By day, he works as a carpenter, but come the hunting season, Dennis Verbeek becomes a hunting guide.
Verbeek recently went to the Yukon to guide and described it as a dream come true. He flew into Mayo, Yukon, a town about 400 kilometres north of Whitehorse where snow has already fallen.
“These were eight-day hunts. They fly in, hunt for eight days, and fly out,” Verbeek said. “You need to know how to hunt for whatever you’re looking for, you need to know how to look after the animals once they’ve harvested an animal, you need to have good people skills, so you need to be able to communicate with the hunters and still keep them safe.”
He guides for the Jim Shockey Rogue River Outfitters, named after the region where they hunt and renowned Saskatchewan-born outdoorsman Jim Shockey.
“Just being able you say hunt for such-and-such an outfit gives you a sense of pride,” he said.
Verbeek goes out with one hunter who uses a bolt-action rifle or a bow. Hunts generally occur within 300 metres of the animal, but modern scopes can allow hunts up to a kilometre. Bows, on the other hand, must be shot at a much closer range.
“It makes it a bit more challenging,” he said.
Verbeek is responsible for setting up the tent at the hunt site, cutting the firewood, starting the fire and bringing food and drinks.
“It’s also a lot of hospitality to look after your hunters as well,” Verbeek said. “Because there is downtime or the weather gets bad and you can’t go hunting. You still have to do something with your hunters.”
“It’s like taking a vacation, right? You go to an all-inclusive resort, you expect service, you expect to get fed. So it’s the same idea”
Verbeek’s clients are mostly American hunters that specialize in hunting white-tailed deer and which is where his expertise on moose hunting comes to play.
“So you need to need a little help with that. So you need to know how to call a moose,” he said. “They’ll keep the horns and the cape for taxidermy work. All the meat up there, you have to take all the meat out. And it gets delivered to the local villages.”
Verbeek exclaims that nothing gets wasted, and if hunters left anything to waste, he would have a problem with that. Asked about criticisms of cruelty, Verbeek defends the ethics hunters abide by.
“The outfit I work for, they basically supply it all – a village of 400 people for their meat for the winter,” he said. “I think they need to be careful and ask themselves where their meat comes from” “When I hunt here for my family, we hunt for healthy food. There’s no hormones or anything injected to the meat.”
Verbeek has hunted around Houston since he was young and has guided for about 15 years. He said going guiding up north marks a dream come true.
“The best part of my job is being up north, there’s nobody there so it’s nice and quiet. Basically, it’s just you and the hunter, you’ve got this whole area to yourself,” he said. “You don’t hear trains or sirens and for me it’s hearing the moose call back, so the dialogue between me and the moose.”
“That gets pretty exciting, especially when they start coming in really close.”