So if/when you draw, you will save at least $1000 over what you would pay if you book an outfitter yourself. And if you are lucky enough to draw before you reach your max, that is all you pay. In other words, if you draw the first year, you are out only that premium. But the worst you can do is $1000 less than the going rate most outfitters are charging.
He ranks the hunts as level 1 thru level 4. 1 is easiest to draw and 4 is hardest, so 1 is most expensive, etc. You can also change to a new hunt in the following years as long as it is in the same level as the hunt you first put in for. It is also possible for you to move up in levels, but you would then have the make up the difference in the premiums you would have paid under the higher priced options.
Assuming you eventually get drawn, and want to hire an outfitter, I can't see any reason not to do this. He has a good product in his website and I foresee him being in business for the long run. So, as with any business venture, it could fail, but this one seems well thought out so he should be funded enough to easily make the payments when they come due.
Program Outfitters have agreements with HuntersTrailhead. All hunts will be at least 5 days and include: lodging, meals, 1x1 guide, and other legal requirements. Non Program Outfitters can be used, but hunt rates can not be guaranteed. Additional rates and fees will be the hunters responsibility. We also can't guarantee any aspects of a hunt with a non Paid Outfitter Fees program outfitter. Booking Fees HuntersTrailhead will pay the booking fees for your hunt to the outfitter of your choice
It appears to me that a person with low number of points is not charged as much for the annual service because the have very little chance of drawing a coveted (#4) hunt. In the scenario I listed above there is some room for abuse.
I have zero interest in hunting with a guide (maybe for mt. lion or bear) so this does not interest me at all. Just something to think about.
Maybe they got it all figured out and I just don't understand the system. Surprisingly, I have been wrong before.
I would assume that the vast majority of people who sign up for this thing will be NRs. And if he gets any participation at all, he should be taking in way more money than he will ever have to pay out. Just like Vegas, he has the odds/math figured out in his favor, and the elk hunt I am putting in is not even an option under his premium system because I am getting close to drawing. So I can see that it should work is he gets enough people to put in. I have not yet, and it will only be for deer if I do.
I sent a question to him asking about putting in as a group with someone with more points who was not signed up for the program. See if he has thought about that. Will let you know what he says. Can't imagine that this would be a big issue because those kind of arrangements are hard to set up and few and far between. Doubly so because you will have to find someone that will actually hunt the tag if drawn, not turn it back in like they did in the past.
If I drew a premium elk unit, I sure wouldn't feel the need for a guide.
Call me a sucker then, cause it sounds pretty good to me as long as you know that you will draw a tag someday and want to use a guide. If I were a resident, I too would see no need.
The difference between this and Zero Guide Fees is that ZGF is the outfitter, they're not collecting your funds to pay an outfitters discount.