By Josh Harris, Co-Owner
Worldwide Trophy Adventures
In my line of work, I’ve had the pleasure of spending the majority of my time on the phone with lots of outfitters from all across the globe. I talk daily with our certified outfitters, I meet new outfitters at shows, search new outfitters on the web, talk to friends that have hunted with outfitters and also talk and research outfitters referred to me by other outfitters. I have also talked with literally thousands of hunters and clients and I have answered countless questions about hunting for different species and with different outfitters. With endless outfitters to choose from, the task of selecting the right outfitter can prove to be difficult. There are so many pitfalls that can occur in trying to acquire accurate and current information and I have found that it quickly becomes an overwhelming and uncertain undertaking. Finding recommended guides and /or outfitters, application strategies or landowner tags that are consistent with your goals can rapidly turn into a full time job. Then to make it even more complicated, you then have to try and match all of that information with recommendations that coincide with your trophy quality desired, physical ability, point status, time constraints, desire to hunt as a guided hunter and budget! As I said before, it can become a very daunting and tiresome process.
Booking with an outfitter can be an intimidating and overwhelming experience also. There are too many outfitters that over-promise and under-deliver and you have to be very careful about what you hear and what you believe. We all want to avoid those pitfalls if possible and one way to do this is by asking a lot of questions, not only a lot of questions, but the right questions! Trust me, an outfitter that was awesome last year doesn’t always mean that he is awesome this year. And really, what is awesome? That’s a better question! Is he awesome because your referral smoked a monster buck with him the last season? What would the trip have been like if the hunter was unsuccessful? The bottom line is that there is a lot to know to insure that you get what you pay for. It is hunting and there are no guarantees for harvest success. A true first-rate outfitter does everything that he or she has control of to the best of his or her ability and most definitely provides what is and should be expected. Harvesting the animal is a very important part of the hunt, don’t get me wrong! I mean, who doesn’t want to ultimately hold that monster buck in their hands to finalize the hunt? What I am referring to is that it’s not the only important or valued part of the entire experience. The service, which is what the outfitter has control of, should not be over-looked or under-valued. The service is what the outfitter has complete control of, “Good or Bad”.
So the point that I want to make is, “You Have To Do Your Research!” It is your money and your time! Although it may take up a lot of your time, you have waited too long for the day to finally arrive. Why waste all of the anticipation, time and money and then settle for a sub-par experience or outfitter? My motto and your method of thinking needs to be, “I would rather research and even possibly pay more to go with the right outfitter, than spend the rest of my life justifying a poor experience having gone with the wrong one!” This could be a hunt or trip of a lifetime for you and it isn’t protocol that you have to experience at least one pitfall to learn your lesson. Start out on the right foot and do it right!
Remember that there are also many “honey holes” out there with amazing outfitters! The old saying that “It’s not what you know but who you know” rings very true in some cases when it comes to hunting. Sometimes they don’t have an amazing and or updated website. Although important in today’s world, the outfitter may not be up on his or her computer skills, so don’t use this as a major decision maker or breaker. There are a few outfitters that I have hunted with that didn’t have a website and those hunts were some of the most memorable and successful hunts that I have been on.
Below are some key questions that I always ask when conversing with an outfitter. Using these questions will assist you in selecting the right outfitter to suit your ideal hunting expectations. The key word is “Expectations”! The outfitter needs to know what your expectations are and then he or she needs to be honest with you if they can meet or exceed what those expectations are. If they are a good outfitter they will not over-promise and under-deliver and sometimes the answer will not be what you want to hear. You need to be clear and precise, asking the right questions that requires a definitive response:
- Is the outfitter licensed?
- How long has the outfitter been in business and how long has the outfitter hunted in the area that you will be hunting?
- Trophy Quality in the area that you will be hunting so that your expectations are realistic?
- Experience of the guides that will be guiding you. How long have they been guiding in the area you will be hunting and will they scout the area I’m hunting prior to your arrival?
- References from both successful and unsuccessful hunters.
- Will you be hunting private or public land?
- What is the size of property you will be hunting?
- Are there any additional fees in addition to the hunt price? If so, what are they?
- What is the guide to hunter ratio?
- How many hunters / non-hunters per week?
- Will the owner/outfitter be on the premises or in camp for the duration of your trip?
- How far am I expected to be capable of shooting in the area that I am hunting for optimal success?
- Do you have any recent sheds or trail cam photos?
- Contact the local Game Warden in the outfitter’s area. If the outfitter has had problems in the past, they will know!
- Lodging / sleeping quarters – How many persons per room/camp and description of accommodations?
- What are some examples of a day in the field, meals, etc. for the week?
- Do they provide transportation to and from the field?
- If I harvest my trophy early in the hunt what type of recreation is available? (i.e.: fishing, other hunts, towns, cities, etc…)
- What type of practice range do they offer for both bow & rifle?
- If my weapon malfunctions, are there back-up weapons or a local shop available?
- Once I have harvested my trophy, who will skin and cut the meat? Is there a freezer on site? Is there a local taxidermist, and do they provide a price list?
- Confirm and Understand Cancellation Policies!
- What dates would you suggest coming and why? Can I add extra days to the hunt if needed?
- Does the outfitter have trophy photos from prior years and can you see them to compare and average?
Those are all key questions and points to ask and know prior to your hunt. You are entitled to know these things as a client and potential hunter. There are also a lot of other things that you can’t forget. Things such as; personal gear lists, traveling, bonus points, regulations, guns to use, size of bullets to shoot, optics, what type of pack to use, what boots to use, physical requirements and the list goes on and on. I know that this is a lot to take in, but if you want to get what you pay for it needs to be done. As I mentioned before, it isn’t an easy thing to do. Trust me, if you want to avoid the pitfalls associated with finding the right outfitter, you have to put in the time, do your homework, make the calls, carry out the research and ask the right questions! These things are critical to understand so that you avoid the pitfalls that will be guaranteed to come your way.
If you don’t want to go through all the time, money, hassle and arduous work to figure all of this out yourself, Worldwide Trophy Adventures has actually already vetted all of our outfitters and has done all of the work. WTA has put together a world class group of outfitters that have been vetted to eliminate the pitfalls one might find by visiting another operation. WTA has an elite group of outfitters that compete in their lines of field with the best of the best in the outfitting world. Our team has compiled our personal experiences with outfitters all over the world. We have certified our outfitters and they are unmatched in the hunting and fishing arena. They are true first-rate outfitters that do everything that they have control of to the best of their ability and most definitely provide what is and should be expected. It can be your first trip or your 21st trip, it simply doesn’t matter. You will hunt with outfitters that have risen to the top in regards to quality service, location and quantity and quality of game. There is no one-size-fits-all program, but to narrow it down to the best possible scenario for your personal budget, expectations and desires is where we excel. We prefer to lay the facts out on the table and talk about it realistically, rather than hope for results that aren’t 100% achievable.
So whether you are from the East or West, North or South, advanced or novice, it simply doesn’t matter. Give us a call and let’s talk hunting and fishing. We will assist you to the best of our abilities and do so by way of booking you with outfitters that are truly worth the anticipation, time and money.
Call us at 435-656-0205 or email us and we’ll contact you: email@example.com