When it comes to booking a guided or semi-guided deer hunt, there is a great big shiny world out there full of unlimited options and opportunities. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of scammers, crooks, and irresponsible people out there that are waiting to take advantage of you and your money.
You need to be prepared for making the important decision of which guide to choose by arming yourself with knowledge specific questions to ask that will expose any would-be shady operator. Using the internet is a given and asking for and contacting references is also a good way to get started.
However, there are many great outfitters and guides who have recently started their business, so they might not have a paper trail or you might not get very many hits on a web search. You need to weed out the bad guys from the good guys, and to do that, you will need to know some important questions that will make a good guy shine and a bad guy act stumped. I am not an expert on communication, but I am very experienced at asking questions to find out the information that I seek. Here are a few suggested inquiries to make so that you can not only get the truth, but also that good feeling that says you can place your trust in a stranger.
How much land do you control and how long have you been managing it? If you are asking a reputable guide, he will not hesitate or stumble when this question is asked. He will quickly and concisely shoot you a specific acreage number because he knows exactly how much he has. A good outfitter will always want more land, so knowing what he has is a given. He will also know without pause how long he has been using that land and this two part question will give your trustworthy target two quick opportunities to impress you.
A shady character will have to think about it, and he will hesitate in his answer and you will immediately sense that his mind is working to provide you an answer that he thinks he might want you to hear. Don’t even hesitate to follow up and ask him why he does not know exactly how much land he has control over. This will either give him a chance to save himself or give you the chance to confirm your uncomfortable feelings. If your guy gives you a bad feeling, then the second part of the question will provide even further testimony to this guy’s lack of candor.
What was your success rate last season and what was the average sized buck taken? Again, this is a two part question that will solve most of your curiosity. A worthy outfit will know exactly how many hunters hunted last year and they will easily know what the average score was of the bucks harvested. Guides offer hunts for money and every solid operator religiously knows how many hunters used his services the prior year; furthermore, if they take any pride in what they do, they would have at least rough scored every buck taken under their watch. The buck scores are important for management purposes and anyone who loves the outdoors will always challenge themselves by guessing and confirming antler scores.
If your potential guide is hesitant when asked these questions, consider this to be a giant red flag. Pay attention to responses to such queries and trust your gut when deciding on which guide to go with. You’ll be happy you did.