CANIS Guide and Outfitter Spotlight: Ben Stourac
Name: Ben Stourac, Arcadia Outfitting
Hometown: Westbank, British Columbia, Canada
What age did you start hunting?
I started hunting when I was a small boy with my father. He would take us out “road hunting”, driving back-roads in the truck, walking the odd cut-line here and there. It was effective, although not the most technical way to hunt.
How did you get into hunting or who was influential in getting you to choose to become a guide/outfitter?
I started wrangling/guiding when I was 15 years old. I actually fell head over heels for a girl who wrangled, and her father was a guide. I had always enjoyed hunting, horses, and the mountains, and thought this would be a cool job to try out, even if it was partly to impress a girl. We broke up before I even went wrangling, but after a season of work in the mountains, I found a new love…a career in the Guide Outfitting business.
How long have you been guiding/outfitting?
I have now been in the Guide/Outfitting business for eighteen years
What is your favorite game and/or terrain to hunt in?
I have always been drawn to the mountains of the North Country, and the game animals that inhabit them. Wild sheep, in particular, have a special spot in my heart. There is something special about those big curly horns, and the grace with which sheep traverse such rugged terrain. They live in such harsh conditions, yet year after year, they persist.
Have you noticed a shift in your clientele and reasoning for hunting?
I feel today's clients are going in two different directions. We have a young generation coming into the fray that is keen to get out and hunt hard. They buy all the fancy gear and equipment, and train hard to ensure they have no excuse for failure on these trips of a lifetime. They are joining the ranks of the seasoned veterans who have been going on guided hunts for years, who have mettle and stamina, and have no quit in their souls. They may not be the most fit individuals in their age any longer, but in their minds, they are still 25 years old and that is what matters most. These are my type of hunters.
Unfortunately, we also have some guys who come on these types of hunts simply for the “glory”. To tick an animal off of a list, and to brag about their achievements to their friends, whether in person or on social media. There is a big difference between the types of hunters we see in the field today, and my hope is that we can sway the tide and get back to our roots. I’m hopeful we can get away from the influences of social media and realize once again what is most important on these hunts.
My reason for hunting over the years has not changed. I desire to be in wild places with wild game. To get away from humanity and be closer to nature. To see the finer things in life and appreciate what we have. I suppose what has changed most about me over the years, is that I see the need now more than ever to help others realize and see this as well.
What’s your feeling on the modern hunter and how prepared they are for the hunt?
Again, this goes two ways. The “good” hunters that are keen and who have the desire to hunt hard, come prepared. They may not know fully what to expect on their hunts, as YouTube videos only portray half of the truth and usually leave out all of the pain and anguish to glorify the situation on film, more than is truthful. Even so, these guys do their research and buy all the best gear they can to help ensure their success. They generally are more prepared than hunters were years ago.
The second type of “social media” hunter does not come prepared. They believe what they see online and think they can do absolutely anything just because they saw a friend or photo of another person who had done it. They come into these hunts unprepared, and usually end up quitting mentally. Even though their bodies were fully capable of continuing.
How is hunting helping conservation of game/habitat in your area?
Without hunters in British Columbia, our wild game would be suffering. Hunters are the true conservationists. A perfect example of this is our ongoing M. ovi project along the Fraser River, in which my hunting concession lies. Our California Bighorn herds were infected with a domestic sheep disease called M .ovi. It is transferred via mucous and saliva from sheep to sheep, and can persist in a herd until their total demise. Their is no cure for M .ovi currently, as there is not enough funding available for such a task.
Over the last 3 years, Biologists and hunters have joined forces and funded this project, largely through the Wild Sheep Society of BC. We have captured and tested hundreds of Bighorn Sheep along the Fraser and have removed those infected. As a result, we have seen huge successes thus far and a healthy population of lambs up-and-coming. Previously, we had zero lamb crop. We once again have a growing herd of sheep, rather than declining. This is solely thanks to hunters, and the money they put forth for such projects to help maintain habitat and wildlife in this province.
What is your dream hunt?
Although I have guided for over half of my life, I have rarely had a chance to hunt for myself. I am always guiding others during the most productive times of the season, to ensure their success. During Covid I had a full year and a half off work, as borders were closed due to travel restrictions. It was the first time I had ever gone sheep hunting on my own. I was lucky enough to harvest my first ever wild sheep. It was a nice reward after having guided over 70 successful hunters to their own sheep on the mountain. As mentioned before, wild sheep hold a special place in my heart, and I would say that hunting any of them will always be a “dream hunt” for me. Regardless of the species hunted in North America. Whether a Dall Sheep, Stone Sheep, Desert Sheep, or Bighorn, any and all of these would be a dream hunt for me.
Anything you want to say to your clients before they arrive?
I would say to throw away the stresses of civilization and fully immerse yourself in the hunt at hand while out there. Forget about whatever business deals you may have going on back home, or family issues you may be dealing with. Find the time to enjoy yourself and find some peace. Mother Nature is one hell of a doctor if you will listen and let her heal you.
Favorite pieces of CANIS gear?
I really enjoy the Alpine Pant in Alpha Camo. It is made of some seriously tough fabric, yet ridiculously light and comfortable to wear. I don't feel hindered when traversing through tough terrain and stretching out in awkward ways. These pants move with you, not against you. And the adjustable built-in boot gaiter….brilliant! This has fixed the problem of too short/ too long pants for so many people depending on the shoe or boot a person wears. I cannot recommend these enough.
How can everyone reach you for more information or book a hunt?
We offer quality hunts for California Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Mule Deer, Canadian Moose, Mountain Lion, Lynx, Bobcat, Wolves, and Black Bear in some of the most beautiful and diverse country known to man. Check us out.
YouTube: Ben Stourac