It's that time of year again, and I don't mean holiday gift shopping (although a subscription to The Hunting Report
would make a great gift for any traveling hunter!). No, I'm actually talking about preparing now for the hunting convention season. You've probably already decided which shows you will be attending, and you've probably looked through the pre-show auction guides and special convention issues of magazines published by the various hunting conservation groups. You may have even circled some auction items or the names of various operators you are interested in visiting. If you haven't, you should . . . and the very next thing you should do is check them out in our database of hunt reports and past articles. If you're not sure what outfitters to target, check our hunt report packages
for recommendations from fellow hunters first.
Our database of 10,000 hunt reports and articles is, hands down, the best place to start your research, before, during and after the shows. As you read reports, remember that your goal is not to see if anyone has had a beef with an outfitter but to understand what's really being offered in the hunts you are considering, and if they really are a good fit for you. Not every hunt is right for every hunter.
Following are some quick tips and reminders for evaluating hunting opportunities and operators. I developed these after reading thousands of hunt reports over the last 15 years at The Hunting Report
. I've also interviewed hundreds of hunters and outfitters about hunts gone right and hunts gone wrong. I've identified various patterns for both, and the following tips will help you avoid problems:
1) Never book a hunt based solely on what an outfitter/guide or booking agent tells you.
2) Decide up-front what kind of hunt you are interested in and capable of doing - be honest with yourself!
3) Check out operators ahead of time.
4) Always ask operators for references and always
5) When you check references, ask specific questions and do not accept general or ambiguous responses.
6) Make sure you completely understand the fair chase standards of your hunt.
7) Ask for a complete breakdown of charges in writing.
8) Check to make sure the guide/outfitter is legal.
9) Ask if the operator is a member of the local professional hunters association, and confirm that with the association.
10) Finally, many hunting operators provide a contract that you must sign; read the entire
thing before signing or providing a deposit.
These are only distilled tips. You'll find a more detailed tip sheet on the homepage of our website. Download
it for free right now while you're thinking about it.
I hope to see you at our booth at Dallas Safari Club; or you can call me on my cell phone (305-519-7548) to find me at SCI.