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Old 11-05-2008, 02:23 PM
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huntingson
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Southwest Ohio
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Default WARNING-SAGE MOUTAIN OUTFITTERS

DO NOT HUNT WITH THEM.
Here is why...
Lead up:
1. When I first called the Stucky’s (owners of Sage Mountain Outfitters) regarding a hunt with them I was told that they have numerous ranches that they hunt and that the “Cobb Ranch” was the best for trophy bulls. I asked whether or not our chances of getting a bull of any size were greatly reduced by going there and I was told by Renee that they were not and in fact “last year we had 100% shots on the Cobb.” Well, I figured I had nothing to lose then if there were a bunch of trophy bulls and the odds of getting an elk were the same or better there than any other ranch they hunt.
Truth: Our guide informed us that last year they had nowhere near 100% shots. He said that perhaps one or two hunters all year (out of 12 or 13) actually had shot opportunities.
2. They claim to have a 95% success rate at calling a brow tine bull into 30 yards or closer.
Truth: Our guide informed us that he would guess it is about 1/3 or less of the hunters actually get a bull that close.
3. They claim that all of the “big bulls” that they kill come off of the Cobb Ranch.
Truth: We found out that while that is technically true, all but one in the history of hunting that ranch have been taken by the owner of Sage Mountain Outfitters or the head guide of the Cobb Ranch after they have “guided” all of their hunters for the year.
4. Renee informed me that the guaranteed outfitters license was $350 for elk only or $500 for a combo license.
Truth: They are $1350 and $1500 respectively. $1000 makes a big difference when budgeting for a trip, and the truth did not come out until we had already sent in our non-refundable deposits (you will notice that will be a theme here).
5. After sending in our non-refundable deposits we were told of a “wounded animal” policy that Sage Mountain Outfitters has. If you wound an elk during your hunt, you are done hunting. If that is their policy, then that is fine, but the hunters should have to know before paying a $1000 deposit and by this time we had also paid for our $1500 licenses so we would have been out $2500 a piece had we not agreed to comply.
6. The Stucky’s are completely disorganized and do not communicate with the hunters or themselves well. We told Cal (the owner) that we would be flying into Helena, MT on Friday evening as we were scheduled to go to camp Saturday evening and we wanted to make sure that our gear got there, etc. Then, while I am standing in the Helena airport weeks later I receive a call from Renee (his wife) asking us what time our flight was arriving the next day.
7. More evidence of disorganization. They told us our guide would be Dan Antilla, the head guide of the Cobb ranch. He called on Saturday and told us that a man named Dennis Yager would be our guide. So, the Stucky’s had no idea what was happening on their lease and with their own guides.

The Hunt:
1. The first night Dan Antilla was still in camp and so he did take me out that night and would leave after we returned to camp. I ended up having a 45 yard, broadside shot at a perfectly still 380”+ bull and he would not allow me to take the shot saying that it was “too far”. First, he had no range finder with him and so had no idea exactly how far it was. Secondly, before we left camp he was bragging about how he took his 360” bull the previous year at “well over 60 yards”. Obviously, there was an ulterior motive.
2. The rest of the hunt was guided only by Dennis Yager who was told that he was “not allowed” to hunt the timber. The problem was, that is where the elk were. We eventually told the guide that we were going in after them whether we were allowed or not, and it was only by doing this that we ever got close to any more elk.
3. The day’s activities were to include leaving camp before first light, going to a hilltop to glass for elk, watch where they go into the timber, and return to camp until the evening unless you wanted to go after mule deer. So basically they want you to get ½ of the hunt you pay for by only hunting in the evenings.
4. By all of their methods it was obvious that the outfitter is more interested in not spooking the bulls off the ranch so that he and his big money clients or the hunters who are accompanied by a camera crew (Wolf Creek does some filming there) can get them.

The Camp:
1. The port-o-potty was so full of feces that one had to actually worry about touching when using the facilities. The call was made to Cal and Dan Antilla on Sunday (the day after arrival) to have it pumped and they never called anyone all week to actually have it done.
2. The lady they had in camp to cook decided it would be a good idea to have her alcoholic boyfriend stay the night and have dinner with us. The man was so drunk he was literally falling over, spilling his drinks, and dropping his entire plate full of food on the floor. He was cussing up a storm and trying to get the guide to fight him. Let’s just say it was terribly uncomfortable and amazingly unprofessional. Then, we had to listen to the rhythmic sound of a camper creaking and banging back and forth while they consummated the event.

Post Hunt:
My father and I wrote to Cal to inform him of our experience. At this point we figured it was a decent outfit, although disorganized, with a bad head guide mismanaging one of his camps. Well, we were wrong. When I followed up the letters with a phone call I told him that I was not trying to get anything out of him and only wanted to inform him of how things were on the Cobb. He responded, “I know how things are on that ranch. I am their boss.” He also informed me that he was glad that Dan Antilla had kept me from taking the shot at that bull because “any shot over 40 yards is completely unethical, and if you would take that shot, then perhaps you should just get a rifle and kill one at 800 yards.” He stated that it was their policy that no one should take a shot over 40 yards. I told him that Dennis informed me that Dan Antilla had killed his last 2 bulls at well beyond that range. Of course, he had no intelligent response except to say that if I were to ask any ethical “big name hunter like Will Primos” that they would say that 45 yards is an unethical shot. I stated that Cameron Haines and Michael Waddell would definitely disagree with that and he said that is because they are “unethical hunters”. Again, it is his business and if that is the policy, then fine, but obviously his policies only apply and are enforced when they suite him. Also, these types of policies have to be known to the hunters prior to booking or it is as good as lying to them. When I told him that I thought his policies were ludicrous and that I had never even heard of anything like that from the other outfitters I had used he questioned me as to whether or not I had ever really been with another outfitter. The man was truly the most pompous arrogant human being I have ever encountered (and that is saying a lot). He was born, raised, and still lives in the same town with a population of a couple of hundred people. His lack of real world experience was extremely apparent the more we spoke as he only dealt in absolutes.

Trust me, if you are looking for the elk hunt of a lifetime, or even just that year, then do not waste your money with Sage Mountain Outfitters. I have been with 5 outfitters in my life, and this is the first that I have ever had to complain to, let alone post about due to their terrible client service.
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