November 04, 2010
How can you locate a top-notch archery outfitter? Prime sources include ads in magazines like Bowhunter, well-known hunt booking agents like Cabela's, and word of mouth from friends or taxidermists. Some game departments provide lists of certified outfitters upon request, and you can also try Internet search engines like Google.
Before I book any hunt, I assemble a list of outfitters who specialize in species I'm interested in. Next, I call these professionals and ask questions about their facilities, bowhunting methods, quality of animals, experience level of their guides, cost of a hunt, etc. Then I request a complete list of every client that hunted last year. Not the short, sweet reference list every outfitter provides. I want an uncut list so I can get a balanced view of the outfitter's operation.
If an outfitter seems surly, bored, or impatient over the telephone, I scratch him off my list. If he refuses to provide a complete list of clients, he is also gone. Once he gets my money, I know he'll be even worse.
Finally, I call at least half the clients on every list and ask about their hunts. When I'm done, I have a very large phone bill, but also a wealth of information to help me make my choice.