|Craig Steele, founder of CEi Outdoors|
For many years now I have been building this business (CEi Outdoors). It’s not always easy and it’s not always fun. I find myself reevaluating my goals and constantly analyzing my own moral compass.
Just a little history…
I was born and raised in Arizona and this is still where I call home. My passion for hunting, a supporting family and faith in the almighty has lead me down this path. At the age of 10, I shot my very first bull elk. Since that time, I have been blessed to harvest, film and guide many hunters to some great animals.
Although I do some guiding, I truly respect guys that like to strap it up and take on the challenge on their own. There is something to be said for the guy or gal, who does their own homework and succeeds. I truly respect folks that do this because they don’t make any excuses. The competition is fierce, but you have to pull yourself through those hurdles and mental road blocks, in order to be successful.
I started guiding for myself and an outfitter back in 2004 (off and on). Despite the rumors I had heard, almost all of the people I have guided have been great people. I have always struggled with the aspects of guiding someone for pay, because hunting is a real intimate experience for me. I want people that I hunt with to care and respect the process. I want people I hunt with, or guide, to feel what I feel. I want them to know how hard it is and how blessed they are to see a giant animal roaming freely, let alone wrap a tag around the animal. If they understand these facts, than I am ready to go. I just want to hunt with passionate people.
I am now in the middle of almost every aspect of hunting. I see it from a 365 degree view. I see it from all aspects, and I don’t like some of the things I see. I see a lot of integrity being taken out of my passion. I see it eroding. I see it happening from 365 degrees.
Too my points…
I hunt on my own, because it’s my choice. I don’t ever see myself going on a true guided hunt. I just don’t. If you are going on a DIY hunt don’t make excuses. If you start making excuses, you will never succeed to your utmost potential. I have a few friends that do this and it really hinders their ability to be more successful. You should be proud of hunting on your own, but do it with integrity.
Looking for an outfitter…
Outfitters need to instill some integrity in the process. Don’t book a hunter if you can’t accommodate them. Make sure your hunters expectations are being met. Hunting is not a guarantee, I think everyone is aware of this. If you treat everyone as if they are your own family or friends, you won’t have any issues as an outfitter or guide.
If you drew a tag and you are calling outfitters on your own, make sure you ask about your guide. Who is your damn guide? If you can’t get an answer, then don’t book! Some outfitters have a core group of sub-guides that guide for them, so make sure you get all of their names. Make sure you are going with one of their core guides. Don’t just book because an outfitter has a big name! You are potentially going to be subbed out or prioritized (given to a new guide). This is your tag, your money, and time! So, make sure you ask the right questions. If the answers sound fishy or to good to be true, than keep asking questions.