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Wiltz: Does Cabela's still book hunting and fishing trips?

Back in the early nineties, my father made me a great proposition. He offered to take me on a fishing trip anywhere I wanted to go. He left it to me to work out all the details. My mind raced with possibilities. Dad was in his eighties, and I had to consider his comfort. He, like me, was vulnerable to seasickness. I ruled out the ocean, and I had second thoughts about tropical jungles.

I finally decided on Saskatchewan's Reindeer Lake as neither of us had ever caught Arctic grayling or lake trout. In gathering Reindeer brochures, I learned that Randy Engen, a North Dakotan, owned Lawrence Bay Lodge. I talked to him, trusted him and decided on Lawrence Bay. Neither Dad nor I had ever been in a float plane, let alone a venerable de Havilland Beaver, and that helped to seal the deal.

We had an awesome time with giant pike, great food, comfortable lodging and the other guests.

During our stay, Randy asked us for constructive criticism and suggestions. A Cabela's team was coming the following week, and he wanted to "make" their fishing trips catalog. I asked him why, and he said it was a win-win proposition for both of them. If Cabela's booked some of his guests, he would have more clients, and he wouldn't have to work so hard on the off-season outdoor show circuit. He would be dollars and time ahead. As I would have guessed, Randy's Lawrence Bay Lodge made the cut.

I have heard horror stories from hunters and anglers who didn't receive what they had been

promised on an adventure. Poor boats, tents, horses, equipment and few fish or elk. A Cabela's name on a trip is something to fall back on, a guarantee. I have been on two Cabela's booked hunts — one to Argentina and one to British Columbia. Both were superlative, and both cost no more than the outfitter charged had I worked with him alone.

During the summer of 2015, I booked a British Columbia moose hunt with Cabela's. Between that time and the fall 2016 hunt, I received word that Cabela's had sold their booking operation to a company known as WTA or Worldwide Trophy Adventures. Worldwide promised to honor my Cabela's contract, and offered me the opportunity to use Cabela's points to pay for my trip. All went as promised, and we had a great hunt.

Last week I received a booklet/catalog in the mail entitled Cabela's Club Signature Events 2018. It included hunts, fishing trips and factory experiences with Weatherby, Leupold, Swarovski, etc. There was a unique bonus to the hunting/fishing packages offered that included a trip photographer as well as Ripcord rescue travel insurance — a nice touch. What was going on? I thought that Cabela's had gone out of the adventure booking business.

The back cover of the booklet included the WTA logo and the phone number 1-800- 346-8747. I called and talked to the very pleasant WTA manager, Jason Berger, and learned the following. WTA is its own entity and is not owned by Cabela's. The opportunities offered in the booklet are being made by Cabela's CLUB Visa to Black and Silver card members. Cabela's CLUB Visa has partnered with WTA in this venture to offer the opportunities as offered. Betsy and I carry Cabela's Visa cards, and that's why we received the booklet.

What hunts are offered? New Mexico antelope, Kansas whitetail, Utah elk, Newfoundland moose, Saskatchewan black bear, Saskatchewan whitetail, red stag & grouse in Scotland, New Zealand red stag, Patagonia red stag, nyala & plains game in South Africa, cape buffalo in South Africa, Botswana plains game, Wyoming Merriam turkey, Florida Osceola turkey and last but not least, South Dakota pheasant.

For the angler, Louisiana redfish, Alaska halibut & salmon and Montana fly fishing are on the agenda. The prices are in the usual range, and with the photography and Ripcord, I see these as a bonus.

While Betsy and I are not endowed with financial genius, we use Cabela's CLUB Visa along with a second card depending on the circumstances. I believe what we do makes sense, and I'll speak to it in a future column. Regarding the above Signature events, realize that the Ripcord benefit DOES NOT INCLUDE airline ticket cost coverage. Cabela's has been bought out by Bass Pro, and I'll speak to that in a future column.

The annual Mitchell gun show will be Saturday and Sunday at the fairgrounds. I'll be there with a show special on my book, A Dakota Rood and Nimrod. I also plan to sell my collector

Colts and Winchesters as well as my coin collection including Morgan dollars, U.S. gold and complete sets of half and silver dollars at Gray Sheet dealer cost.

See you next week.

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