A 49-year-old Williams Lake man has been recognized for his work by the Guide Outfitters Association of BC.
Larry Fitzpatrick was named runner-up as the province’s top hunting guide of the year during the association’s annual awards banquet, held this year via Zoom at the end of May, for his work as a moose, deer, elk and bear guide.
Fitzpatrick said he has been guiding for the past 17 years, beginning in 2003, when he both wrangled horses and guided hunters for moose in the Cariboo’s Region 5.
Since getting his start he has continued working for several guide outfitters in B.C. and has been fortunate enough to meet hunters from many countries, including the U.S., Sweden, Romania, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Fitzpatrick began guiding under Al Tew at Chilanko Forks Outfitters, who was his taxidermist at the time.
“He was looking for someone, and asked if I’d be interested and I just thought: ‘Yeah, I could do that,’” Fitzpatrick said.
“It was great. It was peaceful, and I got to be around all good people, and was able to ride horses and hunt and do all the things I enjoy doing.”
He also now works for Paul Trepus out of Inzana Lake Guide Outfitters in a territory north of Fort St. James.
Fitzpatrick said he’s proud of the integrity and professionalism of his chosen guiding organization, and noted he prides himself on two simple principles when guiding: safety and fun.
“That’s the only thing that matters,” Fitzpatrick said.
In his 17 years on the job, Fitzpatrick said he always asks clients where their favourite place to hunt is.
“I’ve only ever guided two Canadians. Ninety per cent of the people I meet are from the U.S.,” he said. “Then the other 10 per cent from throughout the world. It’s pretty interesting and, because I’d like to go on a guided hunt myself one day to another country, I always ask where their favourite place is to hunt.
“They always tell me: here (in B.C.). It’s pretty cool, actually. It’s so beautiful here, and the people are so good.”
One of his favourite stories to tell took place during a guiding trip at Inzana Lake.
“I had to jump in a big pond and drag the moose all around because, you know, moose can float,” he said. “I needed that moose on the other side of the pond, and the easiest way to get it there was to jump in this lake and swim it across, probably around 600 yards. My hunter didn’t jump in the lake, he went around the edge of the swamp, and had a tougher time than I did getting back.”
Another is when he delivered over 1,100 pounds of donated meat to Chilako Meats west of Prince George for distribution to families in need. Additionally, the Guide Outfitters Association of BC paid for all the butchering.
Fitzpatrick thanked his partner — both in life and in hunting — Michelle Lavoie, for all her support over the years.
“She makes sure every time she has days off we have to go hunting or fishing, whether I like it or not,” Fitzpatrick joked.
Outside of guiding, Fitzpatrick said he enjoys bow hunting, 3D archery, hunting with family and friends, fishing and mountain biking.
Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, said he tries to spread and set an example of his association’s vision statement to clients: a province with a strong and stable guide outfitting industry and abundant wildlife populations for all to enjoy, both today and in the future.