Why a guide?

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by Guy M, Dec 2, 2007.

  1. Guy M

    Guy M Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2007
    Please do not misunderstand me - I'm not anti-guide. That disclaimer in place... I thought this a good place to ask, as I know there are guides/outfitters who post here, and I know there are hunters here who use those services. Past my 50th birthday, I thought to treat myself to my first guided big game trip in 2007. For a variety of reasons beyond the control of me or my intended outfitter, that planned guided hunt fell through.

    Now as I contemplate the results of 2007 & past years, and look forward to 2008 and beyond I have to ask myself... Why a guide?

    Doing my research for hunts I learned that (this year at least) around $2800 for a mule deer hunt and $4500+ for an elk hunt is about normal. This is of course in addition to what is a fairly expensive non-resident tag, and other associated costs such as transportation, taxidermy and possibly meat processing... All inclusive it's pretty easy to end up spending $4000 to hunt mule deer or $6000+ to hunt elk in our western states.

    What is a hunter paying for? What does he get for his several thousand dollars? How then is disaster best avoided and success best assured? I already have some of my own answers in mind, but thought this could spark an interesting, and hopefully valuable discussion.

    Thanks, Guy
  2. Flybuster

    Flybuster Well-Known Member

    Apr 20, 2007
    In my boat theres no way I could afford a North American guide. I understand non-residents have to use a guide in Alaska, Understandable climate can be unpredictable and dangerous in that wilderness.

    But for 6000 dollars for one elk? Get real, I think you could go to Africa and shoot several species for that price, am I wrong?

    I really think the D.I.Y hunting is the way to go if your on a budget like me. It gives you the satisfaction, and feeling of accomplishment, that wouldn't be there if you had a guide. When you do get that trophy.

    On the plus side for guides. Guides can get you on private land where there is lower pressure on the animals.

  3. mikenc

    mikenc Well-Known Member

    Jul 23, 2007
    I don't know about that Flybuster. You may be lucky to get to Africa and home with all your stuff for nearly 6,000. I have a friend who goes most every year and this year travel expenses were between 5500 and 6,000 per each traveler including himself, his wife, his son and his daughter(under 2 yrs old). Just travel he spent over $22,000.
  4. mikenc

    mikenc Well-Known Member

    Jul 23, 2007
    The use of a guide may depend on your hunt and the area. Where do you want to hunt and is there significant public land available. In many cases using a guide will gain you access to property otherwise unavailable as well as local knowledge of the herd or animals that otherwise would take most of your time patterning. How much is it worth to hunt 5 full days vs. watching for 3-4 and actually hunting 1 or 2 days?

    Certainly if you are planning a pairirie dog hunt in South Dakota, the need/use of a guide is not the issue it would be if you are hunting elk or deer in Colorado or Wyoming.
  5. goodgrouper

    goodgrouper Well-Known Member

    Sep 3, 2004
    In some areas and states, you must have a guide by law. For some areas, if you do not have the time to research the area yourself, you would be crazy not to hire a guide. But in the end, a guided hunt just doesn't give the same satisfaction an un-guided hunt does in my opinion.
  6. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Jul 29, 2004
    Guide ???

    Guy M

    I have treated my self to guided hunts only a few times and
    this is what I found out.

    First , not all guides are bad but some are so try to get references
    from some of the hunters that have hunted with them and pin them
    down as to the location of the hunt (private or public)

    Make a list of questions to ask the outfiter and write down the response
    to the question so you can quote him later if need be.

    Remember it's your money and you should get what you paid for.some
    times you may have to take charge of your destiny and let the guide
    know that you will not except anything less than promised.

    Some guides think that you are stupid and cant hunt because you
    booked a guided hunt. But there are others who think of nothing
    but providing you with a successfull and enjoyable trip.

    After getting as much information as you can, go prepared for anything
    and assume nothing. Study the terrain to be hunted and that will
    help prepare you.

    I was involved in one hunt from hell and after two very bad days I had
    to resort to extreme measures to turn it around.( talked my guide into
    showing me his ability to drink white lightning).and the next day he could
    not get out of bed so I went on a very succesfull hunt in the same area
    we had hunted the last two days.

    Needless to say he did not receive a tip. I only tip when they try hard to
    make it a succcessful hunt even if you dont get the game you were looking
    for the hunt is what counts.

    Allways take a trusted friend with you and you will enjoy it more.

    Dont let one bad experience turn you against all guided hunts there are
    some very good guides out there but you just have to find them.

    Just like having a custom rifle built you must make the smith understand
    exactly what you want and he understands what you expect so that
    the outcome will be a good one.

    I hope this will help
  7. Shawn Carlock

    Shawn Carlock Sponsor

    Jun 11, 2007
    Having been on both sides of the coin. I have to agree with most of the comments above. Just like any other profession there are bad, good and great. Check references, be sure the style of outfitting agrees with your style of hunting. If you are a long range guy and your guide / outfitter doesn't allow shots beyond 300 yards you could end up being very disappointed with your hunt.
    Down sides to guided hunts as I see them are of course the cost, being totally unfamiliar with area sometimes causes experienced hunters to second guess the guide when things do not go as planned. When you scout, locate, hunt and stalk your quarry yourself, there is only you to blame. On a guided hunt there are all sorts of people around to blame I have seen this happen many times. The worst case scenerio is that you pay a substiantial amount of money for a guided hunt and factors out of anyones control hamstring the hunt, weather is a big one here. Even if it is no ones fault and your guide does their best it can still leave you disappointed in you guided hunt. Two things can be counted on from a good outfitter, something will get screwed up from guns to weather and the second is they will do everything in their power to square them away.
    The up sides of the guided hunt are that you get for your money an experienced guide intimately familiar with the area and quarry, detailed scouting, good stand locations, a hunt that is some what taylored to your style and abilities (not just shooting), a good guide will treat you more like a hunting buddy that he is trying his best to help hookup with a particular animal. If you just don't have time or location to scout and plan this is a huge advantage to the guided hunt.
    In the end if you get a good guide / outfitter you will probably come away from your hunt happy and satisified, if you get someone who is lasy has attitude etc it will suck. Personel recommendations from people you know is probably the best way to help prevent this. Bottom line I feel like if you get a good guide / outfitter you a getting what you pay for.
  8. Strick9

    Strick9 Well-Known Member

    Nov 16, 2007
    Just do it yourself,, turn on those lights in your head and go.. I have been on two guided hunts and free lanced over I don't know how many.Both guided hunts made me angry with myself for not doing it the right way.Honestly I just wasn't as proud of my harvest. Plus I did not see eye to eye with my guide. Not that they were not good people, but that they push you threw like numbers.. Although on both guided hunts I did meet real and I mean the real Mcoys when it comes to guides..I just did not have the privilige of hunting with them ,, It is just to much of a crap shoot for the money involved..
  9. devildoc

    devildoc Well-Known Member

    Feb 10, 2006
    I am personally anti-outfitter, at least for the USA. As others said, you may get some access with them, but what you're forgetting is the more money you make the outdoor-whores, the more land they are going to monopolize access too. So you're basically supporting a return to the "king's deer" here in the good ol' USA.

    What you're paying for with an outfitter depends largely on the outfitter, For the best of them you're paying to have a guy take you to the game that has been scouting pretty much non-stop in his areas, which is going to result in a better chance of a harvest. You're also paying to have access to the areas that he has leased or has access to (buy buying/leasing land surrounding BLM etc.), usually a gauranteed tag and of course doing the work after the kill and keeping you fed and lodged in some cases.

    For the worst of em' you're just getting robbed. Most of them are somewhere in between, but in my opinion they are all bad for the future of our sport here in the USA.
  10. buffalorancher

    buffalorancher Writers Guild

    Mar 14, 2006
    I worked for an outfitter on the Alaska Penninsula one fall and we had 8 people we outfitted for unguided caribou hunts. Only one pair of hunters had any idea of what they were getting into and all the rest shot animals that were convenient or they misjudged the horns. We had to pack out one animal because the guy couldn't physically do it. This is a good place to have a guide.

    I outfit now on my own ranch and I do it to suplement my income as well as because I enjoy it. In many private land areas an outfitter will get you access to land that is managed for trophy quality. Where I live you can do it yourself but you will get marginal public land or possibly private land but the private land is almost guaranteed to be over pressured. You still may kill a good deer but it will be a very long shot and you will have to be very lucky. All of my clients have money but not time. Also, it's easier to pay me a certain amount for a few days hunting that is comparable to a family vacation than to buy a ranch for 2 or 3 million that returns maybe 3%. I make every effort to be very clear on expectations because I want myself and my guides to enjoy a hunt as much as a client. A client that has been mislead or misunderstood your operation is somewthing I will avoid at all costs.

    Hunters need to understand that in private land states like Nebraska most outfitting and land leasing isn't what a lot of landowners want. This trend has grown out of the lack of prosperity on the farm or ranch. So, the next time you buy a steak in the grocery store realize that the price you are paying is a lot of the reason for the proliferation of outdoor-whores. This is a trend that society has created not the people you blame.
  11. lazylabs

    lazylabs Well-Known Member

    Oct 26, 2006
    I have a real hard time feeling sorry for the poor farmer/rancher that you describe. There are many people living on much less than the 90k you describe as scraping by. The beef prices have been pretty high the last few years and most of the cattle farmers I know are doing fairly well. Ranchers have access to more government help than almost anyone, CRP, BLM leases, state land leases just to name a few. If a rancher wants to shutdown thier ranch and sell the deer they don't own have at it but don't say it's everyone elses fault. Yes this is a personal pet peeve and I will stop the rant!!!
  12. Troutslayer

    Troutslayer Well-Known Member

    May 12, 2005
    I have worked as a guide for several outfitters and in some cases outfitters are helpful.

    1. Single older gentleman who's wife doesn't like him in the woods alone
    2. Getting deep into backcountry on horse with mules to pack out the animal
    3. Guaranteed elk tag in MT if you book through outfitter, others must put in for lottery

    That said, I have never worked for an operation that I felt was worth what the clients paid. Most people do have more money than time which is why they might book an outfitter. I don't think paying for it cheapens the experience, it's not like we keep them in pens or anything. You're still out there working your ass off long hours in the cold and often coming up empty handed. If you can go into unfamiliar territory with limited time and kill a good elk by yourself and get it out of the backcountry you should do that.
  13. Flybuster

    Flybuster Well-Known Member

    Apr 20, 2007

    Thanks for posting that, I never really looked at it from that perspective. I understand its hard to make a living farming and ranching. Good point. I live in Eastern Oregon and find it hard to find a place to Pheasant hunt, or hunt anything really on private land. Tons of Hunters from the other side of the state with money and come over here and lease up the land for hunting. This peeved me for so long it made me bitter. I gave up pheasant hunting for the most part. But, I understand where you are coming from needing to suppliment for income. Its fast becoming a rich mans sport.

    Another thought about guides and fenced hunts. Is it really even hunting, or should it just be called killing since someone does all the work for you to pull the trigger.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2007

    HOGGHEAD Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2007
    Guided Hunt

    I have been on four guided hunts. All four were great experiences. One was the hunt of a life time. I saw 10 legal bull elk in one day on a ranch(35,000 acres) in NM. I am a handicapped hunter, so a DIY hunt is difficult. I have done a few, but they are difficult. I have not had a bad experience on a guided hunt. But I let the guide tell me what to do. I watched several hunter's in each camp have a miserable time with the same guide's. The problem was these guy's thought they knew more than the guides-THEY DID NOT. If you are going to spend a lot of cash, then in my opinion you should listen.

    I told the outfitter exactly what I expected, and needed, before the deposit was sent. We had several discussions, and each outfitter understood what I wanted, and they all provided what I expected. IMO you need to get all details ironed out before the hunt. Then all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the hunt(I have to sit).

    I sat next to a beautiful pine tree(the only large tree in the area) in NM. Watched and listened to the bugling bull elk. For as far as you could see. It was truly the best experience of my life. I have hunted on public land's, there really is nothing like lightly hunted private ground. Tom.