The Story of the First Bino Pack - Alaska Guide Creations

The Story of the First Bino Pack - Alaska Guide Creations

Early as a hunter I realize that binoculars were my most valuable tool in open country.  I always used more economical binoculars but once I started guiding volumes of hunters I had the opportunity to see all kinds in binoculars. I noticed the more serious hunters always had European glass which then was Zeiss or Leica.. I went crazy over the Leica at the time. My friend said you can’t buy champagne on a beer budget. I agreed.  I could buy binoculars because I knew they would pay off. I remember purchasing a pair of Leitz binoculars and taking them to Alaska where I got my first job guiding. Alaska Range in the fall is drop dead beautiful. The air is so clear cold and crisp. I could see forever. Obviously, my binos were my most valuable possession. I practically slept with them. I wanted to protect them the best I could as they were so expensive and valuable to me.  Out of a piece of soft leather, I hand sewed a pouch with wide straps that went around my neck and one to go around my waist. Now my binos were more protected from the rain snow dust and banging around.

 

After hunting season was over I went to my shoe repair man and got my boots resoled and ask him if he could sew up some packs for me and also add a few pockets for a small flashlight fire starter, ammo etc. Little by little I had the shoe man making packs out of different materials and designs. My hunters would see me wearing my pack and ask who do you have to know to get one of these. I kept getting my shoe man to make more for friends and hunters. I was a busy guy guiding on Santa Cruz Island and then guiding Alaska in the fall. To make a long sad story short the National Park Service got the government to declare taking over and making the island part of a national park. They took the east end of Santa Cruz Island from the Gherini family and made it into a national park which closed my business, Island adventures. Island Adventures used hunting as a tool to control feral pigs and sheep and ran a recreation camp for kayaking, fishing, hiking, and camping. I had that very successful business for years.  Maybe I’ll tell you more in the future about my experience with the National Park Service.

Once my business was closed I noticed I had a lot more time and energy.  I went to the Bahamas for two months spearfishing with Pete Pulitzer. In the Fall I had a buddy, Ron Rockstad  in Fairbanks who kept calling and said,  Jaret you need to come to Alaska. Rockstad was so right.  They used to give me a hard time and call me Blinkey because I have had Tourette’s. A neurological disorder I’ve had all my life.  It makes my life hard and to this day driving a vehicle is hard for me and sometimes my eyes blink and won’t stop. I can’t focus but you know either way it helps me that I drive people nuts.  I couldn’t turn a computer on but I could shoot a coin out of the air. Driving in a big city would almost trigger a panic attack.  Though I felt like I was in heaven stocking a big brown bear. Though I guess we’re all built differently. I do yoga and it has helped me move a lot.

Having more free time I started working more on the bino pack. My friend Morgan Collins who was very successful in business helped me get a website started. I had made my first pack in 1971 but it took a long time for me to turn it into a real, functioning business. My cousin, Darren Owens, in Utah helped me find a sewing contractor. With a website going and through word of mouth hunters slowly started calling. When hunters called I felt at home and they loved talking to me as I had years and years of experience to back up what I talked about.   I would talk about hunting and packs way too long. I was not a businessman. When hunters didn’t know which pack to get I would tell them I’ll send you three or four and you decide which one you like and send the rest back. I always sent out priority mail. I was on the phone hours and hours seven days a week. My parents were in their 90s and needed my help. I needed help with my expanding business. I did everything the old-fashioned way and never turned the computer on. One day Zac Jones called me and we hit it off quickly. Later on he called and asked me if I was interested in selling my business. I love my business but it was too much for me. I invited Zac to come visit and he said he could come out in a couple of weeks. I told him I need you here tomorrow. He laughed but came out with his partner in two days.  We all hit it off great and I told them the bino pack rocks but I suck at business and my parents are having a hard time and need my help.   We worked out a partnership and they have been wonderful to work with and are taking Alaska Guide Creations to the moon. They were an answer to my prayers. I hunted and guided all my life but it’s a hard way to make a living. People would ask me what are you going to do for retirement. I didn’t know how to spell the word retirement. I was too busy hunting to worry about that. Now I can say I have been blessed as the bino pack led to Alaska Guide Creations and many other products from accessories to backpacks, and it is my retirement.

I started making my first packs almost 50 years ago and now plenty of other companies make some sort of bino pack, but my pack is the original, and still made in America. I am proud to be able put the American flag on my packs and not a made in China tag. I remember hunting with a guy who has spent his life in sales and marketing. He told me you’re the best guy I have ever known but you’re the worst there is when it comes to business or marketing. He said get your pack made in China or get ready for a financial suicide. I have proven him wrong, but not without lots of hard work. It’s been a real education for me but I said if I can’t make it in the USA I don’t wanna make it.

Jaret Owens - 805-551-6815


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