We get many questions by email. The one we receive most frequently is how to locate a good outfitter in a specific state or country. We ourselves are located in northwest Colorado, so its impossible for us to be familiar with all guides & outfitters in all areas. However, we have compiled some tips that might help you in locating an outfitter in your area.
For many folks a guided big game hunt is an important event that they may only do a few times during the course of their life. So its critical to find the guide that will provide you an adventure and success. Fortunately the large majority of guides are good reputable business people. Many outfitters supplement their ranching & farming income with their guiding business, which comprises a critical portion of their annual revenue. Therefore most outfitters have a vested interest in assuring that your hunt is enjoyable and successful. These tips should help you avoid the few 'bad apples' that may be in the outfitter community.
- Find a clearing house for locating guides and outfitters. BigGameHunt.net offers you the ability to find many guides in specific areas of the US, Canada, Africa, Mexico and other countries that offer big game hunting. Make a list with contact information of the guides you are interested in. Big Game Hunting Guides and Outfitters listed here on the BigGameHunt.net website.
- Find out if the state or country requires licensing for guiding & outfitting. If yes, make sure the outfitter you're interested in, has that license. The last thing you'd want is to be stuck with an illegal guide. State departments of wildlife can be a useful tool in finding out local licensing requirements.
- If licensing is required, find out if the guide is in good standing. Meaning has he/she ever been on probation, been suspended or worse, completely lost their license at any time. If you really want to use this guide, you may need to do some digging to find out the details.
- Find out how long they've been in business. Do a little more investigating if the business is only a year or two old. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with them, but it might indicate that they don't have the experience of a seasoned older guide service. If they've been in business for many years, find out if it has been sold recently. The new folks could be very good experienced guides, however we've heard horror stories of 'green horns' buying sound established guiding businesses and not having a clue as to what to do.
- Ask for references and follow up by calling or writing to them. This however shouldn't be the only way to determine if a guide is reputable, since only happy clients would be used for references.
- Get the costs and expectations of the hunt in writing. If you are expecting a cabin with 3 meals per day, horses, and a personal guide, get in in writing. Many trips are ruined when expected amenities are not provided. For some the ultimate hunting trip is camping out in a wall tent and no showers for a week! But knowing this in advance, will help you plan better for your trip. You will also need to know what type of service they provide when you've bagged your animal.
- Will they pack it out for you?
- Take it to the meat locker or taxidermist for you?
- Are these services included in the price you're paying or extra?
- To really get the scoop on a guide call some folks that live in that community. The local chamber of commerce is always a good place to start as well as any sporting goods stores. Chat with them and see what their reaction is when you mention some names you're contemplating using.
- Talk to the guide/outfitter yourself. Most guides are friendly outgoing folks; however if from the phone conversations you feel a lack of rapport, you may not be a good fit. Be wary of guides that are unwilling to communicate extensively before a hunt either by email or by phone.
- If you are going to hunt in a foreign country it is imperative that you find out the laws/regulations long before you book your hunt. Most countries have very strict laws about entering with guns and ammo. If the laws are cumbersome some guides (in Mexico for instance) will provide the guns needed to hunt. If you are flying, call the airlines and find out how to ship your firearms. Then find out what the procedure will be to enter the country with those firearms. There will also be required procedures to re-enter your own country with those same firearms.
- Find out what the guide's cancellation policy is in writing. If you are faced with a last minute emergency, how much of your deposit will you lose?
If you have any tips you'd like to share, send them along to BGH! We will publish the best ones. They can be tips that an oufitter has for hunters to prepare better or it can be tips that you as a hunter have learned from experience. Sign up for a free account and you can start posting your tips today!