Turner Guide Service Registration # 1653
Arrive as a client, leave as a friend.

To whom it may concern,

I drew a tag for and hunted sheep with Mark Turner in August 2008. I am typically apprehensive about hiring outfitters. I've hunted with several and have had both good and dad experiences. I was particular concerned about making a good choice for my sheep hunt because it was very likely the only chance I will have to hunt sheep. In looking into an outfitter, I found that Mark was very highly respected not only be his former client, but also the US Forest Service who issues permits for outfitters on Forest Service land and Colorado Division of Wildlife officers and biologists I spoke with. Mark gave me advice on preparing for my hunt and also areas within my unit where I could do conditioning hikes while also familiarizing myself with the terrain and landmarks near where we would be hunting. He also was able to arrange an opportunity for me to participate in the Division of Wildlife's population count.

Mark outfitted my hunt from his family home. I was provided private sleeping quarters and home cooked meals. I met Mark the day before my hunt and we checked the zero on my rifle then scouted the local sheep and discussed strategy for the hunt the following morning. Mark proved to be very knowledgeable about the game population and their habits. He was able to give me a very accurate picture of what size sheep would be available and the likely locations and allowed me to choose the plan to pursue in the morning based based on how strenuous a hunt I felt up to and my own expectations of the sheep I wanted. The sheep were actually not where we had seen them the evening before the hunt, but due to his familiarity with their patterns he was able to adapt our plan and find the sheep. He was prepared for every aspect of the hunt; finding the game, putting me in a position to fill my tag, preparing and packing the meat, and trophy preparation of the head/hide.

I found Mark to be by far the most professional, knowledgeable, and competent outfitter I have hunted with. In addition I found Mark to be a genuinely very nice person. He was considerate, polite, and congenial. I couldn't recommend Mark any higher and would be very happy to discuss any questions with anyone considering a hunt with Mark might have.

Sincerely,

Al Ritt
al@live2huntfish.com

 

 

Hi Mark,

Just a note to thank you again for a wonderful goat hunt experience - it was a once in a lifetime hunt for me. Mark, you and Brandon made it all possible. Your guide service is top drawer and professional in every aspect and that was very important to me.

Thanks again for everything!

Your oldest goat hunter,

Bob

 

 

Dear Mark Turner,

I wanted to thank you for the service you provided to me last fall as my Big Horn Sheep guide. I enjoyed the experience and the drama of the hunt.

I am very pleased with the Ram I took, the initial scoring of 168 B&C is beyond my expectations.

Your experience and skill made it possible. I have hunted for several decades in North American and was struggling with the need for a guide; I've always been a "do it yourself" type of hunter, being successful with most North American big game using both archery and rifle. I will never second-guess my decision to use your services as a guide for Big Horn Sheep! I could not be more pleased!

The accommodations you provided were great, your mother's cooking was personal and fantastic. In fact, I will use you again just for your mother's company and cooking...she added a lot to my experience and hunt's memories.

The time we spent together was enjoyable, and educational as well. I appreciate encouragement and instruction...your wisdom of "let your glasses do the walking" will be used on my future hunting endeavors.

My only regret is that the hunt ended so soon. I would have liked to spend more time with you in the field. Perhaps we will share another together in the future.

I would be happy to share my experiences with other potential clients.

Mark thanks again for a wonderful Sheep hunt!

Sincerely,

Brad Herman

 

 

 

Dear Mark:

I would be pleased if you provide a copy of this letter to prospective clients. Please do not hesitate to have anyone call me and I will be happy to tell them what I have learned about sheep hunting and about Turner's Guide Service.

Anyone reading this letter may have been drawn to hunt in a special hunt for sheep, goats, or other big game in Colorado. It is truly a privilege to have the opportunity for what might be a hunt of a lifetime.

I was fortunate to hunt bighorn sheep in Colorado area S32 in 2002. I learned quickly how much a ram tag is valued. I first heard that I was drawn from outfitters calling to solicit me as a potential client. Hunter friends give me a lot of advice on how to prepare for and execute the hunt. In the end I was thankful that I did not respond to the solicitations and take all of the advice and that I first received.

I met Mark Turner after he was highly recommended to me by a friend who had hunted mountain lions with him. I had never hunted with a guide before, but decided to explore the possibility since I wanted to leave nothing to chance. I am glad that I did.

Mark lived up to his reputation as a "hunter's hunter". He has lived in the mountains all of his life, has personally stepped on every mountain, drainage and meadow, and personally guides his clients - one on one.

I begin early and enjoyed the summer of climbing and scouting. Mark assisted me by "coaching" me on where to climb, what country to learn and the areas where I should spend time looking for sheep. It helped a lot t have his advice and experience to rely on.

I set some goals related to hunting bighorn sheep (not just the hunt but the preparation and other aspects that proceed and then last long after the actual hunt). I wanted to prepare, train and scout as if I were hunting alone. Mark heard me when I told him what I wanted. He helped me pursue my goals and I was comfortable that he shared them with me and was personally committed to my accomplishment of them.

Mark works hard at hunting. No amount of work was going to prevent Mark from helping me get the sheep and have the hunting experience that I wanted. He understands the process and I enjoyed learning something about how to patently find the sheep and then work hard and go after them.

I was successful thanks to Mark's ability and experience. We scouted until we found sheep - I was not automatic but Mark knew where to look and tried everything and everyplace he knew until we located some good rams about dusk one night. He got us right on the sheep after a fairly long climb and stalked that begun the next morning. After I got the ram and we finished the picture taking, skinning, and boning, we started down the mountain. Half way down we stopped for lunch. Mark pulled out a container of fresh tomatoes from his garden for our sandwiches. That was a simple personal touch that I felt exemplified Mark's commitment to make my hunt successful in all aspects, not only the harvesting of a ram.

In conclusion I would not change anything about the opportunity I had to hunt with Mark Turner. Please call me at 303-670-2835 (work) or 303-674-5780 (home) and I will gladly answer any questions and tell more of my sheep hunting experience. I found that it was the best times of my life I hope to be blessed to do it again sometime.

Yours truly,

Peter Tippin

 

 

 

Over twenty years ago I decided to start a business consulting bowhunters. I was pointed in this direction by several bad experiences I had personally when booking hunts with guides for various species. Hard as I tried to avoid it, every now and then I found myself on a "hunt from hell" with a guide/outfitter that proved to be less than honest. I wished that there was a consulting service out there that would look out for us bow benders, sending us only to the honest hard working guides and helping us avoid the others. At the time there wasn't, so I tried to help fill the void. To an extent I still do.

There are two things I've come to believe very strongly in through thirty years of serious trophy bowhunting. One is that engaging a guide is important to the overall success of almost any hunt (especially those where you travel from home to hunt unfamiliar country). The other is that honesty is the most important thing to look for in a guide/outfitter. I don't care if a guide has the best area in the world for a particular species, cheap prices, and a long list of references, if I don't believe he is honest, I won't have anything to do with him! That might sound harsh, but look at it this way: My hunting time is very valuable to me and I don't want to waste any of it aggravated dealing with a dishonest person. Also, once you have decided a guy is dishonest, how do you believe "anything" he has to say?

I'll give you an example: A very long time ago I researched an outfitter that ran what were supposed to be top quality trophy "bowhunting only" hunts for antelope. Year after year a number of record book entries came from his camp. He "supposedly" took only ten clients per week for two weeks per season. I knew the size of the ranch he hunted and the approximate number of animals. Research indicated that there should be some huge bucks on that property given the genetics, game populations, and limited hunting pressure. I booked the hunt!

When I got there I found that there were sixteen of us hunting the first week of the season. So much for the claim that he only took ten clients per week! Because he had more clients than water holes, some of us got stuck in blinds nowhere near water, and others got blinds at the edge of streams that did nothing to concentrate animal movements. Many of us were unsuccessful, despite the outfitter's advertised 97% success rate.

I hadn't yet figured out that you should have nothing to do with dishonest guides/outfitters and booked a second hunt for the following season. Convinced by this guy that most of our problems killing big bucks had to do with the late rut, I booked the second hunt the following year to be sure to catch the rut.

Again there was only supposed to be ten clients in camp, and again there were considerably more. The old adage about a leopard not shedding his spots comes to mind when ever I think about this guy!

At any rate, things got worse. When the five-day hunt was over I was booked to go with him to another camp to hunt deer. Come to find out we couldn't leave right away because he had another hunt to run. Twelve rifle hunters showed up the next morning, went out, and killed twelve of the biggest bucks on the ranch. No wonder the archers were not getting the monster antelope that this ranch should have been producing! This guy was lying to all his bowhunting clients year after year by telling them this ranch was "bowhunting only", as he was taking a dozen or so trophy rifle hunters every season and selectively harvesting the best bucks. It was right after this experience that I decided to become a consultant, partially to help steer bowhunters to better guides, and partially to help steer them away from bums like this!

While there are certainly bad guides/outfitters, there are many good ones as well. Actually I'd like to think there are more good ones than bad, however I don't believe that holds true in some areas of North America. Getting back to the first point, I almost always book the services of a guide or outfitter when I go hunting.

There are many reasons for this, the most important of which is time. There is no way anyone can drive (or fly) out to a new area far from home and become familiar with the country and game quick enough to have a successful hunt in a 7-10 day period. Due to work commitments I can't get away for longer periods of time, and therefore want to use the services of someone who is familiar with the area, game, game movements, and land ownership where I'll be hunting.

Having certain equipment locally available can also be a huge plus on some hunts. For instance, I don't want to have to maintain and ship my own horses to do a wilderness horseback hunt once every couple years, nor do I need to deal with the logistics of getting tents, wood stoves, and camping equipment into wilderness settings when I arrive to start a hunt.

A recent sheep hunt in Colorado is an ideal example of the benefits of using the right guide. After years of applying for a coveted bighorn sheep tag, I finally was drawn. There were guys that had promised to help me find sheep and get me familiar with the area, but I opted to hire the best guide I could find. This was a "Once in a Lifetime" opportunity and I wanted to shift the odds as much into my favor as possible.

Wanting to spend as much time hunting as needed, without loosing any unnecessary time from work, meant that having a guide to do the scouting was of primary importance. There were several good guides licensed in the area, but research (we'll get into that more in a future column) indicated that Mark Turner would provide the best chance for me to get a shot opportunity at a trophy ram. Mark lives in the area, and is a bona-fide sheep fanatic. He is also a bowhunter, and had taken two rams with a bow personally from the unit in which I had drawn my tag. As they say, "He can not only talk the talk, he can walk the walk!"

Mark not only knew where to look for trophy rams, but what they were apt to do during the day based on where we found them in the morning. He also had permission to either hunt or cross large tracks of private ground that gave us access to hunt rams that no one else was chasing. The net result was that we were into big rams every single day, and I managed to harvest a mature ram with good mass, a 7/8 curl, and a final P&Y score of 161 5/8".

Because that might not mean much to some readers, let me put this into better perspective. In this particular hunt unit the average success rate year after year on bighorn sheep by archers is less than 20%. That means that out of every five guys drawn, at best, one on average will get a ram. Further, the majority of rams taken score in the 140-155 inch range. Did I beat the odds, you bet I did! There were seven bowhunters chasing sheep in that unit during that hunt. I met most of them. They were all younger than I, and in much better shape. Six of the seven were residents and had spent many weekends scouting through the summer to both get in shape and find rams.

Several of them worked so hard hiking and climbing that after the first week they were drained and had to take a break before starting again. Only one of them got a ram, and that ram scored just over 150. Did I do the right thing engaging the services of the best guide I could find? You bet your life I did!

Many people shy away from hiring a guide due to the cost, while others hire the cheapest guide they can find. Both are usually a mistake in my opinion. That isn't to say that the most expensive guide is the best, but usually the cheapest is not a bargain! The way I see it, every hunt is expensive. I figure in what my time is worth (after all, if you weren't hunting you could be working making more money so the lost income is a factor), as well as travel costs, and license fees. Looking at it this way, a "free" hunt with a friend out west has an effective cost of several thousand dollars. If I'm going to invest that kind of time/money in a hunt I'll gladly spend a little more to hire a guide that will increase my odds of success. The money I paid Mark certainly made the difference between coming home with a super trophy ram or being "skunked".

Here is another example: A potential client called the other day looking for information on brown bear and moose hunts. In the process of the conversation it came out that he had been on four "budget" priced moose hunts in the past six years, but had yet to get a shot at a bull moose.

In total he had spent over $14,000.00, not including lost income, trying to get a trophy moose on a "budget" hunt. During the conversation he made the statement, "I wish I would have just done a $7,000.00 moose hunt the first time around, I would have saved a lot of time and money and could be chasing something else by now!" Imagine that?

To summarize: If you are planning to hunt game away from where you live and can effectively scout on your own, plan on hiring a good guide. It's worth the money! Do your homework and hire someone that will give you the best odds at success. Look for an honest guide/outfitter, and be honest with him as far as your expectations and abilities. Get in shape, plan on working hard, listen to the guide's advice, maintain a good attitude, and cross your fingers.

Good hunting.

Roy Goodwin