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Outfitter Review - Headwaters and High Country

Submit Date: Feb 13, 2010

Outfitter Information

Outfitter Name: Headwaters and High Country

Outfitter / Contact: Tim Walkowiak

Location: Montana, US

Hunt Information

Animals Hunted: Elk

Game Quality: None Seen

Game Quantity: None Seen

Accomodations: Excellent

Camp Condition: Good

Food Quality: Very Good

Guide Experience: Hard to judge

Other Personal Experience: Good

Review Information

Hunter: Allan Olitsky

Phone: 215-688-2117


Would Recommend: Never

Overall Impression: The worst

I booked this hunt 1 year ahead for archery and sent in a $1000.00 deposit as requested. The hunt was to be conducted on river bottom land as advertised on the Outfitter's web site and brochure. I confirmed this with the outfitter. 30 days prior to hunt I sent the balance of $5,000.00. This was a 10 day hunt. I never saw an elk or an elk track. I hunted dry ground. There was no water any place. We were never near river bottom land as was advertised. This was the worst hunt that I have ever experienced in over 50 years of hunting.

Outfitter Response: My client, Mr. Allan J. Olitsky, has filed a complaint against me and my business, Headwaters and Highcountry Outfitters. Mr. Olitsky paid $6000 for a Grand Slam hunt, which is a deer, antelope and elk hunt. My responsibility during this hunt is to give my client as many opportunities to harvest all three of these animals as possible. The lease that Mr. Olitsky was hunting on for the first three and one-half days of his ten-day hunt, is a multi-million dollar 42,000 acre working cattle ranch, with resident elk, antelope and mule deer. My lease is 26 miles away from my lodge and takes 40 minutes to get there. I have no idea why Allan would say that it took one and one-half to two hours to get there. The weather was dry while he was hunting and the roads, which are county roads, were always clear. I was NEVER in four-wheel drive. Allan’s hunt was scheduled for the 7th through the 16th of October. (Which means he would be arriving on the 6th and leaving on the 17th of October.) He says that he called me the week before he left on his drive to Montana. He did not call me before he left Pennsylvania, he called me from South Dakota on the 3rd of October saying he would be arriving at the lodge on the 4th. This was two days earlier than he was supposed to arrive! Had he called me when he said he did, I would have reminded him that he was not to arrive at the lodge until the 6th of October. Mike Weinkauf, from Babe Winkelman Productions was to arrive on the 4th of October to film our fourth television program. I was supposed to hunt with Mike for the first two days, but because Allan was there at the lodge, albeit two days ahead of schedule, I made the decision to hunt with Allan. I always put the interests of my clients first and did everything I could to accommodate Mr. Olitsky. He stated “I was the only hunter, there was no one else there.” Mike Weinkauf and his camera man arrived the same day Allan did and were still there when he left. My 1999 Ford F250 is in superior mechanical condition, but sometimes repairs become necessary. I always have a back-up vehicle and it was only needed for one day of the hunt. My 86 Suburban is in very good shape, but for some reason my window would not close the last inch that day, Allan’s worked perfectly as did the heater, we were not cold as he states. On two of the three and one-half days my client hunted with me, we stalked two different mule deer (we didn’t follow them, as he states), but were unable to get close enough for a reasonable archery shot. The “little pool of water” Allan mentioned was a concrete stock tank that the animals drink from. The double stand is mounted on a telephone pole that has been there for years. The animals pay no attention to it. We have harvested our share of game from that location. Allan refused to hunt from that stand, he never even sat in it, even though he says that he did! He states that “we saw one small antelope all day.” Antelope travel in herds, they seldom travel alone, especially during the rut when Allan was hunting. On day three, He talks about a ”great water hole that a rat couldn’t drown in.” This pond is 60’ long and 20-30’ wide and at least 3-4’ deep. There are elk, deer and antelope tracks all over that pond. That year we had a 30” mule deer coming down to water there, and the tripod was set up for that reason. They do occasionally tip over in high wind, it takes all of three minutes to set it back up. That was not a problem. We saw elk late in the afternoon, too late to set up on them. We went in early the next morning, they had moved on, and we did not get an opportunity for a shot. During the few days that we hunted, Allan seemed very enthusiastic and friendly. He commented on how much he enjoyed the lodge, food, camaraderie and the hunting. After our morning hunt on the fourth day, he expressed disappointment (for the first time) in not getting a shot at an elk. He then asked about sitting in a stand on the river bottom. I reminded him that he would not see any mule deer or antelope on the river bottom, only elk and whitetail deer. (He has two big whitetails on his wall already and wanted a mule deer.) He said he wanted to hunt the river bottom for elk. My river-bottom lease was available to me on a per animal basis. I felt that we had an excellent opportunity to harvest all three animals on my current lease, but did have access to the river bottom, if I needed it. I explained this to Allan, and then made arrangements for him to hunt on the river as he had requested. He was not loading his truck to leave, as he states, we had just come in from hunting that day. He had dinner with us that evening and spent the night at the lodge with the intent, I thought, to hunt the next morning. In his complaint, he states that he didn't believe that I would have access to any river bottom. He knows that I did! He was sitting right there at the table when I made the arrangements to hunt the river bottom! As much as he says in his complaint that I knew all along that he wanted to hunt on the river, I did not. It was only after some disappointment in the field that he began talking about another place to hunt. He hunted with me for three and one-half days and then, got up the next morning and left. He called a short time after arriving in Pennsylvania and asked what I would be willing to do for him, since he had missed part of his hunt. I asked him to let me do my job. Give me the entire ten days to hunt with him and make a satisfied client out of him once again. He shot a Boone and Crockett antelope with me years ago, and was very satisfied with that hunt. He agreed to another Grand Slam hunt in 2010, personally guided by me at no charge. He asked for a written statement of what we had mutually agreed upon, and that was sent to him promptly. At no time did I try to deceive Mr. Olitsky. As the outfitter, I have to make decisions all of the time about how and where we will hunt, based on my knowledge and experience. Sometimes I am second-guessed and there is always disappointment when the animals do not cooperate. Emotions can be unpredictable in the field. At no time, did I ever promise Allan that he would be hunting strictly on the river bottom. To book a Grand Slam hunt that included mule deer and antelope, and then sit him in a stand on the river WOULD have been deceitful on my part. (His only chance would have been to harvest an elk.) I would have insisted that he book only an elk hunt and purchase only an elk tag if he had told me that the elk was all he was interested in. Allan states that “a reputable outfitter should be willing to be paid in a reasonable way, not insist on all the money up front as I did for this hunt.” I know of no other outfitter who will provide his guide services without being paid in advance. That is just standard procedure. You don’t pay the airline after you arrive at your destination. Allan writes that his only concern is that this sort of thing does not happen to someone else in the future. I have been an outfitter for over 14 years and this has NEVER happened to anyone that I have dealt with. Over half of my clients are repeat customers, some of them hunting with me year after year. Headwaters and Highcountry Outfitters has been featured on the "Wilderness Journal" television program for nine consecutive years and on the Babe Winkelman program "Outdoor Secrets" for three different programs. My reputation as an outfitter to date has been very solid, and I strive every day to keep it that way. I understand the pressure that my hunters feel to perform well and bring that trophy home as proof of their success. Patience is so important, but often takes the back seat to frustration when their high expectations predictably turn into reasonable reality. The highs and lows associated with hunting are well documented and our hunts are no exception, but I do my absolute best to make my clients hunting experiences memorable and successful. Had Allan let me do my job, and stayed for the duration of the hunt, I am confident that he would have had some nice trophies to show off and some great memories to tell his grandchildren about. When he agreed to come back and hunt with me in 2010, I truly believed he was thinking the same way I was. I thought the matter was settled, I then received word from the Montana Board of Outfitters that Allan Olitsky was filing a complaint against me. It went before the board and they dismissed the complaint saying that there was no negligence on my part. He then sought monetary compensation and accepted a settlement from my insurance company. A repeat client of mine informed me of this website and Allan’s attempt, once again, to injure my credibility. I can prove everything that I have stated in this response is true. I can assure you that Allan cannot. Timothy Walkowiak Outfitter Headwaters and Highcountry Outfitters headwatershighcountry.net

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