Picking an Outfitter

Dan Braman

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  • Category Deer Hunting
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  • Prostaff Member Dan Braman

Over the course of my 23 year career in hunting the one thing that I have seen go from bad to worse is the number of really dishonest and over all bad outfitters in the business. It is important that one knows how to research the company or person your hunting with before you send them any money. Even with 23 years of hands on business I have been fooled twice in the past three years in booking hunts for the TV show. I hope that some of the things I suggest below will ,help people to avoid expensive mistakes.

First and foremost you can't ask an outfitter too many questions. I think a lot of people don't ask as many questions as they could due to worrying about being a bother. A good outfitter knows how many bad ones are out there and will be happy to answer anything you ask. Some of the questions I suggest asking are:

1) How long have you been in business? ( A lot of outfitters will state that they have been in business for 10 or more years. In truth they may have hunted or guided for someone for that long but only recently started their outfitting business. If that's the case the land may not be scouted thoroughly.

2) How many clients do you take a season? ( This will depend on how much acreage they are hunting. It only takes a little common sense to know that they are hunting a place way too hard. For example, if they tell you they take 20 hunters on trophy hunts on ten thousand acres of land, it is safe to say that it is terribly over hunted. A good outfitter will not over hunt his property. )

3) Realistically speaking, what can I expect to take while I am there? ( For example you booking a whitetail deer hunting trip and they say you can realistically take 170 inch whitetail. That is a lie. This is not to say that you won't see a buck that big, but anyone in their right mind won't say realistic 170.)

4) What was your highest and lowest scoring buck last year. ( Most likely an outfitters will immediately know his/her highest scoring buck. If he/she takes longer then two second to answer that question I would start being very skeptical. Most likely they won't know how much the lowest scoring buck is but they should a very fast and nearly accurate estimation.)

5) How much land do you hunt? ( This is important and requires some follow up questions)

A) Is the land all one piece? If not how do the acreage's break down?
B) If they are split which property normally has the better deer and why?
C) If the area is small (under a thousand acres) does it have a lot of traffic going through it for easement purposes?

6) How do you normally hunt? ( This enables people that have physical challenges to see if this hunt is for them. Likewise, it gives you the opportunity to ask if they might change their method to better suite your personal needs.

7) References? ( I don't put a lot of priority on references because it is so easy to stack the deck. However, I would ask for them anyway and ask these people all of these questions too.?

8) How long have your guides been hunting? ( It is very easy to hire guides that are young and have no idea whats going on. I've seen hundreds of them that just know enough to get them in trouble. At a minimum all guides should have at least one entire year of apprentice hunting before guiding anyone.)

9) What are the accommodations like? (Some people require internet to stay in touch with family or business. Others require electricity for medical reasons. It is important that you get a detailed description of what they have to offer.

10) Where are the majority of your clientele from? ( I know this seems bogus but it is a trick question. Every outfitter I have ever been associated with has a very high percentage of clientele from a certain state or region. So, when you ask this question they should have an immediate answer, if they don't something is probably wrong. Example: Mellon Creek Outfitters has a 73% clientele from Florida while Tri-State Outfitters has a 76% clientele from Texas.

There are a lot of great outfitters out there that love what they do. Unfortunately there are more that are just bad. I would like to think that this will help others avoid spending their money and time on bad experiences. These questions individually are very important but, all of them as a whole are just as important. If an outfitter gets rude or upset while you ask these he is either not good or tired of what he is doing; either way you don't need to go with him. Use these and any more that you can think of, as I said there can never be too many. Just for thought, I would also call other outfitters in the area and ask them about the company your going with. If they talk badly about another outfitter you can erase them off of your future list. On the other hand if they talk good about whomever your asking about then you can almost bet both companies are good and sound businesses. Good luck hunting and I hope that this helps...

Posted by Dan Braman under Deer Hunting on November 28, 11 09:37 AM | Permalink

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