Choosing an Outfitter

Choosing an Outfitter

For those of us who choose to live the outdoor lifestyle, offseason in all its glory can be a period to pause and reflect on our favorite pastime and more importantly, a time to plan for the future.

Daydreaming of bull elk, monster mule deer or turkeys in faraway lands can provide some much-needed distraction from reality and may cause you to want to book a hunt to make your daydreams come true. But before you decide to book that “hunt of a lifetime” doing a little homework now can pay off greatly later. Most likely the hunt of your dreams will require an outfitter. The importance of choosing the right outfitter is critical to your hunt being successful. Not only in assisting in the pursuit of game, but making your time away from home and overall hunt experience enjoyable.

Too many times I have heard from people who were successful on their hunt but didn’t enjoy the experience. The end result is a “you couldn’t pay me to go back” hunt. Or on the other side of the coin the hunt was not successful but the experience was wonderful – food was outstanding, guides were friendly and courteous, scenery was breathtaking but, there wasn’t an animal within 200 miles of the place. The end result of this kind of guided adventure is “we are going look elsewhere the next time we book” kind of hunt.

To get the utmost experience on your next guided adventure, I suggest picking an outfitter that has been in business long enough to good at it, check with as many references as they will provide and be up front about how you like to hunt, what you like to eat and your preferred sleeping arrangements. It sounds simple but I have seen first-hand way too many times an experience on a guided hunt fall apart simply because one of those preferences wasn’t met. Perhaps a few personal examples might clarify the topic.

I have been on several hunts where I was partnered with a young guide whose mission in life was to prove how fast he could run up the hills and cover as much country as possible. On the other end of the spectrum, is the guide who likes to drop you off overlooking a waterhole or in a blind the entire day because he doesn’t like to walk. Tell the outfitter how you like to hunt before you get there – it is YOUR hunt after all.

Nothing dampens your spirit after hunting hard all day to return to the camp to find bad food or worse yet, not enough food. Most outfitters are not cooks and often times leave the cooking up to the guides. Address the issue up front. Will there be a cook? Will there be breakfast before the hunt? Do I need to provide my own food and beverages? If you hunt hard for five days and eat cold cut sandwiches for dinner every night at 11:30pm after the guides get back, it may not a pleasurable experience.

Sleeping arrangements should be addressed before you book the hunt. You owe it to yourself to hunt hard and in doing so, rest is a very important part of your overall experience. What type of lodging, how many people per room or tent and are there private room options should be addressed.

The best way to ensure your money is well spent and you get exactly what you want out of your adventure is not to choose the most expensive or cheapest outfitter possible. The best way is to ask as many questions up front and then verify the outfitters answers by contacting a few others who have hunted with the outfitter before. A word of mouth recommendation can be worth its weight in gold and is my top secret for choosing an outfitter.

There are a ton of great outfitters out there and many grand adventures await you. Go find one! (I can’t wait to hear how it went.)