How to Pick a Hunting Guide
Hiring a waterfowl guide is popular for many reasons: you want to hunt a new area, you don’t have a working hunting dog at the moment or you simply want to enjoy the hunting and leave the details in the guide’s hand. Regardless of the reason, you want to ensure that you are completely comfortable with the guide you hired and know exactly what you are paying for.
Expectations of the Client
Different clients have different expectations when they hunt. Topics you should discuss with the outfitter are: 1) typical weather conditions for the booked hunt; 2) What species of waterfowl are common during that time period and 3) what gear is needed and if lodging is provided. Some clients will book only day hunts so lodging is not required while others may book multiple days and require lodging. Clients may prefer a certain species of duck or geese to hunt and that will affect when they book their hunt. Whatever your expectations are for the hunt make sure that the hunting guide that you hire can deliver them, it is important to talk to the guide and ask specific questions before booking the hunt.
What Reputable Guides Provide
Reputable guides should present what services they offer up front. This may come in the form of a website, PDF flyer or marketing packets. At the very minimum the outfitter should provide a phone number so you can discuss directly with the guide on what services they offer. Every good guide has a deep understanding of the area they are guiding. Weather conditions and bird activity change daily so the outfitter should be discussing these changes with you so everyone knows what to expect during the hunt.
Be aware of potential red flags; as any waterfowl hunter knows a guide can only do so much because Mother Nature plays a critical role. An outfitter who promises unrealistic results is a red flag and if the outfitter cannot deliver the unrealistic results the hunter is often left disappointed with the experience. Reviews, references and word of mouth are critical in this industry; if an outfitter is not willing to provide references then this is also a red flag. Many outfitters have satisfied clients willing to give a reference even if the when they booked a hunt it was a slow day.
Prior to booking an outfitter make sure that they can give you realistic expectations, satisfy your expectations with the hunt and the guide is someone you will enjoy spending time with.