Bull Basin Guides and Outfitters celebrate 30 years

Susan and Dean Billington
Susan and Dean Billington

Celebrating their 30th anniversary in business, Bull Basin Guides and Outfitters prides themselves on providing the ultimate in hunting and fly-fishing experiences.

Owner Dean Billington explains the business is based on repeat customers and word of mouth, with an estimated 90% returning clients. In several cases they have provided trips to 3 generations of clients. “It’s nice when people want to come back because they are happy with the experience they had.”

The demand for quality hunts is strong, and in some cases bookings for Bull Basin trips are two or more years in advance.

Dean emphasizes Bull Basin’s success rests on their amazing staff that works so hard to make sure the clients enjoy their time in the field. “Our guides and cooks are second to none, their dedication and effort dawn to dusk is what keeps us rolling, I can’t say thanks enough for all they do!”

His wife and co-owner, Susan, does most of the work behind the scenes. Her main role is client and staff support. Susan helps clients with everything from reservations, licensing, travel plans, hunt planning, meat processing and shipping, and taxidermy coordination. She is there for clients from start to finish. In addition, she manages all of the company’s administrative needs including accounting, invoicing, budgeting, payroll and more.

“Susan makes sure all sorts of things are taken care of and that we are prepared,” says Dean of his life-time partner, “She’s a major part of our team’s success.”

Susan and Dean shared the dream of having a business together and were literally childhood sweethearts, beginning back in kindergarten. “Susan has little love notes from me in elementary all the way up to a week or so ago,” Dean says seriously. “We’ve been through a lot together over the years, she’s a great partner.”

Dean’s relationship with Kremmling also began when he was young. He began hunting in Kremmling 47 years ago, when he was just seven years old and hasn’t missed a year since. His dad would bring him from their home in Arvada to hunt on the Williams Fork.
When he began to transform his dream of providing guided hunts into a reality, Dean leased a childhood hunting spot on the Williams Fork to begin his business. This first contract was signed at the Parshall Inn and has remained with Bull Basin Guides and Outfitters for the entire 30 years. “That is where we started,” says Dean.

He admits breaking into Outfitting was not easy initially. “It was pretty tough to get going. Everyone wanted to know our track record and success rates, and they wanted to talk to people that hunted with us before. We didn’t have any of that. That was always a hurdle,” Dean now laughs after three decades of experience and landing a clientele that includes several owners of major companies in the hunting and fishing industry, international clients, actors, musicians, pro athletes and lots and lots of great people that just love to hunt and fish.

Dean estimates that Bull Basin now manages and has exclusive access to nearly 150,000 acres of private ranches in Kremmling and surrounding areas reaching as far as Wolcott, Burns and Toponas. Bull Basin also has permits that allow their clients to hunt on thousands of additional acres of BLM and National Forest lands.

“The relationship with the landowners is a big part of who we are,” highlights Dean who is proud the revenues from the hunts helps many of the landowners and spreads into nearby towns. He is also proud that Bull Basin respects the law and has always tried to be a good neighbor.

“I really think Bull Basin has been a positive for the community,” he shares of the business’ economic impact.
Susan and Dean also spent much of their time volunteering and serving on boards within the school and the community when their three girls were growing up. “It is important to pull a shift and help out when you can,” he says of his time on the school board.

Throughout the year, Bull Basin employs about 20 guides for hunting and fly-fishing. It goes nearly year-round with fall hunting and winter lion hunts. Fly-fishing begins as soon as the river waters break in the spring until it ices over again late in the year.

He defines the changing of the seasons around each of these and looks forward to what each brings. “It is great to be outside doing what I love,” he says. “We have a lot of great memories from thousands of hunters from around the world.”

He adds, “A plus of what we do is we get to be with people when they are doing something they love to do and enjoy. It is really great to meet and be with people when they are coming to experience all the amazing things Colorado has to offer.”

For more information about Bull Basin Guides and Outfitters guided trips, call 970-724-0417 or check them out at www.bullbasin.com.