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Emden man retiring from outdoors travel business

June 13, 2013 at 09:04 AM

The State Journal-Register

It is the dream of every outdoorsman or woman to find a way to earn a little extra income hunting or fishing.

Gerald Sampen, 82, is winding down a second career booking outdoors adventures for hunters, anglers, bird-watchers and other enthusiasts.

Sampen, a retired farmer who lives in Emden, has been booking trips through the Outdoor Connection.
“It’s a franchise, and since the early 1990s, I’ve been booking fishing and hunting trips all over the world,” he said.

With 20 years experience in outdoors travel, Sampen said there is one simple rule to live by: Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

“One thing hunters do wrong is they rely an awful lot on the electronics,” Sampen said. “Some people think if it’s on the Internet, it’s got to be gospel.”

Sampen tells the tale of a hunter who booked a hunt with a business that did not exist, even though the business had glossy brochures and a mailing address.

The hunter lost thousands of dollars in the process.

Sampen said his company will drop outfitters that do not live up to their advertising.

“Sometimes it doesn’t work out,” he said. “If they’ve been pulling something — out they go.”

He said hunters also should be skeptical of hunts advertised with 80 percent or higher kill rates.

“Beware if the kill rate is too high,” he said. “I always tell them, if they say 100 percent, be careful. If it sounds too good, it may be.”

Most outfitters now parse the percentages to include “opportunity” to make a kill, because sometimes even the most experienced hunter will miss.

Sampen said one perk of his job was to go on inspection trips, to check out the businesses that will ultimately host the client and make or break the trip.

“You go to look at the facilities, the guides, and the people,” he said. “If it is a black bear hunt, you will go on a hunt to get a first hand look at how they treat you. And you will see if there is game.”

Right now, company representatives are inspecting eight to 10 places that host hunts in Africa.

One of Sampen’s favorite inspection trips was in Alaska.

“Alaska was great,” he said. “We hit four places in seven days, so we were really moving.”

They were moving a little too fast, maybe.

Sampen was not far removed from back surgery and his doctor advised him against too much strenuous activity. So he avoided some activities, but couldn’t resist a salmon fishing outing.

Apparently the 43-pound king salmon Sampen hooked didn’t get the doctor’s message.

Sampen was fishing comfortably from a seated position, but had to stand up (with help) to keep the taut line from touching the bottom of the boat where it surely would snap.

He had a copy mount made of the fish to put on his wall at home.

Brazil was an exciting trip, too, except for the tarantulas on the ceiling.

“I had some great inspection trips,” he said.

But Sampen is ready to sell his franchise and slow down a bit. He is interested in perhaps staying on to make an occasional sale, but he wants to move out of the regular operation.

And there are a lot of trips out there, once-in-a-lifetime adventures that just have to be connected with the right person.

There are horseback riding trips, float trips, rafting and a yacht trip that takes passengers close to glaciers.

“There are a lot of trips besides hunting and fishing,” he said.

For more information, call Sampen at 376-3873, or visit

Chris Young can be reached at 788-1528 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow him at

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