Bad Experiences with your PH / Outfitter

Sable - 375

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Hey there;

We run a concession in the Northern Part of Mozambique, we have three Profesisonal Hunters on site (two of which are shareholders in the concession) - I am the youngest addition to the team and focus primarily on hunting and anti-poaching.

As per my "hello" post - I am new to Professional Hunting, and come from an advertising background - a background that focused purely on client servicing - and that is something I hope I can bring into the mix, is treating our clients professionally, fairly and offering an ethical hunt.

In your opinion - what are the ways a PH / Outfitter could let you down? And what do you expect back once a letdown has been experienced?

Thank you.
Sable - 375
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Skyline

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For me, that is a very simple thing, honest and straightforward communication. No sugar coating, just the facts of what to expect on the hunt, services and species availability.

If I have been given accurate information then I am not going to be disappointed and will expect nothing back. It is hunting, there are many variables and things do not always pan out. You want guarantees.....go behind fence.
 

Western Expedition

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Misled

I recently fell prey to being sent on a buffalo hunt into an area where they had not seen buffalo all season. I am convinced that my US booking agent and Zim based PH would have told me anything to get my money. Whether they were greedy or desperate I can only guess but it was a very bad experience. The lure of the dangerous game daily rate seems to have really clouded their judgment. Just be straight with your prospective hunters. If their game and/or trophy quality priorities are not common to your area then respectfully decline talking with them any further. You may lose a client or two in the short run but you will benefit far greater from the happy clients who return with their friends to hunt with you again. Best wishes. Eric
 

Ian B

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Eric and others who have been messed around.
I strongly urge you to make it know wherever possible and basically name and shame the outfitters in question. The internet is a powerful tool
Make sure of your facts, but don't let rip off artists get away with it.
I am sorry to hear of your experiences, but like in any lucrative form of business there re going to be the fly by nighters who end up giving others a bad name.
I hope you get to enjoy a good hunt one day and fulfill your dreams.

Good hunting
Ian
 

Hunt of a Lifetime

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Bad 1st exp.

Just found this site , looks like some valuable info on here.

My wife and I went on our 1st safari to RSA in 2007. The hunting was mediocre at best.(#of animals was very poor ,we saw less than 100 in 6 days) Our ph/owner dropped us off in the blind at 8am and picked us up at 6pm. that was the extent of our guide service. matter of fact i was told to leave my bow in a blind along the banks of the limpopo because I would be walking in at 5am and to climb the fence and hope for a bushbuck.
Heard some really neat sounds walking in and guess i did alright as i am still here. To top it off I shot a female oryx with non typical horns and she had given birth ( i was told i could shoot a female as long as she wasnt prego)
how was i to know ? well you think i shot the prize cow of the world, we were
really treated bad over that one and i was told over and over again that i would be charged for 2 instead of one for the last 2 days of our hunt.
Thankfully my wife saw and heard the ph give permission to shoot a female so i was never charged.

I felt i did all the background checks and talked to ref. everything was fine until we got there, then it became a pressure cooker. Felt like we were only $ signs to the guy.
Thankfully we did a 4 day Kruger park tour with a local couple who we really hit it off with and had a great 4 days.

We are going back but I have learned a lot from my mistakes and have everything in writing and then some.
hopefully with better luck.

My advice is ask questions more than one time and write down the answers and take with you on your trip. Then if the ph pulls some crap ,bring out your notes and call him on the carpet right there and then. I will be doing this on this trip and the ph knows it.
 

jaustin

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One of the things that I do is keep all email corespondence from the outfitter and take it with me on the hunt. This has saved me several hundred dollars in the past. I do not think that all outfitters are dishonest, but most hunts are booked well in advance and prices may have changed in the months before your safari and the outfitter may try and charge you current prices that are higher than the agreed upon price. Another thing that I learned the hard way is call references, not just two or three but as many as you can. If they are not positively gushing about all aspects of the hunt; food, lodging, PH, quality and quantity of animals then look somewhere else. There are too many great outfits in Africa to settle for a mediocre hunt.
 

AfricaHunting.com

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Some great advice here...

I highly recommend, if you have not done so already, to post a rating and review in our directory for any outfitters, PH, agents, taxidermist, etc... that you have used, good and bad to share that information with other hunters. If you cannot find them in the directory, let me know and I will put them in.

I really hope to create the greatest resource for hunting in Africa on the internet and I can only do that with the help of all of you who are willing to share your experiences. I also hope to expose those in the business who are less than ethical and raise the profile of those who are quietly doing an amazing job and fulfilling dreams.
 

lammie

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Some Outfits do 'use' animals like Gemsbok to get more money from the client if he shoots a female that is pregnant OR that have a depended young. Here is the catch: Gemsbok that are pregnant will also have a depended young(suckling), so point being, they are NEVER without one or the other!
 

Shallom

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Always best to get to know your outfitter and the PH as well as correspondence will allow before your trip. Ask everything you want to ask and you will get an idea about the Outfit and the PH from your getting to know each-other. An outfitter who lies and gives a guest false impressions is not good for the industry. Whatever the case, the effort and ethic of the outfit and guide should reflect reality before, during and after the safari. Some days may be bad in terms of hunting and some days may be odd in terms of service and things just not falling into place, but in general, a good outfit and good guide, makes the entire safari an overwhelming success and positively memorable experience for the guest. It should not be otherwise.
 

Hunt of a Lifetime

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Some Outfits do 'use' animals like Gemsbuck to get more money from the client if he shoots a female that is pregnant OR that have a depended young.Here is the catch: Gemsbuck that are pregnant will also have a depended young(suckling), so point being, they are NEVER without one or the other!


I think this was directed at me, the PH was not with us and gave permission over 2 way radio. and no there was not a calf with it. I did the best I could have done with my very limited exp. in judging animals. This trip I assure you will be diferent.:)
 

RayAtkinson

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Threads such as this greatly bother me..I have seen untold damage done to safari companies by clients that were nothing less than black mail artist, so if there is going to be such a thread, then both sides need to be present or the offending safari company needs to be notified..

In my 40 years of booking I had one individual that had a great hunt but tried to do damage because he didn't get a Lion. He also did the same thing to a Canadian outfitter and then to his taxidermist, so this is a two way street.

Be forewarned, it could open up a can of worms...

My suggestion is know who your hunting with, word of mouth is the best bet IMO, check out your outfitter and your booking agent, beware of the booking agents that went to Africa one time and decided to book hunts for free hunts. How long a man has been in business is a good indicator be they booking agents or Safari companies..Reference are good, but be aware references can be fixed by any unscrupulas outfitter.

Anyway for what its worth...take it or leave it.
 

HennieV

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Wow..it is getting "hot" around here...I like it.

Know that there are PH's who really work and work hard. The Outfitter, PH, Camp Staff and agent should be in the same camp working for THE CLIENT...he is after all the client and the client is "king"...

My tip is straightforward...a Outfitter should know his client...and know his PH. If the combination does not work, it doesn't mean the PH is bad. get the combinations of personalities right. get the combinations right.

All PH's are not bad....all PH's are NOT trigger happy.....all PH's are not lairs....I am proud to be a PH and that is what I learn my son.
 

Skyline

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I am afraid I have to agree completely with Ray Atkinson on this. The internet is a great tool but it is misused a lot when it comes to complaints about people, products and services. I have also seen the internet and forums used to lay a severe beating on an operator when in fact the client was the bad apple...........and I know because I was there and saw it. I do not really want to get into it too deeply but again, I find myself pointing to the fact that people feel pretty smug hiding behind their computer monitor and a forum name with few, if any, personal identifiers attached.

I also had the sad experience this past week of having something confirmed for me in no uncertain terms. Companies are actually paying people to go on forums and bad mouth competitors and their products. The surprising thing was that a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon immediately, like a flock of vultures on a kill..................it was truly amazing to watch, but deeply disturbing.

Please note that these are general comments and not directed at any posts or people on this forum, and should not be taken personally by anyone.

After over 30 years in the hunting business I have seen poor operators, poor guides and PH's, poor booking agents and most assuredly poor clients. All too often I have watched clients/guests try and lay the blame for their poor performance or choices on the guide/ph, operator, horse, rifle, ammo manufacturer..............anything and anyone other than where the blame belongs........themselves.

Very few PH's and operators spend a lot of time on the internet and fewer still participate in forums. It really isn't an even playing field when one side has free rein to hack and slash a person or company to pieces, while the other side does not even know it is happening.

So I too have grave reservations about this topic and also believe that if an operator/guide/PH's business ethics, morals or character are going to be called into question on an internet forum, they should be contacted and allowed to rebut what is said. I for one do not believe "the customer is always right".

The concept of being able to warn people of a disreputable operator is a good one, but an abundance of caution is needed in how it is done.
 

JOODOWD

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Having never been to Africa but I have guided duck hunts and it seems to me that if your a good PH who ends up with a hard to deal with client, do what the client is going to do, advise your friends about them. If the truth is bad for business, then something needs to change and on the other side if a booking agent of 40yrs only ran into 1 bad apple that list of hard clients can't be too long.
 

Calhoun

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So far I have been fortunate & really had no problems with my PH on hunts. I agree with you guys 100 % that this is a 2 way street and probably is cracked up more on a unhappy client smearing the outfitter. getting back to the guy shooting the female Gemsbuck.. doesn't a decent Ph sit in the blind with you to help judge the animals & also so no young stuff is shot? My outfitter said when we made a warthog blind & hunted them it was the most boring part of the hunt but he would never take the chance of an inexperienced client judging an animal & taking the chance of rebuttle down the road. He also stated that on 1 occassion the wounded warthog headed right into the blind & holy hell happened!!
The first time I was picked up by the PH I had a 3 hour ride from Johannesburg to the Limpopo province. I had more than enough time to ask the questions I needed answered, alot of misconceptions answered on animals & trophy size & by the time I got to camp I felt I had a good friend & knew him forever! I know this isn't true for everyone but I do think communication is of vital importance!
It is unfortunate this stuff has to happen, but this is far from a perfect world & I think because of the distance between Africa & the foreign booking agents I think one may be better booking with the outfitter directly! One other question for you PH's or outfitters... When you give references do you guys ever give names of unsucessfol clients? It just seems that to many stack the odds in there favor & possibly this problem could be solved. I never got my Waterbuck on 2 safaris>. one I missed the other safari I never seen a mature animal that I wanted. I will tell this to any possible client & that certainly doesn't mean I have any bridges to burn with the outfitter. That;s Hunting!!!
 

Albert A Rasch

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Habari,
Part of the problem is that the client, usually an American like myself, has dreamed of Africa, read all of Capsticks, Ruarks, and Burger, and figure if they are spending all this hard earned dough, by golly, it better be as good as the books!

I have been kicking it back and forth with a friend of mine that has spent a inordinate amount of time in Africa hunting. Lucky SOB! Among the comments and advice he gave me, was the absolute imperative that one should talk with, communicate with, correspond with, his PH. Get your expectations out front and on the table. If you want a 54" Kudu or 46"+ buff they have to know, and you have to do your research.

Things I wasn't aware of:

Many operations and their PHs expect you to shoot a bunch of stuff. None of this hunting nonsense. Just because you are booked on a 10 day hunt doesn't mean to them that you can sit on your duff and do what you want, just because you paid for their time. The money is in the trophy fees. The daily rate is just part of the business calculus.

That doesn't mean the outfitters and PHs can't or won't cater to you, they just need to be aware of your wants and desires. Ryan of Wild-Footprints understood what I was getting at, when I described what I thought was my idea of hunting Africa.

If you don't do your research before hand, ask the hard questions, and fail to communicate your expectations, you not going to get what you want.

I want to hunt, and hunt as hard as my body allows. The shooting is an afterthought, I know I can shoot. I want to remember the hunt.

Oh, and I want biltong; enough that I explode from it.

Regards,
 

RayAtkinson

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I suppose I would suggest that you pick a booking agent that has been in the business a long time, otherwise he would have folded and gone the way of the less honest booking agents..Not to say some young booking agent out there is not honest, many are, but like everyone else in any business, they all have to make their bones. In todays economy I would not want to get into the booking business.

If you book direct with a Safari Company then you better know your stuff as you can get burned big time and I assure you that every booking agent who has been out there for any length of time has been burned, and visa versa, so take advantage of his making those bones for you is pretty good advise IMO...

Also if any booking agent, hunt consultant tells you he never had an unhappy client, then you better duck and run for cover, cuz cousin, he ain't been around long or he is just lying to you! :) :) There are some folks out there that simply cannot be satisfied. this business is no different than any other business..

I have established safari companies that have served me well for many years, most of them for 10 or more years, and that is why I am still in business with them, but that does not guarentee they won;t go off on me or they won't go broke in tough times and when folks get down and out they will do some damn stupid things.

I have had about two complaints and one major big time poopaw in the last 40 plus years and had to cough up a bunch of deposits to my clients on that major poopaw when he upped and disapeared. I chose to refund them their deposits and let them have wholesale hunts the following year to just make everything right..I hocked my house on that one, but found that bum and got every cent back from him...

Beware of guarenteed trophies, no one can guarentee you a 100% hunt, you will kill some nice trophies and some average trophies, and with a good outfit you should kill some really outstanding trophies..An opertunity should be guarenteed for the species you put at the top of your list..

It is a tough business, requires integrity to survive, you must tell it like it is as that is what its going to be when the clients get there and when they get back your hindquarters are hung out to dry if you misrepresented your hunt. The booking agents commission comes from the Safari Company and your costs of commission are not "added" to those costs if your legitamate.

If you wish to consider doing your own booking direct then that is your option, you probably won't get any better deal or save any money, unless you know the company your dealing with, but if you do then really do your home work carefully and good hunting.

Thats the real deal for you to consider. I put it out there for what its worth, maybe only a cup of coffee if you got a dollar to go with it, but there it is...
 

Die Ou Jagter

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Ray makes good points, I have never booked a hunt thru Ray but I have met him at the Dallas show. I almost purchased a rifle from him (deal never went thru), but it turned out to be a 416 Rem when I wanted a 416 Rigby and when he discovered the descrepency he returned my money. By the way I ended up with a 416 Taylor:).

I have used booking agencies twice and had bad experiences both times One is out of the business after many many years he retired and the other was thru Cabelas. I go to shows and meet and talk with outfitters, but mostly I go by personal references.

Most of my Africian hunting has been with one PH, I think this year will be the seventh hunt with Mark. The good thing about finding a PH like Mark is you get to know him well and when the Shit hits the fan (which it will) I can tell him to F*ck off and he can tell me the truth about my F*ck ups which will happen if one hunts enough.

I don't know if this is helpful to anyone, just my experiences.
 

wrenchmaster

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The camp staff we had on a buffalo/plains game hunt in Tanzania were all a great bunch of people. The same could not be said for the PH however; the man never seemed to miss a chance to insult or degrade us in some way or another and made what should have been a great experience something to be endured instead. In hindsight, I should have called the guy on the carpet long before I actually did. Towards the end of the hunt I did let him know that his behavior was not appreciated in the least and he was tolerable afterward. If I had any thing to pass along to another hunter it would be to clear the air as soon as possible and don't let bad feelings fester, it will only get worse.
 

RayAtkinson

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Wrenchmaster,
Good for you, you did the right thing, there is no excuse for a PH to be negative in any way to a client, his job is to make that the most enjoyable hunt you have ever been on..It is your hard earned money he is taking and for that he owes you all the respect in the world...

If I booked a hunt for someone and they came home and told me such a story about the PH then I would carefully check out the validity of the clients story and and if it proved true I would drop that Safari Company like a hot rock, no second chance..
 

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