If you are anything like me, you have a huge (and in fact, growing) bucket list of hunts. It seems that each time I tick one off, I add two more.
One step forward. Two steps back.
I have also begun to realize over time that to fulfill a big bulk of my bucket list, I would need to start utilizing different outfitters. I have loved working with a variety of outfitters over the years and I have had some excellent experiences.
In my entire hunting career, I have only had one or two bad experiences but those were a very long time ago. Suffice it to say, I definitely learned early how to best choose an outfitter that would be best suited to my needs.
As per my usual, I typically learn at the school of hard knocks.
Choosing the right outfitter is extremely important.
Following some of these tips can help eliminate the heartburn of choosing a hunt with perhaps the wrong outfitter for your needs as well as helping to ensure the trip of a lifetime:
Check with your buddies first
Word of mouth is typically your best bet. If you have any friends who have used an outfitter you are considering, ASK THEM! Ask all sorts of details such as quality of game, guide expertise, comfort of lodging and quality of food. If they had a great experience, chances are you will as well.
Look on google for website reviews. Look on Facebook and other social media. Ask the outfitter for references, but be aware that you are most likely going to be given references that are positive. If you start to see recurring issues with past clients you are most likely best served to pass on that outfitter. Unless, of course, you are a glutton for punishment or you subscribe to some crazy conspiracy theory.
Check into outfitter experience
As with most any service, longevity is a sign of a good business. I am more inclined to hunt with an outfitter who has been around for many years but that is not to say a new outfitter is not qualified. Be very clear about deposits and refund policies before you book.
Be very clear about what you are purchasing
Do not hesitate to ask one million questions about your hunting package. I have made this mistake and it was in no way the outfitters fault. I just didn’t understand and failed to ask. Know exactly what hunt you are purchasing. Ask if there are add on (or a la carte hunts) just in case you fill early and want to continue the experience. Ask specifically what day you arrive, what days and hours you will hunt and what day you leave.
Understand what licenses you will need before you book
Be very clear if you must purchase the license or if the outfitter purchases the licenses. Make sure you check to see if there is a deadline for applying for licenses as well. One other tip I learned the hard way- if you apply online at the last minute before departure, find out first if the online confirmation will suffice for proof of licensure. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way and it can result in a mad scramble when you arrive. It may also result in loss of hunting days.
Ask about guide to hunter ratios
It is not at all uncommon to have 2 hunters to one guide. But make sure you understand the hunting situation before you book just in case you had your heart set on a one on one hunt.
Call and talk to your outfitter
Find out if you have a good rapport as this makes all the difference in the world to your overall hunting satisfaction. Beware as well if an outfitter sells his business between the time of your booking and the time of your hunt. Call and talk to the new outfitter. I have literally walked away from a deposit when we found the new outfitter to have no customer service skills and an abrasive personality. I’d rather lose the money that spend more time and money with people who were not going to provide the experience I had planned.
With a little leg work up front, you can definitely ensure your choice for an outfitter will be best suited for your expectations. Additionally, if you are looking specifically for outfitters that are female friendly and endorsed by Próis, please feel free to contact me at Kirstie@proishunting.com.