Hiring a hunting guide: I hope you know where you’re going

By Ronda Addy

Whether you are a beginner or a skilled hunter looking to get more out of your hunting experience, you might want to consider hiring a hunting guide. A guide can take you to prime hunting spots, spot animals you might not see and show you how to hunt with experienced hunting dogs. Before you rush out and hire a guide, here are some questions you should ask first.

• How long have you been a guide? You want a guide with some experience. Keep in mind that the more experience the guide has, the more their services will cost.
• Are you familiar with the area I plan to hunt in? How long have you been operating in the area? You will have a more successful hunt with a guide who knows the area. They should be familiar with the terrain, the animals’ movements and the seasonal temperatures.
• What is your success rate for the season and the game animal I’m after? You want a guide who has some experience with and can help you hunt the animal you’re after.
• What do you charge? Are meals, transportation and lodging included? Are there any extra fees for gratuities or transporting the animal or field dressing it? Before you hire a guide, do some comparison-shopping. After a while, the extra fees can really add up.
• Can you supply me with references? A reputable guide should have several references and be happy to give them to you. If they hesitate to do so in any way, you might want to consider finding another guide. As soon as you get the list of references, contact each and find out how knowledgeable the guide was, how the trip went, if the hunter got the game they were after and if they would recommend the guide.
• What do I need to bring? Do you need a tent and a sleeping bag? What about clothing? How much should you bring? Ask the guide to send you a list.
• Is the hunt physically demanding? This is particularly important if you are out of shape or have physical limitations and will need to hike 10 to 20 miles every day to return to base.
• Will you or someone who works for you serve as my guide? You want the best guide you can get, and that may not be the younger, less experienced employee.
• Who supplies the food and drink? If the guide supplies the food and drink, what type do they provide-prepackaged or fresh? Can you bring your own food and drink? Food and drink are important considerations if you have allergies or are particular about what you eat and drink.
• What are the living arrangements? Will there be separate tents for men and women? Will there be other hunters at the camp? Are children allowed to go on the hunt? What is the age limit? If you want the camp to yourself, you may need to pay more and make arrangements in advance.

You can increase your chances of having a successful, memorable hunt if you ask plenty of questions ahead of time. Don’t be afraid to ask them.

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