DALLAS –-(Ammoland.com)- It's not too soon to begin planning hunts for 2014 and beyond. Dallas Safari Club (DSC) is offering a three-part series of tips to help you get started choosing, finding and booking your next adventure of a lifetime.
Part 1 discussed preparing for annual sporting shows such as the DSC convention and expo, Jan. 9-12 in Dallas (www.biggame.org). Advance work will help you decide on a specific type of hunt and begin finding potential outfitters. Once you've narrowed your search to 2-3 operators in the same price range, you'll be ready to attend the show and meet the outfitters personally.
Part 2: Selecting an outfitter.
It's important to interview and vet carefully, not because there are bad operators, but because not every hunt is perfect for every hunter. You know your tastes, preferences and abilities. Make sure you communicate those and ask questions to ensure a good fit. DSC maintains a code of ethics and standards for hunt operators within its membership. Any outfit exhibiting at the DSC show is a member in good standing.
Here are five tips to help you pick the right one.
- 1. Shop Wisely–Never book a hunt based solely on what an outfitter, guide or booking agent tells you. If you have an established relationship with an agent or operator, that's one thing. But don't plunk down thousands of dollars based on a brochure and sincere mannerisms. Make decisions based on informed research.
- 2. License Confirmation–Check to make sure your guide or outfitter is legal. For example, only a Zimbabwean registered PH (professional hunter) or safari operator can conduct hunts in Zimbabwe–no freelancers from outside may guide. Contact the wildlife department in the area you plan to hunt and ask how to check on your outfitter's status. Some states require formal licensing. Others require registration or membership in an association. Ask if there are any complaints on file against your operator.
- 3. Member Status–Seriously consider an operator who is a member of the local professional hunters association. These groups have stated codes of ethics and conduct by which their members must abide. While these groups may not be able to take legal action against violators, they can provide you with some recourse if anything goes awry.
- 4. References–Always ask operators for references and make sure you call them. Get references for the last 3-5 years, including last hunting season. This will give you a sense of the operator's performance over a long period, as well as a recent snapshot on what to expect. Ask for references that were successful on their hunts and some who were not. If an unsuccessful hunter still recommends an operator, that's a good sign.
- 5. Get Specific–Ask specific questions and do not accept general or ambiguous responses. If a reference tells you the guides are great, ask what makes them great. Ask about their personality in camp, skill at spotting and putting you on game, understanding of a bowhunter's special needs and ability to adapt to a client's capabilities. If they say there's plenty of game, ask about the actual numbers, species, quality animals, access, shot distances, etc. If they say the terrain is easy, do they mean it's easy for a fit 30-something or easy for a 70-year-old with two knee replacements? Get specifics. Watch for conflicting information from references and the outfitter.
- See Part 1 of this series at the URL below: http://www.biggame.org/index.
- Part 3 highlights considerations to keep in mind as you book your trip. See URL below: http://www.biggame.org/index.
Thanks to “The Hunting Report” (www.huntingreport.com) for info used in this series.
About Dallas Safari Club (DSC)
Desert bighorns on an unbroken landscape, stalking Cape buffalo in heavy brush, students discovering conservation. DSC works to guarantee a future for all these and much more. An independent organization since 1982, DSC has become an international leader in conserving wildlife and wilderness lands, educating youth and the general public, and promoting and protecting the rights and interests of hunters worldwide. Get involved at www.biggame.org.