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Ask the Experts

Outfitters Rating polls its pro-staff to get answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Outfitted, Guided, and Chartered trips. If you have a question, check these FAQ's for the answer. If your question isn't already answered, please send it to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We'll get an answer to you and post it for your fellow sportsmen to see.

How much should I tip my guide?

The most commonly asked question is "How much should I tip my hunting guide?"

This is a frontrunner as the most frequently asked of all FAQs related to outfitted hunting and fishing trips. It’s also a difficult one to answer because, at least in part, a tip should be commensurate with the quality of service provided. Additionally, there are so many factors of success that are entirely out of the control of your guide; so just because you aren’t successful in taking an animal it doesn’t necessarily mean your guide didn’t work his/her behind off doing everything possible to help you take a buck or catch a fish.

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How can I make the weight limit for the bush plane, but take all the gear I need?

GOOD QUESTION! It often seems like the weight limits that outfitters put on the gear their hunters can fly into camp are impossibly light, even if you stick to the letter of their recommended gear lists. So here are 10 tips for packing the lightest load, but making sure you have everything you need.

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What is the best rifle/cartridge to use for…?

This is another top contender for most asked of the frequently asked questions. Many hunters believe if they are going to a new destination or pursuing a species they've never hunted before a new rig is required. It might be, and even if it's not, it's a great excuse to add a new firearm to your collection, but most of the time a rifle you already have at home and with which you are confident will serve you well on any outfitted hunting adventure.

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Are all legal outfitters licensed?

No ... and yes ... depending on where you are hunting or fishing.

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What are the most important questions to ask prospective outfitters?

The most important topics to cover with any prospective outfitter is what the OutfittersRating.com program is all about. The survey we send to hunters who actually used a specific outfitter is based on what we believe are the 10 most important aspects of quality hunting and fishing service.

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What is a trespass fee?

At the simplest, a trespass fee is a charge to access property on which to hunt. It's usually a per day, per hunter (or gun) fee. Trespass fees are common in places like South Dakota where many hunters are there to freelance, or hunt on their own, without the assistance of an outfitter. They travel to the area to hunt without a plan or knowing exactly where they will be hunting and pay trespass fees to landowners for the privilege of hunting. In other parts of the country, trespass fees are sometimes called "Day Leases."

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What do I need to know about flying with firearms and ammunition?

Flying on commercial airlines in the company of your hunting firearms and ammunition is not really that difficult, but it can be a bit intimidating if you’ve never done it before. Here are the 9 most important things you need to know and plan for:

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Should I book directly with the outfitter or through a booking agent?

While frequently asked, this is a difficult question. Booking directly with an outfitter and booking an outfitted adventure through an agent each comes with advantages and disadvantages. Let's run through the pros and cons of each.

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Should I have a written contract with an outfitter?

In a word – “Absolutely.” Unfortunately, too many outfitted hunts and fishing trips are booked based on a handshake and a deposit paid at a sport show, or worse yet, via an anonymous connection on the internet or telephone.

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How do limited draw licenses work?

At the most basic level, a limited draw license or tag is one for which you must submit your name into a lottery to be drawn to receive one. Only so many licenses are allotted for a specified season/timeframe in a specified area. Simply, if your name is drawn while licenses remain, then you'll receive one.

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Will the outfitter handle meat care and transportation?

If your hunt is successful you'll likely have game meat to deal with. From both ethical and legal perspectives planning to properly care for game meat is crucial to any hunt. It's another element of the trip which you should discuss with your outfitter long before the hunt begins, or even before you decide to book the trip with him or her.

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Do I need to bring my own guns, or can I rent firearms from the outfitter?

One of the great self-satisfaction aspects of any hunt is to take a trophy animal with a firearm that you own. After all, you chose the gun, optics and ammo. You got it shooting just the way you like it. And you practiced with it to make the perfect shot under the toughest conditions. And it may be a gun that's become as much of your hunting life as your best friend.

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What is the best advice for buddies putting together an outfitted hunting trip?

Planning and preparing for an exciting outfitted hunting adventure can be almost as much fun as the trip itself, but only if you think through the details and everyone is committed to their involvement ... and paying their fair share of the expenses! Without organization and level of commitment putting together a group of hunting friends to go on a trip can be like herding house cats.

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Who is responsible if there's a legal problem in the field?

It's a situation none of us even like to think about -- a violation of hunting laws and legal prosecution that follows. The harm to reputation of the hunter, the guide, the outfitter and the outside world's view of hunting in general can be enormous and irrepairable. Not to mention the great expense of the defense against such charges.

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Who is responsible for hunting licenses?

In nearly every case, when you book an outfitted hunting adventure, the cost of licenses IS NOT included in the price of the hunt. The hunters are required to acquire licenses from the state and any additional jurisdictions, and to pay for them. However, in some cases the state licenses are acquired from or through the outfitter especially in places where there are "outfitter allocations" of tags.

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What is the payment schedule for my outfitted hunting trip?

Outfitters informational materials and websites are usually very specific about the payment schedule for booking a trip. However, exactly what it is can very pretty widely depending on the outfitter, cost of the trip, how far in advance the trip is booked, and the customs of the continent, country or region in which your trip will take place.

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How far ahead do I need to book an outfitted hunting trip?

It depends on the location, the species, the licensing requirements, the outfitter/guide's availability, and -- potentially -- the cost of the hunt.

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What does the outfitter/guide expect of me?

That's kind of a loaded question, but it's best answered by breaking the reply into three time periods -- before, during and after the hunt.

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How do I prepare for a hunt at higher elevations?

Hunts in the mountains of western North America and in Asia definitely bring with them the possibility of altitude sickness -- mild or severe. Some folks can even encounter ill-effects at elevations of just a few thousand feet -- especially if they spend most of their time living at sea level or just above. Domestically, goat, sheep, and even elk or deer hunts can find you camped and hunting at 8,000 - 10,000 feet and up. On overseas mountain hunts, you can end up hunting much higher than that.

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What is the definition of hunting or fishing “outfitter”?

At OutfittersRating.com we use a broad definition of the term “outfitter.” We include anyone who provides any combination of expediting, guiding, accommodations, meals, access, and transport for hunting and fishing adventures. This can range from complete safari packages like you’ll encounter in Africa to an Iowa bed and breakfast operation for pheasant hunters.

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Who does the calling -- me or the guide?

Some of the most exciting hunts you can make involve calling. Whether it's a bugling bull elk, a gobbling tom turkey, ducks, geese, varmints or even white-tailed deer -- to have the animal you're after respond to a call is the pinacle of acheivement for many hunters ... and hunting guides.

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What's the best way to research outfitters, guides and charter services?

Since you're here on the OutfittersRating.com site, you've taken a great first step in finding a quality outfitter, guide or charter service to fulfill your hunting and fishing dreams. The ratings here are from actual clients who booked the same trip you're considering. They've completed their surveys based on spending their own money and the level of service they received in return.

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If the hunt/charter is delayed by weather who is responsible for the unexpected costs of hotels, meals, transportation, etc.?

Answers to so many of the frequently asked questions come down to the amount of pre-trip communication you had with your outfitter or booking agent. Of the ten evaluations in the OutfittersRating.com survey, the one covering pre-trip communication can be viewed as the most important. If you've received thorough communication from the outfitter and had access to his/her complete and well-designed website, then chances are you'll know the answer to every question that will come up – or at least you should.

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Why are outfitted hunts/fishing trips so expensive?

In outfitted hunting and fishing, the old saying holds true as in so many other things: "You get what you pay for."

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How can I prepare for a horseback hunt if I'm not a rider?

For the vast majority of us, horseback riding is not a part of our daily life. In fact, that's a gross understatement. Most of us can probably count on our fingers the number of times we've been on horseback in our lifetimes. Despite the advent of ATVs and the use of other motorized vehicles as primary transportation on many hunting adventures, sometimes horses or mules are the only legal way or only practical way to access fantastic hunting adventures. So as you're booking a hunt, one of the big questions that needs to be on your list is, "Will we be riding horses on this hunt?"

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How can I take better trophy pictures in the field?

The biggest mistake people often make in taking photos of themselves with game they bag is rushing through it. Prepping the animal(s) and paying attention to the details that make for great photos takes time. In most cases, there's no need to rush it.

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How can I be sure an outfitter has good, safe equipment?

First, check the outfitter's rating at www.OutfittersRating.com. There is a question specific to the condition and safety of camp and field equipment in every survey sent out on the outfitter's behalf. Be sure to review that rating carefully, as proper, safe equipment in a critical element in both the success and enjoyment of any hunt.

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Will the outfitter handle trophy care, transportation, and taxidermy?

Trophy care, transportation and taxidermy combine to make a big broad question, and one that's important on which to reach an understanding with your outfitter or professional hunter prior to your trip. What you agree on should be incorporated into the written hunting agreement signed by both parties.

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What are recommendations for transporting a bow on the airlines?

While some of the rules and regulations applying to firearms and ammunition do not apply in the same way to bows, arrows, and associated gear the best planning route is to assume they do. Here's a quick listing of tips for travelling on the airlines with a bow and arrows.

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What kind of safety, first-aid training do the guides have?

This is a question to ask your outfitter. Highly-respected, experienced, top-shelf operations likely have formal training in first aid and safety for their guides, or at least have a requirement of training for anyone they will hire. Often they have guides who are former military or police officers. These kinds of guides have excellent first-responder type training.

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Are there cancellation fees if I can't make my hunt?

On the surface, the answer here is simple: "Read your contract." One of the key elements of a reasonable contract between a hunting party and an outfitter should be a section that covers payment schedule and cancellation policies. You must know all of what you are agreeing to before you sign the contract.

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How do I pack for a hunting trip on which I will be flying on commercial airlines?

Big question, but a good one. Here are some tips to get you started:

Firearms and Bows -- firearms and bows need to travel as checked baggage (not carried on the plane) in a locking, hardside, airline approved case.

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