Bad WI Bowhuting Guide

Discussion in 'General Wisconsin Hunting' started by Rancid_crabtree, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. First of all, I will apologize up front for the length of this tale but preface it with the fact that this tale is two and a half years in the making so it is the details that make the story a long one.

    I feel compelled to share a story of how I got burned by a Wisconsin hunting guide after I bought a guided bow hunt for my then 70 year old Father and myself. I do this for two reasons, first to express my frustrations with what happened in my case but also to alert you to this operation in hopes of sparring you from the same fate.

    In Dec. of 2005 I bought a guided bow hunt on EBay ( but hold EBay harmless in this matter ) The guide service is TGIF outfitters based out of Onalaska WI. His ad read, "Come hunt the big boys in Buffalo County" After visiting his web site I noticed that he also stated that hunts could also take place in La Crosse, Vernon, Jackson and Trempealeau counties based on where his guides were seeing the most activity. This was not spelled out in his EBay ad.

    I bought the hunt and two additional days of hunting as a gift for my Father. Payment was sent and a hunting voucher was recieved in the mail that was good for either the 2006 or 2007 hunting season. After recieving a voucher for only a one day hunt, I contacted Bob Bott, the owner of TGIF Outfitters to tell him that I had paid for three days of hunting. He followed up by sending the vouchers for the other two days.

    I later contacted Bob and selected a date for my Father and I hunt in the fall of 2006 . Shortly after I purchased my hunt, I told a friend about my plans and he too bought a bow hunt with TGIF for himself and his Father. This friend selected a date that was prior to my hunt so I was anxious to hear all about his trip upon his return. The story he told me was quite upsetting. The trip was a disaster, not because not a single deer was seen during the entire hunt but because of the manner in which the hunts were carried out. Never once did he take them to Buffalo county. He didn't even take them to private land, instead, he gave them a map of public land in Jackson County with directions on how to get to the parking area. The maps (that I now have) are labeled PH-1 and PH-2 The "P and H " stands for public hunting land.

    There was no "guiding" taking place and the land that he sent them to is available to everybody at any time, free of charge. They were left to find their way around, unaided. They made the best of the day but expressed frustration with Bob at the end of the day. To make it up to them, Bob took them to a piece of private land and told them that he was in the process of acquiring this land for future hunting. This land belonged to a church camp and is used for that purpose and as a retreat area. My friend sat with his Father and watched as people walked the mowed trails in this camp setting. At the end of their hunt, they let Bob know of their displeasure with the entire experience. To his credit, Bob offered a to let them come back and hunt the same areas for free at a later date. My friend told Bob that they could already hunt the land for free and that they were not interested in more of the same.

    Upon hearing this, I contacted Bob at TGIF Outfitters and asked some questions about my upcoming hunt. At this point, Bob was not aware that I knew the Father and son team that he had just "Guided" I finally revealed to him that I was aware of the hunt that had just taken place and that I was not interested in hunting public land with my Father because he and I could already hunt those lands for free whenever we wanted to. I told him that I bought a hunt so that I could go after the "Big boys in Buffalo County" Bob then told me that he had not access in Buffalo county and that aside from the Church camp, he had no private lands at all. He was not happy that I had access to the PH-1 and PH-2 maps. I told him that I wanted to cancel the hunt and that I wanted a refund. I was told that TGIF Outfitters had a "No Refund" policy. Despite my complaints that he was selling something that he was not able to deliver , he insisted that no refund was going to be issued.

    To Bob's credit, he did offer a substitute activity. He offered a 3 day small game hunt or a 3 day waterfowl hunt as well as a three day fishing trip. I told him that I had purchased a deer hunt for my Father and that my Father (and I) were not interested in those other activities. I was not about to pay a guide to hunt small game or waterfowl in WI. He told me that this was the best he could do. I was pretty mad and told Bob that I would get back to him because I could see that I was getting no where.

    Fast forward to this spring of 2007 . My friend, who had taken his Father on the failed Bow hunt with Bob had decided to get his monies worth on Bob's offer for 3 free days. He and his Father switched to a summer fishing trip with Bob and set up a one day trip. Without going into details, my friend relates that the fishing trip was as bad or worse than the hunting trip and will not be going back for the remaining two days of the offer. He told me that he is cutting his losses. Bob also changed his web site to say that TGIF Outfitters was discontinuing both archery and gun deer hunts and that people who held a voucher for those hunts were recommended to change to another activity that TGIF guides.

    After hearing this, I contacted Bob to again ask for a refund. I was told the same story about his policy and that I can switch to another activity. I then told Bob that I would be going to be contacting EBay, The better Business bureau and the DNR. I then ended the call. The next day, I got an email from Bob that said:

    "Please let me know how much your certificates cost you so I can see what we can do."

    Finally!!. I thought I was going to get satisfaction. I replied to Bob and told him how much I had paid him for the 3 day hunt. The next day, I got another email from Bob that said:

    "I will reimburse you but am not currently in a position to do it all at once. What is acceptable to you?"

    I replied to him that I was willing to work with him and that I was happy to take 3 payments over a 3 month period and I again supplied my mailing address. After a month had elapsed without a payment, I emailed Bob and asked about the reimbursement. He replied that money was tight but he would be getting the first installment out to me. After another month passed, I again emailed Bob to ask about the reimbursement. He did not reply to that email. After yet another month passed, I contacted Bob again inquiring about the refund. I noted that two months had gone by without any contact from him at all. Bob replied with this email:

    "I will send you the first of three payments next week. Please resend your mailing address and I will get you a check out soon."

    more than two weeks elapsed since that email and I had yet to have any contact or payment from Bob. I Sent another email that stated that if I did not receive a refund within 5 days, that I would be escalating this with several authorities. I checked the TGIF Outfitter website and saw that he is again offering guided bow hunts but now states that he will be guiding a mix of State and Federal lands.

    I checked EBay and found that he has sold a good number of guided hunts and contacted EBay about Bob, EBay's policy says that you have to leave feedback within 90 days and this certainly worked to Bob's advantage as he would book hunts that would not take place until after the 90 days had elapsed which prevented folks from posting negative information about his operation. I have contacted a few hunters who have bought hunts from Bob and all were very angry with what they got and how they were tricked.

    I sent Bob an email very Month that went by in 2007 and either got no reply or an excuse as to why I was not getting any payment. In November of 2007 ( a Year and 11 months, after this whole thing started), I again threatened Bob with legal action, I got a check for one third of the reimbursement. Things were starting to look up. I expected the 2nd and third payment in each of the next two months. That never happened. Instead, I ended up sending more emails each for the following months and again, got either no reply or an excuse.

    In June of 2008, I sent Bob another email with a detailed explanation of the escalated actions that I was now going to take because of his failure to reimburse me and a demand that I have payment in hand by June 12. I also cc that email to what would appear to be an attorney (It was really just a friend with an email address that looked official) On June 13, I had still not received payment but I did get an email from Bob that read:

    "Your check was sent out today (6/11/2008). Thank you for your patience."

    Patience!!!!! Give me a break! This goes beyond being patient. This whole process took 2 1/2 years to resolve. The check from Bob did not show up on the 12th as I had directed but it showed up on the 14th. I consider this matter closed with the exception of warning others.

    I'm sorry this is such a long tail to tell but again, I don't want anybody else to get burned by TGIF Outfitters of Onalaska, WI because he is still offering guided fishing trips and waterfowl hunts on his web site.
     
  2. wow, that really sucks. No one should have to deal with anything like that.

    the best advice I was ever given about hiring a guide or outfitters, is to ask for references. Not only references from people who had a sucessful hunt but also those who did not harvest game. the internet is very good resource for info, but it can also be very misleading or untruthful.
     

  3. If I had asked Mr. Bott for references, I'm sure he would not have been honest in that regard either.
     
  4. Wow! I have heard a few horror stories, and that is a good one!

    On behalf of all of us legit guides that care about your outdoor expierence accept our apologies. It's the bad apples like that which ruin it for the rest of us!!

    Steve
     
  5. bad,bad apple

    :tsk:WOW !!! sorry for the trouble you had. i never thought of a guided hunt in this great state because of ALL the great public hunting areas we have available to us, but for those that do that will truely be a horror story i will share with others to beware.
     
  6. This sounds like you ran into a con man. In this day and age you really can't trust anyone on their word only. It is too bad that you didn't take this guy to court so there was a court record on him. That would help others in the future. We all learn from our mistakes! Good luck to you in the future!!!