G-Man, you are the man! You are definitely smart. I've had my fill of $30000 Stone sheep hunt stories. Hunting desert sheep in New Mexico for $60,000. And paying half a years wages for a great elk or mule deer hunt. Africa is definitely cheaper. Anyone that tells you they can't afford a Africa hunt and is spending a arm and a leg hunting whitetail deer needs a education into the true cost of hunting. A lot of people drive a ton of miles, eat a lot of meals and spend a lot of hours to get a 130 inch whitetail...when they could have been to Africa for a plains game package. To each his or her own...but I'm not spending anymore money on whitetail hunts and bad public land hunts. Hail Africa!!! Right now it's the better option.
I will live, if I never get a desert or stone sheep, but would die a slow death if I never get a sable. I have a awesome Kudu....so sable is up next!
Enysse love your opinion you should look at Zambia for big Sable we hunted one there last year 45'' man it was beautiful but they are very pricey.
Enysse.........I won't argue with you on that one. As long as there are guys willing to pay the prices they are getting for a stone sheep, an Alberta bighorn, a desert ram or a polar bear.......well supply and demand is going to keep the prices up there where only the rich and famous can afford it.
Mind you, sheep hunters are kind of a different breed, as are the guys obsessed with a 170+ whitetail or 400+ elk. But that is their passion.........they will simply point a finger and say a guy is crazy for paying $50,000 to take a real honest to god full maned wild lion, $50,000 for a mountain nyala in Ethiopia or $40,000 for a bongo/forest sitatunga hunt. The comparison here is fair..........we are talking the glamour species on either continent.
The reality is that most North American hunts for everyday animals are in the $2500 - $7500 range and then they start to climb. From reasonable to the insane. You can also look at the fact that some glamor plains game species in RSA, such as sable at $7,000-$8,000, have a trophy fee that would pay for two entire week long black bear hunts in western Canada.
A plains game hunt for 6 or 7 head of game is still a chunk of change. A better deal for many because of the number of times they can pull the trigger and in most cases the total package is a way more luxurious deal than most North American hunts. But let's look at this logically with some real numbers and not use the limited top end hunts in North America to compare with an every day plains game hunt in Africa for the more common plains game.
I recently priced out a plains game hunt for myself and my wife with the 6 animals I wanted to take. The total for a 10 day 1x1 hunt in RSA with airfare and trophy fees came to roughly $19,000 US. This did not include shipping of the trophies, tips and gratuities, a couple of grand for an extra day or two in the city and a bit of shopping, nor taxidermy on the game when it gets back to my taxidermist. All told, the realistic total was going to be about $29,000 US or +/- $32,000 Canadian.
No, that did not include any sable antelope or other such beasts with the hefty trophy fees.
If you are content to just take a package deal with what ever species are offered in it ............which may or may not be what you want.......there are certainly some better deals to be had. Most of us though are looking to take certain species and are not content to just blast more of the same or only pick smaller or not as popular low dollar species..........and so it is what it is.
With an average daily rate of $350 US for 1x1 and average trophy fees for kudu, nyala, bushbuck, waterbuck, zebra and blue wildebeest that is what things pencil out to.
There is no right or wrong................it comes down to where a hunter wants hunt, how he likes to hunt and the animals that cause you to lose sleep at night. The other factor of course, and it is a big one, is what you can afford. Not everyone can pull it off. Other things come into play like mortgages, bills, children and your spouses desires and aspirations.........which all have just as much right to come to fruition as the hunts in Africa, North America or wherever the pull is strongest.
But that is just my take on things...........and I could be wrong.:)
Well put ENYSSE. I spent 10 years trapped in that South Texas nightmare. I remember calling around trying to find a place to take my 10 year old son for his first deer hunt. Since there is little to no public hunting I did not have many options. Guys would say sure bring your son up and he can take a little spike or fork horn for a $1000. Most of the time that was if I would be hunting as well for another deer. I wanted my son to learn to appreciate wildlife and hunting as well as know the value of it. I remember paying a different outfitter who allowed my son to shoot a small spike and my son could not understand why we payed to shoot a wild animal. I explained it to him the best I could. It seemed like he felt guilty about dad having to pay for it. Seeing him take his first deer was well worth it. Now that we are in New Mexico, he has the good luck of drawing out for the youth deer and elk hunts here. I will enjoy guiding him and teaching him about the hunt and will probably learn a few things myself. Hopefully when I make that next trip to Africa he will be right there beside me experiecing it for himself. Times can be tough, but I will remain positive and hope for the better. A funny story regarding high priced hunts. i spoke with an old friend back in Illinois whoo just started a trophy whitetail deer operation. As I heard the story I heard him mention something about 200 acres. I later asked him and he said the farm was barely 200 acres and high fenced. The deer were ran out or killed and restocked with breeder bucks and does. Those hunts can go for over $10,000 for the big ones. I just cant get excited about shooting a deer in a situation like that. He even said the old owner would drive around and spotlight the big bucks early in the morning and radio one the guides to bring the hunter. Sounds like fun right?
G-man..................they are called kill pens and they exist everywhere that high-fenced hunts occur. It is because of these sort of situations that there is so much controversy over hunting behind high fence.
I know a couple of elk operation in Saskatchewan and Quebec that have a steady stream of American hunters every fall paying big bucks for 400+ bulls. Pre-measured for score, ear tags cut off for the grip and grin photos.
There are high-fenced hunts in South Africa that are not much different with kudu, waterbuck bulls.........you name it.......bought from auctions and other game ranches and trucked in and released for guys to shoot. Guaranteed kudu bulls that are 60 inches in a small enclosure for big dollars, advertised in a magazine in fact.
Fortunately, they are not all like that and there are some excellent operators in South Africa, Namibia....whereever high-fence operations exist.....that are striving to provide a quality experience on big chunks of ground.
What bothers me the most is that these kill pens exist and they have been doing a thriving business. I have seen it first hand in Texas and Saskatchewan, watched 'hunters' on their very short and guaranteed hunts.......and it was embarrassing to even watch it. But again, what bothers me is that they exist and there is enough demand out there for them that they are NOT uncommon. That should bother all hunters...........but apparently it does not seem to, at least not as much as it would have 20 years ago.
$29,000 for plains game....wow. I can't imagine it getting that high.
Well it does. Just the airfare for my wife and I will be approx. $5000 with no side flights anywhere else. Then daily rates for myself and my ride-a-long wife for ten days are about the same. $10,000.............and I have not even pulled the trigger yet.
Trophy fees......and these are fairly typical for these species, some will be higher or lower from one operator to another but the total will be similar.
nyala - $2300
bushbuck - 1200
kudu - 1700
waterbuck - 1600
zebra - 1000
blue wildebeest - 900
Throw in an extra thousand for maybes like an impossibly big impala or warthog that comes along, maybe an RW reedbuck pops up.???? The maybes are up to the individual and depend on your self control.
Tips and gratuities - this is a touchy one but lets say $1000 for a figure to use.
Dipping/crating/ship by air - $1000 to $1500
Accommodations and meals before and after the hunt, extra couple of days of looking around Jo'Burg or Cape Town, gifts and knickknacks - $2000
Trip cancellation insurance and emergency medical coverage - $500 +
Taxidermy when I get home $5,000 - $6,000 if I don't do anything crazy.
This is the basics......not including other things like the unexpected, excess baggage, rifle rental if you don't take your own, duty on goods imported, etc. etc.
Add it up. Then I have to tack on exchange and at present I just use 10% as a ballpark figure. Who knows what it will be when I go next.
Hi Kelly, I see so many package hunts from $3000 to $5000 it drives me nuts. And the prime animal could be eland, kudu, waterbuck, and nyala and it drives me nuts. There are so many hunt operaters offers deals right now it's crazy. They packages include trophy fees and daily's. And you could upgrade from there. I see 2X1 hunts and 1X1 hunts with observers. Maybe it's because I'm part of SCI that I see all the options...but it keeps we awake at night...there are so many deals!!! I see one guy is offering 10 animals for each hunter, one on one service for each hunter, taxidermy on the 10 animals for each hunter, 3 day stay in Kruger national park, roundtrip airfare from Atlanta, 3 of the animals are eland, kudu and waterbuck, and the hunt is in the Adday in a great area in my opinion. The costs would a little over under $26000 for everything. I was offered a sable on a seperate deal a while back for $5500 and it had 41 inch horns. It killed me...I'm out of money.
I see a lot of 10 day packages for Eland, Kudu, Nyala and bushbuck...everything included for under $9000. And sometimes other species can be bargained in the package. That is a lot of value compared to a elk hunt or mule deer hunt. I can't believe people pay $3000 to $4000 for a antelope hunt (counting gas, tag, outfitter and airline ticket).
I guess the reason people pay so much for hunts close to home is that they aren't too far from their family or job. They're willing to pay for the convenience of being close to home. I will be watching a lot of football this fall and less hunting. I see no cheap options. I think it is the smart thing to do...since money is tight and the deer quality is very low. But I am looking forward to hunting Africa and other desitinations if I ever can draw a decent tag out in Western U.S.
Black bear hunts in Canada remain the last excellent hunt value in North America...some of the Ontario black bear hunt prices are killing me...they definitely are great values...considering I don't have a black bear.
I've been seeing them Enysse.......I'm a life member of SCI so I get all the paper and e-mails. Most of the packages are about 70% animals I do not want.
There are some great deals, which is what this thread started about........especially for the new guys who have not been and all animals are new.
I have not found what I want yet. Some have been close but when I checked into them there were issues that turned me away....I won't discuss them here as it will just stir the pot and get some backs up.........so I have not found any of the REAL deals that will work for me. Best I can do is as I described in my last post, or something similar.
Maybe next year if something improves. There are several quality operators on AH that I would go with any time and they are in the price range I mentioned earlier. :)
I haven't hunted Africa yet, although I plan to in 2012, but you guys need to learn some supply side economics. Would you rather keep your rates artificially inflated and continue catering only to the few wealthy clients who can afford your services, or would you rather adjust to the world economy, lower your rates to a sustainable level and stay busy all season with hunters who now might be able to return to Africa a couple times instead of just having that once in a lifetime hunt? Sure, the wealthy can afford bigger tips, and they have more expensive rifles, but they also require more luxurious accomodations, and they want a particular brand of scotch, etc. How many of them can hack it when the going gets rough. I'm sure plenty of them can, but if you would just get back to doing things the old fashioned way you may even attract more wealthy clients along with average Joe's. I have nothing against the wealthy. I aspire to become one of them. The point is if you make things a little more affordable so the common man can come back for more I believe you might even make more money. Cut your costs, but don't cut your throats. We all know that there are certain costs beyond your control, but if you keep your hunts booked instead of losing clients to other outfits like some mentioned here, then you will almost certainly increase your profit margin. Do your wealthy clients really require luxury on safari when they can have luxury anywhere they want? I know some will certainly settle for a canned hunt if it's offered to them, but one comes to Africa for the experience, not for luxury. I've read most of your ads and I have to tell you I can get that kind of pampering without leaving my county. Just as lowering taxes raises the taxes paid, lowering your prices just might increase your income.
This thread epitomizes all of what this forum is about. Civility, honest back and forth discussions and knowledgeable members. A tip of the hat to all of you!
Now, if I may weigh in with a comment or two I would be most grateful-
I, too, see African hunting changing with the changing world economy. I, too, feel that some areas have been priced out of the budget of the majority of even the small numbers of (an I'm going to limit this to) American hunters that can afford to go somewhere else besides public land hunting in the USA. G-Man's comments are right on the mark. I have seen for myself, since I started hunting in Africa in 1999, a change in those whom I talk to that have or want to go hunt in Africa. I feel, by far, the American hunter, is the prominent purchaser of African hunting trips on a world wide basis. From a marketing point of view, outfitters need to address this market, especially in times of monetary strain world wide. Where free markets prevail, some will be able to weather the financial storm and some will not. In today's world, if you do not have an exceptional website-you're not in business. If you do not make your services clear and concise on the web, most will look elsewhere. It's nothing more than a changing consumer world in the USA. I'm not a marketing guru of, or even degree'd in that specialty, but I've had enough experience in my own businesses to make that assumption. Just look at the iPhone/Ipad explosion with blogging and Twitter to see where the marketing world is going and who you are going to have to deal with in the next 10 years! The providers of phone/band width/data services here in the US and most cosmopolitan cities around the world (where the customers come from) are swamped trying to keep up with the ever increasing demand for internet based services. While some, with maybe a captive audience or notoriety at the moment, can post POR for everything, most of the new, never done that before, customers will not bother looking at that. I have taken (they paid their own way but I "guided them there) 6 new African hunters to the continent in the last 5 years and all of them followed exactly what I have outlined here. They did their homework on the web before they made verbal contact with the outfitter. This is just the way the biggest numbers (maybe not the biggest fee trips) of hunters seem to work from this side of the big pond. Unfortunately, I see too many outfitters still living in the past as far as looking for big money trips with clients that HAD big disposable incomes before the crash (SCI Convention is not the typical American hunter, it's more akin to DSC). That world is gone. I was in the aviation world for 50 years before I retired and I have seen it go the same way. People with money to travel look for value for the dollar now and not "I don't care what it costs 'cause I got the money". Like wise, there are a sizable number of first time African hunters that would like to go but they are very tight with how they spend a dime. For those outfitters that can market to this group and keep the basic services of a class A camp and food, etc etc they will prosper. Those that can't or just want to deal with the "carriage trade" client, will perish. I know for the most part most PHs and Outfitters will never become rich in this field,(a few will but not many, as in any business field) And, I also know how hard most work to provide an exceptional experience for their clients but as one PH put it to me, "I know I won't get rich at this but it's a way of life I want to live". It is a changing world and businesses who market to the USA client will need to change with it if they are to survive.
There are a couple of other areas that currently are not being addressed like G-MAN said- Just going out of the USA to "AFRICA" is a big deal to most who have never been there. Even with all the "help" available from the African side of the equation it is still a deal breaker for many. I know this for a fact with the 6 I have brought over. It's no different than US companies trying to deal in China. Many make mistakes because they don't learn that countries ways of doing things first. Half way around the world is a LONG way to most who have never traveled outside of their own state in the US.
I feel the climate is going to be OK over the next decade or 2 IF everyone learns how to market to a different clientele now on the scene. There are customers out there, they just have to be marketed to correctly. Like I said, it's no different than the airplane world where the days of salesmen making millions on a few quick sales are gone. Now the margins are much slimmer and it takes effort to locate the clients who will part with dollars for value received.
I have to say you have hit it on the head, every happy client booked is a potential repeat client and he has friends and he will tell his stories and show his photos..........that leads to more bookings. I often have some great deals on DG and I intend to offer them, if I make less money or just break even ( without affecting the wildlife ), then so be it, that is my choice and my business module.
As the saying goes " I would rather make one dollar from a million people than one million dollars from one person, "those days my friends are long gone, adjust with the times.
Whether it is a full daily rate hunt or a discounted safari, there will be no change in the way myself or my professional hunters conduct themselves, we do it for the love of he game.
I started this thread almost three years ago after booking my first hunt with Martin. It was to be my second safari, the first was in Tanzania the year before.
I was nervous, first it was in Zimbabwe, second it was with an outfitter I only knew from the internet (I did check references), and third it was a discount hunt.
Martin treated me like royalty and was my PH. I enjoyed a great experience hunting elephant and buffalo in the Tiger Bay jesse, not to mention some fun fishing on Lake Kariba.
Martin's business model surely has worked with me. I hunted leopard and buffalo with him in 2011, have a bull elephant booked for 2013, and am trying to figure out a way there in 2012.
I am going to give him plug for his wife's operation. They run a photo safari operation in Hwange called Nehimba. We are going there next year. It is beautiful area. Congratulations on the new water well!!!!!
Wanted to expound on Mike's comment regarding Martin's photo lodge, Nehimba, located in Hwange.
We had a small group that contacted us in May. They were planning a business trip to Africa and wanted to have four or five days of photo safari in Zim. My wife Valerie contacted Candi Pieters and between the two of them worked out the details on short notice. They spent a few days in Nehimba and a few days at the Gorges in Vic Falls prior to leaving from Vic Falls back to the States. The clients were beyond pleased and are already planning a return trip to spend more time in both areas. Thanks Candi for taking such good care of everyone on such a short notice. I'd thank Martin but am quite sure he was busy in the Omay and was not even aware the trip took place.;)
I read with interest all of the posts in this thread and wanted to comment from a consumers point of view
Now as I understand the traditions in hunting Africa run deep but it seems to me that some of what is done or more precisely how it is done is the result of "tradition" Thus I see some of the issues and complaints expounded upon here as one's more of marketing and packaging.
I do not believe you are selling or want to be selling to the same market you did 30 -40 years ago. Times change and so do a consumer's preference.
So, just a couple of random thoughts if you will indulge:
Most of the offerings and the pricing structure thereof are constructed in a manner that assumes the potential customer knows what he is buying and has spent the time to really get a handle on what is going on, why not make it simple for him:
include the tip in the package price, no one really knows how that works anyway. Just identify it and include it!
Also, transport from the airport and back. Its not an option, the client has to get to you somehow, better you handle this than someone else
Likewise with the dip and ship, take charge here and the client will appreciate one more thing he really doesn't need to be involved with
Make the observer portion of the trip seem just as important, if you are going to tap someone $100 -400 / day it needs to bear some relevance "While your better half is off "a huntin" we are going to see to it that you have the opportunity to ( ? )
When your client gets home and is going on and on about his 60" kudu to his friends his wife will be in the kitchen with the girls talking about the mud bath, the food, the service, the side trips to Victoria Falls, the local village or how cute the baby rhino was that you rescued from the poachers. Those are the kind of stories that occur, perhaps unbeknownst to you that break down the resistance.
And speaking of resistance
Likely, this day and age you are going to be dealing with the Baby Boomers and while they don't want to admit this they are all getting up there, heck some of them are about to take their first glimpse at 70!
But, people live longer, are more active and travel more
However, there are some concerns . . . . healthcare would be a major one
Not knowing anymore about all this than I do I will stand here and tell you without reservation that the very best investment a safari company could make in this day and time is to have an American RN on staff during hunting season. Someone at the lodge that could answer questions about diet and medication, provide something a little more than First Aid out of the back of your bakki. Make a decision as well as the arrangements for a medivac etc etc.
The existence of that person, on staff raises the confidence level of all your clients and answers that question, "well, what if something were to happen"
I predict that it would make a substantial difference . . . . the deciding difference? hard to say but,
If the little woman is talking to hubby about him going to Africa....alone....she is going to have concerns about his health and well being. When he addresses her concerns by saying, "Dear, they have a full time nurse on staff " her concerns are addressed
and then se tells her friends and so on
I guess the point I am trying to make is this...I believe that quite possibly your clientel and their tastes preferences and concerns may have changed over the years and it might be beneficial to take a look at them and then your existing marketing plan and see if there might not be some changes in order
That, then is my dos centavos
Second Wind makes a very valuable point in that being the health issues encountered OR thought to be encountered in AFRICA. This can be a big issue in lots of minds. My last trip to South Africa with Sadaka Safaris we were blessed with the fact that Ewert's wife (Ewert Vorster, PH) was a certified RN. I would disagree with SW in that a well trained SA Nurse is just as good as an American nurse but I digress. Having her available was in fact a big factor in my hunt as she diagnosed and sent me to a world renown specialist MD in spider/insect bites as I developed tick fever.
SW's other comments are 100% right on.
Cliffy, I specified an "American RN" as more of a marketing ploy . . . . In practical application I do not really believe it would actually make much difference where the RN was sourced.
As an example, based upon the reports from Zim so far this season, I think the question of :what if something happened" is applicable.
And we have to be practical here, most clients are used to the comfortable thought that they customarily operate within no more than an hour from a well staffed ER and by helo not much longer from a major trauma center. So, there is a bit of trepidation engendered in some when you begin to speak of going out into the unsettled wilds of Africa. So I say, from a marketing stand point, raise their comfort level and eliminate this objection.
I agree with you 100% but the practicality may be a SA registered RN which, from what I have seen, are jusr as good as any USA RN.
On a second note to expound on one of your suggestions- I am having dinner with the couple we took to Africa 5 years ago and went again this last April as I write this. They brought up an interesting point about the wives that accompany the hunters. I am (we are) helping a friend set up his first African hunt (Buff and plains game) and his wife has trepidations about going. One question she posed to my wife was- "what do you do, as a woman, if you have to go to the bath room out on the hunt." Questions like this are something that those who live in the bush never think about but those coming from big cities in the USA do. Your comments on dealing with the wives is well put. It has to be done now. The old ways just are outmoded now.
my point exactly
the successful operators are going to be those that adapt
change their mode of accommodation
here is an example that hits home
My current SO is a pretty high dollar tax attorney
I may just be guessing but, in the field, if someone tells her to drop her Gloria Vanderbilt s and piss on a bush
she may not be on her way to becoming a repeat customer
btw Skyline, without being critical, or, owing to my inexperience and naivete
I believe your numbers for a PG hunt are way off
I believe that with everything, other than final taxidermy, should run under 15 grand US
DG, depends on how much cargo you want to ship home but, if you stay out of Tanz or Zam that number should be south of 40 with some good, representative trophies
Now, if you need 100 lb ele and 46+ buff and 300 lb leopard in Taz the numbers can get out of hand in a hurry
Moderation.....its the key concept
In your living room when you have a nice buf, bracketed by your ivory, I will promise you this
Most of your guests will not be able to tell whether those are 40 or 60 lb tusks or whether that is a 38 or a 46 buf
what they are all going to want to hear, and what will keep them on the edge of their seats is the story you tell that goes with them
The trophies are only a reference point for the start of your narrative