What makes a "good" Professional Hunter?

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by BigBoreCore, May 19, 2009.

  1. BigBoreCore

    BigBoreCore New Member

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    I have hunted Africa 12 times now and all my PH's have been excellent. I do have a few suggestions for you.

    1. Speak English when around the client. If that is not possible then interpret what you said for him and the other persons reply. It can be uncomfortable when kept in the dark and this will keep the client engaged.

    2. Don't put too much pressure on a client to shoot animals he wasn't interested in to start with. I know its a business and the more animals taken the bigger profit or the smaller the loss, but nearly all of us have tight budgets in this expensive little sport of ours. Some opportunities might be too good to pass up, but don't give even mild criticism of a client who chooses not to shoot. You can avoid this situation by not low balling your services or offering donation hunts.

    3. Don't drink too much. I had one PH who would put away eight beers each evening. He held it well and I didn't notice any sluggishness in his performance, but it did make me a little uneasy.

    4. Make sure the way you get paid is airtight. The reason I bring this up is that I have wired a Zim PH money to the foreign account he listed that he never received. The right account got the money, but his name wasn't on the account and he wasn't sure who it belonged to. This was a particular Zimbabwe problem due to their troubled situation. I was not able to recall the payment and the Zimbabwe PH is screwed. I am not out any cash and am under no obligation to pay double, but it has created a uncomfortable ending to an otherwise excellent hunt.
     
  2. Ray Atkinson

    Ray Atkinson AH Enthusiast

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    Bigborecore,
    Very good straight to the point post.

    I might add that in many cases clients approach African hunting with unrealistic expectations..This jewel of wisdom was told to me by Roy Vicent, an old time PH and one of the very best Africa has produced, but only if you can keep up with him! :) :) :) He can outwalk a spooked elephant and the only tracker I know that is better than him is his son Allen who now hunts for Tanzania Game Trackers..:)
     
  3. Safari Chick

    Safari Chick AH Veteran

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    Hey I have a good one, how about turning your cell phones off. It has not happened to me in Africa but stateside. What a pain when the cell phone rings at a very inopportune moment! Very unprofessional and can really ruin a hunt...:ssst:
     
  4. Oliver.Wettstein

    Oliver.Wettstein AH Senior Member

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    Safari Chick I dont think that the cell phones are a real problem in Africa, because most places being hunted do not have cell reception anyway, so it will not ring at an inappropriate time.

    For the rest of the points, I think they are very valid, and appreciate this thread being opened.
     
  5. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    BigBoreCore, you are so right. The talking in english is big to me. Because when you are argueing in different languages in front of me and I can basically understand what the conversation is....that is very rude!!!!!! Especially when the talk is about money. Who's going to make the most off the client and how to get him or her to shoot more animals. Trying to convince the client to go to this taxidermist or the hunt may take a turn for the worse. Yelling shoot all the time whether there is a 3 year stallion in front or springbok I have no interest in doesn't help. Clients are under enough pressure...don't pile on the guilt. It's suppose to be a vacation not a business trip. The cell phone doesn't bother me, but a PH will never turn it off. Their friends voice is more important..on the other line. It doesn't make me too mad.

    To me clients should be treated like a long lost hunting buddy or friend until they do enough rude stuff to resort back to being a business transaction. Again not every PH is this way!! But enough need a manner's course.
     
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  6. Safari Chick

    Safari Chick AH Veteran

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    Enysse, I think you should do a hunting report on the place(s) that you went hunting where some of these things happened! Honestly, I've read a few of your posts where you have mentioned some pretty IMHO outrageous behavior from the PH/outfitter and I just want to make sure that I never book with them!! Seriously, some of the things that occurred like the PH yelling, "shoot, shoot" at practically anything... I would have packed my bags and left with a big vote of no confidence in the judgement of the PH! But maybe I am too sensitive?:girl:
     
  7. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Safari Chick, There are some good operators out there like Frederik and Shallom...and I do like Skyline and Ray as consultants (Sorry if I forgot anyone it's been a long day). But there are some bad operators. Pure money and greed in my opinion. I will post a hunt report tomorrow...there will be two. I bought it up with my SCI friends and heard the comment the more you pay the better the service...I'm a wastewater operator so my budget is low. I'm not cheap but I'm not rich either. I love Africa..the game, climate, the stars...etc. But the one thing I have noticed if you go alone, you can skinned a number of ways. I what "Tracks across Africa", watch all the video I can, all the books, so I know what good game hunting is....I don't know if it's the economy or not but somethings are not right.
     
  8. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I thought about what I want in a PH.
    1) He tries to speak English all the time.
    2) Has a good clean gun and functioning scope and can shoot. Has a great pair of binoculars and knows how to use them!
    3) Drives the roads with respect...doesn't beat my rifle into a piece of junk.
    4) Ask what you are looking for in a animal-trophy size, age, length of horn, or just a representative animal, nice cape or or cape being rough is ok.
    5) What is your budget for the hunt? What animals would you like? And don't pressure the client into shooting every different animal you see!!!!
    6) Now that the budget is set...don't bug the client whole trip into going leopard hunt, buffalo hunting, etc. At the end of the hunt if you've done a great job...he or she will come back to visit you.
    7) This is no brainer...but I will say it anyway...take care of your clients trophy's...the capes and horns to the taxidermist...have your paperwork done. It seem simple but gets messed up anyway.
    8) Forgot this one...but it's important. When you find a nice animal don't start yelling shoot. And when the client hesitates to make a excellent shot....shut up and glass the animal, to see where it is hit. Seems simple but again some PH's have no patience. Some PH's that do culling for 500 animals a year think every animal they see should be a 2 second shoot. The funny thing is I've watched them miss black-backed jackels by yards...so much for great shooting.
     
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  9. muzzy1

    muzzy1 New Member

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    A good ph is supposed to be a good listener,by the time you reach your lodge or hunting area he should know what you would like,if there are extras he must be making plans to locate them,he should know your likes and dislikes,and should not smoke in the car if you are a non smoker etc...
     
  10. Red Leg

    Red Leg GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    I guess I have just been lucky both here and Africa, but I have not experienced what you have. However, I have always relied on respected consultants to recommend guides/outfitters and have yet to run across a jerk. Even on a couple of occasions where a guide and I were not natural born buddies, we maintained a professional relationship that was just fine. There may indeed be something to the old notion of getting what one pays for.

    And I suppose it goes to the heart of why we invest so much in this ridiculous sport of ours. The experience is as important to me as any set of horns on the wall. I make sure the consultant understands that clearly. Achieving that is worth a premium to me. Whether it is 10% or 20%, I couldn't tell you, but it is worth something. If that means over a five year period that I take one less trip, then that would seem a bargain compared to cluttering my memories with unpleasant experiences.
     
  11. Ray Atkinson

    Ray Atkinson AH Enthusiast

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    All of the above are legitamate suggestions and I know that some of them are violated from time to time, and I will add mostly in RSA and to a lesser degree in Tanzania, as both of these countries are poorly regulated and getting a PH license isn't very difficult, therefore it is up to the booking agent or hunting consultant (take your pick) to pre scout and determine which Safari Comapanies abide by these suggestions. It is his job to sort out the best of the best so that it does not happen at least within reason..

    There are times that it may be necessary to use a different language and the conversation may be none of the hunters business, simple as that, but it should not happen continually..other times its expeditious to speak to the staff in their language to get things done, and in most cases the Ph will give the hunter a brief explanation, if he feels it necessary. The PH is there daily for months on end and repeating himself continually can get pretty problematic. Cut him some slack if he is doing you a good job..

    The above situations are not always written in stone, and the problem can be either the hunter or the PHs fault. Keep in mind that some hunters can be a real pain in the a$$ and some PHs can be pretty arrogant and stupid..Come to think of it that can apply to all of us....It,s never a one way street. :)
     
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  12. Jacques.strauss

    Jacques.strauss AH Veteran

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    This one is for the ladies & gentleman that has hunted in Africa before... What in your opinion makes a Professional Hunter (PH) "good"? What criteria do you use to judge a PH?

    The reason why I'm asking this, is to get the clients perspective, so we as PH's can learn from your opinions and perhaps change a thing or two on the next safari... We can learn something new every day!
     
  13. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I appreciate that it is an Outfitter/PH revisiting this question.

    A few ideas:

    They must understand they are in a service business first of all and be willing to serve.
    The clients interests comes first.
    By being attentive and able to read people and be interested and understand them and their goals.
    The ones that actually give a damn are always seen positively.
    They always "go above and beyond" anything that is expected. This will go a long way to creating a sense of "Value for money".


    They must be the ultimate diplomat, demonstrating patience and a sense of humor ("Chirpy PH") while constantly using good listening skills and communicating effectively with their client.

    They will have to address conflict properly and effectively. When putting the client first they may find themselves in conflict with landowners, outfitters and themselves and the client.
    Better be able to offer a solution.
    I sincerely appreciated the PH's that managed the crap they were dealt, shared the reality and worked with me to create a solution or offered alternatives.

    Involve the client in the process of the hunt. Do not just lead them to a shot. (Although some clients may just want this)

    Be honest. If you don't know, say so. If you make a mistake, own up to it. Don't BS.

    They must be adaptable. S**T happens. ("We must make a plan")

    They must love to hunt and know the environment and the animals within it.

    I heard this one in PH School:
    "You are only part of the story and you must help the client write their story".

    It is their story, you are responsible to facilitate the best story possible.
     
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  14. Jfet

    Jfet AH Veteran

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    What Brickburn says. Also ask yourself in your experience what makes a great rugby coach or a great teacher. Those are the same qualities that make up a great PH.
    On a personal note, when you take off across the country and I am following you my personal pride will not allow me to say slow down. So you may have to carry me back:LOL:. Very much looking forward to hunting with you in June!
     
  15. billc

    billc SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    I think a ph that takes the good with the bad and handles them both well is perfect.Someone who loves to hunt and gets all the small details right as the hunt goes along.

    I think people should think they will get great service but should also understand when a PH may not agree with you he is still trying to do what is best for you.To many people go with the idea they are a equal hunter wise to a guy who does it for way longer ever year then themselves.If a client likes to be the one who thinks the client is always right dont be upset when things dont always work out in the end if they do as you wish 100% of the time.Good clients make for great ph's in the end.
     
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  16. Wheels

    Wheels GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Jacques,

    Simply by asking this question puts you way ahead of most PH's. It shows you care about your client and their experience.

    Asking and listening instead of just telling means a lot.

    Others have already given good responses and I don't know if I can add much.

    FYI, This may be a little off topic but your unselfish and helpful response earlier this week to the thread "Biggest elephant in Zim and Namibia" caused me to look at your website for the first time. Small things like that add up to more clients.

    All the best.
     
  17. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Cell phones are a given even in Tanzania. I had a hard time believing all the cell phones and the tower to boot. Camp staff had to walk away from the compound to use there phones. camp policy. and while in the field it was to be off and they were.
    South Africa has good cell coverage and the phones were on vibrate...
    Zimbabwe cell phones only worked on some rock copings and were usually not along.

    speaking English, while important most of the time the direct communication between trackers and the PH sometimes has to be in there native tong. It was always for the best. At the camp English was spoken by almost every direct worker to a point. some better that others. And some spoke better English than some in the USA. Many times camp staff can speak more than 1 or 2 different foreign languages.

    Basic hunting, while all hunters have a list of priority trophy animals (usually 5), some times we started at the bottom of the list (just my thinking) as we usually obtained the majority of animals on the primary list. Other times we took what was available while driving to go after trophy only to spot another and change directions. Some times you just do not turn down what just walked by.

    Proper communication prior and during the safari is the key to having a good to great experience. When the PH works with you and is Trying to provide the very best in camp and trophy's goes a long ways. The "we can do better than that" i like. Lets not scare that one off and if the one i want for is unavailable we will try for him later. (we were looking for another with 1 inch more of horn length)

    I have learned to be flexible while on safari. Not being a record-book hunter and just wanting a good representative goes a long ways, however we still like to have a go a the best the PH has to offer.

    I like the explanations of the different animals, trees and birds. Hearing what they are called in the native language.

    I have found treating everyone with respect goes a long ways.
     
  18. gutterdoc

    gutterdoc AH Senior Member

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    I had a bad experience in the US with the guide/PH telling me I couldn't shoot because he didn't have the camera set up yet. Really? I waited....waited and took a less desirable shot wounding the animal. When I tried for a follow up shot he grabbed my gun and said "NO, we will track him". He was never found. My dad and I asked to be taken to a rental car agency, which was 2 hours from camp, and we finished the rest of our "hunt" sight seeing and spending father/son time together. We have all had some good and bad ones on both side of the world.
     
  19. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    This falls in the self interested category. If you agreed to have the hunt filmed that's one thing, but if this is for his purpose alone? Back to the self interested lack of service.
     
  20. christophe morio

    christophe morio SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    I can't get in this debate.... So much things involved, good and bad and from both sides hunters and PH...
    As a PH for 20 years I can say that, things are much more different...... the worst for me is: shooting took over hunting...
    All the truth are not good to say !!! but sometimes....
     
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