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I didn't want to hijack another thread. With everything going on when, if you were thinking of going back would you go 2021, 2022 or would you wait and see what happens. I know this year is out for sure. With the current situation I even think 2021 could be a question. I am seeing some really unreal deals and has got me thinking of trying to get back over there.
I would be very careful of unreal deals as most all of these are from fringe operators simply trying to survive this crisis. They may be out of business before your hunt even occurs. I don’t think you’ll see top tier operators offering these. We are currently over 80% booked for 2021 and I am working on rescheduling clients booked this season for next or even 2022. This virus will run its course and all will be back to a semblance of normal before next safari season. I would not hesitate in booking next year now as it will likely be a huge year for most of us with limited space remaining on the calendar.
Thanks for the input. That is a great point of the the outfitters on the fringe. Which brings up a good point. As someone like yourself who has been in the game awhile. How with this current situation would you suggest doing reference checks. It is possible some of reputable outfitters a few years ago could now be running into issues. Any suggestions on vetting potential outfitters because of this ?
That is a good question as frankly, you won’t know the business ins and outs of any particular safari operation. This would be the same for any foreign hunting outfit. You just won’t have access to their personal situations and each and every one could be vastly different. From a client perspective, I’d trust someone that has been in business for more than a decade or two, who survived the 2008 economic crisis while maintaining a high level of operation throughout, and is still operating at a high level, and whose repeat business is at least over 60%. That last one may be hard to decipher. And the greatest determining factor for me as it applies to African operations is how many clients are you hunting in a season? Quantity usually works in direct opposition to quality as there are only so many great trophies in a particular area and unless you’re hunting a put and take operation, those big trophies will be taken out quickly and the ones coming up won’t get a chance to meet full maturity due to the high density of clients going through the books. Most of these operations realize these big client numbers through an over use of hunt donations as they donate to every SCI chapter, RMEF chapter, etc. giving package hunts away in exchange for a bit of advertising and in hopes of securing enough of these ghost clients that will overshoot the donation on the package and put the hunt into the green. It works and these guys are a good source of word of mouth advertising but I’ve never been one to rely on offering a ridiculous number of hunt donations to service my game quotas. I normally prefer to offer cash donations to organizations I believe in though I always give a 100% hunt donation to Pope & Young as the president is one of my good clients and friends and I truly support their mission. You asked a very good question which is why I’m rambling a bit. Bottom line...has the guy been there and done it for years on end and does his client base speak highly of him? Experience has no substitute so beware of these operations you’ve never heard of offering hugely discounted rates at this particular time. That just screams ‘BEWARE’ to me.
That was one of the best explanations i have read about researching outfitters. Thank you for the great in depth explanation. I liked your insight into the auction hunts that I never knew. I appreciate your honesty on this subject.
I must’ve missed something...
Normally when something is donated to an auction, the organization receiving the donation gets whatever is bid; once the donation is made, the donor gets nothing...
Is that not how it works here??
Nope. Not really how it works. You can make a 100% donation or an 80% and sometimes a 60% donation. You get kicked back your percentage of the highest bid based on the parameters of the donation. Sometimes you only make a daily rate donation with all trophy fees going to the company. Many ways to work a donation hunt
That’s also why you will see many Auction hunts with a minimum bid. They have to get at least that much or no hunt.
Will be some great deal but also risk. Some places may not be in business by next year. Anyone asking for some kind of deposit and offering to much is just trying to hang on and maybe a big risk. I am still hoping to go this year to SA and Namibia on my planned trips. I do not put down deposit like most do on my trips and never will. Be careful as many of the good ones will still be around after all this and the ones worth doing business with. Going to be a tricky hunting market over the next few years but I plan on hunting as much as I can in 2020 21 and 22
That's what makes me nervous right now is the deposit part, especially with overseas hunts.
The plain truth is that right now nobody really knows the magnitude of the long term impacts of the COVID-19 shutdown. For folks like me, who love to hunt internationally, a few things are certain - everything from booking terms, deposits, international travel, foreign internal travel, stopovers, insurance, etc will all be changing.
It’s just a matter of degree.
One of the biggest enablers of international hunting has been the ease, reliability, and relatively low cost of travel. Ex = last year with 2x flights and a 2-hr helicopter ride I arrived in a remote mountain camp in Siberia with all of my gear and my own rifle. Just cannot see airlines being able to immediately re-engage all of their routes, especially to the remote areas hunters need to go. Not to mention figuring out how to reconfigure passenger compartments, new reality of ticket prices, baggage costs, etc.
I’m personally effected as I have 4x hunts booked for the next 2 years - will they happen??? One is definitely being postponed until next year, the others, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Agree with a few of the points Ken made earlier (first I’ll tip my hat to him for rescheduling his impacted clients). I’ve recently been bombarded with discount Hunt offers (some for trips that may never happen) that tell me there’s nothing to worry about if I just buy trip insurance. That’s BS - all major travel insurance companies announced cutoff dates for covering any COVID-19 impacts (these dates have already passed). It is now a known event. Some companies making great offers for future hunts may go out of business - this happened to me once, years ago with a Canadian Mule Deer Bowhunt - guy closed up shop just prior to the season and kept my deposit. No even an apology.
Personally, in this time of crisis I’m doing my best to avoid knee-jerk reactions and remain patient. Things will take a little while yet before the new post COVID-19 international hunting reality begins taking shape. Under this kind of uncertainty it’s usually best to be prudent and exercise extreme caution.
My 2 cents
I love to travel and hunt and as you mentioned the pandemic is going to change a lot of things in a lot of different ways. I am pretty cautious overall so will more then likely sit back and just watch to see where things go and how this all shakes out. Maybe this will push me to look at some hunts closer to home
Here is a thread off of African Hunting that describes the re-opening stages for RSA.
On the link I posted, please go to page 2 and listen to the message of president of the PHASA. He boils it down to the bone.
Thanks Greg, the video was very informative. It sums up and validates information I’d received from a number of sources. RSA is like most other countries - while international hunting contributes to the overall economy it isn’t a primary focus of relief/restart efforts. At least RSA understands and supports hunting enough to try to avoid harmful secondary efforts from other initiatives.
Ken- I totally agree with you. The PHASA president's comments sums things up- the pandemic is affecting everyone. The PHASA president's comment about not all being in the same boat, but being in the same storm is so true the pandemic's impact.