Though he grew up in British Columbia, hunting and fishing opportunities were not readily available for DeLuca as his dad was a logger who didn’t hunt and was not a skilled fisherman. Around the age of 17, DeLuca started hunting and fishing with friends, and began exploring Vancouver Island and the surrounding waters. Great adventures and many mishaps later, DeLuca was committed to a life that included being a part of nature.
“I was exposed to the guide outfitting industry when my future wife’s father, Wayne Wiebe, entered the guide outfitting industry in 1980 and included me in the business”, Deluca says. “I began guiding steadily in 1982. On Vancouver Island, Wayne owned and operated one of the largest guide territories in British Columbia. We built a reputation for coastal black bear and Roosevelt elk hunting. In those years, I took up to 35 bears annually guiding my hunters.”
In 1992, Wiebe began selling portions of his guide area and DeLuca was included in the deal that brought then-rookie guide, Jim Shockey, into the guide outfitting industry. For three years, DeLuca worked with Shockey on Vancouver Island and built a lasting friendship. Eventually, at the age of 35, DeLuca went back to school to get a post-secondary education in business and left the guiding industry to run a fisheries organization.
“The calling, however, was too strong and I returned to the guide outfitting industry in 2001, purchasing my first guide territory in Port Alberni, my home base,” DeLuca says. “In 2011, with the assistance of an old friend and SCI Life Member Gene Bishop of Georgia, I expanded my business with another guide and controlled close to 4,000 square miles of guide outfitting territory on Vancouver Island. Today, after 16 years as a guide and 13 years as an outfitter, I guide less and manage more.”
British Columbia and Alberta are the areas of DeLuca’s personal experience where he hunts blacktail deer, mule deer, elk and moose. He hunts black bear only as a guide and is hoping for a grizzly draw in the near future.
Regarding his attitude toward his clients, DeLuca explains, “I like to think that my hunters trust us. Hunters are taking a leap of faith, often with someone they have never met.” DeLuca attributes a big part of the trust from having competent guides who take great pride in their work as both guides and hunting partners and who strive to provide an experience that is both rewarding and memorable. “We concentrate on providing hunters a well-run, action packed hunting experience that leaves them satisfied and spiritually renewed from their exposure to incredible natural landscapes and a successful big game hunting experience.”
When afield, DeLuca’s caliber of choice is the .338. He began his career packing a .270 and quickly figured out he was under-gunned. Observing many different calibers coming through camp, he concluded the best caliber to both reach out and have close-in stopping power was the .338. In the early 1980’s, he purchased a Remington Model 700 BDL and continues to use it.
Though DeLuca has experienced many hunts, one spine tingling bear hunt is etched in his memory. “I was backing up a guide whose hunter had wounded a bear,” recalls DeLuca. “We tracked the bear through thick coastal forest and jumped him several times. The last time we jumped him he headed toward the beach and it looked like we had him cornered. I got 30 feet up on a bluff and tried to spot him from above. My guide circled around and approached from below. I was watching for my guide to appear. When I saw him, the bear moved below me and went straight after the guide. I shot and killed the bear. The guide never saw the bear coming and jumped at the shot. The bear got within ten feet of the guide.”
An SCI member since the mid 1980’s, DeLuca recently became a Life Member. He has exhibited at Convention since 2004 and has donated more than $100,000 in hunts. He served ten years as a director of the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia fighting to protect the right to hunt.
Vancouver Island Guide Outfitters supports the local Bear Smart program that educates residents and landowners on how to minimize bear/human conflict. They also donate to the local wildlife recovery center supporting their work to rehabilitate wounded eagles and hawks and orphaned bears and deer.