What to think about and questions to ask as you
begin planning a Destination Big Game Adventure.
Story by Corey Mason
Even the most experienced hunter can walk into a bad situation if the proper preparation and research is rushed beforehand. If you are thinking about taking on a new challenge or maybe a new destination, save yourself some frustration and read through the reminders below. It’s important to interview and vet potential outfitters carefully, not because there are bad operators, but because not every hunt is perfect for every hunter. You know your tastes, preferences and abilities better than anyone, so just be honest with yourself. Make sure you communicate your expectations and ask questions to ensure a good fit. You will thank yourself down the road!
WHEN PLANNING YOUR next hunt, keep these in mind: Forward thinking: Decide now what kind of hunt you’re interested in. Along with your interests, think honestly about your capabilities. If you’re not in good shape, a backpack mountain goat hunt or a spot-and-stalk brown bear hunt in muskeg probably isn’t a good idea; start looking into boat-based hunts instead. Consider what distances, temperatures and elevations you are comfortable working in. Prepare now to learn as much as possible about the type of hunt you’re interested in so that you’ll know the right questions to ask when the time comes. Fit your personal hunting style/accommodations: Make sure you understand the fair chase standards for the type of hunt you’re considering. For example, research or ask about the size of the hunting concession. Some are very large. Others are not. Depending on the species and location, you will also need to consider what your limits are for shooting distance. Looking into the accommodations can also help you determine if a hunt is right for you. For example, lodges or base camps can look a lot different from your expectations if you do not ask the right questions based on your preferences. Knowing your personal ethics and abilities up front can help avoid difficult conversations down the road.
Look for recommendations: A great way to find recommendations for outfitters is to read the articles in magazines like Dallas Safari Club’s Game Trails. Those members had such great experiences that they wanted to show their appreciation by sharing their stories – not a bad place to start your search if you see something you are interested in pursuing. Once you’ve narrowed your search to two or three operators in the same price range, you’ll be ready to reach out to the outfitters.
ONCE YOU’VE DECIDED on a type of hunt and selected the right outfitter, it’s time to seal the deal. Adventure awaits, but first, paperwork. As you finalize plans with a hunt operator or outfitter, keep a few things in mind: List of costs: Ask for a complete breakdown of all charges, in writing. Some countries charge an ammo tax or area fee. In some countries, for example, you must pay a fee to transfer to a different game management area. Also, ask about charter fees. In many cases, the cost could double if other hunters are not on the same flight and you are the only passenger. Finally, be sure you understand any sliding scales for trophy fees. Choosing dates: Finalizing dates can be an exciting part of the process, but make sure you take time to think through your schedule and the time of year. Short hunting seasons, tight schedules, concession fees, obligation to guides and professional hunters, or PHs, for hunting days, and much more can make it difficult for most outfits to make schedule changes – especially without significant time to make another plan. One additional consideration is to purchase a trip cancellation policy if you think there are any potential conflicts.
Contract: Many hunt operators provide a contract that you must sign. Some destinations require this, while others do not. Be sure to read the contract in its entirety. Contracts should contain the terms and conditions under which you will be granted a refund should you have to cancel or if something goes wrong. Make certain that you are in agreement with all the terms and conditions. Once you are confirmed, most outfitters have well-developed information kits that will answer most questions you have leading up to your dates, but you may want to confirm the best way to reach them between now and the hunt. Of course, many overseas operations have a stateside booking agent, which makes communication far easier for the excited client, but see if they have any advice up front about when to communicate next. You never know what questions might come up, and don’t be afraid to ask your outfit or a fellow hunter who has been there before. Good communication is key throughout your preparation.
THIS LIST IS meant to provide some tips and reminders as you navigate your journey for your next adventure. Every time you hunt, you should be open to improving and learning, so enjoy every minute of it! Happy hunting! Editor’s note: Corey Mason is the CEO of the Dallas Safari Club and the DSC Foundation, as well as a certified wildlife biologist. For more information about DSC, visit biggame.org
DALLAS SAFARI CLUB – DSC’s mission is to ensure the conversation of wildlife through public engagement, education and advocacy for well-regulated hunting and sustainable use. Along with DSC, DSC Foundation funds grants from revenue form the DSC Convention, funds raised from events conducted by the foundation and the DSC chapters, and form direct contributions from individuals and entities’ that support and passionately believe in the mission of DSC. DSC will be hosting its Annual Convention and Sporting Expo January 5-8, 2023, at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas. Tickets are available now at biggame.org.
A member of the international Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), DSC is a mission-focused conservation organization, funded by hunters from around the world. With a small administrative staff and a volunteer army of 500, DSC hosts its annual convention that raises funds for grants in conservation, education and advocacy. In the past three years, more than $5 million has been channeled to qualified projects, organizations and programs in support of their mission. To learn more, visit their website or email email@example.com.