Big Stick Taxidermy    "veteran owned and operated"     (276)466-9213
 
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Hunt Guide

Hiring a Hunting Guide


These days the interest in booking a "trip of a life-time" is greater than ever before. One way to prevent problems before booking is to ask lot's of questions; taking care of the little things that can spoil a hunt. This means doing meticulous, time consuming research before the hunt. Just remember, booking a hunt is a business deal between you and the outfitter. So, to avoid disappointment and to protect your interest, do your research before handing out your hard earned dollars. Here are a few questions that you may consider asking of the outfitter.

What is the primary species of game that you hunt? If you are interested in hunting elk, it's best to book with an outfitter that specializes in elk hunts. Not one who specializes in mule deer hunts which has only a few elk in his concession.

How do you hunt? Ask the outfitter about his accommodations, mode of in-field transportation and hunting style. Making sure  his style of hunting matches your taste and hunting abilities. If you can't ride a horse then you don't want to book a horse back hunt.

How many actual hunting days will I have? Often an advertised seven day hunt includes two days of transportation, a day  to and from camp. So, you will only have five days of hunting. Remember, an outfitter cannot control the weather, but they can control their staff, the state of their equipment and their trip planning.

Important.. are there any hidden charges? Let's say you are quoted a price of $5,000 for a seven day Colorado hunt. The actual cost will likely be more. Quoted prices do not include the cost of travel, lodging, meals, license fees, big game tags, gratuities for guides, meat processing, shipping fees, etc. Many outfitters will charge you an extra trophy fee if you harvest a trophy class animal. So figure in these cost, as they will accelerate the total cost of your hunt.

Do you hunt on public or private land? Generally speaking you will see more game with a greater trophy potential on private land hunts. Less hunting pressure, more animals. Just remember, a quoted success rate can be deceiving. Many outfitters prefer to quote shooting opportunities and not harvest statistics. Meaning the chances their clients had last season versus the number of animals they actually harvested.

If you are a bow hunter, ask if they have guided bow hunters in the past? There's nothing more frustrating than booking a bow hunt with an outfitter that has a rifle hunter's mentality.

Can I use my game calls? Inexperienced callers may sound more like the sound of rush-hour traffic, or a hen yelping, than a bull bugling, so some outfitters prefer their clients not do the calling. If you want to do your own calling, make sure the outfitter approves.

Make sure that you have a written contract with the outfitter. In today's society, a handshake and a deposit won't cut it. Make sure you have a written agreement with the outfitter, and read the fine print before you sign it. If the outfitter is hesitant about providing you with a contract...do not book with him.

Ask for references, see if they belong to their state outfitters association? Are they licensed and bonded? The good ones will be. Ask for references of hunters that were successful and for those that were not. When you call the references, ask questions about the outfitter, the area they hunted, how much game they saw, how many other hunters they encountered, would they hunt with this outfitter again, etc. Most hunters like to talk about their successes or failure of a hunt.


Now let's talk briefly about hunting outside the United States:

For those of us who are fortunate enough to take our hunting skills to far away lands in pursuit of prized trophies that few have ever seen and most only dream of, this section is for you.

When you become interested in booking a trip internationally, it is imperative that you discuss with the outfitter the options for getting your meat, skin, antlers, horns, etc. back home. Trust me; this process can be a nightmare. The outfitter will often recommend a local taxidermist in his area that can prepare your trophies for safe handling and shipping back home. Some animals will require; "CITIES import or export permits, so make sure that you have these in order. The outfitter should be able help you with these regulations; but the responsibility falls directly on your shoulders. So, communicate with the outfitter to ensure this is handled expeditiously and legally; or you will not get your trophies home. If you elect to take the animal(s) home with you on your flight, check with the airline to see what they will permit.

Most trophies can be transported home with you at the end of your hunt. As mentioned earlier, some will require a CITIES export permit before shipping, so unless you are planning to stay a few extra days after the hunt, you may want to leave your trophy with the outfitter until they can obtain the proper permits for shipping. Usually, your hunting license, or outfitter's declaration form will suffice for shipping. Transporting animals like sheep and deer with you on the plane is generally not a problem, just make sure the skin is salted, the skull dried free of any meat, brains, etc. Sometimes a frozen skin is okay, provided your flight connections are short. But, if your baggage is lost or mis-handled, the skin will likely spoil. If you harvest a large animal, such as a moose, elk or caribou, and you want to take the antlers with you; you can split the skull plate and tape the antlers together. A reputable taxidermist will not have a problem restoring the antlers to there original state. However, do not split the skull if it is a trophy class animal and you want to have it scored for the record books. This will alter the scoring process.

When you're bringing animal parts back into the United States they usually must be cleared with the USFWS (www.fws.gov 800-344-9453) at one of the international airports. Once cleared they will be sent to a certified receiving agent. I highly recommend using a professional shipping/receiving agency like Wesco Shipping (877-779-3726),based out of New york or Coopersmith (www.huntingtrophy.com ), based out of Atlanta. Both are highly regarded as worldwide trophy importers. They can have one of their agents meet you at the airport and handle the process with the USFWS. Once cleared they will ensure the trophies are shipped to your taxidermist.

Remember........to keep the wind in your face and shoot straight.
Happy Hunting.

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