How do/did you pick your hunting outfitter?

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by wildfowler.250, May 23, 2019.

  1. wildfowler.250

    wildfowler.250 AH Member

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    Hi guys, I’ve tried searching the reviews and there’s so so many. I was hoping for a few regulars to pop up for some kind of common theme..

    Basically I’m looking to hunt South Africa, I’ve heard Limpopo is nice but happy to go anywhere that’s good and relatively easy to get to.


    I’m just after plains game, kudu, nyala, springbok, impala ect. Preferably relatively nice accommodation,(it’s still a trip at the end of the day).


    How do I choose where to book with so many places available? Do you go on best deal? Or are there classic outfitters that you can depend on,(it’s a long way to go and a lot of money for a bad experience)?


    Please don’t pm with offers at this stage. But happy to get PMs of reviews. Just don’t really know where to start! Once a venue is picked I think that’s the hard part?


    Thanks!
     

  2. TTundra

    TTundra AH Enthusiast

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    Check the deals page and cross reference the reports page. Lots of great sponsors here and a plethora of choices.
     
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  3. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Lots of solid and proven outfitters on this site. Check out hunt reports and offers section. Check out outfitters websites to see what game is offered in their respective areas.
     

  4. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    First is to determine your priority species. Usually your top 2 or 3. Next is to determine where to hunt them. Do you care if it is native habitat? How small of properties are you comfortable with? Are you looking for something special in a trophy or a older male past reproduction? Then you can consider who has your top wants. Perhaps narrow it to a country and then start looking and reading hunt reports here and on the other networks that have those reviews. Then start chatting with outfitters and it will fall into place. Time consuming but it usually gets the results that you want. Most web sites will have pics of accommodations so you can see the facilities. I've yet to go anywhere in africa that I wasn't happy with the facilities. All have been pretty nice.
    You list kudu, nyala, springbok and impala as animals of interest. The East Cape of RSA will get you all of those. Just remember that the East Cape Kudu will usually be 6 to 8 inches shorter than the greater Southern Kudu of much of the rest of Africa. Namibia would be good for all but the Nyala and they are available on some concessions. All but the springbok in Zim. Like I said figure your most important animals and then ask where to go for them.
    Good luck and have fun.
    Bruce
     

  5. Art Lambart II

    Art Lambart II AH Fanatic

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    Visit the websites of the Outfitters here on AH, pick 4 or 5 your really like and contact their US representative to start building a package. After you have review their packages and offers pick the one that works the best for you. I will pass on this piece of advice, if you get shoulder mounts the taxidermy for your first safari will probably cost as much if not more than your hunt and airfare combined.
     
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  6. Ryan

    Ryan AH Fanatic

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    Most people have that same first hunt theme, so it's tough to say which one wins over the next at first. I walked and talked to a lot of outfitters at my local sportsman's show for that one. Honestly it boils down to the little things. All of them have nice accomodations, so are you after a big lodge with a pool and multiple hunters coming in in the evening to hang out with or smaller place that's hosting just one or two hunters? I've done both, I like both but they are a bit different. Any add on trips you want to do, national park, etc? Honestly one of the deciding factor for me my first trip was a couple days tour of Etosha National Park, and my last I figured out a road trip in the cape of South Africa.
    So check out the deals sections, pick 3-4 prospective ones and chat with them via email and WhatsApp. One will stick out before too long.
    Good luck, good hunting.
     

  7. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    I would strongly urge you to use a well established hunting consultant. They make their living matching up hunters, expectations, outfitters, and most importantly, budgets. I used Jack Atcheson Jr for my first couple of forays into the unknown and he saved me an enormous amount of worry, frustration and money. I can’t recommend he and his brother more highly. And I should note, they are “paid” by the outfitter, not you. Bob Kern of the Hunting Consortium is another real professional with vast experience.

    Thanks to Jack and his team I have hunted with Nick Nolte, Dirk DeBod, Jamy Traut, Grant Taylor and others in concessions I likely never would have found on my own.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019

  8. wildfowler.250

    wildfowler.250 AH Member

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    Thanks for the initial replies!


    There’s so many deals and outfitters on here that it’s hard to choose.

    I think I’d realistically like to take a kudu, nyala, sprinbok, impala, +/- waterbuck, lechwe, black wildebeest. Happy with trophy quality or old and lots of character.

    Probably somewhere where there’s just a few people in a lodge is a nice idea. Trying to convince the old man and brother to go but maybe less their interest.


    Does anyone know of any particularly great outfitters that always get a glowing rep?


    Thanks again for the already very helpful advice!
     
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  9. wildfowler.250

    wildfowler.250 AH Member

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    Thanks red leg, missed your message whilst replying but appreciate the suggestion. Hadn’t thought about that!
     

  10. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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  11. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Amazing CWD you have. Congratulations.

    Stop looking at the library as a whole, it is overwhelming.
    To avoid a nightmare, take your time.
    This will set you up to choose an Outfitter that suits your needs by being better educated.


    Going on the "deal" alone is NEVER a good idea.
    "Auction Hunts" are an excellent example of this trap. Look at how many people try to sell these hunts in the classifieds and find out that the trophy fees are actually over the top and it's not even close to the "deal" they thought.


    You have already narrowed it to a country yourself. With this species list I'd suggest you look at the Eastern Cape.

    With that:
    Go down the entire list of Sponsors and see who is operating in the Eastern Cape. There are some very good options with good reputations.
    An absence of problems should not be the winner. See how they solved problems that did arise.

    You just had some good ones suggested to you. From that short list I know that @KMG Hunting Safaris, @Game 4 Africa Safaris are operating specifically in the EC.

    Good luck with your planning.
     

  12. Dean Macdonald

    Dean Macdonald AH Senior Member

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    I made a list of the things that were important to me, then built a list of outfitters that fit the requirements. I wanted Namibia, fair chase, small family run outfit. I checked out the reports here on this site, called supplied references, then made sure they were members of the Namibian Professional Hunters association, just for some piece of mind. I had 4 places that fit all my criteria, but it all came down to a "gut feeling" after personally speaking with them. The interaction with a real person is what made it "click" for me.
     

  13. Odinsraven

    Odinsraven AH Fanatic

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    LJ Safaris hunted with them and 100 percent ...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 23, 2019
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  14. Charles de Ribeau

    Charles de Ribeau AH Veteran

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    I was in your situation before my first safari. In fact, I wasn't even that far along. I **knew** that I did not want to go on a safari. I could rattle off 5 - 10 reasons, perfectly good and rational reasons, why it was a bad idea. Then, I happened to be at the SCI Convention. At the very end of my time there, I happened to talk with one of the big names in the industry. To this day I can't explain what came over me, but as I turned to walk away, I stopped and asked him "Where would you suggest for a first time safari?" He gave me three names and a few weeks later, I booked my first safari.

    My point of this is to recommend that you find someone you trust and get their advice. That will help narrow your choices to a manageable number. That person may be an outdoor writer or TV host. Many of them are very approachable and willing to help. A booking service is another possibility, however, even there not all services are created equal and not all have your best interests at heart. Another option, which you've already started is the "wisdom of crowds". That is, getting the input from others on a site like this - people who have been there/done that.
     

  15. Eric Anderson

    Eric Anderson AH Enthusiast

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    Recommendation from a friend who lives in RSA. I liked michael mueller so much I have been with him 2 more times.
     

  16. Bwana Bob

    Bwana Bob AH Senior Member

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    Enjoy the planning process. I will be heading on my third safari next year. For what it's worth I looked for a few things in particular. Number one for me was a small outfitter where your group was the only one in camp. I have hunted numerous times out west and have shared camp with some great people but not so great people on others. I also chose a package that allowed me to switch animals if I wanted. The outfitter I hunt with takes the trophy fee off your package cost if you are not successful. I'm not sure all outfitters do this. My advice would be to not get too hung up on the list of animals your are planning to hunt. As I often read on this site, take what Africa gives you. Just my two cents. Good luck
     
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  17. fourfive8

    fourfive8 AH Fanatic

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    Agree with BRICKBURN about "deals". You have to ask yourself, "why is there a deal in the first place?" I agree that some destinations are simply too much for my budget, but to get caught up in trying to go cheap is NOT the way to approach this.

    I've done it both ways- with and without a consultant, but as Red Leg suggested, not a bad idea to use a reputable consultant, like Atcheson's who will have much more info than you could ever hope to put together. Most of the time they will have actually hunted in the areas and with the people they recommend. After talking to you, they would likely have some idea how to best "match" you and your desires with a trip best suited to you. And, if you wish, you could go to one of the big shows and talk in person with many of the outfitters and PHs. Additionally, use a good travel agent who has Africa experience for both travel and also who keeps up on the latest gun laws and permitting in the various countries.

    Just use common sense, do lots of research and don't get caught up in the "deal" thing. I'd avoid places that offer custom shopping for specific animals... like searching through a catalog! Also be sure you know what a high fence is and how it may affect your pre-conceived ideas about "wild" Africa. I also would not limit myself to just RSA. There are plenty of great locations (countries) that offer great hunting for plains game and an overall safari experience. Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana all come to mind. :)
     

  18. buckmarkhunter

    buckmarkhunter AH Enthusiast

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    I just returned from the Limpopo. I was like you and half the other people on this sight when I started. I chose a top 3 and then made the trek to DSC and talked with them face to face. They tend to give you a better deal when you are there in front of them. You also can read people and see how they are when you look them in the eye vs an email. Give them clear expectations on what you want, it’s your money and time And remember there is only one first safari, enjoy all parts of the safari. That is what I did and they exceeded them. Best of luck.
     

  19. JPbowhunter

    JPbowhunter AH Fanatic

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    I'm going through the exact same thing at the moment, I'm doing it with a long run up though so I've got time to think about the things that are most and least important to me.

    For me it's about the species that are most important to me, free range, self sustaining populations, a stalking/tracking hunt on foot as opposed to from a car, smaller outfit, i want a ph who loves hunting as much as I do and loves to hunt, i want to use my open sights over a scope wherever possible so that dictates the type of country the hunt would be in which dictates the areas. Focus on mature animals as opposed to high scoring.

    Just as important are the things that you either don't want or are of low importance. We differ in that for me accommodation has no bearing whatsoever on the hunt as most of my hunting is done out of a one man tent or a swag and I don't like being doted on. I don't want a small area with animals that are habituated or wearing ear tags, or just driving around until we see something then jumping out.

    For some people like myself cost will be a factor, and some are sinply out of my price range. But equally a dirt cheap offer isn't necessarily value for money depending on what you want from a hunt.

    When I add all that up I can easily knock some out and am more interested in others. It's overwhelming but it's also an interesting part of the process I'm finding.
     

  20. Rickmt

    Rickmt SILVER SUPPORTER AH Senior Member

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    Stay away from small properties under 10,000 acres . Don't hunt animals that were put on a property to shoot. Only hunt mature animals that grew up on the land you will be hunting. Talk to as many of the sponsors of this forum as you have time to spare. Develop a list of desired species . Ask questions and get feedback. Have fun doing your research and learning.
     

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