Breaking Into Outfitter Status
Johnny Nikirk lives in Williams Lake, British Columbia. He has always been an avid hunter, but really kicked off his guiding career in 2010 with Ram Head Outfitters who he worked for for 7 years. Living in B.C really sets the mountain hunter apart from most, when you're eligible for a number of different draws. Johnny has taken a Dall sheep and more than one Stone sheep for himself. He also guides for Flint and Frank Simpson for the late archery bighorn season in Alberta. He first started to take hunters of his own three years ago, and has been adding to the different species list that he outfits for on a rapid speed! Follow along to learn tips on breaking into an outfitter status!
“Breaking Into Outfitter Status”
Johnny Nikirk with Nikirk Outfitting
My Gypsy Skies:
How long have you been in the guiding/outfitting business?
Johnny Nikirk :
I've been guiding for 8 years and outfitting for 3 years
What made you want to get into owning your own tags and booking your own hunters?
Well I really had no desire to be an outfitter or to have that title but I was presented with a good opportunity and I took advantage of it and I'm glad I did because I really enjoy it.
Do you think guides should have guided “X” amount of years before they own their own business?
I feel the more experience you have guiding the better, you need to get so many guided hunts under your belt and you learn how to deal with so many different situations good and bad. Working for a great outfitter with a world of experience helps you handle those situations better every year.
What was the most difficult part of the first year on your own?
The most difficult part for my first year on my own was just doing everything myself, when your guiding for someone that's your job to guide, the outfitter takes care of everything else like licenses, tags, where you should hunt, the meals all made and cooked for you, lodging, transportation, shipment of animals harvested and it goes on and on. I learnt a lot that first year for sure.
Do you find it hard to book hunters because of your company being so new?
I have been really lucky to have guys that want to hunt with me and to know enough guys that recommend my hunts for clients and that has really helped me in starting out.
What is some advice you would give a guide looking to transition?
My advice for making the transition would be to just get as much experience as possible, work for a great outfit and learn everything you can from them and the guys that work for them, pay attention to everything and enjoy it.
What do you find is the most challenging part of becoming an outfitter?
Probably finding an area where you can provide a good hunt with quality animals, and then being able to lease or buy the tags and make it all yours to logistically.
Can you see yourself buying a large area one day?
Yes I can definitely see myself going that route in the future but time will tell I guess.
What big game animals do you currently outfit for?
Right now I'm doing Mountain Goat, Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Canadian Moose, Mountain Lion and Lynx
How many permits/tags do you have for each animal?
I have 15 Goat in five years, five Grizzly bears in five years and no quota on Elk, Moose, Black Bear or Deer.
What would be the deciding factor for you to purchase a bigger area in the near future?
The deciding factor for me in buying a bigger area would be, is there enough animals there of quality, can I manage the area to keep the quality of game, can I book hunters with confidence knowing they’re going to get a great opportunity and does the cost of the area work logistically. These are all major factors.