12 Questions You Should Ask Before Booking a Guided Hunt
Over the years one of the number one questions people email me about is how to book a guided hunt. You’ve worked hard for your money and time is precious so if you decide to go ahead and try a guided hunt remember that communication is key. The more questions you ask the better off you will be, and hopefully you can prevent any major surprises or disappointments. I’ve come up with 12 base-line questions to ask any outfitter prior to booking that will get the communication started.
As far as finding an outfitter, I usually ask around for recommendations from friends and family first and then visit various websites and try to narrow it down. Lastly, once I have it narrowed down to a few, I will call and talk with them on the phone. If possible, I like to meet them at a sport show so you can talk face to face and ask any other remaining questions.
1.How long have you been an outfitter? I’m always interested in how long they’ve been in business for a variety of reasons. A successful outfitter who has been doing it year after year usually has it down as to how to handle hunters, landowners, and the overall logistics of a hunt. Just because someone is new doesn’t make them bad however, you may want to ask a few more questions if they are just getting into it.
2.Can you provide references for people who have both been successful and also some that have not? It’s easy to get good references from people who have had a successful hunt, but I think it can be just as important to talk to people who did not have a successful hunt. The outfitter may have a great operation, and that still doesn’t mean everyone is going to take an animal. However, those who didn’t should be able to give you an idea of what it was like and have a different perspective from those who were successful.
3.What class or size of animal can one expect to take? The last thing you want to do is have an unrealistic expectation coming into a hunt. I like to find out what is the average size animal in that area so you can decide for yourself if this is something you’re interested in and hold out accordingly.
4.Are there any trophy fees or minimum size requirements? Some outfitters have trophy fees where they charge you extra based on the size of the animal or even a minimum where you will be fined if you shoot something too small. Both of these are fine, but you want to ensure you know about this ahead of time and are fully aware. The last thing you want to do is shoot a beautiful buck and then be hit with an expensive bill that you were unaware of.
5.How much land do you outfit on and do you have all the hunting rights? How many people will be in camp? Knowing how much property you will have the opportunity to hunt is very important. You will also want to ask how many people are in camp hunting the land at any given time. Another thing you may want to find out is if the outfitter has all the hunting rights. If the landowner can hunt as well, it puts added pressure on the property.
6.What is your refund or cancelation policy? Knowing and understanding their cancelation policy can be extremely helpful should something unexpected come up. Also find out if something happens and you can’t go can the hunt be transferred to someone else?
7.Who is responsible for getting the tags? What are the costs for this? Is it a draw? Regardless if the outfitter gets the tags for you or not, you want to make sure you have all the information and apply for all the correct tags ahead of time. Also, ensure you get that state’s rulebook as well and read it over prior to the hunt. Many states have a variety of rules and you don’t ever want to assume anything. Ask questions and take time to read through the regulations.
8.Do you have a processing area where I can process my own animal and walk in cooler? Find out if the outfitter will have an area where you can process your own animal or if they provide this service for you upon request. If you will be flying in and can’t take the meat home, you will also want to inquire about their various meat donation programs in the area.
9.What style of hunting will this be? In order to prepare correctly and bring the right equipment, it’s extremely important to know what style of hunting you will be doing. You also want to ask about the weather and what to expect so you can bring everything you may need to hunt safely and comfortably.
10. How far is the average shot? Knowing what type of distances you will be shooting is also crucial information you need to know prior to arriving in camp You will want to pick your caliber and ammunition based on shot distance and of course species, but if I’m heading to an area where there will be extremely long shots I may choose a different caliber/ammo combo than a location where all shots are usually within a 100-yards.
11. Do I need to bring my own linens and towels? Are meals provided? Of course meals and accommodations are not most hunter’s top priority but I’ve learned the more information you can have the better you can prepare and make your overall hunt a good experience. Simple things like having a towel, sheets, and snacks throughout the day can go a long way. Often times the camps that don’t provide this are extremely remote and if you didn’t bring it there is nowhere to get it anywhere close.
12.Do you offer both semi-guided and fully guided options? Before planning a hunt make sure you are comfortable with the guide setup. Find out if the guide will be with you at all times, or what is entailed in a semi-guided hunt Again the more communication you can have before the hunt the better off you will be when the time arrives.
Melissa Bachman is an incredibly hardcore and intense hunter – perhaps one of the more passionate hunters you will ever meet.
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