Nothing is more heart-breaking than spending thousands of dollars on a once-in-a-lifetime hunt only to return home poor, unsuccessful and unhappy with the entire experience. There are plenty of bad stories to go around, because let’s face it… there are a lot of dishonest people in this world. However, for the handful of bad stories that go around, there are even more narratives of successful hunts with good outfitters, huge animals, beautiful lodges and amazing cooks. So, how do you find the best of the best?
First of all, determine what is important to you. Are you wanting to take a trophy animal or are you looking for a relaxing weekend away in the great outdoors? Are you willing to sleep on a cot and forego a shower for a week or do you need a 5 star lodge and meals? Each outfitter and each hunt offers something different. Figure out what you want the most and start your search there.
The curiosity attached to planning a new hunt usually starts with an awesome photo found online or a reference from a buddy. It’s ok to start there, but continue the search here at Hunting Top 10 and make a list of potential outfitters. Searching online is a quick and easy way to see the accommodations and some of the recent trophies.
Once you have a list of potential outfitters, do your research. This is the single, most important thing that can make or break a hunt. Call the state wildlife department or whatever agency handles licensing for outfitters and determine if their license is current and in good standing. This is the easiest way to find out if an outfitter has ever been turned in for breaking regulations or if their license has ever been revoked. Also, be sure to check with any outfitter associations that they claim membership in. Usually if previous hunters have had bad experiences, this is where they will lodge and detail complaints.
Lastly, always follow-up with testimonials and references. Normally these are friends of the outfitters or specific, successful hunts. However, quality outfitters should be able to provide you with references of people who have had an unsuccessful hunt. If a previous hunter can recommend someone even though they came home empty-handed, then you know you have found a quality outfitter.
Always remember, though, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Determine what matter most to you. Do you homework and make sure the outfitter is legal and don’t ever hesitate to ask for different references. A quality outfitter will take their time and answer all your questions, from the basics to the specific and absurd. Do it right and you’ll have the once-in-a-lifetime hunt you’ve always wanted.