Contributors to this thread:
Newer guy on the site here. Mostly a lurker but post occasionally. Bowsite guys have taught me a lot about other species and traveling for hunts. I value all of your advice and welcome ideas and thoughts on this topic. I have been on 4 outfitted hunts, and have my own ideas on what would work, but am posting for other ideas I haven’t thought of.
If a guy were to try starting up an outfitting business here in Ohio, what would some suggestions be from a hunters standpoint? Please take into consideration this is a fair chase, wild deer hunt. Our state does not have an Outfitters license requirement, only requires a business license. This would be archery only for deer, and possibly turkey.
Please dont take this the wrong way. Ohio is a hard state to run a long term quality outfitting business. For no other reason then the pressure on the lease prices. The high price for ground forces outfitters to run many hunters through their camp as they need cover costs and margins. They start out great but never stay that way for long...difficult location being the closest quaility whitetail state to the east coast.
Thanks Trial. This would not be one of those high Hunter operations. Less than a dozen per year. I would not want to have that many hunters per season, deer get smart real quick.
As with any business... do it right the first time. First and foremost line up quality property. That’s the backbone of the business. Anything else is like putting water in your gas tank. Quality in Ohio means knowing what’s going on over on the other side of the fence. I find that in eastern Ohio people are shooting smaller deer than they are on the west side around Bellefontaine. So choose a good management area in general. Usually where there’s more private than public land.
The other thing is be honest with hunters. Do NOT sell them unrealistic expectations.
Like the second poster said unless you have your own property or have a long term lease that is cheap. I mean less then 10 dollars an acre you will struggle to be successful. 12 guys say at 3500 which is a lot for a 5 or 6 day hunt. If you include meals and lodging which most would at that cost and then figure in your time, you would be doing it for about free unless again you have no lease fee. Shawn
I like it when your hunter come before your or your families hunting needs. If you and your family are hunting the same ground and shooting big bucks I would look at that as a conflict of interest.
To me the most important thing is that there are the caliber of bucks in the area that are being promoted and that every effort is made to have undisturbed areas for all of the hunters which means not hunting the same stands more than a few times a season unless you are baiting and have proof that big bucks are coming in during day light. With that said I am not sure that I want to hunt over a bait but maybe.
Finally I want to be treated with respect and I want to see others treated with respect even if they may not be the best hunters. Do not run person down because they do not meet expectations. Deal with everything in a professional manner even if others are not. We want to hunt and have fun, not be part of or a spectator to a reality show.
Thanks for the responses guys. Mule, do it right the first time is 100% correct. Honesty is the foundation of any venture. I own a construction business as well, so the business end is covered. Expectations are hard to control in any business involving wild animals. The animals, Mother Nature, and a host of other issues are uncontrollable. We all know the pictures can prove what is there, but the animals don’t have to show up. Whitetail hunting is probably one of the hardest in my opinion to outfit for, and a big whitetail will make grown men cry far more often than we would like to admit, so to speak.
Shawn, it wouldn’t be for that kind of money. I haven’t figured the bottom dollars for a hunt yet, but more realistically in the 2000-2500$ range. I understand the travel, food, and room costs for hunters, and I personally think most guys can’t and don’t want to spend the amount of money required to travel out of state to hunt. I would hunt more places if it wasn’t so expensive, and I think most others would as well. I’m not looking to make it rich with this potential idea, just cover costs and put a little away for future hunts. My construction business slows down that time of year, and it also provides what my wife and I need for most of the year. If outfitting takes off and grows to a sustainable business, that’s great, but not necessary for me at this time. I would do it as much for fun as making money. I already spend time and money for my hunting, and to expand that for outfitting wouldn’t take too much.
A Trophy Whitetail is the hardest animal to outfit for, unless you're in Texas. Why are you interested in doing this? I ask that because if it's for the money, as stated above, unless you own a lot of quality ground, it's gonna be real tough. How much ground are you thinking for 10-12 clients per season?
Goyt, I agree. Unpressured ground is key. Yes we are allowed to bait here, and that is an option. I have killed deer baited and by “just hunting”. Bait can help, but is not a foolproof trick. We have our own places to hunt, and this would be exclusive land for outfitting, not personal use. Professional treatment and courtesy will be given, no matter the situation. There are no guarantees in hunting, but providing a quality experience is priority.
Busta, there are several reasons I am considering this. First and foremost, I enjoy helping people, as well as being outdoors. Second, I don’t think it should cost as much as it does, say an Iowa or Illinois hunt. There are outfitters that overcharge and underperform. I want to perform as good as I can, and that means less hunters. I know that not everyone will be successful, but it won’t be for lack of hard work or slacking on my end. I would give 110% and more. I want everyone to get their trophy deer, but it’s unrealistic to think they will. A lot of guys have never killed a good whitetail, and I like a challenge I guess. I personally get as much satisfaction when someone else is the shooter as if I shot the animal. The amount of ground for that many hunters is questionable. I have access to quite a bit, but I don’t think I would need to utilize all of it. This would be a 2-3 week deal and then done. Prime rut dates, and then no pressure at all for the remainder of the season.
Where do you live and what part of Ohio are you thinking about outfitting in?
I’m in central Ohio, Columbus. I have ground here and some in eastern Ohio as well. I don’t have a set area for outfitting, it’s all fair game. I would be hunting the best areas I have with the most active sites, regardless of where the property is. We have good deer here in many locations, and all my places are the same. Delaware, Harrison, Muskingum, Morgan counties to name a few. Always looking for more.
Molson your goals are noble. I hope they work out. Food, lodging and transportation are important issues to work out well in advance. How many hunters per week and how many stands do you have for each wind direction? How are hunters getting to their stands? Would you set a minimum? Have a penalty for wounding a deer? Food plots? Unless you have great property it will be hard to do and keep people happy. I had 2 friends go to an outfitter in Ohio the first week of Nov 2017. 10 guys in Camp on 5 farms. Not one deer was even seen over 120”. They were not happy.
Arrow, Depending on the hunt location, lodging would be at my home, or a hotel. Food would be the same. I would do all transportation of hunters, airport pitck up as well. 2-3 guys per week would be about perfect I think. I personally don’t believe in minimums, a hunter should be able to shoot what makes them happy. Most can’t tell a 5” difference in a buck from 125-130”, especially with the adrenaline rush we all do this for;). I see no reason to penalize a hunter for being happy, and would not set a minimum. Wounding policy would be open, since the deer are not owned by anyone, and stuff happens. We’ve all been in that situation I believe. This past season was tough here, and I feel for your friends. Many of my friends did not shoot a buck as well. I eat my tag more often than I don’t, but I have the whole season to hunt and get picky. On a short, week long hunt, I wouldn’t expect the same attitude from a client. I ate my tag again this year, chasing a big 8pt we had on camera. Overhunting is a big problem with some outfitters, and I don’t want to be that big where I have to run a lot of guys. Less hunters, more quality hunts is the way to go imo. Happy hunters are the goal. Great deer live here in lots of places, but killing them is as much luck as skill.
I personally hunted the first buck. Never saw him. I passed the other 2 multiple times. I wouldn’t condem a guy for shooting either one if it made the hunter happy. Life is too short to be worried if we shoot a deer, will there be a fine or will we be looked down upon.
First step is self evaluation on how well you can get guys on deer.Not with bait but read sign and stages of movement,stand placement.Simply enough guys out there now that aren't really too good at it. If you pass muster then low impact 4K hunts are a market that will work if you can keep a great client base of committed whitetailers.
However,your discipline to say NO to your family,guides,preacher,boss and very deserving others of every sort along with procuring great property AND TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF DEER MOVEMENT/STAND PLACEMENT will carry the day.4k bowhunts arent laced with bull crap but science based success that clients can see.Then and only then can you begin to build a culture of ownership by repeat clients.
Those repeat clients are the foundation of success and ONLY acquire more land if you can continue the same level of culture and success as previously proven.Getting to big too fast stretches every science based approach and thus in creeps the bull crap of higher impact.
Genesis, I agree with you. Baited hunts are not guaranteed, and aren’t very successful imo. Travel corridors and bedding areas have been my best bets for success. I’ve only killed 2 bucks over bait, and many more by hunting travel areas between bedding areas. The bait gets deer to stop and take photos more than anything, and keeps them in a given area, for the most part. Non paying friends and family would not be hunting these places. Repeat clientele would be fantastic, but I also know some guys are once and done, no matter how the hunt goes. I just want everyone to have a good experience, regardless of if they would plan a return trip or not. No favoritism or special treatment to anyone, just good service on good ground. I’ve also taken into consideration hunter expectations. Some are bait hunters, others can’t stand it. I would have options for both. I have no intentions of getting big, and wouldn’t do it based on principle. I run my construction company the same way.
With your business and hunting experience, you should do fine. As the owner, all you really have to ask is how you would like a guided hunt to play out (general knowledge of deer patterns, playing the wind, doing the best to minimize pressure, safe stands, etc.) and then strive to meet those goals.
Honesty and transparency are also key. I recently spoke with a outfitter I was referred to about an elk archery hunt on private land. I was somewhat surprised when he did not hesitate and described the archery hunt as marginal, citing hard pressure on neighboring public land for a reason that the larger bulls would not respond well to calls and made for a tough hunt. So I passed on it but am considering an upcoming rifle hunt with the same outfitter.
molson, I have no advice, but I like your attitude. Good luck !
Hook me up I like ohio I might b it frist hunter!!!
Thanks for the comments guys. I have ground, and can get more. This is something I’m looking at for next season, 2019. It’s just a hope right now, but may happen. I will utilize Bowsite in every possible way to make it a go if it will.
Do you consistently kill the type of bucks that you say your clients will be hunting? If not, learn how to do that first then you can become a good outfitter. I would never go on a hunt where the outfitter hasn’t shot big bucks himself or has a track record of successful clients.
Well, I assume that you own the land or have no or little fee's to lease it. If it were me, I'd run trail cams and perhaps food plot it if appropriate. Then, sell hunt dates on a trespass fee kinda deal. Build good hunting ground, in a good location, and limit your involvement to maximize your profit. God Bless
1boonr, that’s a tricky question. On a normal year, during the rut it is not a problem to see the kind of deer most people would be happy with. We only get 1 buck tag per year here, and I enjoy watching deer as much as killing them, so I admit to eating my tag as often as I fill one. The deer have to cooperate, and I’ve been known to get tunnel vision hunting one deer, and have let a lot of good deer walk that I should have shot. That is my choice, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. Killing big, mature bucks consistently is very hard, no matter where you hunt unless you have lots of unbroken ground that only you can hunt. I saw one of my target bucks from this past season over a mile away from where I took his photo almost every night. Nothing will stop a free range whitetail from doing what he wants. All we can do is be in the right place at the right time. WV, I run lots of cameras and it is lease ground. Nothing leased in Ohio is cheap, but I’m working with the landowners to see if this can work out for all parties. Trespass fee hunts would be a good idea, and I will give that some thought.
Here's an idea that I like went on a hunt in iowa this year with a guy he broke his up in 3 seasons bow shotgun and muzzleloader so we got whole season. I liked cause you have time to pattern deer and wait on the right buck plus if your out of state you can change dates on the account of bad weather. Not sure if this will work for you but if you don't need but 10 to 12 hunters it might. To me if you 5 or 6 different hunters a week it don't take long to blow a place out !!!
I’m just over the Pa line in Beaver county. I’d definitely be interested in trespass fee hunting. I prefer picking my own stand site and don’t want to pay someone to do it for me.