Meet Cole Kramer: Seasoned Mountain Hunting Guide on Kodiak Island in Alaska

Meet Cole Kramer: Seasoned Mountain Hunting Guide on Kodiak Island in Alaska

Drawing from 20+ years as a hunting guide, Cole Kramer of Kodiak Guide Service shares exclusive insight you won’t hear anywhere else.
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Cole Kramer is a mountain hunting guide with 20+ years of experience. He owns both Adventure Mountain Hunts and Kramer’s Kodiak Guide Service (KKGS), the latter of which specializes in “hardcore” Sitka deer, mountain goat, and brown bear hunts on Kodiak Island, Alaska.

Cole’s favorite thing about being a hunting guide is that it allows him to be out in the field, away from town, and up in the mountains. He also enjoys helping people and teaching them to hunt. While he doesn’t consider himself to be the best at teaching verbally, he loves to demonstrate how to do something and watch others pick it up along the way.

On more physical mountain hunts, he also loves helping newer hunters break mental and physical barriers — especially when they’re ready to call it quits. Ultimately, he loves seeing hunters walk away with a fresh perspective on life and a new level of resilience.

The Biggest Challenges Cole Has Faced as a Mountain Hunting Guide

When it comes to guiding hunters through the mountains, Cole says mental challenges can be just as difficult as physical ones. Often, it’s hard to keep people interested or maintain a good attitude — or, in some cases, get along with certain clients.

Cole says, “It’s customer service, and that can be challenging at times.” Guides spend 24/7 with a paying customer for several days. It’s essential to pick your battles and not argue about things that don’t have negative consequences.

Cole told us one of his hunting buddies, who is also a guide, told him that learning to be “friendly, flexible, and patient is a very valuable thing.” Cole tries to consider this, “even though patience is a tough one for me.”

What Cole Enjoys Doing When He’s Not Hunting

During the offseason, Cole spends a lot of time preparing for his next hunts, including shooting practice, and enjoys going to hunting conventions in the winter months — usually in January and February.

Cole also loves to snowboard. “I’m not great at it, but I really enjoy it.” Since most of his responsibilities include hunting or shooting, snowboarding is a fun outlet and a good change of pace.

Cole enjoys working on gear development with companies like SITKA Gear, YETI, and Black Rifle Coffee Company (BRCC). He spends time woodworking and completing home improvement projects on his house on Kodiak Island.

However, Cole mentioned that outdoor hunting is “just a way of life” for him. Most of his hobbies and interests revolve around hunting. “My life is saturated with that.”

Infographic: Meet Cole Kramer: Seasoned Mountain Hunting Guide on Kodiak Island in Alaska

What Cole Is Passionate About Supporting

Cole loves working with veterans through Black Rifle Coffee Company, especially adaptive athlete veterans who are missing limbs. He particularly enjoys getting them into archery. He says archery is quiet, therapeutic, and requires focus and patience — very different than firing a gun.

In the future, Cole would love to participate in a hunting mentorship program for kids. Because his parents didn’t hunt, Cole was lucky to find a great mentor in the right place at the right time to show him the ropes. However, he knows plenty of kids with parents overseas in the military (or kids without parents) would benefit from a hunting mentorship with a trusted adult who can teach them knife safety skills, hunting skills, and the ins and outs of mountaineering.

Cole encourages adults who want to get into hunting to start with their communities. “You can probably find someone at church who would be willing to give you some pointers and teach you how to shoot,” says Cole. If you haven’t done something before, you can learn a little bit online, go out, and do it wrong. Make mistakes quickly, then move on. Cole stresses that you’ll learn the ins and outs of hunting fastest this way.

Cole’s Observations on Industry Changes

In the past couple years, Cole says he’s noticed that hunting gear, clothing, and fabrics have improved significantly. Mountaineering gear has always been ahead of hunting gear, but technical hunting gear recently started to take off and has expanded to include warming capabilities, waterproof materials, and more.

Cole mentioned that the environmental movement and push for eco-friendly products may change the hunting industry in the near future. He suspects newer, more eco-friendly products won’t hold up as long as older products, and it will be interesting to see how new regulations impact mountaineering.

Quote: Meet Cole Kramer: Seasoned Mountain Hunting Guide on Kodiak Island in Alaska

What Drew Cole to Montana Knife Company

Cole jokes that when he was first introduced to Montana Knife Company, “Josh Smith was annoying and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

Cole met Josh at a hunting and outdoor event in Big Sky, Montana. When Josh tried to gift Cole a knife, he declined it. “While I could see it was a nice knife, I wanted to be careful about promoting something I didn’t know anything about,” Cole says.

Cole and Josh’s mutual friend Lyle vouched for Josh and told Cole he was a “really good guy.” Josh sent some MKC knives to Cole to put to the test on a goat hunt.

There’s a reason Cole is so particular about gear. “The most important thing to me on a hunt is that my hunters buy the gear I tell them to buy. I want them to be comfortable on the hunt.”

He says it doesn’t do much good if his hunters are sopping wet from bringing the wrong gear, and they’re whining, griping, and wanting to leave. Having the right gear is critical for enjoying the hunt — so Cole likes to vet every single piece of gear and equipment.

Cole appreciates that Josh is receptive to feedback and incorporates it into MKC’s knives. For example, Cole says the first Beartooth Pro-Skinning Blade Josh sent him was “three times thicker than what it is now.” Cole suggested that MKC minimize the knife’s material to make it easier to use. As a master bladesmith, Josh took that feedback to development, and now the blade is much lighter.

Cole also appreciates that Josh is a “straight shooter” and will let him know when he’s out of line.

Cole’s Favorite MKC Knife

One of Cole’s favorite well-rounded knives is the MagnaCut Blackfoot Blade. He recently used one to break down an entire bear, and it stayed razor-sharp the whole time.

He also keeps a MagnaCut Speedgoat Blade attached to his backpack strap in case he needs quick access to a knife for combat with a bear. However, he jokes that he primarily uses it for cutting salami. He likes to carry several knives when he hunts in case one goes missing.

Cole’s Advice for Hunters Considering a Guided Hunt

Cole says going on a guided hunt with an open mind is paramount — you’ll learn so much more if you listen to your guide and treat every hunt as a new opportunity to grow. When going on a guided hunt, it’s important to leave the ego at home.

Cole also recommends preparing for a guided hunt by:

  • Purchasing the right gear
  • Getting in good physical condition
  • Getting in the right mental state

If you want to hunt with Cole, visit his booking agency, Adventure Mountain Hunts, or guide service company, Kramer’s Kodiak Guide Service. You can also connect with him on Instagram to see where he’ll be hunting next!

 

by Josh Smith, Master Bladesmith and Founder of Montana Knife Company