Story by: Amber-Lee Dibble
2012 Prois Award Finalist
My story has to start with the fact that I am simply a farm girl at heart. I didn’t start hunting until I found myself in Alaska following an article I had read about Pioneer Outfitters in the Paint Horse Journal. I will be 42 this year and about half of my life has been spent learning and growing with Master Guide Terry Overly as my mentor.
I am an Alaska Big Game Guide and walking any other path could have made that the end of my story. Finding Pioneer Outfitters, knowing and being taught by one of the last and the youngest old timer in Alaska, a true bush pilot, changed my life.
Learning to guide and in turn, learning to hunt, has always struck me as a funny way to find my direction in life, but that is what happened. Becoming one of the top hunting guides in Alaska and the manager of Pioneer Outfitters put me into the middle of circles of people and organizations that I would have never had the opportunity to meet and learn from, otherwise.
One of my biggest passions for hunting is in actuality for the Guiding industry. The incredible age of the history of guiding and what it really takes to be an outstanding Alaska guide is the base of that passion. To ensure safe hunting and navigation through some of the most unforgiving land in the world is a heavy responsibility and one that I, as a trainer and we, as Pioneer Outfitters, take very seriously.
The first project that caught my heart and mind in its importance and many avenues that touch it was introducing Hunt of a Lifetime to Pioneer Outfitters. Pioneer Outfitters is all about family and what better way to open our hearts than to open our doors to Tina Patterson and her Hunt of a Lifetime hunters.
As the lead guide for both Hunt of a Lifetime hunts the year we found each other, I realized that there was so much more we could and would do, for families, for young people and for our nation’s military men and women.
The next project that brought me even deeper into the guiding world and all it entails, was when the state of Alaska Commercial Services Big Game Guide Board asked me (me!) to create for them, an online Professional Guide Ethics Class for ensuring a better explanation and example of what Guide Ethics are and a straight forward way to reinforce what stands for the absolute best of us.
I believe I am a good candidate for an example of the 2012 Prois Award for being a hardcore female hunter. As I stand, next to a client looking at his dream come true, his hands shaking, I understand again what makes me ride another hour, climb another 100 yards, cross another icy river and leave the safety of my home and my children again, year after year.
As I step out to draw a Grizzly Bear’s attention away from my hunter, as I turn my horse back into a raging river to find a safe way, as I call to draw a testosterone-mad 1,600 pound moose into the open and directly to me, I trust no one more than myself and I will protect those around me.
The point? When I learned to Guide, I learned to hunt. When I learned to hunt, I learned to protect. Hunting has made me a survivor, on the most basic of levels. More, it was the door that opened to helping others. Helping by training Professional Guides, and just as importantly, by allowing others to be able to experience the incredible lessons hunting teaches us and to experience all Alaska offers. Safely.