Contributors to this thread:
Booking Agent or Not?
I did some preliminary research and will likely book a hunt with a particular outfitter. I later found out that a booking agent I use books hunts for this outfitter. I am trying to decide if there are advantages to booking directly with the outfitter or going through the booking agent.
I would like to maintain a good relationship with the booking agent but at the same time I found the outfitter myself and the outfitter would make more money if he didn't have to pay a booking agent.
What does the Bowsite braintrust think?
I've personally done it both ways. Given the opportunity I always use an agent simply for the piece of mind if something goes wrong the agent has more clout than one hunter. Also good agents may have more insight into the outfitter and have a better recommendation than that based on their knowledge of your previous hunts and abilities.
I'd go direct, but why does your outfitter need a booking agent? Is he just starting out? There is no incentive by going with an agent. If you have a bad hunt all the agent will do is remove the outfitter from the list. What's that do for you? You won't be refunded! It's your word against the outfitters? Explain to the outfitter that you are giving him the money if he is legit. That's good relations and may go along ways for future hunts.
I used one for a Wyoming elk hunt and it was tremendous, he will get all my business on out of state hunts. Also the price he charged came out of the outfitters pocket not ours. We had guys in camp who paid what we paid but did all the research on their own.
The cost will most likely be the same. The agent makes his money by either a free hunt or a % the outfitter gives him for being his "salesman and marketer". Also their are certain protections afforded you by having an agent....2 contracts etc.
I’ve done both, and had good and bad results with both. Given a choice, I’d go through a booking agent.
Unless I personally know the outfitter, I prefer booking agents. Good luck on your hunt.
When I was new at this travel and hunt thing, I used a booking agent. After several years of hunting North America, I pretty much know exactly who I want to hunt with for any/every species and no longer use booking agents. The exception for me is International hunts.
In your situation, I would just book it direct. When the $hit hits the fan a booking agent may, or may not be there for you. For me it was the latter.
Yea, my first and last guided hunt was with a agent. The guides stayed high the entire hunt...was lost twice on the way back to camp...I hunted last 3 days on my own!...I can go on and on! Long story short, I didnt get any money back! It's been diy ever since, and frankly I'm thankful that it happen!
I think a lot depends on the animal you are pursuing and accessibility to hunting area/property.
I have used and not used booking agents. Dealing with a reputable booking agent such as BSC you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
If you are hunting with reputable outfitters you have nothing to lose.
It is the “unknowns” that I try to shy away from.
Bowsite is a great place to start you search and research. There are some very reputable bowhunter in this community and will share the truth (good or bad) with you.
If you're looking for a long-term relationship with someone who can help you in many species/areas, use a good booking agent.
Much also depends on the booking agent, there are good and bad.
Really comes down to research, yours or theirs
Agents will have more knowledge and info on many outfitters at different price point and also should have direct experience with the outfitter.
Ad to why an outfitter would use an agent, simple. Advertising. It costs one way or another and the agent can also vouch for hunters much of the time
Have done both. I apply for a lot of tags that are usually under 5% odds to draw so do minimal research until draw a tag. I then request a list of prior hunters from Hunting' Fool and Epic. I rely on discussions I have with those prior hunters as I try and figure out how will hunt so is a good adventure (on own on public access, on private but unguided, drop camp unguided, guided). Then, if I will not be hunting on public access on my own, I decide whether I want to put in the hours to do research or just make it easy and use an agent. I tend to put in the hours but depends on work demands.
My lifelong best friend is a highly-respected booking agent and I get to hear all the ins and outs, good and bad, of the industry. Bob H is right on the money.
One thing I would add, though, is to make bbn sure your booking agent specializes in bowhunts if that's what you want. Big difference between "rifle" agents and their outfitters vs. archery.
Thanks for the replys. Lots of great thoughts.
"make bbn sure your booking agent specializes in bowhunts if that's what you want. Big difference between "rifle" agents and their outfitters vs. archery. "
Very true, but even after booking with a bowhunting agent I've still run into guides who'll try to shove a rifle in your hands on day 1, so make sure you make it clear to the outfitter and guide if you only want to use a bow.
I was doing all my own research after on the recommended outfitter after I speak with the booking agent, I figure if that’s the case might as well just do it and book on my own. I also found that some of the better outfitters don’t book though agents as well and that if you just using agent you might be missing out on better options
Trial, you point out a catch-22, some GREAT outfitters don't use booking agents and some GREAT outfitters only use booking agents.
Some of it is all about exposure and volume. On your own, you can only "find" so many outfitters, agents only have so many, probably many more, at different prices.
For me it comes down to research, do I have the time and ability to do my own? Personally I like meeting the outfitters and have never booked a hunt without meeting them, I've used the Harrisburg PA show and springfiled MA shows to find the 3 outfitters I've used. Chatting face to face I've eliminated many. An agent would have more exposure, but now I have to research the agent!
It's all options.
For a lot of species, bowhunting represents only a tiny portion of the total hunts booked...probably less than 5% for most species other than maybe whitetail and black bear. Hence, I would say that identifying good bowhunting outfitters is a highly-specialized endeavor. IMO using a booking agent who is a well-traveled bowhunter himself, and who specializes in finding, evaluating, and hunting with, the best archery outfitters for any particular species, can be very useful. I will say though, if you actively attend hunting conventions, participate heavily on internet bowhunting forums like this one, and have plenty of friends and contacts who travel to bow-hunt, there's probably no other significant reason to use an agent. But still, the reason cited could be an important one, especially for the dedicated bow-only hunter. When needing an outfitter, the obvious starting point for me is always to look at the bowsite outfitter-sponsors. Especially the ones who have lots of member reports and feedback.
Which person are you going to use more in the future. Use him now.