Kathy and Ken Dopko have always been outdoor enthusiasts
and hunting has always been an important part of their lives.
Both of them were born and raised here so know a lot about the land!
Hunting was one of Ken's passions since about the age of 8.
Although nobody in his immediate family were hunters,
somehow he knew that this was something that he loved.
It was one of those passions that grew and grew.
Kathy's father, John was a hunting and fishing enthusiast.
His skills were honed long before it was a "sport" and to him,hunting never was "a sport".
He started fishing and hunting for sustenance as this supplied much appreciated food
for his family, being he came from very humble beginnings.
When Ken met Kathy and then met her Dad,
he knew that this was the girl he wanted to marry
(Kathy still wonders to this day if Ken married her for herself or for her father ... LOL!).
Ken learned about hunting from the ground up from the experience of John.
Ken and Kathy started this outfitting business in the year 1990.
Ken was a great hunter who missed very few shots!
He had spent many wonderful hours in the woods, field and swamps alone or with other hunting enthusiasts of all ages and could share many "secrets", stories and adventures!
He loved the geese for their "majestic flight"...
He loved watching the dogs working in the field...
He truly enjoyed the challenge of decoying the birds in (and this can truly be challenging)... He especially enjoyed the early mornings of the hunts ....
the rising sun, the vast varieties of birds and the freshness of everything that can only be found very early in the day before the rest of humanity arises!
During the deer hunt,
Ken enjoyed watching the graceful animals and was always enthralled at seeing the different body sizes, different antler sizes and the different antler structures.
He enjoyed following the genetics of specific bucks as they follow through to the offspring.
There is an almost overwhelming thrill of knowing that,
at any time, you could see a "trophy" B&C animal walk into sight!
He felt pride in being able to accurately estimate the size and weight of a live animal and to have his estimate confirmed when the animal was harvested.
Ken loved the different personalities of the bear
and especially praised the motherly instincts of the sows as they protect their young.
Seeing the different color phases of the black bear is a thrill in itself ...
what can compare to seeing a black sow with a cinnamon cub and a blonde cub!!
The bear hunts provide a unique experience of knowing that,
at any given time, you are at their mercy!!
This feeling of "living on the edge in a remote & rugged land" provides a thrill like no other!!
The big bear are especially cunning and careful and it is extremely challenging to have the patience to wait it out .....
but the rush you get when you take the animal of your dreams is second to none!!!
Ken was a perfectionist.
He insisted that "if it's going to be done - it's going to be done right".
Your comfort and your satisfaction were paramount to him!
Every year, he worked diligently on improving things for you.
He had perfected our treestands which he manufactured himself
(see more information in the "equipment" section of this website.
He had also achieved the title of 'MASTER OUTFITTER".
This title, certified by the Saskatchewan Outfitters Association, is awarded only after proving your skills in all areas of the outfitting business.
Ken wasn't the only one with a hunting background.
Kathy was raised strictly on venison as her father was an experienced hunter who always came home with the meat!
Kathy's father never sat in a tree stand ..
he stalked his deer and always knew where they would be and how they would react. .
Ken and Kathy, sharing the dream, worked together to perfect their outfitting business.
Ken, unfortunately lost his two year battle with a brain tumour called Glioblastoma Multiforme and passed away March 30, 2006.
When you come to camp you will see the constant reminder of the great work that Ken did but the improvements did not stop with his passing.
Kathy, along with sons, Walker and Connor and the well qualified guides
continue the tradition "to serve our customers well".
The guides bring in their excellent ideas and we work as a team
with one goal in mind and that is
Kathy does the cooking.
You will not be dissappointed with her homecooked meals.
She makes the meals with you in mind.
Her meals (her speciality are her delicious desserts) are well known by the hunters,
some of which claim that its not the hunt they come for but its for her meals!!
Kathy worked in finance for about 20 years before she decided to settle into being a mom.
At that time, she took over the clerical and cooking/cleaning part of the business
and easily took over the full management of the operations when Ken passed away.
Kathy very much enjoys the friendships of the people she meets through hunting.
Everybody has a story and she loves hearing every one of them.
She does not go out into the field for the hunt but waits for the hunters to come home with their digital cameras so that she can share in their experiences!
Kathy remarried in February, 2010.
Just to confuse matters, she married another Ken!
... Yup it can lead to much confusion.
Ken Esler takes it all in stride and tells many people
"Yah ... my name is actually Steve but I changed it to Ken because ...
well, you know ... Kathy's memory is getting bad!!"
Ken enjoys hunting too but realizes that guiding is not where he belongs but you will see him helping with the whole operation.
He is an engineer/consultant by trade but there is nothing that he can't do.
Kathy still heads this company
and with her two sons, Walker and Connor at her side,
she know that this company will continue to grow and thrive.
The boys, God willing, will one day take over
and the company will even be better
because they both have a piece of Ken within themselves!
When you hunt with us,
you will thoroughly experience our "Good Old Family Attitude".
You will eat with us at our table.
We will listen to your stories and you will listen to ours.
If you have a birthday, we will celebrate with you as you will help us celebrate ours
(Connor's birthday is November 23 - right in the middle of deer hunting season
and we all have birthday cake and sing "Happy Birthday" to him!).
We warmly welcome you like we would welcome a close friend or family member!!
This is Ken Dopko calling in Geese in a field (photo credit to Gary Temple)
This is a family picture taken Spring, 2004 while Ken Dopko was still with us.
It was only a couple months after this picture was taken
that he was diagnosed with cancer and our lives have never been the same!
Many of you can relate to this and know the devastation of this disease!
Ken will be remembered by his family and his many friends for the wonderful
(ok, lets say crazy and wonderful!) person that he was!!
Makwa River Outfitters would never have existed if it wasn't for Ken's love of the outdoors,
his respect for wildlife
and his overwhelming desire
to show everyone the great thrill of taking home a big Saskatchewan whitetail buck!
May, 2014 - Walker, Connor, Kathy and Ken
The saying is true "Come as a client, leave as a friend!!"
Here is a prime example,
although this is an old story,
I thought it was fitting to put it here because it relates to Ken Dopko
(but the "friendship" part of this story happens EVERY HUNTING DAY here.
We stay friends with existing clients and form new friendships with new clients...
that's just the way it is).
Anyway ... Ed Dierkens from Norway, Michigan showed up at our camp,
I think it was 1996, as a new client.
Ken Dopko, with his fun and mischievious character immediately found his "soul mate" with Ed! The fun and laughter that they created together was contageous
and it wasn't long before the whole camp would be whooting and partying!
... I tell you, it was a sight to see.
When Ed went home after that season, their friendship was too strong to ignore.
Even though 1,335 miles seperated them, they stayed in CONSTANT contact.
Ken was always an early riser and he would be in the "shop" making coffee by 5 am
and he would be phoning Ed, almost every morning (to the consternation of MaryAnn, Eddie's wife)!!
This is a picture that we have hung on our wall in the "common room" in our skinning shop to remind us of how friendships are so important.
The picture was taken during deer season, 2005,
four months before Ken passed away from the cancer that he was fighting at the time.
Ed wrote "Best of Friends" on the picture.
Ed passed away in 2008.
I know that they are still "Best of Friends"
and having "a hell of a good time"
as they watch from above!
Maybe, occasionally they give us a hand
and knowing them, they probably occasionally send something our way
that makes us laugh until we cry.
Yeah .. we miss both of these guys!
Ed Dierkens will always be remembered in this household!
In 2015, Walker (Ken's son) set up a new and very good deer stand.
Our stands all have names and he, without hesitation, named the new stand "Eddy" in memory of him.
To a non-hunter, that is silliness ...
But to a hunter, that is called "honor"!
or regular phone : 1-306-236-4649
Postal address: Makwa River Outfitters Ltd
P.O. Box 89
Makwa, Sk CANADA