Covert OufittingBritish Columbia
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Here is my opinion and I my honest review of my past Rifle Moose hunt from November 23 to November 30th 2016 hunt with Covert Outfitters of Kelowna British Columbia. During this review, I will refer to the Outfitter which is Kiff Covert and the Guides being two guides for our hunt. This hunt was booked mid-year with the Outfitter as he had this open week he didn’t fill for this season. The hunt normally runs as a 1 x 1 hunt but was offered to our group of 4 hunters as a 2 x 1 hunt at a discount to normal pricing. I myself am not new to Moose hunting having done 3 prior trips in Alberta, British Columbia and Alaska. Some guided and some self-guided, all prior hunts were successful so I would say I knew how to hunt and what would be required for a successful hunt. I also have been lucky enough to have been on a lot of guided hunts throughout the world and in the USA so I do have a lot of experience in that nature of hunting. I ty to thoroughly Vet the people and outfitters I hunt with and do go over all pertinent aspects of the hunt asking sometimes what is way too many questions, but I like to know upfront what to expect. The outfitter and I discussed aspects of the hunt such as; Location, gear, dates, past success, resident hunting pressure, trophy quality, accommodations, length of service of the guides, equipment of the guides, adequate area to hunt for a group our size and how the hunt is run. I will go over each of these items in detail in my review and the Pros and Cons of each. Location: The location of the hunt is out of Kelowna British Columbia. The hunt area is roughly 1 hours’ drive out of town. The area is mainly cut block openings in the adjacent forests of Hemlock and Fir trees accessed by forestry roads and mountain roads. Terrain is mainly small mountainous areas, large cut blocks that were recent cuts and others with growth over the past several years. Some with planted Fir trees and willow patches of heights from 3 to 5 feet. Pro- This is and easy area to get into with little travel required. Cons- This area is easy to get into and close to town, thus there is a large amount of local pressure from other hunters in the area you are also hunting. I also believe there is a lot of game pouching going on from the local resident population. Gear: The required gear for this hunt that would be required, was thoroughly discussed with the outfitter according to the climate and type of terrain. Every one of the hunters in our group had the appropriate gear for this hunt as I made sure of this. Rifles used were mainly 300 magnums or 300 WSM all sighted in at zero at 200 yards, each hunter proficient out to 300 yards or more. It was discussed with the outfitter if we should bring our own spotting scopes, but outfitter indicated that this was not required as the guides had their own spotting scopes and rangefinders. Pros- We knew in advance what proper gear we as hunters would need, no surprises there. Cons- Not all, but the guide I was with was not bringing his spotting scope with him unbeknown to me at the start of the hunt. This posed a problem initially as we were unable to determine if the Moose sighted were bulls or cows from the distance we were seeing them or even if they were bulls. This made for a day where we had to hike out to check animal’s vs using the scope to save time. I actually had to tell the guide to start bringing his spotting scope with him, really? In addition, the guide I was with didn’t have an adequate rangefinder that could read out past 400 yards. This proved to be a problem during the hunt which I will discuss later. Dates: As indicated above our hunt was from November 23 to November 30th 2016, this is the last week the season is open for Bull Moose. Pros- These dates were supposed to be the best dates for the hunt with 100% success in the past. Cons- This fell over Thanksgiving for us USA hunters. Past Success: The outfitter in conversation of the hunt told me that this was his best week and that all past years that he has hunted this area that hunters went 100%. That hunters mainly could pass younger Bull Moose and look towards a trophy call Bull. Pros- Past success as indicated by the outfitter was 100% for the most part all of his Moose hunts. From reports from the outfitter, hunters that were on weeks before our group were all getting bulls. Trophy quality of these were not told to me. Cons- With the past success of this area, I believe that it is being over hunted and the number of hunters that are ran through the area is over harvesting the trophy quality of the moose. We had 5 hunters in camp at one time. There was our group of 4, all 2x1 hunts and a single 1 x 1 hunter. In the 7 days hunted there was only 1 Bull taken and that was a 2-year-old bull going around 24 inches. The hunter mainly took this bull as a meat bull so he had something to take home. Between all the hunters during this week there was only 3 juvenile bulls seen, all under 25 inches and only 1 trophy class bull that might have went 40 inches. Most day cows and calves were seen in the area with those sighting being around 2- 8 cows. Resident Hunting Pressure: This is where the problem lies. This time of year, it snows almost every evening so the forest roads have new snow on them. It is easy to see the amount of ATV and vehicle traffic each of the forest roads get along with the cut blocks. Pros- None Cons- Many. During my discussions with the outfitter I specifically asked about local, resident and Indian hunting pressure in this area. My concern then was the closeness of the hunting area to town. The outfitter told me that the area was open to local hunting but that it would be limited to some occasional deer hunters but no Moose hunters that the season to residents was closed. What I can say is that the local hunting pressure is way beyond normal. Every day we ran into hunters that were either truck hunting, pouching, deer hunting, illegally cutting Christmas trees, shooting at Ravens, Shooting at Partridge or just 4 x 4 trucking the forest roads tearing them up. As indicated it snowed every night. We mainly left the cabin at 5 am in the dark to get the forest access roads to the hunting area. Most times the roads already had vehicle tracks in them before we even got in. Thus, the areas have been pressured prior to us even getting into hunt. Very disheartening at the least. On one occasion after a good 12K hike around the area hunting upon coming to the trailhead leading back to the truck my group ran into 6 trucks with guys shooting up the area and logging illegal trees.
Trophy Quality: This area I’m sure has the ability to have trophy bulls, but they are very limited. In 7 days and 5 hunters only 4 bulls were seen with 100 percent of the days hunted from sun up to sun down. Putting many miles driving cut blocks and hiking 12K to 18K daily to find moose. So, there was no lack of effort by the hunters. There was only 1 bull taken, a 2-year-old 24 inch as mainly meat to take home. Taken on the second to last day. I myself did make a stalk on a mature bull going around the 40-inch range but only could get to within 550 yards of this bull. The outfitters area is not able to support this amount of hunting as the area is not that big. This was a main concern of mine in the beginning. During my initial phone conversations with the outfitter I specifically asked about having enough area to support 4 hunters. We had booked this trip with the idea that just us 4 hunters 2 x1 were going to be in camp. Even more, our group of 4 was to be split into 2 groups with each group hunting in two different camps more than 3 hours apart. Well things seemed to have changed the week prior to the hunt. On my last phone call to the outfitter the week prior to our hunt. I was told then that all 4 of us hunters would be hunting in the same camp and to my surprise a single 1 x1 hunter was also added to our camp. I initial remark back to the outfitter was “Are you sure you have the area and Moose to move all of us to one camp” well of course the answer was YES. I can tell you this, the outfitters area can only handle maybe 2 hunters at best. In the entire amount of time I spent hunting in this outfitters area I only hunted three mountain roads, and every other group was doing the same. Every day going back to the same mountain roads and hunting the same area. Seeing the same cows and calves from day to day, yet still having the guide somehow think we were seeing new animals. Not the fact.
Accommodations: We staying at an old girl scout camp which the outfitter rents. In a cabin without electric but wood heat. A generator was running for light and power. No running water or bathroom, outhouse was used. No issues with this. Breakfast was sparse with just enough eggs somedays to get a little portion at best, other days was cereal. Lunches were worse and very sparse. Mainly older bread and sandwich meat of Elk and a granola bar or two. Dinners were much better as a cook was brought in, but that two was just enough to take a large helping but seldom seconds.
Length of service of the guides: This was another area I discussed with the outfitter prior to the hunt. I wanted to make sure that the guides had worked for him extensively in the past and new the area well. I was assured that the guides have been with him for many years and knew the area to hunt very well. Well once again this was not the fact. The guide I had was only on his second year with the outfitter and the hunters from my other groups guide was only there as a replacement for a guide who quit. So, that guide was brand new and maybe in camp for 2 weeks prior. Very mislead on this at best. Wondering why the guide who quit did so??
Equipment of the guides: This are might have cost me my trophy animal, but who knows. I did take a shot at a large moose but at the time was unsure of the exact range. The guide I had didn’t have an adequate rangefinder that would work out past 350 yards. So, we had to guess the range on the bull at 400. When in fact after taking the shot found it to be more like 550 yards. But that’s hunting! I also have to add that one day the guide even left his spotting scope back at camp as he felt he didn’t need it. This was a mistake as this made it difficult to see if some of the moose seen at a distance were in fact Bull moose. I am a very good spotter with my binos and I couldn’t make out if the moose were Bulls, but on occasion the guide did insist that a few had small horns. Would have saved us time and effort having a spotting scope along to actually see if the moose had horns. I can say that after that I asked the guide to bring the scope along from then on, which he did. I had asked again prior to the hunt with the outfitter if the guides had spotting scopes and rangefinders as I was willing to bring my along as well. I was told I didn’t need them as the guides had them. During the beginning of the hunt all my guide kept telling me is how he guides up in the Yukon during the moose season. Well I can’t imagine a guide that does that many hunts and that type in the Yukon to have subpar equipment that cannot range out to 800 or even a 1000 yards. I did bring my own rangefinder along, but it was in my pack only as a backup. With the shot on the moose I took having taken place so fast I was not able to get to it in time.
Summary and little things: I’ll start with the little things first. 1- I was agreed to pay my balance of my hunt in cash as to save on the tax of the hunt. I was to pay in USD and the tax if paid was 5%. The week prior in our phone call the outfitter wanted Canadian funds which at that point was not going to happen as time did not permit, but then said that if I paid in USD that I would now need to pay the tax of $200. I actually was not happy with this but didn’t say too much as I didn’t want to stir the hunt up prior to my arrival. Seems like he was able to get another $200 from me which I’m sure didn’t go to tax or extra food for us either. 2- One of my hunters did take a small bull. The bull was gutted and left overnight in the bush to retrieve the next day. The outfitter made reference to helping with the bull the next day. The hunter who harvested the bull asked if just he and the outfitter could go and take care of the bull themselves and let the other 2 x 1 hunter go with the guide to keep hunting. This was asked at dinner in front of the whole group of hunters and the reply back was rather startling. The outfitter replied “No this was not the way it works as you only paid for a 2 x 1 hunt and you have to stay together” There was some discussion in private after this amongst our group and to say I was rather shocked at this reply from the outfitter. It really should have gone the opposite way and the outfitter should have been more than willing to try and make the hunt more productive. Lastly, I’m sure we weren’t the first group to bring meat home with us. Yet we had to buy our own scale to weigh the meat for the airlines in camp. You think the outfitter having been in business for 10 years would have at one time bought a scale for himself to have in camp? 3- Changing at the last minute the number of hunters in camp to adding an addition 1 x1 hunter to our group. The outfitter did this without our knowledge and now knowing the area could not support this many hunters I can say this was a determent. Yet the outfitter told me to tell our group not to discuss with the 1 x1 hunter what we had paid for our hunt as he didn’t want that hunter to know that we had paid less for the hunt than him. Character???? 4- We left very early in the morning for our flight home 3am. But the night prior to our departure after that evenings hunt we did see the outfitter in camp. There was some small talk but just the same old stuff as to why the hunt was the way it was, weather issues on why the game was not present. But what really bothered me is the fact that the outfitter never once came up to any of us 4 hunters, shook our hands and thanked us for coming to hunt with him. Not much gratitude they’re and a very poor showing on the outfitters behalf. I was never approached by the outfitter asking me to come hunt with him again (This was a first for me!) I have always had an outfitter ask me to come back again to hunt, even if it was not for the same animal. This outfitter I guess has other animals to hunt in other areas like bears and goats yet no discussion was made to see if I was interested in coming to hunt any other game with him. Nor was any offer made to come back out and hunt Moose again at any discount or for any other offer to be made to get a moose hunt back in. I don’t expect to get something for free but the possibility for coming back was always in the back of my head, guess it was a missed opportunity by the outfitter, maybe for more than one hunter? In summary, I think that the area cannot handle more than 2 hunters at a time total. The moose seem to be over harvested and the number of hunters ran through this area should be trimmed back for a few seasons to get the trophy numbers back up, this showed a lack a management of the outfitters area and the fact that we had 5 hunters in that last week might show that the dollar is more prevalent than keeping a good area great. The outfitter needs to be more upfront on the years of service of the guides and explain in more detail the resident hunting and hunting pressure /pouching that is going on in the area being so close to town. In all Kiff is a really nice guy and he could have great area in the future with some very easy changes to the small things that we as hunters see.
As always, I have forwarded this review to the Outfitter in question. He has replied back to me that he did receive this and indicated he would reply back at a later date.
Was the outfitter notified of problems? - YES
Steve Presnal did book a late hunt for an opening I still had at a discount after he did everything possible to get the price as low as possible for what seemed like all summer. Steve Presnal did claim to be an accomplished moose hunter although I would say 3 guided trips still qualifies you as inexperienced in comparison to someone that has guided, hunted and outfitted in excess of 200.
There are no Hemlock trees in the area, there are some fir trees.
Mr Presnal hunted MU 8-08 and MU 8-11 which combined are approximately 1000 square miles. There are 15 total resident November bull draw tags for this area that at last aerial government count in December 2016, one month after Steve Presnals hunt, was approximately 740 moose. I do not recall the bull to cow ratio but it was healthy and of no concern.
In response to Mr Presnal’s concern about adequate equipment, our goal on moose hunts is to shoot 200 yards or less. I’ve never told anyone that all guides would carry a range finder, I am surprised that Stacey didn’t have one but he guides for Jim Shockey in the early season so I believe he knows what he is doing.
Success on this hunt before the rainy warm week that Steve Presnal arrived was 100%. The weather was extremely warm and wet. I hadn’t seen weather like that before that time of year and I haven’t seen it since.
One hunter in Mr Presnals hunting party did take a smaller bull but he and his hunting partner also passed on 2 smaller bulls together earlier in the hunt. Mr Presnal mentions a trophy class bull but in fact forgot to mention that he missed it.
Mr Presnal mentions all kinds of people out before first light. Tracks all over before he arrived to that morning hunting area. I have no idea what he is talking about. Midday on the weekend there are quite a few people in the woods but not generally where the moose are. This is one of the healthiest, highest density moose populations in British Columbia at the moment and the most successful moose hunt I’ve guided, outfitted or personally hunted.
Mr Presnal mentions that the guide concession isn’t that big. In fact its approximately 1500 square miles in total. Every hunt report is filed with the Province of British Columbia, the records show that we consistently go 4 for 4 on this hunt. If we don’t then a moose was missed, wounded or we had a 1 in 20 year weather event.
Prior to Mr Presnals hunt this hunt was done from my home. I tried this hunt from the cabin camp only in 2016 and it really didn’t work well. Since then the hunt is done from Hotel or the Air BNB house we rent for November.
Mr Presnal mentions a guide that quit, the guide was in fact fired.
Mr Presnal mentions cash, tax etc. He was told from the beginning I have no use in Canada for USD cash and still showed up with USD cash.
Mr Presnal worked all summer trying to get the hunt price down. I was about to cancel the hunt altogether but the funds from the other hunters showed up and we had to proceed. The whole experience was a lesson in outfitting never to be repeated.
Final note....there was a 5th hunter in camp that week. He was on a cougar moose/combo hunt. He and his guide spent 4 days chasing a large Tom cougar that they finally did get. Unfortunately with the warm weather 3 days wasn’t enough to find a bull moose.
My advice to anybody looking to go on an outfitted hunt is call the outfitter. Discuss the hunt with him/her and if you like what they have to say, ask for references and speak to them. In regards to this particular hunt I have many references as its a great hunt. Thank you for reading this if you got this far.
Kiff Covert Covert Outfitting 250 469 3648
Outfitter claims that the colder the weather the better the hunting, yet the weather was in the low 20F