Jim Fink grew up on a farm in west-central Alberta where his passion for hunting began early. There, he hunted ducks, geese and grouse and, as he grew older, deer and moose. At age 16, Fink began guiding fishermen at his parent’s lodge on Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories and, in the fall, enjoyed an annual sheep hunt with his dad. Fink took his first bighorn at age 18, which triggered the beginning of his life-long dream of becoming a professional big game guide and outfitter.
After his last season on Great Bear Lake in 1986, Fink spent the next 16 years flying and guiding sheep, moose, caribou and bear hunters for several outfitters in the Mackenzie Mountains (NWT), Alberta and British Columbia. In 2000, Fink purchased an expansive hunting concession in northern Yukon Territory where he established Blackstone Outfitters; a family business operating in approximately 10,000 square miles with a wide variety of terrain.
When afield, Fink relies on a Marlin Guide Gun in .45-70 that packs a lot of power to keep his clients safe. Blackstone Outfitters offers hunts by horseback, backpack using pack dogs, and river float trips for fannin and Dall sheep, Alaska-Yukon moose, mountain and Barren Ground caribou, grizzlies, wolves and wolverine.
Due to their remote location, Fink operates his own Transport Canada-approved commercial aircraft flying service and has logged more than 12,000 hours. “In the Arctic a few years back,” recalls Fink, “I flew a longtime member of SCI out to an ice pack to hunt polar bears. We met his Inuit guide 300 miles from the closest community. The hunter was 91 years young and the guide was 72 years old. As a teenager, guiding Arctic fishermen, I had spent many summers with this Inuit guide. On day 14, at -50F, they took a tremendous 10-foot polar bear. These two individuals are a prime inspiration for the hunting world. The hunter gave me his Arctic snowsuit in hopes he would never be using it again.”
When asked what he enjoys most about the guide/outfitting business, Fink responds, “ I have a true passion for the wilderness and the wildlife that it holds, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of my career is meeting the people I’ve been able to guide and outfit.”
One of Fink’s most harrowing experiences occurred last fall. “After flying a successful sheep hunter back to base camp and getting the meat into the meat house,” according to Fink, “a grizzly bear came into camp and decided that it was his. Unaware that the bear was in camp, when I went out to put the airplane away the bear charged me and I barely escaped being mauled. I managed to get into a cabin, get my lever-action .45-70 and put this old timer down. It was one of the oldest bears I’d ever seen. He had intended to use our meat house as his fall meat supply. Over the years I’ve had many close encounters with bears, but this was definitely the closest call.”
Along with the big game hunting, Blackstone Outfitters offer spin-cast and fly-fishing for Arctic grayling in the rivers. In September and October hunters enjoy ptarmigan hunting.
Fink commented on his relationship with SCI, “I’ve always been a strong supporter of SCI and I am passionate about the direction they have taken–First for Hunters. We’ve always been involved in local conservation clubs and worked with SCI Saskatchewan Rivers Chapter. Over the years, we have donated several hunts that have had a youth connection. With our three boys growing up in a hunting atmosphere, we see the value first-hand how hunting has shaped these young men into positive individuals. We recently donated to SCI SK Rivers a Youth-Elder Moose/Caribou hunt for their 2015 fundraiser.” Blackstone Outfitters also exhibits at SCI Conventions.
Fink’s sons are carrying on the family business. Warren, the middle son, joined the guide team in 2014. Colin, the youngest son, continues packing and learning valuable sheep hunting tips as his older brothers did. Jim believes strongly that youths are the key to the longevity of the passion of hunting.