By Jeff Warren, January 2014
Wow! The 2013 hunting season is gone. My dad always told me that the older you get the faster time flies. I didn’t believe him back then, but I sure do now. It sickens me to think that the actual chasing of big game animals that I love so dearly is on hold for about 6 months. Research and planning only goes so far, but I guess if you can get through it, so can I! The planning time for 2014 starts now. If a guided hunt is on your hit list for next season, you basically have all you need in your hands right now. This magazine, along with www.huntfinder.com and/or a phone call to me, is all you need to make your dream hunt a reality. Please keep in mind that although things have changed a bit around the office, all of you can call me anytime with guided hunt or outfitter questions. It doesn’t matter if you are a Standard or a Premium member, please call. You can even have your non-member buddies call if they are looking for a guided hunt. We don’t have all the answers, but after 18 years in the business we do have a bunch of them! I try to address the topic of using HuntFinder each January, so this article may be a bit redundant, but I feel it is important to address each year.
How Do Our Outfitters Become Endorsed?
From our many years of experience in the hunting industry, we feel that there is a small percentage of outfitters that provide top-quality hunts year after year for their clients. They all claim to be great, but when the rubber hits the road, many just don’t produce what has been promised. We’ve spent the last 18 years researching outfitters with the goal of finding the best in the business for the big game species our members are interested in. It has been, and will continue to be, a very involved and time consuming process as a lot of these top end outfitters don’t need booking help. I mention this because there is more demand than supply for the good ones!
When we locate an outfitter ourselves or get word through the grapevine of one that seems to be providing top-shelf hunts, we contact that outfitter and talk candidly with them about their hunts. Much can be determined from this conversation, but that is just the start. We then contact some of their recent clients for their views of their recently completed hunts. We like to talk with hunters who filled their tags and those who did not. Having been in the outfitting industry for more than 20 years, I can pretty much tell where we are going at this point. One of the biggest factors in endorsing an outfitter is the rate of return clients that the outfitter has each season. If the percentage is high and everything else pans out, we probably have a new outfitter to add to our endorsed list.
No matter how carefully we choose our outfitters, sometimes problems arise. When they do, we do our best to look at the facts from both sides and then make a decision on whether or not to continue using that outfitter. It’s interesting how a good outfitter can sail along for years providing great hunts and then things in life change and the change is usually dramatic. Bad luck, bad decisions, or whatever else can cause devastating problems for an outfitter. I will wade through the details and make the best decision I can on whether or not we will continue to use the outfitter. Problems don’t happen often, but when lives change problems can pop up.
Finding an Endorsed Hunt in the Huntin' Fool Magazine
The monthly Huntin’ Fool magazine is a great way to research hunts and is the traditional way that we put guided hunt information in your hands. We will continue to offer this information in the magazine. With that being said, we put less than 1/3 of the hunts that we have available in the magazine simply because of space constraints. Also, we understand that not all folks are willing to use or are comfortable with using a computer for their research. If you are interested in a particular hunt that you find in the HuntFinder section of the magazine, call us at 435-865-1020. We want to visit with you about that specific hunt or any other hunts that might fit your needs. We will then give you a list of names and phone numbers of the outfitters whose hunts you are interested in.
Finding an Endorsed Hunt through HuntFinder.com
For those of you who are comfortable with a computer, the HuntFinder.com website is a great tool to research hunts on your own, at your leisure, any time, day or night. From our website, you can search for hunts that fit your budget or calendar perfectly. You can also email outfitters directly with specific questions about each hunt!
To use HuntFinder, simply go to www.huntfinder.com and click on the photo of the species that interest you or click on the “Advanced Search” heading. If you already have a hunt code from the magazine for a hunt that you want to research, enter the code in the white box at the bottom of the page and that particular hunt will come up.
By clicking on one of the nine big game photos, all hunt opportunities for that species will appear. You will then be able to research all of the hunts available for that particular species, or you can click on the “Advanced Search” heading located just above the big game photos. Doing this will allow you to view states, species, weapon choices, price ranges, and dates for all hunts that are available. Simply check the boxes that interest you, type in the price range that you need, and click on “Search Hunts” located at the bottom of the page.
For example, if I was interested in an antelope hunt in New Mexico using a rifle during September and could spend $3,000-$5,000 (no commas needed for the dollar amounts, i.e. 3000 or 5000), I would check the appropriate boxes for each category. All hunts that match the criteria would then appear. Click on “More Info” for each hunt and a more detailed description of the hunt will become available, along with the outfitter’s email address. At that point, you can call our office with the corresponding hunt code and we will give you the name and phone number of the outfitter or you can email him directly by clicking on the “Email Outfitter” heading above the photo. It is a very simple process and will put a wealth of information at your fingertips.
We work very hard all year to keep the important details of our Endorsed Outfitters’ hunts current so that your plans can be made quickly and easily. Information such as dates, openings, and prices are updated as soon as we receive the information from the outfitter.
The holidays are gone, and 2014 is almost underway. Some of our outfitters are already close to being fully booked for 2014. Don’t delay as all of our Endorsed Outfitters are in high demand!
We have worked hard over the last 18 years and will continue to work hard to be your big game booking agency. As I have mentioned numerous times, we think we have a better system than anyone else. Call us and you’ll see what we’re talking about!