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It's Your Money and Time

October 2022
Author: Josh Harris

Our experience, resources, and community have positioned us as the industry leader amongst service-based hunting organizations. Our reputation has been earned through years of hard work and dedication towards helping others Dream, Plan, and Hunt.

In this line of work, we have the pleasure of spending the majority of our time on the phone with outfitters from all across the globe. We talk daily with our certified outfitters, meet new outfitters at shows, search new outfitters on the web, talk to our friends and colleagues who have hunted with outfitters, and also talk about and research outfitters that are referred to us by other outfitters. We have also talked with thousands of hunters and clients, and we have answered countless questions about hunting for different species and with different outfitters. With endless outfitters to choose from, the task of selecting the right one can prove to be very difficult. There are so many pitfalls that can occur in trying to acquire accurate and current information, and we’ve found that it quickly becomes an overwhelming and uncertain undertaking. Finding recommended guides and/or outfitters, application strategies, and the right tag(s) that are consistent with your goals can all rapidly morph into a full-time job. Attempting to match all of that information with recommendations that coincide with your trophy quality desire, physical ability, point status, time constraints, desire to hunt as a guided hunter, your budget, etc. makes it even more complicated! As I said before, it can become a very daunting and tiresome process.

Booking with an outfitter can be an intimidating and overwhelming experience. There are amazing outfitters out there, and we work with a ton of them. Unfortunately, there are also sub-par outfitters as well, and too many of them overpromise and underdeliver. For this reason, you have to be very careful about what you hear and what you believe.

We all want to avoid those pitfalls, and one way to do this is by asking a lot of questions. Not only a lot of questions, but the right questions. Trust me, an outfitter that was awesome last year doesn’t always mean that they are awesome this year. And really, what is awesome? That’s a better question! Are they awesome because a referral sent to you successfully harvested a monster buck with them last season? What would the trip have been like if the hunter was unsuccessful? The bottom line is that there is a lot to know to ensure you get what you pay for. It is hunting, and there are no guarantees for harvest success. A true first-rate outfitter does everything they have control of to the best of their ability and most definitely provide what is and should be expected. Harvesting the animal is a very important part of the hunt, don’t get me wrong. Who doesn’t want to ultimately hold that trophy and experience success to finalize the hunt in a big way? What I’m driving home is that it’s not the only important or valued part of the entire experience. The service, which is what the outfitter has control over, should not be overlooked or undervalued.

You have to do your due diligence! It’s your money and your time. Although it may take up a lot of your time, you have waited too long for the day to finally arrive. Why waste all of the anticipation, time, and money and settle for a subpar experience or outfitter? My motto and your method of thinking needs to be, “I would rather do or pay what it takes to end up with the right outfitter than to spend the rest of my life justifying a poor experience having gone with the wrong outfitter.” This could be a hunt or trip-of-a-lifetime for you, and it isn’t protocol that you have to experience at least one pitfall to learn your lesson. Start out on the right foot and do it right. Remember that there are also many “honey holes” out there with amazing outfitters. The old saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know,” rings very true when it comes to hunting. Sometimes they don’t have an amazing and/or updated website. Although it’s important in today’s world, the outfitter may not be up on their computer skills, so don’t use this as a major decision maker or breaker. There are a few outfitters I have hunted with that didn’t have a website, and those are some of the most memorable and successful hunts I have been on.

Below are some key questions I always ask when conversing with an outfitter. Using these questions will assist you in selecting the right outfitter to suit your ideal expectations. The key word is “expectations.” The outfitter needs to know what your expectations are and then they need to be honest with you if they can meet or exceed what those expectations are. If they are a good outfitter, they will not overpromise and underdeliver, and sometimes the answer will not be what you want to hear. You need to be clear and precise, asking the right questions that require a definitive response.

1.   Is the outfitter licensed?
2.   How long has the outfitter been in business?
3.   How long has the outfitter hunted in the area you will be hunting?
4. How experienced are the guides that will be guiding you? (Archery, Firearm)
5. How long have guides been guiding in the area you will be hunting?
6. Will they scout the area you’re hunting prior to your arrival?
7. Does the outfitter have references from both successful and unsuccessful clients?
8. Will you be hunting private land, public land, or both?
9. What is the size of property you will be hunting?
10. Are there any additional fees in addition to the hunt price? If so, what are they?
11. What’s the guide to hunter ratio?
12. How many hunters/non-hunters per week do they hunt?
13. Will the owner/outfitter be on the premises or in camp for the duration of your trip?
14. How far are you expected to be capable of shooting in the area you’re hunting for optimal success?
15. Do they have any recent sheds or trail cam photos?
16. Contact the local Game Warden in the outfitter’s area. If the outfitter has had problems in the past, they will know!
17. Lodging/Sleeping Quarters. How many persons per room/camp and description of accommodations.
18. What are some examples of a day in the field, meals, etc.?
19. Do they provide transportation to and from the field?
20. If you harvest your trophy early in the hunt, what type of recreation is available? (i.e. fishing, other hunts, towns, cities, etc.)
21. What type of practice range do they offer for both bow and rifle?
22. If your weapon malfunctions, are there back-up weapons and/or local shop(s) available?
23. Once you’ve harvested your trophy, who will skin and cut the meat? Is there a freezer on site? Is there a local taxidermist, and do they provide a price list?
24.  Confirm and understand cancellation policies!
25.  What dates would the outfitter suggest you book and why?
26.  Can you add extra days to the hunt if needed?
27.  Does the outfitter have trophy photos from prior years and can you see them to compare and average?
28.  What’s the trophy quality in the area that you will be hunting so that your expectations are realistic?
29.  Are there minimum size requirements?
30.  How many animals should you expect to see daily?
31.  What is the outfitter’s wounded game policy?
32.  What’s included and excluded?

Those are all key questions and points to ask and know prior to your hunt. You are entitled to know these things as a client. There are also a lot of other things you can’t forget, such as personal gear lists, traveling, bonus points, regulations, guns to use, size and suggested type of bullets to shoot, optics, what type of pack to use, which boots to use, physical requirements, and the list goes on and on. I know that this is a lot to take in, but if you want to get what you pay for, it needs to be done, and it isn’t an easy thing to do.

If you want to avoid the pitfalls associated with finding the right outfitter, you have to put in the time, do your homework, make the calls, carry out the research, and ask the right questions. These things are critical to understand so that you avoid the train wrecks that will be guaranteed to come your way.

If you don’t want to go through all the time, hassle, money, and extensive work to figure all of this out on your own, put all of that on us! HFA has vetted all of our outfitters, and we’ve already done that work for you. We have put together a world-class portfolio of outfitters that have been researched and vetted to eliminate the challenges one might find upon visiting another operation. Our portfolio of outfitters competes in their lines of field with the best of the best in the big game hunting, fishing, and outdoor outfitting world. We have also compiled our personal experiences with outfitters from all over the world. If HFA represents an outfitter, we can stand behind that outfitter with the mutual understanding that our collective “best foot forward” will always be our approach. It can be your first trip or your fifty-first trip, it simply doesn’t matter. Booking with HFA allows you the peace of mind that you will hunt with outfitters that have risen to the top in regards to quality service, location, and quantity and quality of game. There is no one-size-fits-all program, but to narrow it down to the best possible scenario for your personal budget, expectations, and desire is where we excel. Our preference is to understand your expectations, lay the facts out on the table, talk about it realistically, and then land on the adventure that best fits your criteria. We would much rather do that than hope for results that aren’t 100% achievable.

Remember that it simply doesn’t matter what type of outdoorsman you are. Our business is built around relationships, experience, information, and customer service. From 1996 to date, the reputation of Huntin’ Fool has become a strength in the outdoor industry. We’re here to assist you to the best of our abilities, and we aspire for nothing more than to align you with an outfitter and/or opportunity that meets or even exceeds your expectations. One that’s truly worth all of the anticipation, time, and money that it takes to finally step into the field and begin your adventure-of-a-lifetime.

We’re your “Outdoor Adventure Resource.” Call us at 435-865-1020 or email us at