Re: Do you ever go on outfitted hunts?
I'm not a US citizen, and I don't live in the US. So guided hunt is the only option. Yet even if I could self hunt, I would still go with a guide, unless it's for a white tail in the mid west. You must do your home work when selecting a hunt. I only hunted for trophy, so I was particularly more selective. Yet a kill is never a given, and I accepted that condition right from the start. I read previous posts on this thread about elks in Montana, and I envy these posters. I hunted elk near the Hell Roaring creek, and saw only two elks on a 10 days hunt. Both were bulls. It was one of my toughest hunts. The outfitter was unfortunately the worst outfitter I hunted with in the US. Yet he kept pestering me for a good write up of my hunt, just because I killed an elk. I also hunted in Montana for antelope and whitetail, and the outfitter cum guide was one of the bests I hunted with. I would say that if you could hunt with the outfitter himself, you'll most likely have a good hunt. That doesn't mean guides aren't good. From my experience, about 35% of them are, and these will graduate into outfitters themselves.
My only advice is to go when you physically can. A guided hunt will get more expensive, and restrictions will get more imposed. BTW my first hunt was in the Alaska Peninsular with hip boots, and no horses. With more than 10 years of desk jockeying, I was unaware of physical deterioration. I was unprepared and trusted my legs which in my youth helped me run up and down the Himalayan hills daily. That first hunt changed my lifestyle.
I'd like to comment further that outfitters in the US and Canada are better than any where else. In Russia, I shot my grizzly from hellicopter, and in Africa, I can say that all outfitters I hunted with were fleecers. Outfitters from the US included. In Africa, you'll get your animals, but beware of the unexpected. I quited Africa after hunting in S. Africa, Zambia and twice in Tanzania. I continued to hunt in the US and Canada. In fact, I hunted near Douglas AZ several times just because the outfitter and his family made the honest hunts very pleasurable.