We have arranged thousands of hunting adventures from all sections of society. Some were good hunters. Some were not. Most were successful, as they had great guides.


One hunter took the world record canadian moose. Another, the number two mountain caribou, and another took the world record gemsbok and sable antelope. Three of our clients took giant alaskan moose. Five hunters took bighorn sheep, which I believe are still listed in the top ten of the Boone and Crockett Record Book, plus many other records of elk, sheep, goat, etc. Some hunters were excessively skillful and others were just very lucky. There will always be a “best hunter you ever met,” so there must also be a “worst hunter you ever met.” I believe Bill Cable would take the latter distinction, hands down. He also provided campfire story material for generations not even yet born.


Bill had written me, in detail, that he had been on several big game hunts but never had a chance at any game. He said he would offer a big bonus to any outfitter who could finally get game for him. A friend of mine, Ray Rathie, advised me that he would take Bill out hunting himself. He was sure he would get him a bull elk in his new area south of Darby, Montana. “Easy money,” Ray chuckled. Nevertheless, Ray was wrong, and this is the story as Ray saw it.


When the hunter arrived, I was delighted to hear he had also drawn a mountain goat permit, but was somewhat shocked to see the amount of equipment he had brought with him for the hunt. Bill had seven duffel bags full of clothing and seven various rifles, all in separate cases, along with other hunting gadgets. In another bag, he had ten different types of shoes, all brand new. It would appear that this client owned a piece of a sporting goods store and was going to test his equipment in the field, then leave it with the guides and crew at the end of the hunt.


In order to test a lot of equipment at one time, Bill used the layer system, one jacket on top of another. Probably a good idea, but the problem was that it wasn’t that cold, and he couldn’t move his arms. Actually, it was kind of comical to see. The hunter looked like a small child wearing an extremely bulky snowsuit and heavy snow boots. The hood over his head nearly concealed his entire face. You almost needed a headset to communicate with him. What stuff he couldn’t cram into his pockets and saddlebags was hung on the saddle horn of his horse, only to be snatched off by the first bushy tree that his horse passed.


To make matters worse, Bill could barely walk, mostly due to the blisters on his feet from wearing the new shoes. The product tester was not doing too well. Around his waist, he had a bulky cartridge belt that held fifty cartridges, a large knife with a gut hook, a very small knife, his canteen, a first-aid kit, and a distance finder, plus some sort of a heavy hatchet that could be converted into a shovel and a can opener if needed. He always carried an entire roll of toilet paper in one pocket. He barely could get on a horse because of his inability to move his arms and legs. More than once he fell off the other side of the horse. It was almost embarrassing. Ray stayed in the cook tent until Bill was mounted each day. The entire camp crew would show up every morning just to watch the hunter get ready to leave camp. They wished Ray a lot of luck. Ray was a good sport, not to mention he also needed the bonus money.


The hunter had a particularly bad problem seeing standing game. Ray would point out an elk, but Bill would say, “I can’t see it.” They would move closer. Ray would point out light and dark spots, the sun shining off the elk’s antlers, etc. The elk were being very cooperative; possibly, they too were curious. On a couple of occasions, Ray became extremely frustrated. Bill seemed to be able to see the elk when they ran. Bill shot at tan colored rocks next to the bulls. If the client did not kill game, Ray would not get his big bonus, and so this went on for ten days.


When hunting his mountain goat, luck was in Bill’s favor. The hunter at least could see a white goat against black rocks. The goat was not particularly far away and was on a semi-timbered shale slide. The hunter fired and the goat moved. He fired again and the goat moved further. Another shot, and the goat disappeared, only to return repeatedly to walk back in the other direction. The goat would not leave the slide. The hunter continued to shoot. Ray’s face was red with rage. No bonus here either.


The assistant guide on the hunt was near hysteria. Bill’s first shot was fired at 9:00 A.M. The last shot fired was at 11:00 A.M. and only then because Bill was out of shells. By this time, Ray had had enough. His lips were in a thin line and his knuckles white from twisting his Stetson. He could see there was no hope, and other clients were due to arrive the next day. The guides confirmed Ray’s story. Remember, this is a true story.


Ray told the hunter, “Bill, you are the worst and most unlucky hunter I have ever seen. Nobody can do anything to help you get game, ever! You are never going to kill an elk. You’re going to have to leave empty handed.” Back they went to camp. The next and final day, Ray headed out with Bill, on the horses, to the highway where Bill would begin his trip home. They were riding along a narrow meadow which headed up towards the pass when luck smiled on Bill one last time. Ray spotted an excellent six-point bull feeding in the meadow below him. Ray said to Bill, “This is your last chance. I want you to follow this trail right up into that pass. When you get there, tie up your horse on the far side and hide in the middle of the pass. I’m going to go back down the hill and come up behind the elk and scare him just a bit. More than likely, the elk will come through the pass, and you will have a chance. You can’t miss him, as he’ll be moving. It’s the only trail the elk can take to avoid the rock slides.” Ray felt the bonus money was now in the bag! Once again, Ray felt that life was good because Bill said if he just got a shot at an elk that he could actually see, he would pay a double bonus.


Ray gave Bill enough time to set up the ambush. Unfortunately, the elk had moved somewhat and instead of just scaring the elk slightly, Ray rode right up on top of him. The ambush was busted! The elk turned around and headed toward the pass, not walking, but running as fast as he could go! There was no need for silence now. Ray could see that Bill must be alerted and yelled out, “Hey Bill, here comes the elk!” Bill stood up in plain sight, waved his hat and shouted aloud, “Okay. I'm ready. I can see him coming!”     


Evidently, the elk took this display as a personal threat, for he did a U-turn and ran in the other direction. It would seem that Ray had all of this madness he could stand. He spurred his horse and later on, Bill was to tell me that all he could see was Ray’s huge black horse thundering down on him with the guide’s bat winged chaps flapping in the air and Ray beating the horse over the head with his great Stetson hat and screaming, “Run Bill! You’ve got to get out of here before I kill you!”


“To be the best maybe all you need is luck and money.  But to be the worst, you must excel in all ways.”