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Old October 17, 2006, 09:16 AM   #1
ifconfig
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Join Date: October 17, 2006
Location: 'Burbs of Chicago, IL
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Picking a good outfitter/guide?

Background:

I've hunted for many years, mostly local (in MI, where I grew up, as opposed to Chicagoland, where I live now) or regional bird hunting (Pheasant in SD, Dove in Indiana, etc). My dad's hunted Mule Deer, Elk, and Antelope out west, all unguided.

A few years ago we decided that Moose hunting sounded like fun, and started looking around for when/how/etc. My two brothers-in-law, though new to hunting, thought it might be fun to tag along.

At present, none of us can afford the $10K+ record-book hunts, so we looked for something more affordable. Last week was our hunt in Ontario, Canada.

While the experience was still enjoyable (pretty country, good company, no cellphone signal), the outfitter was terrible. We were not given critical information (like the fact that the local hunting season opened up a week before our hunt started, among others), were given misinformation on the types of hunting common to the area, and were given partial information to, near as I could tell, reduce the effort required by the outfitter. The facilities were also less than we were led to believe, and upon our calm, reasoned explanation of our complaints at the end of the hunt, the outfitter became first defensive, and ultimately dismissive.

In hindsight, there were warning signs that should have twigged us to the sort of experience towards which we were headed, but the folks were quite pleasant (on the phone), and we did REALLY want to go Moose hunting.

I accept full responsibilty for our experience. I could have done the research, or not ignored the warning signs, but I didn't.

So, then, on to the question. How do you select a good outfitter and/or guide? What are some of the warning signs that help identify bad outfitters and guides? I know that reccomends are some of the best ways, but we don't really know anybody that does guided hunts.
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Old October 17, 2006, 10:14 AM   #2
ZeroJunk
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I suspect referrals from people that have used a particular outfitter will always be the best way.If you choose an outfitter on the internet for instance,get them to give you a list of previous clients you can contact.If they will not do that,go somewhere else.I have had a few hunters contact me over the years about outfitters I had used and I try to be as honest and accurate as I can.I think most of the pro outfitters would like nothing better than to have a pool of repeat customers to keep their business going rather than be continuously trying to drum up new business.So,most that have been around a while have a good operation.
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Old October 19, 2006, 08:56 AM   #3
iudoug
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Another idea...

is to join the safari club.....it has a vast network of hunters and you can get the good and bad of some outfitters from the reports guys file,along with lots of info on hunts and outfitters.....I can say this ....if the price is almost too good to be true....well
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Old October 19, 2006, 09:12 AM   #4
Rich Lucibella
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ifconfig-
After my last hunting experience, I will never again accept what strangers tell me about an outfitter. If you're willing to spend the kind of money you did, the outfitter should be willing to meet with you personally to close the deal...most foreign outfitters do the US circuit during Jan/Feb.

I would have a face to face and dinner together. Ask all the questions of interest and gauge his responses, attitude, sense of humor and ego. Ask about the rifle, caliber and scope you'll be using and listen to whether he knows his stuff about those or whether he's locked into a specific mindset.

A complete listing of what to bring, what not to bring and what to expect should be requested. IMHO, any outfitter who does not have this readily available is an amateur, no matter how long they've been in business.

Ask if the hunters are required to confirm zero with their weapons upon arrival. A minor issue to many, I'm certain, but major IMHO. If the PH is most interested in you enjoying your hunt and, if he's hunted long enough, he'll know that sights (especially scopes) get knocked about in transit and he won't be willing to have you take a shot without confirming that your rifle is on target. If his only interest is getting your money, he may not care one way or the other.

After meeting, you will certainly think of more questions. If the outfitter is not responsive by email or phone, cross him off the list.

Ask pointed questions about the accommodations and meal menu, also.

Then combine all that with recommendations from people who have hunted with him. Recognize, however, that he's gonna steer you to repeat hunters who have enjoyed themselves with him; in some cases, these might even be sub rosa booking agents. Supplement by using Google!
Rich
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Old October 19, 2006, 10:05 AM   #5
ZeroJunk
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Maybe the biggest variable in this is the hunter's expectation.The reason I use an outfitter is because I like wilderness hunts that are 20 to 25 miles in by horse.I simply cannot do it alone.I want an outfitter that has good livestock,can get my stuff in and out,a dry tent to sleep in,and something to eat.I do not want a guide,but any advice about the wildlife patterns,habits etc. is appreciated.
These requirements are quite different from what they were 20 years ago,and what they will be 20 years from now provided I can continue to hunt.
Would be good for you to make a list of what you want YOUR hunt to be.
I remember several times sitting in a tarp covered outhouse with a commode seat ducktaped to a pole pine frame with it 10 degrees and thinking"I could be in a nice warm lodge somewhere".Probably would make more sense now that I think about it.
Let me add this to clarify what I am getting at.The first Elk bow hunt I went on was fantastic as far as I was concerned.I did not get an elk, but I just liked it.A couple of the guys that went with me thought it was terrible.So,it is important to decide what kind of hunt you want.

Last edited by ZeroJunk; October 19, 2006 at 10:53 AM.
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Old October 19, 2006, 11:45 AM   #6
Jack O'Conner
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Back in the 1980's I wanted to book a caribou and moose hunt in Saskatchewon. This Province had an acute shortage of outfitters at the time. So I contacted the Provincial Wildlife Office for a list of guides. Then I contacted the Mounties for complaints. Lastly I contacted a Jesuit missionary to the Cree for even more detailed info. I booked the hunt based entirely upon the word of these Mounties and the Preist. I was fortunate and the hunt actually exceeded my expectations.

Try Jack Atchinson & Sons of World Wide Safaris in Butte, Montana. Jack runs an ethical company. He only books through highly reputable guides and outfitters.

I'm not related or employed by this company. Jack is not paying me to promote his business. I'm simply pointing you toward a company I'm familar with and had a good hunting experience.
Jack
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