Contributors to this thread:
Anyone Bother to Check References ?
I enjoy looking at the outfitter reviews and normally the best reading is in the red ones. I read many of those and wonder did the hunter really do any homework, check any references, etc.?
You just get the sense on some (many) of those that the thing was such a debacle it went beyond a tough week or bad guide, but really is endemic of a deeply rooted problem or culture of business practices that could have been uncovered with a bit of due diligence.
How did Jay's references check out?
I'm a CPA by trade so anal is party of my life. My wife wished I would pay half the attention to help planning family vacations as I do my trips. Many phone calls, references, online searches. Don't understand those that don't.
Stands... "anal is party of my life" .. my my.. I think you're on the wrong site...
LMAO!!! No pun intended ;)~
Bwahaha! That's either one damn funny typo or TMI!
A wise man once told me, "Investigate before you invest." Advice I follow in pretty much every thing I do.
All the references I'd ever need are right here on the Bowsite..... just pick an outfitter that one of the many world traveling experienced bow hunters like yourself Grant..... highly recommends ....... and I couldn't go wrong.....
Been hesitant to say this on the outfitter threads, but...
Checking references that they provide? The reports themselves I do not fully trust any more. You can fill out an honest one and leave the worst of it out and will still be blasted by guys who have never been there or have not been there recently. Most guys will avoid public attacks, but behind the scenes they will let you know. Outfitter quality, like anything else can change. And when an outfitter does not tell the truth in their response, it makes it less likely people will fill out a negative report, especially if they are a sponsor here.
I guess it is always a risk, so reports are better than nothing.
All you have to do is post on Bowsite, "Have you heard of..."
BTW I almost spit out my milk through my nose. Haha!!!
I agree with You. There are great questions to ask when calling an outfitters references. Can't just ask the easy questions. Eg. Tell me two things that could have been better!
I check references but some outfits you just dont know if they cherry pick who they want as references..but what i find more beneficial is to find people you know or can trust to give imput on an outfitter or to speak with residents around the area the outfitter hunts. This year i hunted for BC goats and spoke with several local residents several times about the outfit and all had great things to say
Perfect Yttails, just perfect.
"I check references but some outfits you just dont know if they cherry pick who they want as references.."
Isn't that why you are suppose to ask for references from satisfied and dissatisfied clients?
Do you really think every outfitter is willing to give contact info for every person who hunts?...satisfied or not
Damn... just well.. damn.. i have no words and must now leave this thread..
pot calling the kettle black
Was funny tho.. how the hell didnt I didn’t catch that while typing..
If I were going to sink that kind of money into a hunt.....
Yeah... I pretty much analyze the snot out of everything.
I have looked at this from both sides. (Retired outfitter who now goes on a few guided hunts.) Since no outfitter in his right mind will outright list dissatisfied clients on his list of potential references, here is my strategy.
I ask for a name/number of a client who DID NOT GET THE GAME he/she paid to hunt with that outfitter. What would commonly be called an "unsuccessful" client, although I don't subscribe to that concept...
In the course of my many years as an outfitter and as a client myself, I have found that if a client does not get a particular trophy that he is seeking and STILL raves about the service, food and experience, that is likely a good outfit.
Conversely, if a guy gets a B&C animal on Day 1 or 2, you can keep him in a leaky tent and feed him shit sandwiches for the rest of the contract period and he will still recommend you as the outfitter of the year!
I've vetted past outfitters. My method was such: talk to the outfitter numerous times over weeks or months. If his stories don't jibe, move on. Ask for multiple references - successful and unsuccessful. Talk to them on the phone. Terse emails are not enough (been burned by that). If an outfitter is reluctant to give references, move on. If you only have one reference, particularly if it is local, don't even bother calling; move on.
Frankly, I don't have to screen outfitters anymore. Not intentionally, but most my hunting is done with fellow Bowsiters whom, over the years, have earned enormous respect and trust. So, if we put something together, it is usually because one of us has prior knowledge or an inside track to a primo outfitter, area, etc.
I used to call references before the internet. Now a days you just google the Outfitter and good/bad reviews are right there. Some bad reviews are fakes and some good reviews are fakes. Bottom line, if I do go on a guided hunt I’ll reach out to friends on Bowsite or P&Y Club for feedback.
Always do a thorough internet search on the outfitter, including the business and personal name, references will be hand picked.
This thread made for some great chuckles.
Most legit hunters who are references are happy to talk. So get them talking, not question and answer but conversation about hunting. Then get into how their hunt went A hunter who was on his very first hunt will see things different. Ask about more than the actual hunt
I check everything I feel I need to. But, honestly, most of my choices come from good hunters I trust completely and/or perusing sites like this one, so that helps a bunch. I still check them out, of course.
98% of the “fiasco” hunts you read about probably could have been avoided with a modicum of due diligence.
Sheep is my big interest. At this point, I’m probably familiar with 80% of the sheep outfitters in the business-good and bad.
Here is an example. You can check references and Bowsite on Montana's Ernie Jablonsky.....then do a google search on him. He is a poacher and employs druggies, yet has good reviews.
I have found that if you Google search the outfitter's name ( not the business name ) you will sometimes find several hits with information on him. These may be neighbors, fellow outfitters, etc. that have had experiences with him. On one occasion this proved very valuable when checking out an outfitter in Ohio who I was already a bit suspicious of due to lack of cooperation in the communication area. As others have already stated, references on an outfitter's website may or may not be dependable. Talking directly over the phone gives me the most confidence and more than one call is better.
It amazes me how often I read threads on this website of guys who are upset because they had bad hunts. In many cases it is very clear they did very little homework on their end to ensure they were booking with a reputable operation. So how do you find a good outfitter? Your best bet is to find someone that you trust that has hunted with the outfitter and talk to them about the hunt. Use a reputable booking service. They rely on repeat customers and generally do not send clients to any outfitter that they have not yet checked out and properly vetted. Pay close attention to articles in bowhunting magazines where outfitters were used. Did the author see a lot of game? Did the guides seem competent? Any camp problems? After awhile you will notice certain outfitters get mentioned over and over. Do online searches of outfitters that interest you. Contact references. Just because a guy has a booth set up at a local outdoors show and some nice pictures does not mean that person is going to give you a good hunt! Unfortunately, that is how a lot of bad hunts get booked.
I do not call any references from outfitters. I simply book by researching other friends, contacts, and using the Bowsite for my research. I don’t hunt with anyone that I do not know other folks that have hunted with this outfitter in the past.
I do use and have hunted with many of the sponsors on here. I will be going on my third hunt with Mike's Outfitting this year. I hunted with Skinner Creek last year. I am also going with Forest to Ward's Outfitting in Mexico in a few weeks just to mention a few.
In general, most of the guys on here are good sources of information. I have hunted with Bigpizzaman a couple of times. In addition, Jake and Pete from Fairbanks have helped me and been very generous with their time on other hunts.
Bowsite is an excellent resource for checking references. Also, check with SCI or Pope and Young members.
Let me know if I can help.
Yttails nailed it. We all enjoy reading outfitter reviews, but the OP still hasn't posted an important one.
"Conversely, if a guy gets a B&C animal on Day 1 or 2, you can keep him in a leaky tent and feed him shit sandwiches for the rest of the contract period and he will still recommend you as the outfitter of the year!"
I've checked references using all the above stated options, asking for those who did not get game etc. Face it they are not going to give you the name of an unhappy client. So it's a crap shoot. Do the best you can and realize that even the best outfitter can have a bad year. But the basics, food, accommodations, qualified guides and game in the area. Beyond that, you pays your money and you take your chances. TMBB