Any hunter may think that they can just call up a hunting outfitter, say "Let's go," and be on their way. Some people actually do that, and regardless of the cost, they generally get more hassle, less game and an experience that isn't very satisfying.
Now, that may have nothing to do with the outfitter and everything to do with the expectation of the hunter. Because if the hunter does not do their research, the chances are greater that the hunt won't be nearly as successful or as pleasurable than it should have been.
So here are a few tips to consider when searching for the right hunting outfitter for your needs.
Your Physical Condition
This is the most important aspect, and it will make or break any hunting trip. If you are not capable of traveling up and down hills, through gullies and into swamps, consider hunts that take place from horseback, off-road vehicles or lodges near the game area. Many outfitters will ask about your physical condition before scheduling a hunt. You must be honest and forthright with your answers, or the hunting trip may turn into a disaster.
Budget -- The more you can rough it, the less expensive the hunt will be. Public lands are less expensive than hunting on private lands, and going overseas can be prohibitive. The more amenities you want on your hunt, the more you'll pay, it's as simple as that.
Get in touch with the people who have hunted with this outfitter, and get down with the questions. Most outfitters are happy to oblige with references, but if they don't, you may want to look somewhere else.
Talk to the Outfitter
Actually call and talk to the outfitter of the hunt you are interested in. Don't email, it's not personal enough. After all, if you don't get a good vibe over the phone, you probably won't enjoy their company on the hunt.
You can set up a hunt virtually anywhere, but if there is little or no game in the area, you are minimizing your chance for success. Find a location that suits exactly the game you are going for.
Understand the Entire Hunting Package
Are you expected to bring your own license or will that be provided? Are you staying in a lodge or must you find your own? Many hunters have arrived at their destination only to find that they are also responsible for licensing and lodging. Remember, licensing in your state may be completely different in the state you are going to be hunting in. Know the rules before you go.
The best hunting outfitters always have insurance, and guides are always licensed. Always check for these two items before you make a commitment.
Using an Agent
If price is no object, or you just don't want the hassle, contact a booking agent. A booking agent only works with the most qualified and experienced hunting outfitters. Granted, they will take a fee for doing this, but they will have also done all of the research as well. Letting an agent handle your hunting trip takes care of any inconveniences there may be, so that all you'll need to do is sign a contract, pack up, and head out.
Of course, there isn't a hunting outfitter available that can promise you a 100% successful hunt. But regardless of any hunting outfitter you choose, if you use the tips above to find one, you'll maximize your chances while minimizing your disappointment. And really, you can't ask better than that.