“Some days it is still hard to believe that I have become a huntress. I had dreamt about this lifestyle for many years. However, it wasn’t until I went through many personal changes, including the end of a long-term relationship, a move back to my hometown, and a career change, that I finally started doing things for me. Although hunting was one of the first things I wanted to pursue, I felt intimidated stepping into “a man’s world.” But I finally realized that I didn’t have anything to lose; rather, I had everything to gain…”
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Fair Chase is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.
In conjunction with rigorous provincial rules and regulations hunters are ethically obligated to pursue wildlife in a manner that is deemed to be “fair chase.” For example, hunters are not permitted to carry loaded firearms in moving vehicles or conveyance of any kind, they may not shoot from a vehicle or conveyance of any kind, they may not use a power boat, aircraft, or motor vehicle or other mechanical device to herd or harass wildlife (including drones), and they are not permitted to hunt wildlife within six hours of being in an aircraft. There are many rules, including what types of firearms and ammunition may be used, and these are just a few. Additionally, each species within each region in BC has specific rules that apply to its harvest. Seasons are short, and are limited by the age, gender and size of the animal in order to ensure a very low harvest. The allowable harvest takes many factors into consideration and is based upon scientific data with the aim of ensuring healthy, abundant and predator/prey-balanced wildlife populations.
Before residents may hunt, they must complete mandatory Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Education (CORE). This program ensures that hunters meet acceptable standards of knowledge and skill for safe and ethical hunting. The course requires 21 hours of study and a firearms handling practice and includes a practical firearms handling and written examination. Topics covered are outdoor ethics, firearm handling, hunting regulations, animal and bird identification, outdoor survival, first aid and safety, hunter heritage, conservation, and wildlife management.
In addition to the required education, hunters must register for a Fish and Wildlife ID number (FWID) purchase a license to hunt in combination with the appropriate species licence(s).
Non-residential hunters are required to be accompanied by a guide outfitter, assistant guide outfitter, or a holder of a permit to accompany at all times while hunting big game.
Nutritional Values of Ground Meat (100 grams)
Compared to domestic ground meat
“There is no doubt that the presence of human beings have impacted wildlife. We are now part of the equation, and to maintain a balanced environment, human beings must manage our resources.” ~ Leonard Ellis
All non-residents of British Columbia wanting to hunt big game must be accompanied by a guide outfitter. A guide outfitter is a person licensed as a guide outfitter under the Wildlife Act. Each guide outfitter has been approved by the regional manager to guide hunters in a geographical area as described in the guide outfitter’s licence issued under section 51 of the Act. The guide outfitter licence authorizes the holder to guide persons to hunt only for those species of game and in the area described in the licence. They must complete and sign reports of each guided hunt and they must pay royalties to the Minister of Finance on each animal taken by persons they guide.
Guide outfitters are tied to their territories and spend a great deal of time in the field. Many are also farmers and ranchers and have a stewardship mindset when it comes to wildlife and the land. They invest countless hours and dollars to ensure healthy wildlife in their areas. They often share what they see in the wilderness with regional managers and collaborate with First Nations, who are also tied to the land and have a long-term mindset.
There are over 200 guide territories in BC and none overlap. However, there are many other tenure holders on the land, including forestry, energy, and mining as well as Provincial and National parks and ranchers.
Guide outfitters are assigned quota (the total number of a type of game species that they or their clients may harvest) in conjunction with their guide outfitter licence. This quota is reviewed annually by the regional manager and adjusted based on the health of the wildlife in the various regions.
Guide outfitters invest heavily in their guide areas. As they are responsible for the accommodation, transportation and feeding of their clients, they develop base camp facilities that typically include cook and dining houses, sleeping cabins, and washhouses. Hunts often extend over many days and take place in remote areas, and so guide outfitters often build cabins in the field. These are usually basic structures that ensure a safe, dry, and warm place to eat and sleep. There is significant investment into other aspects of their business as well, including staff such as guides, horse wranglers and cooks, vehicles and equipment such as pick-up trucks, tractors, snow machines, and quads, and livestock such as horses and mules.
Guide outfitters may employ assistant guides who must successfully achieve assistant guide certification, the standards of which are established by the Province. The purpose of this certification is to ensure that all guides have consistent and adequate knowledge of wilderness safety as well as provincial laws and regulations. Upon successful completion of the timed written exam, they may be employed by a licenced guide outfitter. They may not guide on their own and the guide outfitter must be present in his or her guiding area during the majority of the time when his or her assistant guides are guiding for game.
The benefits of hunting extend far beyond the hunter. Hunting brings socio economic, tourism, employment, and general benefit to rural communities.
Guide outfitters are the founders of British Columbia’s tourism industry and are an important part of the outdoor heritage in our province. Approximately 5,000 big game hunters come to BC each year and use the services of a guide outfitter. License sales statistics from 2017 show 4,624 non-resident hunting licenses sold. Many are repeat visitors, some of which return to the province year after year, generating ongoing revenue for the local and provincial economy (BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations License Sales, 2017).
The projected number of hunters in the US population (excluding individuals aged 16 and under) is expected to grow from 12.7 million (5.21% of the total population) in 2010 to an estimated 13.3 million in 2030, with an even further increase to 13.9 million in 2050. Guided hunting is a growth industry that the Province can fully capitalize on.
The guide outfitting industry is an important contributor to the health and wellbeing of rural economies and provides approximately 2,500 jobs in British Columbia. The industry generates approximately $191 million in revenue each year (The Economic Contributions of Outfitter Businesses in Canada – November 26, 2018, by Southwick Associates).
The travelling hunter has high disposable income and typically travels further than the average BC tourist. The longer a non-resident hunter must travel, the more likely they are to extend their visit to the province and thus generate more revenue for the local and provincial economy. The average travelling hunter also spends more money in BC than in any other sector. The average guided clients spend approximately $25,000 on a seven-day visit. Hunting trips often serve as the gateway to many other forms of tourism in BC. Hunters have a very high tendency to return, not only for more of the same, but also for a wide variety of other types of trips, with friends, business partners, spouses and other family members.
Growth for our industry means strong, stable, small businesses, and lasting contributions to remote communities. It is a goal of the industry to grow sustainable social, cultural, and economic benefits for all British Columbians. Our unique industry increases visitation and distribution of tourism benefits across communities, regions and sectors province-wide while increasing revenue to small, family-run guide outfitting business and supporting strong job markets in rural communities.
Guide outfitting promotes international tourism in communities that otherwise might have few visitors. The hunting seasons specifically are “shoulder” seasons which further help rural communities extend their opportunity to generate revenue. The ever-increasing additional non-hunting activities offered by our members further expands upon opportunities for visitors to craft their dream experiences and connect even more deeply with BC’s awe-inspiring nature and its cities on the edge of wilderness.
Outfitting occurs primarily in remote areas of rural BC where very few employment opportunities exist. Guides, cooks, and wranglers are directly employed; trucks are repaired in community, people are put up in the local hotels, outfitters are large purchasers of groceries, and heavily support local airlines, and various businesses of all kinds.
Exposing visitors to and supporting the local First Nation’s culture is also of tremendous importance. Many First Nations people own guide territories and many more work within the sector. Deeply connected to the land, they are well-skilled at guiding and through their expertise, visitors access the opportunity to learn about BC’s rich history first hand.
In the rare cases when hunters are unable to take their harvested meat home, the harvest is donated to First Nations or to those in need via GOABC’s Fair Chase Food Program
from Shane Mahoney
We are all hunters at some level, requiring and taking, as we do, renewable living resources from the earth. Yet, as hunters, we frequently encounter friends and acquaintances who express genuine discomfort with the prospect of harvesting wild animals. They are not, necessarily, anti-hunting in their views but they are often critical of the photographs hunters share; and they can find it difficult to understand how someone can find any satisfaction in an activity that results in the taking of an animal’s life. While I understand and do not criticize friends, or anyone else, for feeling this way, nor for choosing not to participate in hunting, I believe it is important to engage in debate when such reactions lead to broader accusations that condemn hunting as cruel and without conservation or social value.