Hunting Hell? Not According to the Guide!
The first thing that popped into my head when researching this story is WHY...
Why in the world would anyone want to upset people who own guns - and lots of them! But seriously (and luckily) the people who are upset have not taken the law into their own hands. They've filed complaints with the Woods County District Attorney (who tells me they've handed everything over to the Attorney General's office). Clients have also filed complaints directly with the Attorney General and with the Game Warden. All are tight lipped as to what they are - or are not doing.
Who is Jenkins?
Some know him as A.J. Jenkins. Others know him as Jim Jenkins. And his legal name is James Adam Jenkins. He's also changed the name of his hunting operation. Most recently it's "Sandy River White Tails". Before that it was "Big Cedar Hunts". And he also had ties to the name "Platinum Productions", "Big Cedar Guide Services" and "Sunrise Outdoors". That's one of the reasons I refer to him just as Jenkins.
What does he say?
While he didn't want to meet in person, he did answer to the complaints over the phone. He was always very nice and admitted to owing money. He sounded sincere during the conversation that went like this:
Amanda: Where do you think things went wrong?
Jenkins: I think the beginning of '07. We grew because of the good business we had. We grew to a point where we got so large it become difficult to manage. And since '07 we downsized and doubled prices. So we now have a more controllable situation. And we've had great success with that. And the refunds and any late lease payment will be resolved within a few months on a case by case basis.
Amanda: There are landowners who say you brought or sent hunters on their land without permission. We interviewed Jay Bowers who says after he didn't receive his first payment from you he told you to get off his land. But he says for the next 3 weeks, he had hunters on the land daily who said they were sent there by you. Your response?
Jenkins: We're under an annual contract on all properties with unrestricted access during that time. That is irregardless of the timing of payments. So for 1 year, we can't be kicked off. (In terms of Jay Bower's property) He wanted us to stop hunting on his property and so I obliged. I called all the guides at 8 pm that night and told them to stop taking hunters on his land. But 2 of the groups didn't get the message until the next day. There's no way there were my hunters on the land for 3 weeks.
Amanda: The group from Arkansas says they were just taken on property that they double checked and the owners told them they had not been paid for the previous hunting season. In other words, they were not allowed on the property.
Jenkins: Their contract does not begin until the 2nd week in December. We're within the terms of our agreement. My contract does not start until then, so there's no way they can predict whether we'd have those properties or ones like it. And they asked for a premature backout of contract. Also, they breached the written contract by contacting the landowners. There's a provision in the contract that says they cannot, in any way, contact the landowner. They also tried to lease those properties from out and under me in the process.
Amanda: And what about the safety concerns and the quality of the hunts - which were brought up by George Bendele of Texas?
Jenkins: While I am the manager and owner of the business, I don't guide each individual hunt and I really don't know what the particular scenario was on (George's) hunt, in regards to the stands and their hunting arrangement. The guides do that, and I can't control every aspect as to what they do. The guides mostly make those decisions and I can't always control that - nor answer for it. Also, all of our property carries good trophy potential.
Amanda: How can anyone trust that they're going to get a safe, quality hunt with you in the future?
Jenkins: We have a strong client base of repeat business that we're going to rely on. We're backing off of any advertising or any new business.
Hunting guides are not licensed in the state. Fishing guides are, but not hunting. So do your homework. I suggest talking to past clients of the guides to ensure their experience was what they expected.