After many years of pinching pennies and saving, you finally have the money to take that dream hunt you have been fantasying about for years. You have read many articles and watched outdoor shows and have selected your target species and the state or country you would like to go. If you are planning on a guided hunt now is the time to do your homework. There are many guides and outfitters out there so how do you go about selecting the right one for you ? Not many outfitters truly understand the wants and needs of a disabled hunter. We all have different needs so there is no one solution to fit all. Now is where you need to be very diligent in our search in selecting the right outfitter and do some follow up. As a disabled hunter you need to ask all the right questions now to ensure you have a safe and successful hunt.
1.) Ask for a client list of successful and unsuccessful hunters from past years. Contact the local Division of Wildlife to see if they are in good standing and not had any bad reports or violations.
2.) Place a call to the outfitters client list and ask them how their hunt went. Was it up to the outfitters claim ? Were they treated respectfully and did they have a chance to harvest game?
3.) If you have an opportunity to actually meet the outfitter at a sports show, so much the better. Then you have a chance to evaluate them for yourself. Be ready to ask all the necessary questions so you can get a feedback on what is provided. Sometimes you can get a “gut” feeling from a personal conversation versus a phone call.
1.) The first question should be is the camp accessible? Are there any steps involved? I have been on hunts where I was told there was a ramp going into the bunk house only to find out later that it was just a piece of plywood on the stairs and that it was at such a steep angle I would need a rocket booster to climb!
2.) How about the accommodations? Are the doors wide enough for your wheelchair? Are you able to access the shower? Can you get into the bathroom? I have been to camps where you go into the bathroom and the mirror was a normal height. Not good for someone in a chair. How about the sleeping arrangements. Are they bunk beds or cots? Do you need to have your own room or do you have to share with others ? Maybe you are just not comfortable with the bunkhouse setting. But if you know ahead of time you can be prepared and if you know what to expect.
As a disabled hunter one needs to check out the transportation in the field from the outfitter and make sure they can accommodate you especially in poor weather conditions. Many outfitters are unprepared and have to scramble at the last minute because they have no advance preparations to accommodate a disabled hunter. Some of the other questions to ask is, how do I get to the hunting location and what kind of blinds or stands do they use? I have been on hunts where they loaded you in a trailer and hauled you out to the hunting location being pulled by an ATV. Most trailers do not have good suspension and with not having good muscle control or poor balance it can be quite a ride. I think some of my teeth are still loose! You will also need to find out if you will be hunting all day. Some of us can not take it that long and we need to come in a take a break or maybe take care of some medical issues. Another issue you need to look at are there any hidden fees involved in any extra curricular transportation costs?
Some camps have a minimum score on deer taken and if you shoot one under that score there is a possible financial penalty. Are there costs for field dressing or hanging your animal in their cooler? There might be an airport pick-up or transportation fee. You need these questions answered before you sign the contract. You should also ask if meals are provided and what is served. Go over the menu with the outfitter and talk about any diet issues you have.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and have them answered to your satisfaction. Unfortunately there are some unscrupulous outfitters who will say or do anything just to get you to sign up and get your money. Once you sign the contract and give them the deposit you usually don’t have much recourse to get your money back. So check on what is their policy is if you need to cancel your hunt. Many times there can be time limits on refunds.
Most outfitters are trustworthy and will go out of their way to accommodate a disabled hunter and see that they have a safe and successful hunt. So if you ask all the right questions ahead of time and do your homework there will be no surprises and things will run smoothly and efficiently providing you with a lasting and fond memory of a terrific hunt !