That is precisely what happened this past year when I booked a hunt with Kevin Mattice's South Nahanni Outfitters in the Mackenzie Mountains west of Fort Simpson, NWT. I delayed writing about the transfer of ownership of the South Nahanni area until now because the on-again/off-again deal took months to close. Saying the area was about to be sold, when it fact it looked for a while like it might not be, might have unfairly hurt Mattice's chances of booking hunts for 2004, I reasoned. At any rate, the deal has now closed, and I will have more to say about the new owners in a moment.
First, though, a bit of history is in order. Mattice and his American partner, Phil Spano, bought this huge 12,000-square-mile area from Rick Furniss back in 1999 and were implementing a state-of-the-art, helicopter-oriented plan to utilize its game resources when Spano was killed in a helicopter crash. This newsletter's western Canada correspondent, Ken Nowicki, was in the helicopter, you'll recall, and very nearly lost his life as well.
The crash occurred October 5, 2001 as Spano and Nowicki were returning to Fort Simpson on the final flight of the year. In retrospect, Spano's death clearly doomed the company that had been formed to operate the concession, as Spano was not only the company's chief pilot and the architect of its aviation program, but he was the real money behind the operation. On his death, the company became a headache to his........(continued)