6 Tips for Booking an Outfitted Hunt

Before placing a deposit of your hard-earned money on an outfitted hunt, it pays to consider these six factors.

6 Tips for Booking an Outfitted Hunt

My day-to-day job is working as a hunt consultant for Worldwide Trophy Adventures, and in this capacity, I book hunts around the world, from turkey hunts in Kentucky, to moose in Alaska, to buffalo in Africa, to Marco Polo sheep in Tajikistan. You name it, and if it is a hunting or fishing trip, we can hook you up. We weed out the bad operations, and put our staff on the ground to vet outfitters. Basically, using a professional hunt consultant is an insurance policy to take out the guess work of finding the right outfitter, location and time to go on a trip.

Because of my many years working in this capacity, I could literally write a book on how to book a hunt. To condense this into a Cliff’s Notes type format, here are six tips for booking an outfitted hunt before you lay down a deposit.

 

1. Set a Budget

Once you have determined the species you’re interested in hunting, step No. 1 is setting a budget. If you want to hunt for a bull elk, and your budget is $7,000, you will need to book a much different hunt than someone with a $15,000 budget. You can still have a great trip, but chances are you will hunt an area where average trophy size is much smaller and accommodations, etc. won’t be quite as fancy as the more expensive hunt.

After you have a budget in mind, you can begin shopping, but remember, when determining a budget, you must include outfitter cost, license and tags, tips, travel, and getting your trophy home.

 

2. Check References and Read Reviews

So, you now know what you want to hunt, and how much you can spend. There is so much information on the internet, it can be totally confusing trying to find the right outfit. This is where a hunt consultant really helps narrow things down, but whether you work with a consultant or try to book direct, you should look into an outfitter’s track record.

If you can find someone you know who hunted with an outfitter, that’s always a great start. Finding independent reviews are the best. Outfitters will give references, but they are only going to give positive references. If you can do some online research and find reviews that are unsolicited, both positive and negative, that will be a great help. Things to consider are trophy size produced, shot opportunity/success rates, years an outfitter has been in business, do they specialize in the weapon you want to use, availability of tags in their area, are license and tags included in hunt price, etc.?

 

3. Consider Hunt Timing

When narrowing things down, you also need to know when seasons are in their areas. Back to a possible elk hunt: Let’s say you want to hunt with a rifle, and you want to be able to hunt when bull elk are rutting and bugling. This will narrow things down, as there are only a few areas in the United States and Canada where you can actually hunt bugling elk with a rifle because most rifle seasons open after the rut has ended.

 

4. Attend a Hunting Show

Attending a hunting show such as Dallas Safari Club’s convention can also help find the best outfitter for your needs. In a situation like this, you can meet face to face with consultants and outfitters. It’s much easier to make a judgement on an outfitter when you can talk to them in person, and often in their booth, you can meet some of their former clients.

 

5. Work With a Hunt Consultant

Again, I am biased, but I highly recommend working with a good hunt consultant. A consultant should be able to offer you a number of different outfits to consider for a given hunt and recommend which outfit they think fits your wants and needs best. They should have the expertise to weed out the many, many choices, and come up with a short list for your consideration. Another added benefit is that after you work with a consultant on a hunt or two, you build a relationship and trust, and this makes booking your next trip that much easier.

Important note: Any reputable consultant’s services don’t cost you anything. Hunt consultants earn a commission from the outfitter. The hunts booked through a consultant should be the exact same price as if you booked directly with an outfitter. If a consultant is tacking on costs, then you shouldn’t be working with them.

 

6. Ask Questions and Communicate

One last thing I believe is extremely important when choosing an outfitter — or a hunt consultant — is communication. If an outfitter or consultant doesn’t communicate in a clear and timely manner, that is a huge red flag. With email and phone readily available, communication should be easy. Yes, some outfitters might not immediately answer when they are in the heart of their season, and a consultant may be in the field checking out an operation or leading a group hunt, but you should be able to get replies in a timely manner. Communication problems are very often the root of negative experiences on trips, and good communication goes a long way toward you having an enjoyable and successful trip. Speaking of communication, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and there are no dumb questions. Ask about any detail you can think of, and if you are communicating via email, keep a file with your questions and the answers you receive.

An outfitted hunt can take you to amazing places around the world, where you’ll meet people and experience cultures far different than those in your backyard. Above: The author traveled to eastern Turkey where he tagged this huge wild boar with a Fierce .338 topped with a Trijicon 5x20 AccuPoint scope shooting Cutting Edge Bullets’ 225 grain Lazers.
An outfitted hunt can take you to amazing places around the world, where you’ll meet people and experience cultures far different than those in your backyard. Above: The author traveled to eastern Turkey where he tagged this huge wild boar with a Fierce .338 topped with a Trijicon 5x20 AccuPoint scope shooting Cutting Edge Bullets’ 225 grain Lazers.

Final Thoughts

This is simply a quick guide to choosing an outfitter for a hunt, but if you consider the six tips I’ve outlined here, and ask plenty of questions, you’ll be well on your way to booking an outstanding outfitted hunt. There is an incredible number of high-quality hunts and adventures out there for us hunters to experience and enrich our lives. Be thorough in your inquiries and get out there and make new memories.

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