Guidelines to Choosing a Good Outfitter for a Hunt in South Africa

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Spiral Horn Safaris, Jun 29, 2010.

  1. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    Guidelines to Choosing a Good Outfitter for a Hunt in South Africa

    This is a very difficult and controversial matter and there is no exact science to choosing the best Outfitter to hunt with however these steps should insure that you get your money’s worth.

    1. The most important thing is to establish before looking for the Outfitter is what species you will be interested in hunting certain species can only be hunted in their native province.
    For example Springbuck cannot be taken in the Limpopo province however the trophy quality for certain species in the Limpopo province might be better than in other provinces, the best thing to would be to focus on each province according the species that are indigenous to the province.

    2. Questions that your Outfitter should respond to:
    • Is the operator a licensed Outfitter in RSA and how long has he been a Outfitter.
    Ask for the license information.
    Does he belong to PHASA and if not why not?

    The following should be provided and is very important:
    • All terms and conditions
    • Safari Contract
    • Letter of invitation (even if one does not intend on bringing your rifle with this is still a good document to view since it has the Outfitter’s license number as well as signature on it).
    • Indemnity form
    • Extra documentation or information such as the rifle importation process would be helpful to have
    • The Outfitter should provide his Outfitter license number
    • The PH should provide his PH licensed Number
    • In a lot of cases the Outfitter and PH can be the same person please bear that in mind
    • Does the outfit belong to SCI, Dallas SC, Rowland Ward or other hunting/conservation organizations (if there are problems there is some fall back on these organizations ethics committees)?
    • Ask for a list of references/clients for the last three years

    Please bear in mind that certain Outfits are still young and need to build up a client base there is a big difference between a young Outfit and a bad one (we all need to start somewhere in business). As long as the outfitter is honest about his position and informs the potential client beforehand one should not have any problems honesty is sometimes the hardest thing to do and telling a potential client something that he might not want to hear should count in your favor.

    The Size of property to be hunted needs to be determined and whether it is a put and shoot operation or an operator who has breeding herds and manages them for trophy quality and the land base. If the hunt will be on several farms, how big are the fenced areas on each of the farms and how much travel time is involved between farms?

    Does the operator own some of the land being hunted on or does he simply jump around from one place to another on a tarmac safari. Will you be staying at one lodge or bouncing around from one facility to another?

    Ask about the species of big game that you want to hunt and how many do they take on average during a season and what was the average trophy size. Not to be a record book nut but to have an idea of how things are being managed and to establish reasonable expectations for your hunt.

    How many hunters does the operator run per year and how many people should you expect to be in camp during your hunt? (Is it a whackem and stackem outfit slamming hunters through?)

    Some outfits book their camps/camp out on a one group at a time basis others will prefer to have the camp full with different hunters and cultures neither one is good or bad it would depend on the client and his preferences?

    Who is going to be your guide/PH?

    What is the vintage and state of repair of the safari vehicles?

    Does the operator run safari companies in other countries and if so where? (Gives an idea of their 'worldly experience'.)

    Does the hunting Outfitter have facilities specifically built to accommodate the field preparation process in other words skinning parlor, salt room and cleaning facilities such as a bath to soak the skins in to ensure all the blood is washed out of the skins before drying.?

    How are the trophies handled and who does the operator use for dipping and packing or as a recommended taxidermist. Do you get to meet the taxidermist that the Outfitter recommends?

    And he should have some decent information on these people, website, prices etc in advance so the hunter can also check references on their services. Is he willing to ship the trophies to a different company if the client requests it?

    Please remember to ask your Outfitter if you will get the opportunity to fill in the PH register after the hunt, this is a vital piece of documentation that has to be filled out since no hunt can legally take place without the completion of this document.

    The last but very important thing to keep in mind is you get what you pay for; owning land, upgrading facilities and keeping your hunting equipment in good condition takes a large financial investment every year.

    Best Regards
    Louis van Bergen
     
  2. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Hi

    Great article! I think it was very well thought out. A lot of important details were included....Thanks!
     
  3. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Very informative Louis, thanks!
     
  4. monish

    monish AH Elite

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    Hi Louis,

    Thanks for a brilliant & informative write up ....

    Monish
     
  5. Leeukop Safaris

    Leeukop Safaris AH Veteran

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    Thank you Louis.

    Great post and very good advice.
     
  6. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    Thanks guy’s I hope it will help the future hunters.
    Cheers
    Louis
     
  7. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    I wish this thread was something I had read some 2 years ago. I am replying to this thread at about 5am in Jo'burg here at the Afton GH. It has been a sleepless night. My wife and I arrived about a week ago in Jo'burg to start our African adventure. We started our trip with a photo safari on a trip to Kruger National Park with tours of surrounding private game reserves. We had an absolutely magnificent time. We concluded that part of the trip yesterday and returned to Afton for a night before leaving for Kimberly today to start the hunting safari.

    Unfortunately we will not be leaving for Kimberly. I booked this trip with an American PH at the ISE show in Phoenix in March, 2008. After researching outfitters for quite some time, I met up with this PH at the show. I thought I was doing the right thing with booking with an American for a number of reasons. His operation however was a bit on the new side and therefore smaller. I saw smaller as a good thing, I'm not so sure now.

    A few weeks before my trip, I found out from my PH's wife who was in the U.S. at the time, that her husband had been in a very bad car accident. The long story made short he is back in the U.S. but is paralyzed from the waist down. I was told however not to worry as another PH from the U.S. would be handling my hunt. Apparently however, the land that my PH hunted on is owned by a South African and access is controlled by him. He has locked out the other American PH and has informed the outfitter to no longer send clients through an email that was sent yesterday. Due to the timing and complications of the outfitter in the U.S., my hunt has been cancelled. So here I sit waiting for Jo'burg to wake up so I can start to try and get my flight arrangements changed. Good luck with that with the WC being played.

    The culprit in this matter is the landowner. It's not my American PH. However, with what I know now I would go with a larger and more established outfitter who can adjust for the unforeseen. My outfitter was still small and just could not overcome this tragic event followed by an unscrupulous partner taking advantage of the situation.

    This was to be my hunt of a lifetime and it's now down the tubes. If you're like me and not a man of unlimited means and time, pay attention to this thread. I'm laying here in bed stunned that after 2 years plus of anticipation and preparation, it's just gone. I'd hate to here of that happening to someone else.

    With that said, my prayers are with Ethan the man I booked this hunt with. My problems in losing this hunt and getting back home are to say the least inconsequential to the problems he faces with hit recovery not to mention the legal issues he'll surely be facing with his "partner."
     
  8. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    PHOENIX PHIL, I am very sorry to hear about this turn of events and the situation that you are in, it's all very unfortunate. Have you considered trying to find another outfitter in South Africa where you could possibly hunt for a few days since you are already there? I have heard that there are outfitters who are not fully booked during the World Cup as hunters were avoiding booking at that time. The people at Afton Guest House might be a great resource for connecting you with an outfitter on a last minute basis as I am sure they know many reputable ones, it might be worth a try and you may possibly be able to make this bad situation a little bit better. Perhaps an outfitter on AH might also be able to help you. Keep us posted and I wish you the best of luck. It tears me up to hear stories like yours.
     
  9. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    Yes, I'm going to try that also in a few hours. I've been looking at both Spiral Horn's and Leeukop's websites over the last hour.
     
  10. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Glad to hear that you are looking at some options... You should feel free to call outfitters really early in the morning as they are usually the kind of people up very early!
     
  11. RogerHeintzman

    RogerHeintzman AH Enthusiast

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    PHOENIX PHIL, I feel your pain, for I had to cancel two African trips over the years. I hope you can find a outfitter who can fit you in while you are there. Check out Kalaharihunting.com, I hunted here in 2008, flew to Kimberly and picked up there. They are located in the NW Province, the Kalahari Desert gives up some very impressive trophies.

    I wish you well.

    Roger
     
  12. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    Hi Phil

    I am so sad to learn of your predicament and will be in contact with you.

    We will do our best to help you with this problem.

    Best regards
    Louis van Bergen
     
  13. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    Well it seems I hijacked this thread, sorry about that. My PH's mother has worked through the night in Mississippi. She has managed to reschedule us with a safari company near Kruger! So hopefully all is well. We leave for Hoedspruit in a few hours.

    Thanks to Louis for calling me back, I do appreciate it.
     
  14. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    No problem Phil I wish you a good relaxing hunt after this ordeal.

    Cheers
    Louis
     
  15. TOM

    TOM AH Elite

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    I think this is a great guideline for many to consider before booking a hunt in South Africa! With as many hunt offers as we are seeing this year, some of this research MUST be done before you spend your hard earned money. I will try and think of some more helpful hints but Louis really nailed it on this one!
     
  16. hunting

    hunting AH Enthusiast

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    Very good
     
  17. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    Gentleman I would strongly suggest to ask these basic questions to avoid being part of something that is not above board.

    Gentleman it is up to us to preserve the industry that we are all part off and love.

    Best Regards
    Louis van Bergen
     
  18. Cliffy

    Cliffy AH Elite

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    A Good Option

    My first trip was through a US booking agent and went very well in Zimbabwe. Since then I have attended the Dallas Safari Club Show several times over 10 years and returned to Africa 2 more times (South Africa and Namibia). For those contemplating going, I highly recommend going to Dallas and spending 3 days there. It can not be done in 1 day. Talk with 10 or so operations on day one. Weed it down to 5 or so that night. Go back and talk to the five with more specifics of what YOU want (exclusive use of the ranch or not, how many go through in 1 season, animals available that you want, camp and food, check it all out to what YOU want) and by the afternoon you will have it down to 2 or 3. Settle on one and book day 3 or go home and think it over and then contact the winner. It all comes down to a good feeling of how you get along with the people involved. They're all good folks but like any situation, one gets along with some better than others. This has worked for me now 3 times as I'm 31 days from getting on the airplane for trip #4. I have no connection with DSC except for going to the show. Spend the time, go to the show and then go on that dream hunt. Just remember, IF YOU GO ONCE YOU WILL RETURN. You heard it here first. YOU WILL RETURN!
     
  19. Code4

    Code4 AH Enthusiast

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    Very good post and well done.

    It sounds like Phoenix Phil has fixed his problem. Probably not the way he would like, but repaired just the same. If anyone gets caught in the same situation, posting on here was one way to get help. Also the taxidermy studios or gun shops would have been able to help on short notice too. There are lots of solutions 'in country'.

    Here is my take on the post.

    I have always booked direct and a dedicated and professional outfitter/PH will answer any questions in the off season. To me, if they volunteer information about themselves that strikes a similar note to myself or ethics, then there is a good chance they are the right person. Call it 'gut feeling'.

    Of course you can never tell untill you get back home and there will always need to be an element of trust. Cross cultural and society differences will also be evident in a clear and open conversation. This is a two way street. In Australia, tipping is virtually unknown. As a generalisation, many Aussies rate tipping with bribery. Americans fins this a very hard obstacle to cross. Aussies also can find being waited on very uncomfortabe. As long as I can stand up and bounce off a few walls I can get my own beers :) Be aware that these differences are what they are and are not necesarily a bad thing. They add to the experience.

    I'm not sure membership of PHASA provides any protection for the hunter and I really don't want to start a debate. The reasons for my statement are, membership I beleive of PHASA, is compulsory in the northern most provinces in order to become registered to hunt and operate there. It just seems strange that a Govt regsitration body needs membership of a private organisation. PHASA exists to help the PH.

    Booking through a third agent always adds costs and booking through a domestic third party is no guarantee of a successful hunt.

    Certainly get all the documentation that Louis mentions.

    We as clients/consumers also owe it to the PH/Outfitter to be very specific in what we need and expect from them. If we don't let them know exactly what sought of experience we want, then we only have ourselves to blame. I feel a lot of clients absolve themselves of this responsibility. Any PH that can provide everything you want is IMO also suspect or you are paying too much for an artificial experience.

    Again well done on raising this (thumbs up).

    Cheers,

    John
     
  20. Frederik

    Frederik AH Enthusiast

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    Very good point don't be afraid to ask what you want or need after all its your holiday.
     

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