How To Decide Which 1ST Time Outfitter?

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by buzz1858, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. buzz1858

    buzz1858 AH Senior Member

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    Seems to be a lot like me here looking to book for a hunt. Thee's a LOT of outfitters who
    offer a good deal, and are generally thought well of.

    Question is: What kicked you make the final choice for your first outfitter?

    Price?
    Referals?
    "Gut feelings" after communications?
  2. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    It was the price and believe me that is not the way to do it. Price plays a part but it should have been bases on a well run operation. References....should be checked thoroughly!
    You may be a good hunter but that will never make up for a poorly run one.
  3. Code4

    Code4 AH Enthusiast

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    Gut feeling (not always correct). Something in correspondence will 'click' with you.

    Of course everyone including you, has to be honest and be prepared to compromise some what. PH's and outfitters are not mind readers so explain exactly what you want even if it is a minor detail. When expectations are not met or distorted, then the whole experience becomes tainted and not good value.
  4. bluey

    bluey GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    gday buzz when i was looking to book our african adveture i went on referals and made a great chioce with dries visser safaris they are a great outfit .
    iwas bow hunting and me young bloke was riffle shooting so he would have to travel every day as where we were staying was bow hunting only , which was there property called citadel near thabazimbi .
    it was quite expensive compared to some of the others i had been in touch with but there communication was second to none i thought i wouldve out worn my welcome in the 12months we had to plan the adventure as i had an endless line of questions .they answered every one of them no worries .
    me and the wife are going back to gods country again this year and if she didnt want to be closer to some non hunting activities i would ve re book with these guys with out a second thought .
    in stead we are going with wormalds hunting adventure s, which i booked on referals again after seeing a two issue spread roy wormald done in an aussie magazine .and evryone ive spoken to or typed to has reinforced my idea that it was a good one .
    so if your typing to one or many outfits just keep communicating and til you feel comfortable with the one you choose .
    all in all theres alot of outfitters on here and all over the net and 99%are wanting your bussiness and once they get it they will want you to return again and again .
    enjoy your search as its your first memory to the adventure you havnt had yet
  5. buzz1858

    buzz1858 AH Senior Member

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    Enysse, I feel your pain -one of the reasons I started this was because of the generally poor time I had on my first trip to RSA.
  6. 1ObsessedHunter

    1ObsessedHunter AH Veteran

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    All of the above for me. I also spent a lot of time looking for reviews on the internet regarding this particular outfitter. What really did it for me was when I saw my outfitter on TV and the type operation her ran. What I saw on TV and in pictures was exactly what I experienced. It was spectacular. Good Luck!!
  7. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I have a lot of good memories. I found the truth stretched a little too much. And I really can't recommend taxidermy work done in Africa either unless you can live with less than 100 percent quality. I've seen some of USA taxidermy in person and it's twice as good. I'm not bitter just telling the truth.
  8. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Quagga is a great operation, I turned down a hunt years ago that I shouldn't have with them...it was a huge mistake.
  9. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Price wise:

    For perspective, I started researching early, 24 months in advance.

    I figured out how many outfitters there were in RSA and Namibia. I decided to contact a particular percentage of the total number of outfits; 1% of the total number.
    I also focused my internet search very narrowly, using all the tools at my discretion and gathered information on every one of them.

    I chose to avoid agents on the first hunt. (Not that agents are bad, I had confidence in my abilities to research.)
    I also wanted to interact directly with the farm owners/PH's/Outfitters.

    I started my search by bouncing every outfit that did not post their rates.
    After the first round, I contacted many places (email) that looked good and asked for price lists and references.

    I created a spread sheet and compared prices on everything. Welcome to Excel.

    I created my wish list of trophies and I ranked every last one of them.
    All costs in. Soup to nuts. NOT just trophy fees and day rates.

    When I looked at the web sites, I looked for openness and good, current information.

    For interests sake I returned to the net a year later and quite a few of the outfits had disappeared off the internet!!!
    Time is a good screening tool.

    After doing all this it was simple to avoid any outfit that was so out of line that they were ridiculous.
    I now knew what "value for money" was.

    During the screening process: The "best one" I ran into was a pornographer in RSA that was running a scam hunting outfit. Amazing what you find when doing background checks on these guys sometimes.


    Qualities I was after:
    They had the game species I wanted and a good history of trophies.
    (Indigenous species to the area, I could & did travel)
    One current picture of a Kudu bull from a trail camera. I had it up as a desk top image.

    Type of facilities I was looking for at a price within the expected range for that quality.
    $3500.00 per night or $110 does not matter if the facility and service do not meet with the price.

    Communication - Gut feeling.

    This all shows the business model and attitude.
    Cancellation Refund policy- open to re-dating the hunt.
    Deposit policy- negotiable, small, etc.
    Payment method accepted. Cash Credit Card, etc.

    I had actually departed Namibia without paying for a safari, solely due to issues at the bank in Namibia during my attempt to pay.
    The outfitter only had a $500 deposit in hand upon my departure.
    I had the money sent from home immediately and I emailed two days later from RSA to make sure they got paid. They had been and everyone was happy.

    References were just a good confirmation of what I already knew.
    I still contacted every last one though.
    Important, but many had not hunted the same species I was going to be.


    The last straw that tipped the cart for me was participation on AH.
    One of the final contenders in my spreadsheet contest was an active member of AH and actually had donated a hunt recently to a very satisfied customer. The report was honest and showed personality. Niel Uys was the PH was active on AH.

    The donation hunt, participation here on AH, comparative value for money, good communication and good policies set the decision.
    That turned into good business: a wedding; 10 people showing up for ten days; Four hunters taking a list of trophies from Warthog to Buffalo.
    AH WORKS
  10. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I think it's very important to look at last years trophies, things change fast. Gut feeling comes into play. If some one isn't talking about something that you want, it's time to look elsewhere. It may not be important to them...it's your money and time.
  11. firehuntfish

    firehuntfish AH Veteran

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    Wow, that's quite a comprehensive format for doing research, and very good advice for the most part....

    I agree with just about everything except for "bouncing any outfitter" off the list that does not show an online pricelist...In all my research, and 5 trips to Africa later, two of the best hunts I have ever experienced anywhere (not just Africa) did not post an online pricelist for daily rates or trophy fees.

    Each of these outfitters gladly provided me with a written all-inclusive quote after I provided them with the specific information as to what exactly I was looking for in my particular experience. Upon request, they also gladly provided me with a schedule of daily fees and trophy fees for comparison.... After giving them the specifics, I found their prices to actually be in line or better than the vast majority of other outfitters who did post prices. Posting prices is fine, but I would not rule out any outfitter solely because they do not...
  12. 1ObsessedHunter

    1ObsessedHunter AH Veteran

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    BRICKBURN, you have to be some sort of scientist. Only a scientist or mathematician could take such an approach. Are you?? Next time I plan a hunt I'm going to contact you for help with my outfitter selection ;)
  13. 1ObsessedHunter

    1ObsessedHunter AH Veteran

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    I happen to be a very particular person. I just expect to get what I pay for, and I certainly got what I expected and paid for. They really are fantastic!!
  14. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    I would agree, Brickburn's post covers it I think about as well as I could think. I do tend to also be turned off when there's a "price on request" on the PRICES page. That said, I have heard that some of the Zim operators have stopped posting prices on their website as the gov't there is using that to their advantage. I have no idea whether there's truth to that or not, but have read it out here on the web.

    The one thing I would add is that as you narrow your list is to attend one of the conventions. A face to face meeting with the outfitter is much better way to get to know your potential PH/outfitter than any other I can think of. It is surely an added expense to the expedition, but one I think you'll consider money well invested. Besides......if you go to DSC there'll be the opportunity to meet a bunch of fine AH folks for dinner one night!!!

    How's that for a shameless plug? :cool:
  15. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Comprehensive for sure.
    Not meant to be the method for everyone.
    Bouncing was what I did when I first started researching. I guess it just ticked me off that I had to send an email to even get an idea of what was going on.
    Like I said, later I did get information from contacting outfitters/PH's.

    Get all the information you can. Spend the time it pays off.

    It is the "value for money" that you have to search for. NOT just the first price presented.
    That can get you in trouble. You know, the old apples and oranges thing.
  16. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I forgot that one.
    Face to Face is a good idea. Go to a convention, hunting show and you will get a feel for the outfitters.
    You will know shortly the Outfitter PH or agent starts talking whether you are likely to get along.
  17. Hartzview Hunting Safaris

    Hartzview Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    Hello buzz1885,

    Welcome To the forum. I always believe that you should feel comfortable with the outfitter you would like to hunt with and also with the package he offers you. Cheapiest is not always the best and so is most expensive. There is a lot of good middle priced outfitters out there that will offer you a decent package at excellent service. Meet with your outfitter at ashow and ask questions as this is the only way you will truly find out how the specific outfitter operates and you will immediatly know if you clicked with the guy or not. Ask straight forward questions and if anwsers without any BS you know you have a good outfiiter. References always helps aswell.

    Best of luck with planning your safari and do not hesitate to ask questions on the forum. There is a lot of experience going around here.....

    Best regards,

    Jacques
  18. GSTONE

    GSTONE AH Veteran

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    I started searching through the internet to find the outfitters that offered the animals that I wanted to hunt, and the references on their experience. Then I e-mailed the finalists...and waited for the replies. I asked them questions, and listened to what each respondent said in return. I finally settled with the PH and company that answered my questions in such a way as to let me know they really wanted to help me attain the hunt I longed to experience, and had offered to help in each phase of my first African hunt. I wanted to make sure that my Safari would be everything I could ever want. The PH I selected was Jacques Spammer and the outfit was Hartzview Safaris.

    I was very fortunate to follow through as much as I did...especially after reading of others unfortunate experiences . I know now more questions that I could have asked, but I was lucky to have selected an outfit and PH that could answer all my questions as they came up, and offered suggestions to make the experience into a remarkable adventure.

    My first hunt was so fantastic that I returned last year, and plan to go again this year. I still hunt with Jacques because he has always been there to answer my questions, and to help me to have another remarkable hunting experience.
  19. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Just remembered another one:
    PHASA and NAPHA membership was mandatory.
    or whatever professional association in the country you are heading to, if they have one.
  20. Safari Afrika

    Safari Afrika AH Enthusiast

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    More than 50% of the success of your safari takes places outside the hunting field. It is great to sit around the campfire and be able to share the events of the day ! I also believe there will be no substitute for personal interaction before you select your outfit. Most outfits there will give you a good hunt with good animals.

    You need to pick one that you will have a good time with as person. The interaction and social part of the hunt also plays a big role in determining the final success of your safari.

    Good Luck ! I am sure after all the countless input from everybody you WILL make the right choice ! Just beware ..... It is worse than any drug ! You will be addicted after the first Safari !!

    Happy Hunting !

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