Hamilton resident Bill Walker never expected to get swept up in an international big-game brouhaha. Before the hate e-mails from the Philippines began popping up in his inbox last month, the local educator thought he was simply expanding his side business of booking clients for exotic hunting outfitters.
Adventures 411 has since been decried by animal rights blogs and Philippine media outlets for booking illegal hunting safaris on the island of Mindoro. It's an unfair accusation, Walker says, since he doesn't actually run the safaris and never even booked a client for one.
"I've really got nothing to do with it," he says, "except that I put [the offers] up online."
Walker, who closed Adventures 411 in late February for economic reasons after more than 20 years, says he added the $13,800 Philippine safaris to his website in December on behalf of Mindoro Safaris, a New York-based outfitter run by Jay T. Carlson. Walker says he contacted Carlson online late last year, believing the safaris offered a unique alternative to the Montana and Idaho trips he usually booked for clients. When the deal began to look increasingly "gray," Walker removed the offer from his site.
"I just took him at face value," Walker says. "But once I got into the process, I had my doubts...I didn't want to get wrapped up in it."
Carlson, who spoke with the Independent by phone from New York, disputes Walker's claim, saying he hasn't offered the Mindoro hunting trips for about four years. He says Walker contacted him shortly before his company stopped offering the hunting trips, but the two haven't spoken since.
"I never followed through to tell him we weren't doing that anymore," Carlson says. "I never even thought about it anymore, and I didn't realize until I started getting this round of hate e-mails."
But according to the online newsletter Hunting Report, Carlson led at least two clients on Mindoro Safaris trips in 2009. One of those clients reportedly shot a world record warty pig.
A copy of the Adventures 411 web page, cached by Google on Feb. 24, states that Mindoro Safaris has two openings left for 2011 hunting trips and is taking deposits for 2012. Carlson now says he has no plans to guide a trip to the Philippines "anytime soon."