First off, what is your budget? A true budget needs to be the absolute most money you can spend on the entire experience and not just the cost of the hunt. There will be plenty more costs added to the hunt cost, so once you have a budget made, start planning around that.
After your budget is decided on, it is time to start looking for an outfitter. This is obviously the most important task that you have to accomplish. There are tons of outfitters and guides out there, but there are only a small percentage of excellent ones. You need to find them. The internet is the best tool these days but actual phone calls to references are also valuable as well. Anyone can write something from their computer, but when you actually speak with someone, you can determine their honesty and their knowledge and sincerity. Nothing beats forming your own opinion and gut instinct from actual people.
When judging an outfitter or guide, don’t be quick to believe an isolated bad review or complaint. All people are different and there are some real weirdoes out there so don’t let some clueless and ignorant person help you make your decision. If there are multiple complaints or bad dealings with a particular outfitter, then steer clear for sure.
After you have narrowed down a few outfitters to choose from, start developing some realistic expectations. This will require calling the actual outfitter with specific questions about the hunt and all things associated with the hunt. Have your questions ready and don’t call and ‘wing it’ with spur of the moment inquiries. Outfitters are professionals and they don’t like their time being wasted any more than you do. Ask them about any extra costs for preparing your trophy for the taxidermist and shipping it. Also, ask about extra airfares or nights you need to provide your own lodging and meals. Tips and trophy bonuses are also extra costs you need to plan for. Get every detail worked out so that you will have no surprises and you and the outfitter can work as a team to make your hunt the best it can be.