Let me ask this, if you voted #2, would anyone change their vote to #1, if we discarded the accommodations and if the only factor was the quality of the animals, i.e. Above Average to Excellent Quality Animals vs Average to Sub Average Animals?
I voted #1 a couple of days ago, but I did not post. At the time I had the same thought as @BRICKBURN that you should have had at least one more choice, above average trophy quality and average lodging. I personally don't need the high end lodging, however it is nice and certainly makes taking the spouse that much better. Having said that, I have created a monster in my wife who is all about hunting now. Took only 25 years.....
What has not been discussed here is the definition of average nor below/above with respect to that. For me an above average trophy is an older animal first. Horn size comes into play too, but smaller might be even better. For example Eland, I love the older animals that have gone grey to blue whose horns are thick, but often shorter from being worn down. To the point of almost contradicting myself, I'd really really like a 55" or bigger kudu, but I still want those ivory tips.
The common characteristic is age. You just don't get a 3 year old 55"+ kudu. If you really want an above average chance at an above average trophy as I've defined it, I think you have to be willing to pay for it. It takes an outfitter managing his property to not shoot young bulls/rams. Inherent to that management practice is risk that there will be loss of those younger animals due to predation, drought and whatever else that might cause an animal's demise before that bull/ram reaches that age to be an exceptional trophy. So for a property to get to the point that you have more than just the occasional exceptional animal to where there are numerous bulls/rams present and with that a higher hunting success rate, it takes time and with that money.
Sometime this past month my elk hunting buddy was at the house of a friend of his. Over the course of the last 8 years since my first trip to RSA, we've discussed hunting in Africa who knows how many times. Those discussions have included trophy quality and how it varies. KJ isn't stupid, he got it, but now he really gets it. His friend has been to RSA and has a number of mounts on his wall. KJ has also been in my house to see my trophies I don't know how many times, heck he's helped me with hanging a bunch of them. So over at his other friend's house as he told me, not one or two, but everyone of the animals on that guy's wall that I also have in mine were smaller and noticeably so.
Now for me hunting is not a competition and it matters not to me. But I do hope that this guy paid no more than average prices. If he did or perhaps less so, well then so be it. Furthermore if this guy is happy with what he got, I'm certainly not going to rain on his parade.
Marius, I guess my point is that I'm willing to pay more for a better chance at how I define above average trophy quality. And while a higher price is not a guarantee of such, nor a lower price means one won't find an above average critter, I realize that it takes time and careful management to have what I prefer. The higher risk the outfitter takes in doing so needs to have higher reward.