). Dirk ultimately responded with an offer of the three hunts at the suggested discount but with the ”condition” that he could put us in separate camps that may be horseback, boat or four wheeler hunts with other hunters. The effect of this would be that Dirk would not be giving us a “slot”/hunt of our own but could simply put us in a booked camp with other hunters - so that he was really not giving up anything. We declined that “opportunity” and reiterated our original request that we all return for our own horseback hunt/slot. These negotiations were all taking place through our hunting consultant - Duane Watlington as he was the one that recommended Lone Wolf and booked the hunt. After three months Duane has advised us that Dirk has sold the Outfitting Business and therefore wasn’t able/willing to do anything. While this was no great surprise given the lack of professionalism/ethics that Dirk and Manuel and LoneWolf had displayed to date, it still came as a surprise. Duane Watlington and Watlington Outdoors certainly shares the blame as we relied on he and his representations to find the right Outfitter and ultimately make certain that the Outfitter delivered on its promises/representations- in this case Duane did neither successfully. We’ve tried to represent the facts in this review and hope those looking for a Yukon hunt learn from our experiences. We have provided a copy of this review to Dirk and Manuel at Lone Wolf Outfitting and also to Duane Watlington (booking agent) of Watlington Outdoors and have received no response. If anyone would like more information, or if Dirk Krumsiek, Manuel Baumann or any representatives from Lone Wolf Outfitting, Or Duane Watlington or Watlington Outdoors would like to respond to anything contained herein please contact me at Was the outfitter notified of problems? -
Was the outfitter notified of problems? - YES
My name is Duane Watlington and I am the Hunting Consultant who arranged this trip for the Beers group with Lone Wolf Outfitters (LWO). I am responding for both Watlington Outdoors (WO) and Lone Wolf Outfitters (LWO). Allow me to start off by saying that there are two sides to every story. I plan on addressing the “facts” the Shawn mentioned in his review as well as adding some he conveniently forgot to mention.
Let’s start with some statistics, specifically success rates. During the 2012 hunting season WO sent a total of 5 clients to hunt in the Yukon with LWO. The two clients we sent the week before the Beers hunted BOTH killed very nice moose. See the photo links at the end of this response. In addition, EVERY OTHER LWO client this season harvested an animal with MANY taking multiple animals. The two hunters that hunted the SAME CAMP as the Beers the week before they arrived also each took animals. The Beers group was the ONLY group who did not go 100% in 2012. In their group, Shawn harvested a beautiful Mountain Caribou, (link to pictures below), his father Kent passed on a Mountain Caribou that was almost as good as Shawn’s, and Greg had an opportunity on a moose. Lastly, over the previous 5 years EVERY client that I have sent to LWO on Yukon hunts went 100% with some harvesting multiple animals. That’s some pretty good statistics, so what happened to the Beers group? Let’s take a look at Shawn’s 4 major complaints:
1) “Not having the one to one hunts promised/paid for” – With regards to the guide ratio, the Beers booked a 1x1 hunt and were each to have a guide. When they arrived in Whitehorse, one of the guides that were to be in camp with them was not able to guide as planned. In a situation like this it is a common solution in the outfitting business to team up a chief guide with an assistant guide, which LWO chose to do. In similar situations this procedure proved to be always successful. Each member of the Beers group had a guide assigned to them.
2) “Having a guide that lacked the knowledge/experience to guide independently” – Shawn is referring to the assistant guide mentioned above. What he didn’t mention is that this assistant guide was paired up with LWO’s Chief guide, their BEST guide across all of their camps with over 14 years’ experience guiding in this concession. Shawn confirmed their work ethic in his review by posting that the guides “were very professional and continued to hunt very hard and cover a lot of ground every day in an attempt to locate animals.” This was not the reason why they didn’t see a lot of game.
3) “Lone Wolfs lack of scouting the area in advance which would have allowed them to select a different area within the Concession” – This is totally crazy. LWO scouts and rotates their camps every year so that they are not over hunted. In addition, this hunt was booked on a base hunt PLUS trophy fee basis. This type of booking favor the client financially as the base price of the hunt produces very little profit to the outfitter. This creates an incentive for the outfitter, on this type of booking, to have the client harvest AS MANY animals as possible, which will generate profit for the outfitter in the form of Trophy Fees paid (paid on performance). To assume that LWO dropped them in an area that they weren’t sure had game makes no sense.
4) “Misrepresentation of the timing of payment of Trophy Fees” – The Beers mention that these Trophy Fees were payable AFTER the hunt. That is correct, as we would not know what animals they harvested till after their hunt was over. This was clearly communicated to them and when I consulted with them about 2 weeks before their departure, I was informed by Shawn, that his father Kent, who was paying for this trip, did not feel comfortable taking $30,000 cash into the Yukon wilderness for the Trophy Fees that would be due AFTER their hunt. I then informed Shawn that Dirk, the owner of LWO, has the ability to safely store the cash for them in his safe in Whitehorse, while they were on the hunt. They didn’t like this idea which was surprising to me, after all they are trusting their lives to this outfitter for a remote Wilderness hunt, but won’t trust him with their trophy fees? I then suggested to them that they bring travelers checks or cashier’s checks, made out in various denominations that they could then use to settle up their trophy fees after the hunt. This suggestion was also shot down by Kent Beers. Kent insisted that he be allowed to pay the Trophy Fees AFTER they returned HOME from their hunt! This was not acceptable to me, or to LWO, and was never agreed to previously. So I had to get creative and I suggested a solution that will keep everyone happy. I had Kent Beers wire the $30,000 estimated trophy fees to me, to hold here in the US while they went on their hunt. Then after, I would disburse the Trophy Fees to Lone Wolf and refund the balance to Kent. This was agreed and is how they paid for the Trophy Fee on the caribou Shawn took. After the hunt LWO was paid, and the Beers received the unused balance back, within a week.
Here is the response from Lone Wolf’s Chief Guide (Wes) comments on the review:
“To whom it may concern My name is Wes Phillips I am the head guide for Lone Wolf Outfitting. I have been guiding for them for 14 years, in my time with them I have not heard one complaint about the food quality or quantity from neither guide nor client except maybe too much food, so as far as I am concerned this complaint is completely baseless, and the marginal camp facilities what do they expect in a Yukon horseback hunt the Waldorf. The cabin they stayed in was a 16x24 plywood cabin with stove and ample firewood, light etc. As to the complaint of no game this is partly true as we did not see the amount that I am used to seeing. Number 1 was the unseasonably warm weather we experienced this last fall. Number 2 was the extremely high increase in the Wolf population, causing game to move away, move at night or not move at all. As to the claim that they saw no game it's true we saw no Moose or Bear's ,but there were 3 bull Caribou in the group that Shawn took his from all were shooters but 1 was marginal ,the other was slightly smaller than Shawn's ,Kent had ample opportunity to take this animal but refused(,If as a guide you put a client into a shooting position on a legal and mature animal and they refuse it that is a successful hunt.)I also saw 1 other big bull but as they did not see it they did not believe me as I heard them discussing it while looking for Kent's lost neck warmer. As to the problem of the one on one guiding I made a decision based on the fact that the guide we had hired did not show up when he was supposed to. I talked to the Beers group and they were informed of the situation and my decision to pair a junior guide with myself and they agreed at the time to do it this way. Hind sight being always twenty twenty I may have done it different next time. This is standard operating procedure for a junior guide how else are they to learn the job, the country etc. They were each made the offer to come back at a later date of a half price hunt but refused on the grounds that they thought they would be split up and stuck into an already full camp, nothing could be further from the truth. The reason they might have been split up was to give them more chances to take game. Or we would have made a separate extra horse hunt to give them the best chance. Thank you for your time Wes Phillips.”
So…what did Shawn forget to mention in his review?
Shawn forgot to describe the weather they encountered, that played a SIGNIFICANT role in the lack of game movement they experienced. As he mentioned in his review, Shawn states their guides said “they had never experienced anything like this in their years of guiding”. From September 18th, the second day of their hunt, through the end of their hunt, the daily high temperatures were above 70 degrees! See the photo links of Shawn’s Caribou at the bottom of this review. Sunny skies, no snow on the ground, and hunters wearing light clothing, no gloves, no hats! In addition they had VERY windy conditions every day of their hunt. Any experienced hunter knows that windy conditions are the worst weather to have, and coupled with record high temperatures, the rut shut down and game movement came to a halt with the animals seeking relief in the thick dark timber. The hunting got tough, and as Shawn confirmed in his post their guides, “were very professional and continued to hunt very hard and cover a lot of ground every day in an attempt to locate animals.” I have yet to find an outfitter who can control the weather. These adverse weather conditions not only affected the Beers group, but many other hunts that took place the second half of September this year. I have talked to several outfitters across BC and the Yukon who ALL mentioned unseasonably WARM weather this year, that made the hunting VERY TOUGH. As tough as it was, Greg DID have an opportunity on a moose, Kent DID have an opportunity on a mature Mountain Caribou (that he decided to pass on) and Shawn DID shoot an awesome Mountain Caribou, that might make the book (see picture links below)!
Dirk from LWO was truly concerned on how this hunt panned out and that two of them were going home without animals. He offered them one free hunt if the three of them returned in 2013. This was offered in person by Dirk after their hunt concluded before they departed Whitehorse. Once the Beers returned home, I spoke to each one of them and got to hear each of their reports on the hunt. I felt that the offer Dirk made was fair, but Kent wanted me to try and see if they could each come back for ½ price, instead of one hunt for free. I told him I would try. After much persuasion on my part, I was able to convince Dirk to offer them a return hunt for ½ price. Now here is where the Beers over analyzed this offer which eventually caused them to lose it. I had expressed to Dirk that we need to “stack the deck” in their favor next year, as I did not want them to come back, even at half price, and go home without their moose again. It was agreed that the BEST opportunity for them to each kill a moose would be separate 1x1 hunts in different areas. We wanted to have flexibility to pick these areas next summer, just prior to the season, so we could put them in the VERY BEST situation. At first, Shawn was receptive to this offer when I presented it to him in late October, less than 30 days after they got home from their hunt, not three months later like he mentioned in his review. He said he needed to talk it over with his father, Kent. Once they discussed it, THEY TURNED THE OFFER DOWN. Why? You will see in reading Shawn’s review, he and Kent assumed LWO would just “put us in a booked camp with other hunters - so that he was really not giving up anything”. Give up anything? It was NEVER our intention to “add” them to another full camp as it would not only be unfair to the Beers, but also to the other hunters booked into those camps. As it was, bringing them back at ½ price would incur significant costs to LWO. To recoup some of these costs, you can bet that LWO would do everything in their power to insure that the Beers got their animals. Not only to insure everyone would be happy, but to also recoup some costs through the trophy fees that would be collected. It is in the best interest of EVERYONE involved that on their return hunt they harvest lots of animals. The Beers false assumption here, as to our reason for placing them in different camps, is totally inaccurate. This ultimately held up the “negotiations” and an amicable solution was never reached.
In December I broke the news to Kent and Shawn, that LWO had been sold to a new owner. Unfortunately, we were not able to come to a solution that was acceptable to Kent before it was sold. Still, I made them an offer to plan another trip for them, with another moose outfitter, and I offered to waive my commission on the booking to help with the cost. That offer was also rejected. I realized at that point that there was nothing anyone can do to make this man happy, and I have since stopped corresponding with him.
So the Beers group was our first group and the ONLY GROUP in 2012 to hunt with LWO that were unsuccessful. As they mentioned, the guides worked really hard to find them game. The weather was the major contributing factor in this hunt being tough. We do our best to make sure everyone comes home with their animals but sometimes it doesn’t happen. That’s why they call it hunting. As I mentioned above there are two sides to every story. WO is committed to doing everything we can for our clients to have successful trips. But, we are also smart enough to know that there are some people in this world who you will just never make happy. Kent Beers is one of them. Too bad there aren’t review sites for outfitters to review clients…OUTFITTERS – BEWARE OF THE BEERS!
This is the last and only response that will be posted regarding this hunt. I am not going to invest any more of my time with Kent Beers as it will go back and forth and back and forth until he has the last word.
Respectfully – Duane Watlington, Watlington Outdoors LLC
Weather varied from day to day- sun, snow, wind, etc