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Tipping Your Guide

August 2019
Author: Isaiah Joner

It’s that time of year again where you have drawn your tag and booked a hunt. You have been ironing out all the final details with the outfitter and preparing for your hunt, making sure you ask all the questions before it starts. It is always a good thing to know what to expect up front before you arrive at your destination so there aren’t any unexpected circumstances. However, one thing that often gets overlooked or even forgotten about, and something we take a lot of calls about, is how much you should tip your guide.

Tipping your guide is usually an additional cost on top of the cost of the hunt. Some outfitters build a tip into the total amount, but it is not very common. As a general rule in the industry, it is most common to tip a guide 10%-15% of the hunt value. To put it simply, if you book a hunt for $5,000, an adequate tip would be $500. There may be circumstances where you feel like your guide deserves more or less, depending on the effort they gave. I believe tips should never be based on whether you harvest an animal or not, it should be on the overall performance of your guide. Most guides strive to work hard because your success is their success.

Typically, guides do not make a high day wage and put in a lot of extra work behind the scenes, relying on tips as a healthy portion of their income. Outfitters also have a lot of overhead expenses, such as permitting, insurance, food, and upkeep on gear, vehicles, and livestock. All of these added together take a large chunk out of the income from their hunts, which only allows outfitters to pay guides $100-$200 a day, depending on experience. This makes a tip a nice bonus. If you have multiple guides throughout the hunt and are unsure of how to split the tip, the outfitter can usually help with that decision process. Remember that unless your guide is also the cook, it is a good idea to tip the cook as well.

Keep in mind that guides usually have all the gear they need and do not need a knife, headlamps, or other items as their tip, unless you are offering them those items on top of cash. Just like you, they are the working class and are providing for their own families. The best way to go about it is to budget a tip into the cost of the hunt before you head out on your next adventure.