Contributors to this thread:
What are some things to focus on when picking an elk hunting guide/outfitter? I would like to book a Colorado hunt in a few years and want to start looking now.
Simply put.... nothing short of word of mouth from trusted sources.
Get reference and talk to guys that didn't kill! If the outfitter won't provide you with that, seek out another outfitter. Be realistic in what you want and what can afford. I don't know your situation, and it's none of my business, but those two things can be very, very different sometimes!
I would ask for the reference list and come up with some questions and keep in touch...
Elk opportunities are influenced by weather and most importantly the hunters ability to be properly prepared physically for the hunt so keep that in mind when positioning your questions.
Good luck on your search
Your English are for almost good enough that we could for believe it.
One word was typo-ed ... "go" should be "to"..
When I book a hunt I insist on being guided by the owner of the business not a hired guide. The owner has more vested. In a perfect world the hired man would care as much about the business as the owner but that is fantasy land. Then I expect the outfitter to give me the names of ALL of the people he guided the year before. If he won’t I keep searching because he’s hiding something. If he has enough guts to give the names I figure he’s got the integrity to deserve my business.
Word of mouth from people you trust and who have direct experience with the Outfitters. Unfortunately that’s not easy to get
No matter how much research you do, Anything short of that it’s still a gamble in my opinion
One caution on "all the names", a good outfitter will NOT give you names without those names saying it's ok. Some hunters are happy to be reference, some are not.
AS for outfitter or guide, remember the owner has other things to do besides guide. I'd be more than happy with a guide who's been there for multiple years.
Ask the references to describe a typical day, start to finish, that should hit on sleeping accomondations, food, transportation, land, animals, what happens after there are down etc.
Along with what has already been posted, here's how I would go about researching an outfitter.
First and probably the best way to get real "word-of-mouth" info is to do a google search something like ... (Colorado outfitters reviews bowsite) this should give you hours of reading what other bow hunters have had to say ... good, bad, and ugly ... about different outfitters in Colorado.
Go to the "OUTFITTERS" section here on Bowsite and read the reviews .... some are quite entertaining.
Not all outfitters will guide a hunter, at times he's too busy with other clients. The references should be given to you with both successful and unsuccessful clients. Look for repeat clients, and look for older guys that have used the outfitter for four to five years. Older clients will understand you don't always kill every year, but should have opportunities to kill. Call the outfitters you choose several times to talk about hurts. Listen if the story or description of the hunts change. Call the local forest service and fish and game to find out if they have any cases against them, and call the Ourfitters Board to see if they have any complaints about the outfitters.
I have to agree that if you book your hunt and get the owner of the business to guide your instead of one of the hired hands you'll get a better experience. The cost will be the same and there is no reason to settle for the second best, third best or fourth best guide. Let somebody else settle for them. Just request that you get the owner when you book the hunt...most other hunters believe that the hired guides are ok so you are likely to get the owner as long as you ask BEFORE you book the hunt. The owner will also appreciate that you know there is a difference between guides. I don't believe an outfitter has (anything but the odd one) clients that are so special that they won't vouch for him unless their experience was sub par. It is foolish for me to accept that excuse. That is the reason to ask for the COMPLETE list. I agree to that too...if he won't give it, look for another option for an outfitter that will produce a great hunt for you. There is no reason to take the extra risk. More and more of my friends are booking hunts with the arrangement that they will only hunt with the owner...leaving plenty of hired hands to guide the other hunters. Hunting with the owner (he cares more than the hired hand) is a subtle way of getting the best guide before you show up in camp to take your chances with the other hunters drawing for guides. I agree that it stacks the deck in your favor.
Personally I like to be wined and dined on the first date than if the evening goes well I'll except a 2nd date.
That’s a great point Highlife! Book a lie cost hunt with an outfitter for something like prairie dogs or coyotes for fun. If he does an awesome job for you there he’ll no doubt do an excellent job for you on a more expensive moose, brown bear or deer hunt. Those outfits that offer hunts for many different animals offer an opportunity to build a working relationship with a guide AND get to hunt with the same PROVEN guide for several different species. Well put Highlife.
I would ask the guide if any big name hunters or reps from places like boot companies, hunting gear, game cameras, tv hunt shows, etc are hunting their. I have hunted with a guided operation that has some big name tv personalities and big name industry people from boot companies to u tube videographers. - won’t name the products they are all top of the line stuff. Find out if you get to hunt the same ground as those people when trying to take your trophy. If you think you get the same ground as them when sharing camp think again. You won’t. They have much more resource to promote the guide with then you joe blow hunter. I would avoid those camps that have big names in them unless you are confident you will be hunting equal properties .
The idea that if you aren't guided by the Outfitter himself you are getting second rate is totally incorrect. It certainly can happen but that directly reflects on the Outfitter himself and the kind of operation he runs. Outfitters I know insist on quality work from their guides or get rid of them. And the guides are motivated to take care of their hunters as that affects their tips. No doubt their are a lot of bad experiences out there but that reflects on your work in selecting an outfitter.Expecting that you must be guided by the boss is unrealistic.
The outfitter that I guided for knew as much about elk as he could learn from the back of an ATV. You could hunt with him, or with me with 30 years elk bowhunting experience (at that time) hunting in that valley. He wanted guys to get an elk quickly and get out of the woods. My mission was to teach my hunters how to hunt elk, assuming they wanted to learn and not just be led by the hand to shoot something.
Do your research and eventually the fly shit will separate from the pepper and you'll figure it out.
The owner of the business is certainly not always the best guide! My guides are focused on giving a great hunt and getting a good tip which matters lots to them. They are in shape and passionate about hunting. My mind is all over the place focusing on 10 different parts of my business, I’m often not the best guide.
The bowsite outfitter reviews are a good source of information...…
You may know, or know of, some of the folks who post reviews. There are folks here I find quite credible, so if you see one of them, you can PM and discuss, too.