Yamaha Outdoors Tips — How to Select a Hunting Outfitter
By Stephanie Mallory
Hunting with an outfitter is a great option for those who want to increase their odds for success. On the other hand, hunting with the wrong outfitter can result in wasted time and wasted money. So, how can you make sure that you select an outfitter that will provide you with the greatest chance for success, while giving you the enjoyable, hassle-free hunting experience you deserve?
Wade Middleton, host of “Yamaha Whitetail Diaries,” has not only worked as an outfitter, but he has booked numerous hunts for himself through various outfitters. When it comes to selecting the best outfitter for your purpose, he says you first must understand what makes an outfitter great.
“The best outfitters are fully prepared and constantly on the move,” he said. “The guides and staff are not only knowledgeable and experienced, but they’re always willing to help. They have the right gear, the locations scouted out and they’re eager to do anything to make the hunt a success.”
So how do you find such an outfitter? Middleton says research is a must.
“You can get a first impression of an outfitter through advertisements or word of mouth. A general Web search will provide you with some options as well. Once you have a place in mind, you’ll want to conduct extensive website research to determine if the outfitter offers the type of hunt and amenities you want.”
Middleton says the type of amenities you expect should be based on the location of the outfitter and the type of game you’re hunting.
“For many backcountry-type hunts, a simple tent, a warm fire and soup is all you should expect,” Middleton said. “In other cases, the amenities can be better than many 5-star resorts.”
During your research, you’ll also want to pay attention to website images and booking information, such as pricing. Also check out the outfitter’s social media outlets. If you notice outdated images and information, then you can assume that the outfitter may be a bit on the lazy side. You can also check with a local office of the Better Business Bureau to see if the outfitter has any blemishes on his record.
Once you’ve narrowed your choices down through your research, reach out to the outfitter via phone or email for additional information.
Middleton suggests asking the following questions.
• How many hunters do you take every year?
• How many hunters will be in camp with me?
• What type of hunt conditions should I expect?
• How long have you been in business?
• What type of lodging conditions should I expect?
• What kind of shape should I be in for the hunt?
• Can I get a list of references?
• What type of gear should I bring?
“A good outfitter will have the major gear you need for success, but the hunter is generally expected to bring his or her own gun or bow, optics, camo and other personal items,” Middleton said. “Outfitters that can use ATV's usually have them available, and some will even let clients bring their own ATV's. If you want to bring along your own ATV or Side-by-Side vehicle, make sure to discuss this with your outfitter beforehand. You’ll also want to check regulations for the area you’re hunting to make sure it's legal to use your ATV in the manner you plan for your hunt.”
While no outfitter can guarantee a successful hunt, the steps you take before booking an outfitter can increase your odds for both success and a good time. So put in some legwork, and then enjoy hunting with an outfitter you trust.