Booking a hunt is a big commitment. It can be very expensive, and it is something that takes time away from work and family… it is incredibly important to do your due diligence to insure that you have a successful trip! (By successful, I do not necessarily mean a kill, I mean a well put together, enjoyable adventure! But a kill sure does add to it!)
My husband and I have gone on many worldwide adventures together. We have done so pretty much on our own. We know several agents, but we personally prefer to meet outfitters face to face and see if we “click”. There is nothing worse than spending a week in a small tent or cabin with someone you think is a jerk! We have done extensive research on, and gotten to know, every outfitter before we have booked. I am in no way knocking agents. For those who choose to go that route, they are GREAT, I am good friends with several, they know the outfitters, they know the regulations and rules of the area, and work to make sure everything is handled properly for a great trip. We just prefer to book our own.
Some of the tips I will give you are no-brainers, and some are not often thought of, but very important.
#1. Join hunting organizations. We are members of, and attend conventions and meetings of Safari Club International, as well as several local chapters of SCI, Dallas Safari Club, and Austin Woods and Waters Club. I am involved with other organizations as well, but these are the ones I am most active with, and where we book the majority of our hunts.
#2. Members of hunting organizations are the best resources. An outfitter will give you his reference list, and that list will be comprised of the hunters he really bonded with. They should definitely be called, but in no way should that be what makes your decision. I ALWAYS check out my potential outfitter through The Hunting Report, there is an annual fee to access their reports, however, I feel it is definitely worth it. Less than $100 per year to get the real deal on outfitters, as The Hunting Report says “the good, the bad, and the ugly”. Potentially you weed out the less than stellar outfits. Be sure to look at the DATES of the reviews. We came a breath away from a potential disaster by my not looking at the dates with an Argentina outfitter. He had 4 positive reviews, and one negative. Looking again, the positives were over 10 years ago, and the negative was 2 years ago.
#3. Do your research. I was reading my Safari Times newspaper (published by SCI) and saw that said outfitter had been suspended from SCI and that the owner’s life membership had been revoked. Apparently, he USED to be a great outfitter, and then went downhill. People were not getting their trophies back, hunting was being done in one acre pens, and people were being overcharged for animals that were “record book” that actually were not, once rescored by someone other than outfitter.
I had just transferred $5000 from my savings into my checking, and was headed to the bank that afternoon to wire money to him…TALK ABOUT A TIMELY SAVE! SCI does NOT terminate memberships lightly. As I spoke to a few people on that committee, I learned more, and ultimately decided to forego the money we had already spent. Thankfully, it wasn’t very much!
If you choose to book your own hunts, before you pay a dime… research, research, research. Talk to folks who have recently hunted with them. Protect your investment!
Or, use a reputable booking agent. There are several good ones out there. I am always happy to recommend booking agents, or outfitters in the areas we have traveled. Just let me know!