Planning a great hunt means a lot of effort. For many busy hunters that dream hunt seems to evade them for some reason or another. If you’re looking to make next year’s hunting season the best you’ve ever experienced, consider using a hunting guide, but be sure to follow these guidelines.
Finding the Right Guide
As you begin searching for a hunting outfitter, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, give yourself plenty of time. You’ll ideally want to start planning for your next hunt a year in advance, usually right after the previous hunting season ends. Attend informational hunting conventions or other outdoor events in your area to gather information about the different types of hunts you could take part in, and network with likeminded individuals and see if they have any references for trusted outfitters they’ve used in the past. Check out a website that lists hunting outfitters to get connected with an experienced guide in the location you’re looking to plan your next hunt.
The Questions to Ask
As you begin contacting outfitters for your upcoming hunt, there are a few questions you should always ask. You’ll want to ask the kind of trophy quality you and any attendees can expect on the hunt in question. You’ll likely see a bevy of photos of previous trophies from this particular hunt—be sure to ask that those animals actually came from the place you’ll be hunting in upcoming months. Ask the guide if they’ve pre-scouted the area personally, or if you’ll be assigned an outfitter who has never been to the area. It’s also a good idea to always ask for references. If they’re a high quality guide, they’ll likely have more than a few reference numbers to send your way. Give a call to these references and ask about their experiences: whether or not they went home with a trophy, how the guide interacted with the group, and whether the experience would be one they’d like to repeat. This is generally the best way for you to gauge the outfitter’s experience and ability to lead a fantastic hunt.
Be sure to explain what you want when you do contact your outfitter of choice. Explain your goals, describe your preferred style or type of hunting, and give the guide a complete (and honest) rundown of your health. This can help a guide create a better hunt and avoid areas that may results in barriers to your success.
Make Sure They’re Licensed
Before going anywhere with a hunting outfitter ask to see their licensing. For most areas, a license is required for outfitters. If you go on a hunting trip with an unlicensed guide and end up getting caught, you could be charged with illegal harvesting and other violations. In severe cases, some hunting groups have even had their hunting privileges revoked for more than five years.
The Costs of a Guided Hunt
The costs of a guided hunt can range, but generally you’ll pay a few thousand dollars for a quality week long guide hunting trip. This of course depends on the type of game and location you’re pursuing, but this is a good general estimate to have in mind as you begin your search. There can be surprise costs that you can ask about in advance: How much will licensing and landowner tags cost? How much will meat shipping cost? Does the guide have a preferred taxidermist that’s in your price range? Perhaps you have a favorite taxidermist—like the impressive Knights Taxidermy—that you would prefer mount your trophy; let the guide know in advance, and save yourself the last-minute cost of using his taxidermy referral. Guided hunts aren’t cheap, but the experience is usually priceless.
When the Hunt Arrives
The day is finally here and you’re headed out for the hunt of a lifetime with your pre-selected outfitter. There are a few rules of decorum to ensure you’re as great of a client as they are a guide. Number one: Get in shape before your hunt. This will help you, first of all, but it will also help your guide. Hunts can place some tough physical demands on hunters, and ensuring you can keep up and be active in the hunt will make the experience better and easier for your guide. Number two: Have a good attitude. So maybe the weather isn’t exactly as you expected, or you haven’t seen nearly much game as promised—that’s life, and we don’t always get our way. Give your guide a break and make the trip more enjoyable for the both of you with a good attitude. You should be having fun, otherwise why did you spend money on this trip in the first place?
With the right guide, you’re set to have the hunting trip of a lifetime. Keep these tips in mind and find the right outfitter for your hunting needs.