There are too many experienced and well recommended guides in Alaska to risk your hunt with this rookie. He is also in poor financial condition which is why I feel we could not fly out as planned (He didn't have the $800.00 to pay the charter). All he could talk about how broke he was because he purchased a new $ 165 K boat. Just don't book a hunt with this guy or you will be sorry. I have written correspondence to back up my report if anybody requires it.
Rebuttal from Kurt Whitehead of Glacier Adventures
Adolfo came to my booth at the Houston Safari club Convention and booked a goat hunt for the fall of 2005. I told him the earlier hunts are the easiest because of the weather and long daylight hours. He asked very few questions and left a deposit. I later sent a contract (enclosed) and liability waiver (enclosed) that he and his cousin John Gustainus signed and sent back. The hunt was a two on one goat hunt. I sent the exact contract (enclosed) to John at the same time in April I believe. It plainly states the balance of the hunt was to be paid 60 days prior. It was not and I did not ask for it either. I did not ask for the balance of the hunt prior to the hunt either. Big mistake. It also plainly states "the hunt for the first goat ends when/if you would the animal and we cannot recover it. You will be assessed the trophy fee for the second goat when the goat is wounded even if we do not recover it so practice your shooting skills."
It was understood that Adolfo got the first shot opportunity and then it was John's turn. It was also understood that the hunt was for six full hunting days and if the weather, the air taxi and my schedule allowed we would fly in early and we could get a few extra hunting days at no charge other than to pay for the air taxi bill. The first of the six hunting days started on the 21st, they flew in at 10:59 pm on the 18th. The 19th we were on schedule to fly out but the weather did not cooperate to fly into the 1000'+ lake as it was foggy and cloudy at that level even though it was nice at sea level. They could not believe this. My pilot has 45 years of bush flying experience and when he says we aren't flying that is final, no questions asked. Instead we rechecked the zero on the rifles at the gun range and loaded up on my boat for a late afternoon run to the shrimp boats which we pulled and got about 2 gallons of Alaska Spot Prawns.
The following day on the 20th we flew to the lake in the afternoon at 4pm and even if we had flown earlier that day, we couldn't hunt the same day. We pitched a "bomb shelter" tent which is a 9 foot by 9 foot tent complete with cots, air mattresses and a propane heater for Adolfo and John. My packer and I stayed in a backpack tent (North Face) 15 feet away and we also erected two large tarps covering their tent and the cooking area to help keep the rain out.
The cooking area had a folding table, four folding chairs, Coleman stove, Coleman lantern, propane heater, Tons of food, including the fresh caught prawns from the day before, about 3 lbs of fresh Dungeness crab, fresh frozen salmon, halibut, lingcod, rockfish, eggs, bacon, bread, milk, potatoes, onions, carrots, lettuce, apples, oranges and about 80 pound of assorted canned and whole food. I also had multiple freeze-dried food packs and high energy food to eat when we spiked out.
The next day on the 21st we walked a total of 1.2 miles to a spike camp right near the goats we had spotted from the plane as we flew in. There were three different groups of goats (about 18 total) we could've hunted that we spotted from the plane as we flew in.
The 22nd we hiked a total of 1.5 miles from the spike camp directly above a group of 12 goats. During this hike I was very concerned for Adolfo's safety as his foot placement was very poor and he continually slipped and tripped. It was a steep mountain as are most every goat mountain and he had very little weight on his back other than about 15 pounds of emergency gear, radios, satellite phone, cameras, optics, etc. John, the second hunter had about 35 pounds of the same gear and his rifle. I asked Adolfo 2-3 times if he was comfortable with what we were doing as I was very concerned about him falling. I stressed that he needed to follow my tracks and watch were I was going then take the same path. Somewhere along this hike I was scared for his safety and instead of "sugarcoating" the situation I was a bit rough around the edges for Adolfo. My exact words were something along the lines of:
"Adolfo, are you comfortable with this? Because you are flopping around so much and not following in my tracks that I am worried you are going to slip and fall. If this happens you will very likely not stop and could die so you better be sure of your foot placement and follow in my tracks dammit. I am following the game trails the goats make and you keep walking above it or below it for some reason. Don't do that as the game trail is the best path."
He didn't like that much and his cousin later confided this was my only mistake of the entire hunt. I "pissed him off". All of Adolfo's hollow complaints to you Don are a result of 3 or 4 sentences to Adolfo about me worrying over his safety.
This is the basis of his complaint.
I tried to talk Adolfo out of shooting the biggest billy in the bunch as he was only about 8 ½ inches in horn and an average goat (with my Swarovski spotting scope). We contemplated shooting it for about 45 minutes and in the meantime, my packer noticed two massive bodied billies across the valley. I told Adolfo I thought we ought to go back to the spike camp, spend the night and the next day go after those two goats. I could not talk Adolfo out of passing on the goat with his exact words being "I hate to walk away from a representative animal." The truth was he was tired and did not want to give the extra effort to get a true trophy. Fair enough, I did not push him as I knew he did not come in shape and it was very apparent he did very little exercising to prepare for the hunt as he was about 50 pounds overweight.
We got 374 yards from the goat (with my Leica rangefinder) and talked about the shot for another 45 minutes. Adolfo had lots of time as we could not get any closer and they had no idea we were there. I talked to him about the shot and suggested he aim at the very bottom of the goat since it was such a steep angle and further explained how gravity affects the bullets trajectory only on a horizontal plane so he should aim like it was 200 yards not 374 yards was we were only about 200 yards from the goat in a horizontal distance and directly above it. In no way did I pressure him to take the shot and even suggested for about the fourth time we leave it and try for the big ones across the valley. I videotaped his shot opportunity and was looking through my spotting scope trying to call the shot for him. His first shot was a clean miss-high. He was stunned and I pulled my eye away from the scope to tell him to "shoot again". His second shot blew hair all over and was high in the back according to his cousin John and my packer Justin. I did not see the second shot since I was telling him to shoot again as he was slow to fire. I did see his third shot hit the dirt about 3-4 feet behind the goat and John also fired once as the goat was in high gear and running. We immediately gave chase an I took Adolfo's rifle and was off to try and see where it went as he was now out of sight. About 15 minutes later my packer and I still had not seen the goat but met up with John and Adolfo and I told him the first shot was a clean miss was well as the third and fourth shots. His cousin and my packer both said the second shot hit him high and too far back. I then went down to were the goat was standing and verified it was hit by spotting blood splattered on a big rock which I did not want to bring back to them as it weighed about 10 pounds. I then spent about one hour tracking the goat and followed it to a very steep cliff face covered in Alders. I looked and looked and would not have gone out on the cliff face as it was life threatening. The goat gave me every indication it was a non-mortal wound and the two witnesses confirmed this. We were tired and very little talking was done on the trudge back to spike camp or over dinner that evening as we were played out.
The morning of the 23rd after breakfast, we all talked about our options and Adolfo's body language gave us every indication he was done for awhile. When given the opportunity to come with John and I to the other valley, as it was fully agrees it was not John's shooting opportunity, Adolfo declined and we all agreed the best plane would be for him to go back to the shrimp, crab, fish, etc, at base camp, hunt deer behind camp and rest up. Then after we got Johns goat down he could have another chance, since it appeared to be a non-mortal wound and it was pointless to try and blood trail a very healthy goat on the side of a treacherous, brush infested cliff, risking our necks. My packer, Justin escorted Adolfo back to base camp and spent the night with him then the next morning he took off back to our spike camp. That night he confided to Justin he had a great time and was in very high spirits and felt very bad about muffing the shot. In the meantime, John and I didn't go anywhere as there was thick fog.
The morning of the 24th there was again thick fog and finally in the afternoon it broke just as Justin arrived with more food so we took off to the next valley and made a spike camp in the bottom and went to be watching 5 big billies above us.
The morning of the 25th we stalked to within 250 yards of an 11 ½ year old 9 foot ½ inch billy that weighed in excess of 300 pounds. It had 94 pounds of pure boned out meat and 64 pounds of hide and skull on my certified scale back in town. We killed it, butchered it, broke camp and packed all the way back to Adolfo and base camp in that same day.
The morning of the 26th, which was the last day of their hunt, I told Adolfo it was unrealistic to go for a goat as there weren't any within a feasible one day striking distance and he fully agreed. I did however give him the opportunity to go if he wanted. They then asked if they could get flown out early so I called the air taxi on my satellite phone and he whisked them to town.
That evening I informed them of the costs due which were the same costs as stated in the contract and Adolfo stepped in to pitch a fit stating he didn't think he owed the trophy fee since they only ended up with one goat? I was shocked that he would think this and unfortunately lost my cool. I later met him at his B&B and we talked and argued for about two hours. I was finally beaten down so much I agreed to let them walk without paying the trophy fee. I talked to all my following clients about this and 3 fellow guides and many friends. I decided not to give in to their strong arm business tactics and requested they send the trophy fee if they wanted the goat hide as originally agreed. I then wrote John a letter (enclosed) and Adolfo a letter (enclosed) and had more conversations and emails regarding the matter. It was finally agreed John would pay me $2,435 for the goat hide. I still have the goat hide and horns in my possession and they are fully taken care of, fleshed, salted, etc. and am waiting for the hide to fully dry before I ship it as it was stored in my freezer during the remainder of the goat/deer season.
I have full support from APHA executive director Robert Fithian on this matter and have also enclosed the contact info. Of all the other goat hunters and my packer and even a CD of photos from my goat hunts and camps from the last two years.
I worked for Jim Boyce the previous five years as well as Brad Dennison, Dale Adams, Butch King for seven seasons, Rob Jones, Bob Hannon and have been guiding full time the last 11 years.
For the record, Adolfo had his shot opportunity on the second day of the hunt and flubbed the shot three times. He also saw about 18 goats total in one day. Not bad for an outfitter that did "no pre-scouting" is it. We did fly the area with the plane prior to landing and had three different groups of goats located.
There was another outfitter that hunted out of the same lake on August 1st and took one goat three weeks earlier.
The reason we didn't fly on the 19th had nothing to do with the payment and I have never had a problem paying my bills. The actual cost of the air taxi was $1,200 and their name and number is Sitka Air, pilot is Ken Bellows, number is 907-747-7920 if you want his comment. When Ken says we don't fly, you don't argue with a pilot that has over 35,000 hours.
The agreement is we would hunt early if possible and if that happened they would pay the air taxi bill as my time would be free.
My boat cost $250,000 not 165K as Adolfo stated.
I am by no means in poor financial condition as Adolfo stated and I pay all my bills and my bank is ALPS Credit Union and Wells Fargo in Sitka if you want their comments.
We packed into a spike camp one day not "three" that took my packer exactly one hour 45 minutes to cover 1.2 miles.
My gear is all top quality equipment as the base camp tent he stayed in retails for $900 and is a "bomb shelter" and can be purchases at Barney's in Anchorage. My spike camp tents are all North Face and Mountain Hardware and average $450 per tent. The Coleman stove and lantern are hunting camp fixtures worldwide and the compact table and chairs are the best I can do on a fly in hunt. Sorry they aren't wooden rocking chairs.
I was only rude when Adolfo was very close to falling off the mountain as he would not listen to my advice to follow my path. This was only done as a last resort to keep him from dying and in fact I was not very rude at all but rather driving my point home to fellow that refused to follow important advice.
I, in fact, tried to talk him out of shooting the goat for about two hours but Adolfo did not want to go after something bigger and plainly stated several times he "hated to walk away from a representative animal."
The first shot was definitely too high, not "too low" as I was watching through a 60x Swarovski spotting scope at 374 yards.
Adolfo was left in base camp for two days not three to hunt deer (which he saw several) and dined like a king on all the food I supplied because he was to whipped to come with us.
I did not return on the last evening of the hunt, but the second to last evening and stated, "I am willing to go hunt for another goat with you but don't think it is feasible to do it in one day but will try if you want."
He did go fishing for shrimp and also hunted deer out of the base camp for two full days.
Every complaint Adolfo has is illegitimate and full of holes. He is upset because he flubbed his shot opportunity, because his cousin killed a stud billy and he didn't, and the outfitter was too stern with him on the mountain because he was endangering his own life.
I urge you all to check the long list of references, call the packer Justin Holman, the other hunter, his cousin John Gustainus and the pilot Ken Bellow if you want the truth, not the fictional complaint made up by Adolfo Gutierrez.
Contract sent prior to hunt
Thank you for choosing to hunt with Glacier Adventures. You are scheduled to arrive in Sitka, AK on August 17th or 18th and our hunt will be from August 19-26, 2005 and departing on August 21st. The extra days of hunting (Aug 19-20th) are only applicable if you pay for the total air taxi flight bill for your hunt of approximately $800. Otherwise we can go with the original dates of Aug 21-26th. I have you confirmed for the following:
1 X 2 fully guided goat hunt...........................$7200 Trophy fee for second goat.............................$3000 Non-hunter rate..........................................$200/day Sitka sales tax....................................$60/person Goat locking tag.................................. $300 each Alaska state hunting license........................$85 each Alaska fishing license.......$10-65 depending on number of days and species targeted etc.
The hunt for the first goat ends when/if you would the animal and we cannot recover it. You will be assessed the trophy fee for the second goat when the goat is wounded even if we do not recover it so practice your shooting skills.
You are responsible for your own reservations on Alaska Airlines (800-252-7522) from Seattle to Sitka, AK. Fish boxes are special waxed cardboard boxes with insulated liners that usually run about $10/box and can be purchased in Sitka prior to departure for the storage of hides/fish/skulls etc. Any expenses occurred in Sitka before or after the hunt are your responsibility.
I will send you receipts as I receive payments and I also need you and the other clients to understand the risks involved with this type of hunt and have every client sign and return the waivers.
Letter sent 9-28-05
Just got out of the hills from the last hunt and it was a marathon as the weather set in but still got a 74 year old, 30 pound overweight, smoker a good goat on the first hunting day and the second hunter a 9 3/8 inch billy on his first hunting day even though it took five days for the storm to abate and get the first goat mopped up. I was 7 for 7 on shooting opportunities and 6 for 7 for killing and recovering them. Every hunter left happy other than Adolfo which leads me to believe it was just as I first though. Since he missed the shot and didn't kill his goat then it must be something the outfitter did even though you guys had the best camp, best food, etc. If Adolfo would have killed his goat then he would have been singing praises from every rooftop. Funny how that works isn't it. "Yeah I shot my goat then I went back to a very comfortable base camp the very next day, ate crab, shrimp, king salmon, rockfish, hunted deer and rested up while poor John had to stay three more nights in a pup tent eating freeze dry food. Ha Ha "Easy to imagine that outcome isn't it. "Yeah he was really concerned for my safety almost to the point of overkill." I stayed from where I shot goat, he fetched it and we hightailed it back to camp the same day, didn't have to spend the night on the mountains. Ha Ha Great hunt you should go."
I guess what I am getting at is it is so easy to see how the tables can get turned. If Adolfo would've made his shot I'd be the hero. Instead you guys are throwing egg on my face. I have had lots of time to reflect on it. I talked with length about it with all my other clients and guide friends and without any urging they all said the same thing. "Well shoot Kurt that's easy. It's right there in black and white in the contract. "...The first hunt ends when the first goat is shot or wounded even if it is unrecoverable." John still owes you $3000 for the goat hide and horns because he shot another goat."
Well, after much consideration and looking at it from both sides and talking to lots of people, I just can't for the life of me see where you guys have a leg to stand on for not paying the trophy fee. I did everything I said I would do and then some. The extra days were very plainly spelled out to be just that. Freebies if it happened. Fishing and duck hunting were freebies if it happened. The only thing I guarantee to provide was the goat hunt. You guys both knew that and you had a great hunt and got the best goat of the year (the second best was a 9 ½ year old monster with horns that were 9 ¼ inches and very heavily broomed off to 3/8 inch at the tips. A legit 10 + inch monster as well.) You got a great trophy video, photos etc. for $4200 which may I remind you is a savings of $3000. Right now you are trying to get the hunt for $1200 which I just can't let happen.
I had a great time with you and would love to hunt with you again, but I can't take a hit like that and let you guys get away with it. Adolfo knew full well the deal and that is one reason I spelled it out so clearly on paper. I am enclosing another copy of the contract that I sent Both of you very early on and you had lots of time to clarify things if you didn't understand and Adolfo had lots of opportunities to clarify things and speak up during the hunt and especially the morning he left for base camp when he was so tired and weary, we all knew he needed a few days off to recuperate and he wanted to say so but couldn't admit it so I made it easy for him and said after asking him several times what he wanted to do and not getting anywhere and his body language was implying he needed to rest "...Adolfo if it were my decision you should go back to base camp for a while, rest up and eat all that good food and hopefully we will be back for you in 1-2 days then we can continue your hunt." "That sounds good to me Kurt" Adolfo immediately chimed in. Can I do anything if thick fog rolled in for two days? Hmmmm. If he had a problem it should've been addressed immediately while I could do something about it not after the hunt was over. And I sure can't do anything because we lost two days to thick foggy weather.
If Adolfo wants I have extended the offer he can come back for a very reduced fee and pay the trophy fee when he shoots something. I already sent him a letter confirming this. Trophy fees are nothing new to you guys at all. All of Africa works this way. You two were just beating up on a farm kid that is not nearly the "businessman" that you two are. Your good guy, bad guy routine and all your running behind closed doors to strategize, you should save for your "business" deals, not a straight up, say it like it is, hard-working, grunt like me that doesn't have a pot to piss in and is in debt up to his eyeballs.
You two ought to be ashamed of yourselves for beating me up like that after I did everything I could for you guys and gave you 120 percent and gave Adolfo every option to stay with us that morning and go to the next valley. Not my fault he missed a slam dunk opportunity to kill a nice billy of which I tried to talk him out of anyway. He all but said "Hell no, we aren't passing up this opportunity."
He knows if you know and I know it, It is not my fault at all and you two had a great hunt. Alaska does not lend itself to having 12 workers waiting on you, your clothes pressed, hot meals every time and soft bunks. So that gibberish Adolfo was talking about me not doing this that and the other holds no weight. I conducted a first class hunt. You seemed to have nothing but great things to say about the same hunt so how can there be two vastly different opinions. Hmmmm.
Like you said my one mistake is I didn't sugarcoat how dangerous it was on the side of the mountain when it got steep. Well, I likely saved his neck from a nasty fall, especially given how he was flooping around up there, not putting his feet were I asked him several times and slipping and sliding and generally scaring the crap out of me.
So in putting this matter to bed once an for all I will send your goat hide and horns and video of he hunt, you already have the photos, and the exact ice axe you want for $3135 plus you pay for the shipping via Fed Ex to your doorstep from Sitka. The replacement cost on the ice axes are $100 and the shipping to get them to Sitka is $35. If you want your rain gear and head lamp back I will surely send them as well. I leave for two weeks and will send your goat when I receive payment. Send me a letter as your reply.
To: John Sent 10-18-05
I received your recent letter and it states there is a check for $1120 that was enclosed. It was not. In reply to your letter, you left Sitka owing me exactly $3000 for the trophy fee of your goat. I never received it and my services were fully rendered to you in good faith and with 110 percent effort. I did an excellent job of guiding you to your stud billy (which has been in my freezer since you left along with the horns) so for my services I feel quite justified in requesting the trophy fee especially since it was spelled out so clearly in black and white on the contract of which you now have 2 or 3, but I will send another to refresh your memory.
I'm not sure how you construe that as extortion, but anyway as stated earlier, I am awaiting payment of $3000 for the goat hide and horns, $135 for the ice axe and I will also send your rainsuit and headlamp back to you along with a copy of the hunting video of your trip that I took with my camera. The payment for shipping of the hide, horns and axe also falls upon you. Your cape will be well taken care of, salted and cured before shipping and sent via Fed Ex.
To Adolfo From Kurt Whithead
My sincerest apologies for being so stern with you on the mountain about your foot placement, your comfort level, etc. Please understand the underlying concern had everything to do with your safety and that is all. I should have said it in a better way. I also apologize for not communicating more, but that is a two way street.
I am offering you a goat hunt for the fall of 2006 for yourself only for #2600 to cover my expenses with a trophy fee of $5000 that is assessed when/if you pull the trigger on a goat regardless of wounding or hitting it. There is so much work that goes into getting you in that position that the rest is up to you so don't take the shot unless you are comfortable and confident. If you mortally wound the goat then we will hunt for deer or go fishing. If for some reason you miss the shot/shots cleanly or wound the goat lightly and I determine it will live, then we will continue to hunt for another goat or the same goat until your hunting time elapses.
Once again all expenses occurring in Sitka prior to or after the hunt are your responsibility and this offer is good for the Fall of 2006 only. This hunt is only for you and you alone and no other party will accompany you on the hunt.