-By Brandon Wikman
Last week, I discussed prepping for the ’08 season and touched on Outfitter hunts. In this week’s entry I describe the research I do before booking hunts.
So you’ve stumbled upon last month’s hunting magazine and notice a big buck photo, phone number, maybe a website and that bolded word “Outfitter,” what do you do?
I’ve heard and witnessed cases, including my own, of people who have been chewed-up and spit out when it came to the experience of an outfitter that promised it all: fine dining, comfy accommodations and, of course, off-the-charts hunting. With a few dozen stories, a couple firsthand experiences and the utterly-miserable time spent, here’s a thing or two to consider before booking your next hunting adventure.
I cannot describe how important it is to do your research! Whether it’s before a test or your next job interview, you have to research and study. Take a nibble before you decide if it’s appetizing. The same is true with researching an outfitter. When you find an outfitter, be sure to ask them for at least six references. Ask for three successful and three unsuccessful hunters’ phone numbers or email addresses. I usually contact about ten clients before making my decision. You shouldn’t feel awkward or sense that you’re asking for too much ‘pertinent’ information. This is your hunt; this is your right, and most of all your hard-earned greens. Be sure to speak with each client and ask questions that may concern you.
It’s not a proven fact by any stretch of the imagination, but a subtle clue I’ve used to make choices in which outfitters are legit and which ones are iffy is by looking at their website. Websites are extremely important in marketing yourself and the fact is that they’re only going to get even more crucial. I believe a website speaks in volume. It declares what type of personality you have, how professional your business is and details it within the photo gallery of harvest shots and live trail camera pictures.
Usually websites that are well structured, error free and have a great sense of appeal dictate a percentage of whether or not I decide to keep the outfitter in mind.
Make The Call:
Lastly, the most important aspect of scheduling a hunt is actually talking to the outfitter and feeling him out. If he sounds enthused, willing to send information, pictures, and a list of past hunters’ references, then he’s probably a great candidate. It’s crucial that you ask questions, make comments and arrangements prior to your hunt dates. The more you plan, the better. Oftentimes, I will make calls a year in advance to assure a reservation, feel the outfitter out and give it another year as a prospect to see what was shot, missed and photographed.
Selecting a good outfitter doesn’t always have to be trial and error, but sometimes being foolproof can be impossible. If you do decide to invest in an outfitted hunt it is your job as a client to hunt outfits first, animals second.