Ovis Outfitters - grizzly bear hunt - evaluation

6mm Remington

Ammo Smith
Feb 27, 2006
Ovis Outfitters - Wasilla Alaska - Matt & Emily Thoft

So I just wanted to give a review/evaluation of Ovis Outfitters in Alaska in case any of you folks are interested in a hunt or fishing in Alaska. I was so fortunate to have had the opportunity to go on a hunt with them at the end of August of this year. I had an absolutely wonderful time and I got a beautiful grizzly bear. I know that in my own journey as I was looking into booking this once in a lifetime trip, it was hard to figure out who to go with. Friends who I know personally, and folks on this site I trust provided me with a lot of good information. I appreciate what they have to say about other topics including this topic and I wanted to pass along my experience I had hunting with this outfit.

Was my hunt everything I had dreamed of?
Yes and more! I had a fantastic time, met wonderful people, got to see some amazing country, shot a beautiful old grizzly bear, and ate some amazing food. That included grizzly bear backstops one evening in spike camp.

Outfitter - Matt & Emily Thoft - What about them?
Really nice people who were originally from Montana but moved to Alaska to start their outfitting business. Both are licensed guides and pilots and really know their business. They work extremely hard for their clients and give 100% for everyone in camp.

Outfitters hired help - What about them?
I only stayed at base camp for the last three evenings of my of my hunt. Everyone I was around in camp were terrific. I've not been spoiled like that before! Nice people who were a lot of fun to be around. Lots of funny stories and giving each other a hard time was also prevalent.
The camp cook was amazing and the meals she made were to die for. I was the only hunter in camp at the end so I got to dictate what the dinner meal was! She offered to fix rib-eye steaks and I said no way. I want something wild. Dall sheep, moose, caribou, and and all of the above. She fixed moose steak the first evening you could cut with a fork! Desert was home-made from wild berries she had picked up there at the camp! The next night was moose ribs. Oh my goodness they were good. The third evening it was caribou back-strap medallions. They melted in your mouth.

Base Camp & Spike Camp - Equipment - ??
Our spike camp was a nice sized tent and we had everything we needed to be comfortable, warm, and well fed. It was Mountain House meals for all but one of the nights when we dined on grizzly bear steaks, but it was plenty good. The gear was in excellent condition.
Base camp was very comfortable and the small buildings we stayed in and ate in were warm and dry. Very comfortable. A shower was also available. Food was amazing!

Transportation - Those damn little planes that I call flying culverts!
Matt & Emily are both certified pilots and guides. Having some background in being a mechanic I could see the amount of time and care that both have for their planes and all of their equipment. This included another of their pilots that flies hunters. This young man learned to fly when he was about 14 years old like you and I when our parents started teaching us to drive!

Country Hunted -
It was beautiful on the north side of the Brooks Range. Willows were about the only larger bush to be seen. The mountains were gorgeous. The streams were clear and cold. At base camp I caught both Arctic char and graying. It was fantastic.

Game -
I shot a beautiful old grizzly bear and am so blessed to have gotten the chance to go on this hunt. I should have gotten a wolf too, but that's another story. Besides a couple of grizzly bears I saw moose and caribou where we were hunting. This area in the Brooks Range is only one of the areas where Ovis Outfitters has their operation. They have another location that they hunt on the south side of the Brooks Range. The fishing was excellent near base camp and they are looking at starting to take more folks fishing in the summer time. Oh I also saw a musk ox! No your'e not in Kansas any longer Dorothy.

Guides - Mike Lettis -
Mike was a very nice person. We got along great. He took good care of me during my hunt. Spoiled for sure. Mike was guiding me on the 25th year he's been taking grizzly bear hunters out. He's born and raised in Alaska and really knows the state. After I shot my bear I helped to skin the bear, but Mike took care of skinning out the skull and the paws. He was very precise and took his time to do it right! I so appreciate that as this was probably my one and only time I would be going on a hunt like this.
The other guides I got to meet were very friendly and really seemed like great folks. One person guiding for them I have read stories of him in outdoor hunting publications. He's a great guide.

Final -
If I had the money to hunt with Ovis Outfitters again, I would do it in a heartbeat! I highly recommend them to anyone. Even if I had not gotten a bear, my whole adventure would be to me an amazing success. It was fun and just simply wonderful. A good friend of mine hunted with Ovis Outfitters previously and he is who turned me onto them. He has hunted with them once, and he's going back again! That pretty much says it all.

I was not asked to do this and the outfitter has no idea that I am doing it. I wanted to for the members on this site if they too were to be as lucky as I was to get the chance to go on a hunt like this.
Safe hunting and good luck!

Awesome review David. They are definitely the top of my list.

Where are the danged pictures buddy!
Patience they are coming! Oh and when I spoke about the meals being plenty good in spike camp that was reference the Mountain House meals. The grizzly bear steaks were tremendous and very much like black bear I have eaten which I really like too!
Excellent Report David. I’ll be sure to share it with some non forum people I know that might be up for a trip like that!

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Very glad to hear that you had such an amazing experience! And got a grizzly bear too!

Sounds like a quality operation by people who are passionate about what they do, and are committed to ensuring that their clients safety and comforts are of the first priority.

While we all desire to be successful in our pursuit of game on a guided hunt, the quality of the experience had is going to be an important factor in the potential of returning to hunt again with that outfitter should a successful harvest opportunity not be realized during the hunt. A bad experience will definitely keep one from re-booking another trip or another adventure!

The type of report and reference that I would be looking for from a previous client when performing reference checks prior to booking a hunt with a prospective outfitter.
Looking forward to hearing the details of your hunt and seeing the pictures soon!
David, I'm sure pleased that you had this opportunity to hunt a great animal such as the grizzly you shot. I'm looking forward to a description of the hunt and some pictures when you get the opportunity. Congratulations on a successful hunt.
What a great trip. Looking forward to learning more. The Brooks range is one of the last great places on earth, glad you got to see it.

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salmonchaser":3aspyf6m said:
What a great trip. Looking forward to learning more. The Brooks range is one of the last great places on earth, glad you got to see it.

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It was pretty amazing country. Rugged and wild!
salmonchaser":2k3u12x5 said:
What a great trip. Looking forward to learning more. The Brooks range is one of the last great places on earth, glad you got to see it.

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It was pretty amazing country. Rugged and wild!
Well done. Appreciate the excellent review / evaluation. Thanks for sharing David.
Congratulations on a memorable and successful hunt.
I’m a big fan of grayling and Arctic char as well, both underrated and beautiful fish. I imagine the char were in their spawning colors at that time.

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salmonchaser said:
I’m a big fan of grayling and Arctic char as well, both underrated and beautiful fish. I imagine the char were in their spawning colors at that time.

They were spawning. Very pretty fish. I just caught and released and never kept any.
salmonchaser":3gm89rte said:
What a great trip. Looking forward to learning more. The Brooks range is one of the last great places on earth, glad you got to see it.

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I'm plotting how to return to the Brooks Range. Maybe just to wander, photograph, do some fishing...

Amazing place that I fell hard for in 2017.

Wish I was roaming it, twenty or thirty years ago.

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been up there, I first saw that country in1961 from the window of a low flying Beaver. Last trip was 12 years ago. I’ve been blessed.

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Hard to believe this, but my hunt was in August 2019. I finally got the age of my bear by the tooth that was pulled for that purpose. The tooth was pulled and given to Alaska Fish & Wildlife, and then was sent in to the laboratory to be aged. I contacted them after a few months and was informed it might be a year. I would email them periodically giving them a few months more at a time. They were always polite and responded to my request for information. I kept this up lengthening my contact times to about 6 months before sending the next e-mail. Finally I was told that possibly the tooth had been lost, or something else had happened. I kept persisting. Here at the end of January of this year 2023 I was contacted by a person with the Alaska Fish & Wildlife and was told they had located my tooth and the information from the age test.

I was emailed the information data sheet so that I could have that for my personal record. Might sound goofy but it meant a lot to me to have it as another connection to my hunt, and I wanted to know how old my bear was. It was important to me! So I finally found out my grizzly bear was 14 years old. I passed this information on to my guide and the outfitter just for them to have it also.

I was thanked by the person with Alaska Fish & Wildlife for my "Persistence" on this matter as they were able to find out what had happened and they fixed a couple of different problems that were uncovered in their system. Who knows maybe this will make a difference down the road for Fish & Wildlife and improving their system. Darn dog just wouldn't let go that bone would he!
In 25 years of guiding grizzly bear hunters my guide Mike Lettis told me that I was the ONLY person who had requested a desire to have grizzly bear steak in spike camp. No-one else had ever asked!! I took a backstrap off of my grizzly bear and we hung it up on a willow bush near our tent for a couple days to let it cool and age. We then sliced it into steaks, rolled it in flour, and fried it up in a cast iron pan with salt and pepper sprinkled on it. It was delicious and both Mike and I loved the meat. We had mashed garlic potatoes to go with it and it was. meal fit for a king. They were eating Dall Sheep steaks back at basecamp that night I found out later, but I think our meal was every bit as good as theirs.
I've eaten grizzly. I found it somewhat more coarse than black bear, but the flavour was indistinguishable. So long as the bear had been feeding on grass and berries, I would have no trouble eating grizzly.