You can ‘see’ lots of elk within range but that doesn’t mean there’s a shot opportunity
Experienced guys kill bulls in some really quick tuff scenarios. Quite a few of the bulls my buddy and I kill invlolve split second decisions, and shooting through really small windows in thick stuff.
I have hunted with guys that can almost never get their crap together in the moment of truth, and hunted with others that seem to always be able to capitalize if they get within a reasonable range of an animal.
I would for sure say a bull broadside or quartering away with a basketball sized area free of brush over the vitals for at least 6 seconds was a slam dunk opportunity. The guide did his job, and no one could argue that. The hunter getting a shot off is on them, not you or the guide.
Personally I would say define it for yourself forest, stick to that answer and just be clear on terms
Something like a legal elk inside 50 yards where the hunter either shot or drew the bow or chose not to shoot
I think as the outfitter you should be the one making the declaration on what you can produce on a fairly regular basis, whatever that may be. This way, potential clients know what they can expect and decide for themselves if it is a fit. I also believe that you cant put inches on a success rate, but you can place an average on it.
I would personally be happy to call a P&Y minimum elk a trophy, where the next guy might expect a 350, and the next guy would be tickled with a raghorn.
Only you as the outfitter knows what you, your guides, and the area can produce, and you should take that as how to define opportunity.
Im not trying to be an arse here, but when i ask an outfitter that question, that is what i expect to hear. IE % shot opportunity, at X distance, at X caliber of animal.
Any one that has hunted elk enough knows having a elk in range does not always equal a shot opportunity. I hunt in oak brush a lot and had so many elk in range with no chance at a shot because it was so thick I barely knew it was there much less have a chance to kill it.
So having a legal elk in range with a reasonable chance of killing if you do your part right. Passing a high percentage shot at an effective range thinking you will get a closer shot, passing a legal elk because you think you can do better, miss assuming your not throwing up 100 yard prayers, shooting a elk recovered or not, have a bull broadside in your face but hunter freezes up with buck fever because he has a big bull scream 30 yards away.
Now the next question is it opportunity at what you want or any animal, not just a trophy.
I see it all the time on these YouTube videos where the guy has an elk in front of the Hunter for a short period of time and then leaves……he claims he did not have a shot.
Some are legit of course…but some are because the hunter dinked around too long at full draw….or got busted.
otherwise it's just a camping trip
4 guys in a camp, 3 guys got shots at elk.
Shot Opportunity, regardless of the species being pursued, in my opinion, boils down to these two questions:
Did I see an animal (bear, elk, white tail, hog, turkey, etc) I was intending to hunt?
Was it within my effective range?
If the answer is yes, I had an opportunity.
Whether or not I shot isn't ever a factor.
A guy that has 4 shots just counts as a hunter having an opportunity. Not 400%
I would tighten that up for me to under 20, but I’m a Stickbow guy. Once got a buddy 21 shots on bulls in a week under 20 yards… never clipped a hair…
Also depends on what he’s willing to shoot.
I wouldn’t promise more than “X% of my clients say that they had a an opportunity”.
Makes me think of my last trip. I had a cow bust me on the draw as she was coming on a line that would have presented a very makeable broadside had I not screwed the pooch by drawing too soon. That was an opportunity which I blew. Probably would have gotten the shot off with a stickbow.
And I had a whole herd pass 15 yards away while I struggled with an iced-up drop-away rest. That was an opportunity lost due to my failure to monitor the status of my equipment. Probably would not have been an issue with a stickbow. No moving parts to immobilize.
I didn’t have a guide, but if I’d had one, those failures would not be my guide’s fault.
Same trip, spotted a very pretty buck mule deer at 65 yards. Not huge, but I could have mounted that one and died happy. Leopard-crawled to within about 40 before he stood up and left. Great shot opportunity for my .54; wouldn’t have considered it with the compound (I won’t use a rangefinder because I don’t want to) and it would be a long poke with a stickbow, but a Stupid angle. That could have been a “shot opportunity” if I were seriously about the business of Subsistence Hunting (fresh snow for tracking) but not a shot I’d take if my life didn’t depend on it. That’s not a Shot Opportunity for me. Not even if I’d had a tag ;)
I’ll tell a story about hunting a drop camp with Forest.
I had gotten myself into a large herd with I forget how many satellite bulls. The herd had worked its way through me and by me three different times at this point. I would then reposition myself to the side of the herd as they go through. To keep the wind. The herd is not covering ground quickly but fully engaged in full rut activity. Satellites chasing cows. The herd bull chasing satellites.
So on one of my setups I had a raghorn walk a few yards behind a cow, and both walk less than 20 yards and pass right in front of me. Then a moment later a different bull do the exact same thing with a different cow. On this same trail.
Now early in the week or even the day before. I would have shot one of the cows or the satellites with the longbow I had in my hand. All four gave me chip shots.
But on this hunt I had a very good bull chasing these cows and rag horns all around. I guessed him at 340” And I was confident he would eventually chase in front of me.
I was following and getting in front of or to the side of that herd for hours. It just didn’t pan out. But man what a hunt.
So I had other encounters of elk within 40 yards at good angles that I can honestly say I could have shot with a compound or muzzleloader.
So Forest would have chalked up many opportunities in his tally the week I hunted there. The other guys did also one being a newbie. and we took one good bull home.
In your last question, you are 4 out of 6. The other 2 took themselves out of the game, but also elected to play the game.
In Mexico last month, one of the hunters got sick and couldnt hunt for 2 days, but he still hunted the other 3.5 days. It has to count because he hunted what HE could physically do.
While Lou has numerous bulls he passes and calls that an opportunity because with his experience he knows he could have shot them. While a novice may have wanted to shoot but messed it up due to a variety of mistakes (moving at the wrong time, setup behind cover, etc…). So is that an opportunity or not???
I think you define it as you want, just make sure you also clearly communicate your criteria that you used to get your number. For instance “We define shot opportunity as a legal elk under 30 yards for 5 seconds with a clear shot to the vitals.”
Whether or not I ever draw my bow I know when I’ve had a legitimate opportunity to.
I always get a kick out of people saying they passed on an animal, when they really should be saying "I saw an animal that was almost in range". A true shot opportunity would only be if you could have drawn without spooking the animal, and you had an actual shooting lane.
We always joked that it would be nice to have a camera that could be lined up with your sights and have a picture taken while at full draw. Then you could truly say that you could have shot an animal.
It's a bad metric because if you ask 5 different people what it means you'd get 5 different answers. And it tends to be a metric of the ability/desire of your client more than your skills as an guide.
You'll never be able to take the client ability/desire completely out of any metric but you can design a metric to minimize the client ability/desire factor.
1) Make the metric for "close encounters" rather than shot opportunities. A close encounter would be one where the game is in range (more about that later). Close encounters are what every hunter wants. We all get it that sometimes the interaction doesn't end up with a shot. That could be because the hunter decided to pass or he spooked the game or the shot angle was bad or brush was in the way, etc.
2) Keep the metric separate for rifle, compound bow, stick bow. Obviously a 100 yard interaction with a stick bow is not close but it is for a rifle. So decide for each weapon what range you consider to be a close encounter.
3) Make the metric a daily rate metric rather than a % of hunters metric. If a hunter hunts 1/2 day and becomes ill or quits, or another can only hunt half the time then that shouldn't affect your metric. So if you have 3 compound bow hunters in camp and one hunts 1/2 day and sees nothing, another hunts 3 days and gets close once and the 3rd hunts 7 days and gets close three times that's a total of 10 1/2 hunter days and four close encounters.
4) You could divide the 4 close encounters by 10 1/2 for the rate (for the group, rate = 0.38) but chances are most guide services will have a daily close encounter rate under 1 and very few clients will understand what you mean by a daily close encounter rate of say 0.38. So invert that number to transform it to number of hunt days per close encounter and the 0.38 rate becomes 2.6 days hunting per close encounter. That becomes a more understandable number to the client and also communicates to the client that the number of encounters depends on him getting out of bed and hunting.
5) Count each close encounter as 1 close encounter whether the close encounter is a single cow, a single bull or a group. It seems misleading to count a single encounter with 8 elk as eight close encounters for your metric.
6) You could also keep track of other sub-metrics including a) the number of elk per close encounter, b) number of bulls per close encounter, c) number of shots taken per close encounter d) number of elk taken per close encounter.
7) Last comment: If you have a special needs client such as someone who can only walk 100 yards or is otherwise significantly impaired in his ability to hunt I don't think you should include their hunt in your metrics. That's really not fair to you. I know there is always a range of abilities so you need to be careful not to abuse this but when a hunter is clearly impaired you shouldn't include their hunt in the metric (or maybe keep a separate metric for impaired hunters)
Is it really that difficult to say we had X number of bow hunters in camp for X number of days, and we filled X number of tags? Let the potential client do whatever math gymnastics he wants to do from there.
As far as shot "opportunities"...About an hour ago I called a really good muley buck into my decoys from 150 yards out. Had him at 30 yards, and this year I'm hunting with a compound. I never had what I consider an ethical shot, so for me it wasn't an "opportunity" even though he was well within range. For some other guys it may have been. So subjective.
Bull came in 1/4rd too me. I was at full draw from about 25 yards to 8 ft. Couldn’t shoot behind the shoulder or in front. As he walked a couple times he got more chest on, but his head was blocking the vitals he was a little down hill from me. At about 8-10 ft the gig was up. I was at full draw with my pin on him the whole time, no shot.
I’m retrospect I should have cow called to see if he froze and lifted his head up. At the close range, I thought he would spook.
I’m usually pretty good at making things happen. This was a pretty odd scenario where I couldn’t find a good shot into the vitals.
Pre-hunt phone call: **Hey Forest, this is Bob, I saw Charlie's hunt recap on Bowsite. That looked like an exciting hunt, the kind I would truly love to be a part of.
**(chit-chat about elk hunting and after a few questions) **BOB: What do you think a realistic shot opportunity would be, not looking for a trophy - just an adult elk, preferably a bull, but I love elk meat so not opposed to a nice fat cow?
**Forest: Well Bob, that's kind of vague question, let me ask you, what would you consider a shot opportunity?
**Bob: To me with what and how I shoot, and that I don't sleep in and will hunt wherever the guide takes me - all day - weather permitting. I have had back surgery as well as knee surgery, so that, at times slows me down, but will do whatever it takes. A shot opportunity would be a chance for an elk at 50 yards or less. Obviously, I would much prefer a shot at 20 yards that would give me a clear shot.
**Forest: Well Bob, as you know, hunting is never a given, shit happens, but with what you told me, on a 7-day hunt, realistically I would say your shot opportunity on a legal bull should be ????? And on an adult cow it would be ????
In my humble opinion, that is how "shot opportunity" should be discussed.
If I know that my personal success rate spending a week elk hunting DIY is 80%, and the provincial success rate is 10%, then I feel like I know where I stack up to average "competition." If Forest tells me that on an average year, half his clients take animals, then I can personally calculate my chances of success. By looking at his trophy photos and talking to him about animal quality I can then try and take a stab at my personal chances of shooting what I want to shoot.
Any person that tries to get YOU to predict their future is a tough call. I understand that everyone wants this info, but you have to stick to hard facts. Numbers of animals within 40 yards per hunter, etc. Stay away from words like "Success" that are subjective. Speak in absolutes and let the individual draw their own conclusions. You can't win trying to estimate a person's conclusions in their terms. Because when the hunt doesn't meet expectations it turns into "well you told me______"
In outfitting one things is guaranteed. You will have clients who say they are in shape that aren't. You'll have clients that say they could shoot a flea's knees that can't hit a dead elephant, and you're going to have the odd person with a sour attitude. You can't manage them, so don't try and manage their interpretations of subjective events.