mountain man adventuresAlberta
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all of the advertising about 50in. bulls seemed to change when we arrived. also the area where you have this highly coveted tag is public with 200 locals and other bigger outfitters all around. you are made to feel you will be lucky to get a shot. tom told my hunting partner to shot one that was less than 600lb. and no more than 2years old only had a 34in. rack . had not even grown into its black coat yet. after it was down Tom said it was 45in and 5years old like we cant measure or see the size. I expressed concerns about wanting a larger 50in rack. I was told he would judge and tell me if and when a bull would be a shooter .(not to many moose in IN.for me to know how to judge) day three of the hunt 220yards out bull comes Tom said kill it I did 37in moose .seems a good outfitter would try to preserve his quality of game , but this outfitter just wants your money and you out. The owner Tom Sallows told us he was the hunter said he has to find the moose show the client the moose tell them when to shot and in his opinion We were just shooters. Also said if he did not like someone's attitude he would just walk them hard for a few days until they just followed in line. We heard a bull one day Tom said that was a sighting because the bush is so thick that's the same as seeing one, I guess that's how he says that they are 100percent on 50in bulls in the last 7years and then says that's an average, but seems to forget about the client that go empty, or he tells to shoot small ones. the mobile bunk houses he shows on his web site are for him and his guides the shooters get the tent that the picture shows smoke going out of the stack, but most of the smoke comes into the tent. the food was a joke ,no snacks hardly anything to eat and what was to eat not hardly eatable . Its almost as they wanted us to be very uncomfortable so we would just take what ever came along and get the hell out. the first guide I had ,the first day had never hunted big game in his life and had never called in a moose and when I asked if he was going to learn to guide he said He had no interest in guiding. There was 10 hunters that had hunted 4 during bow season and 6 during rifle, 4bulls were taken I was one of the 4 to harvest a bull I should be happy right? save your money and time Tom Sallows and mountain man adventures is a sham.
Was the outfitter notified of problems? - NO
As a proffessional guide/outfitter who takes a high number of clients per year for a variety of species where there is always alot of variables in hunting coditions, I realize I have to maintain a fairly thick skin, knowing not every single client will go home 100% happy. When this review was pointed out to me by multiple sources including a couple friends and then some inquiring clients I decided I had better at the very least reply with the other side of the story as this was a pretty good butcher job.
First off I would like to state we do not gurantee success on our hunts, we have a very good area that I consider is one of of the best in the world but with that these moose we hunt live in a huge remote wilderness area (it is a big reason we have such high success on trophy sized bulls) with that it makes for some hard hunting at times. I would be a fool to gurantee success as we don't know the conditions or the ability of the clients before hand and need to be able to adapt as best we can to all variables to give each idividual client their best chance possible. That all being said we have maintained a very high success rate over the past decade and a very high % of that being on trophy sized bulls (please see the website or any of our social media platforms for pics and videos)
Now to reply to this review, I would just like to state that both hunters did infact seem satisfied when they left and I never recieved a complaint while they were with us or following the hunt preceding this review. If I would have, at the very least I would have offered them a return trip at a discounted rate (even tho they both did take respectable bulls, even if not overly large). From my recollection the overall hunt was actually good. We had just finished up our first rut hunt, it was a tough one where we hunted very hard but were coming off a high with a hunter named Rick tagging out on a great trophy sized 54 inch bull on the last day. So with no rest in between our second rifle rut hunt started. We had 3 hunters booked in camp, Mark, his friend Don (they had purchased the hunt as a 2 on 1 price, I gave this to them given they booked together, even tho I had a young guide in camp to keep it as a 1 on 1) and another solo hunter named Kevin. The first afternoon after we got settleded in camp I took Don and sent Mark with Justin (the younger guide mentioned, who even tho green had hunted a lot in his life, this was his second full season working for me. Tho still learning he was compitent and had called a few moose in already in the previous hunt, as well as been with me and our other experienced guides on a number of bulls). Seen as they purchased a 2 on 1 hunt I really felt I was giving us the best chance to split up and hunt different areas, agian at the time there was no complaints to myslef about one of them hunting with a younger guide. Justin continues to work for us being a very good big game guide. Meanwhile the solo hunter went to another camp with Brett who is as good and experienced a guide as there is, he is now also a partner in our recent expansion.
That first afternoon while I had Don, I found a fresh set of tracks heading into an old and overgrown logging block, we decided to follow for awhile to hopefully cut the distance before setting up to call. When we got to the best spot I could find in the tangle that afforded us a little visibility I started calling, it didn't take long and a bull was answering and coming fast. We did manage to call the bull right in to about 50 or 60 yards and he was a very large one but all I could see were his pans sticking out from behind a thicket, Don did not see him at all so there was no shot before he was able to wind us and retreat. Don was an older gentleman who struggeld with bad hearing. I could tell early on he struggled with this walk and the thick brush, this would be a challenge as good opportunities don't happen at will. I decided to try another spot where it was more open and we had a better chance if one came in before dark. We set up and within another hour or so we had one coming. The bull came in grunting and Don made a good shot at fairly close range on a respectable bull. I remember him being very excited. I never made him shoot like it is made to sound in the review but definetly said to "take him when you are ready, if you want him". After coming off a hard hunt where things were slower then usual I was more then happy to have a decent bull down quickly, and Don Seemed very happy as well. Meanwhile the other hunters had a good evening with their guides. Kevin missed a very nice bull with Brett and seen another they chose to pass on even tho very big because they wanted to make sure the miss was a clean one before continuing the hunt. I can't remeber action wise how Marks evening hunt went with Justin, although any recollection on reports is it was just fine and there were no complaints.
I was able to get Dons bull out and loaded and back to camp that night with no issues, I am not sure how Mark could say the bull was under 600lbs live weight, seen as I quartered the moose in the field and boned out the rest of the meat so I could get it out in game bags. All we had was the meat and the european style skull/rack. The next day I personally took Mark, we hunted a few areas with an abundace of sign and passed on a young bull we called right up to us in a cutblock, so all and all a good day of hunting. The next morning we set up in a spot that I knew to be very productive, I called for an hour or so and then off in the distance I heard one grunting. He kept getting closer and we were getting very excited. This went on for awhile then he popped out at around 200 yards. Mark was set up about 10 or 15 yards in front of me with shooting sticks. I do rember it was exciting and he seemed pumped, I know I was. I admit I thought the bull was a little bigger then he ended up being but things do happen fast sometimes. I never say to a client he has to shoot a bull but I do pride myself on being a very good judge in a hurry as I have guided hundreds over the years and it is a big part of my job. I am not perfect but have to trust my gut on split second decisions and in this case I thought the bull on a very quick look to be over 40 inches. All and all it was a respectable bull and even tho a bit smaller then I originally figured it was a good representaive. Alot of hunters would be tickled with a trophy like that. Infact in the past I have had guys pass on bulls like this then a few days later regrett it and want to go back to try and find the bull we passed on. Moose hunting can be very hot and heavy and then like a light switch cool right off, we try our best out there but we can't control the moose or the weather, only our effort. This is why we book minimum 8 day hunts. Even tho when the bull went down Mark was ecstatic, I could tell after walking up Mark was a little disapointed it wasn't a monster, that being said he seemed satisfied and there were no outright complaints voiced.
After another day of hanging around camp working on the moose and I think looking for a black bear for Don (as I recall he also had purchased a black bear license just in case we seen one while moose hunting) they both decided they would be happy to get an early start towards home. We took them back to town helped them load everything and said our good byes, all parties thanking eachother. Again with no complaints or anything of the nature from either of them. We then returned to camp to take advantage of being done early and to start cleaning up camp. This was our last rut hunt and winter comes fast. We also were now around to help with Kevin who was still hunting. A couple days later Kevin tagged out on a true giant we called right in on a foggy morning, it was 57 inches wide and scoring in the B&C range. The hunt was a great way to end our rut hunts for that season.
In closing I do think this review to be farily harsh on all accounts but I will try and address the main complaints Mark highlited as well as take note and attempt to improve on the areas, I am a believer there is always room for improvement. The tent Mark spoke of was a canvas wall tent with a big wood stove, and canvas floor with carpet on top of that, and cots with foamies on top of those. This was the only season we had a wall tent in base camp as we used one of the mobile bunk cabins in another camp to spread out hunters and guides a bit more to save on travel in hopes of gaining on time and sleep for both clients and guides. I've never had complaints about wall tents as they are always warm and comfortable, we typically use them in our even more remote spike camps when we don't have cabins in an area we know we need to hunt. A lot of hunters seem to prefer the tents due to the rustic and wild sense it gives to the trip aswell as the added open room. As far as the smoke that is unfourtanate that was the case, it is something I never noticed while getting the fires going for them or when one of us would take coffee in in the morning for the guys and stoke the fire up good to make sure it was warm before they got out of their bed roles, it was used on previous hunt aswell. Myself and the guides slept in the back end of the main kitchen cabin so we could wake up a long time before waking the guys. This way breakfast would be ready so the hunters could get maximum sleep possible before a long day of chasing moose. As far as the food, we have never had a review like that, I have cooked all my life and been told a lot I am a great cook, even if not fancy it usually tastes good and there is always plenty. Between myself and the guides that year we did prep and cook alot of the meals. Also my mom had pre made a ton of delicious things like chilli, stews, soups, meat loaf, lasagna etc for meals that complimented the stuff we would cook, which I can assure was a decent menu to say the least. The snacks comment, I can't understand, between my moms array of homemade cookies, muffins, loafs, squares etc and boxes of chocolate bars, granola bars, fruit, all sorts of sweets and a huge variety of chips there is always plenty to choose from. One of the biggest parts of this review I want to defend, is the shots at me wanting hunters out of camp early and the comments about making someone shoot or walking til they fall in line. Those comments are completely either untrue or taken way out of context. Not exactly sure if Mark had mis interepretted a bad timed joke or if he was just that sour that the bull wasn't as big as he had dreamt about. Either way we all try to make the hunters as much a part of the hunt as possible, we have no choice in that as we are with them everyday and in the end it is their trophy in which they are hunting. I would be a terrible job if we didn't get along with anyone. That being said we get all sorts of clients, lots have families and work that they need to get back to and in this case a lot of them want to get headed home ASAP as everyones time is valuable. But we are always happy to entertain our clients until their trip time over, infact it can be a great break from the eveyday hunt grind for us.
We as guides/outfitters truly pride ourselves on our abilities and our dedication. We have to, either wise we would not spend our entire life savings and our entire lives working towards building a business with a reputation that can make us an honest living doing what we love. It's a hard industry to etch a living out in with all the controversy in modern society but like anything there is both good and bad examples out there. I do consider myself, although not perfect, one of the good and hard working ones and will continue to try and bring the best experiences to my clients that I possibly can year after year. That being said I will also continue to learn and improve as this business and the outdoors is my true passion.
To Mark, I only wish you would have been more vocal to me personally during and folowing the hunt about your concerns as I know we could have tried to work something out on a future hunt or something, I am truly sorry your adventure wasn't what you had envisioned but I do hope you cherish your moose as it is a beautiful animal and it sure was fun when he was grunting and smashing trees on his way in.
I was hoping to add a pictures of each of the bulls mentioned here but you can see a lot of pictures and links to videos on the website. Thanks for hearing me out.
Tom Sallows Mountain Man Adventures [email protected]
6in of snow on ground 35 to 45 degrees and sunny. Perfect weather.