Are you considering an African Hunting Safari for Plains Game? Are you overwhelmed and don‘t know how to choose an African Outfitter?
Here is a list of questions to ask an African outfitter to help make your choice
How to choose an African outfitter.
What is the real cost of my safari?
Questions to ask when choosing an African outfitter
- Is the cost of the hunt based on a daily fee plus trophy fee or a hunting package?
- What is the daily fee for observers and the gratuities policy?
- How many days will I be hunting?
- Should I be using my taxidermist or a taxidermist in Africa?
Is the cost of the hunt based on a daily fee plus trophy fee or a hunting package?
The cost of hunting in Africa is structured in two ways:
A Day Fee plus an individual Trophy Fee
- A day fee is paid, and clients select animals and pay the trophy fee for each animal.
- Ask for the day fee and the trophy price list.
A fixed all-inclusive African Hunting Package consisting of trophy animals
- Hunters select a package of animals offered by the outfitter at a fixed price, including the day fee.
- The outfitter offers hunting packages consisting of trophy animals that occur in significant numbers in that area, ensuring a close to 100 percent success rate.
- These packages are always the most efficient way to start for first-time African hunter.
- The hunter can always add trophies at the end of the hunt or when the opportunity presents its self. Package hunters should also obtain a trophy price list in case they decide to add animals.
The day fee or all-inclusive African hunting package should include the services in the list below without any additional costs
- Your Professional Hunter at all times
- Accommodation, meals, and drinks
- 4×4 hunting vehicles and fuel for the duration of the safari
- Transport for pick-up and drop-off at the final destination airport
- Daily laundry
- Skinners, trackers, and dogs for retrieval of wounded animals
- Use of rifles, scopes, and ammunition (Most outfitters will require payment for the use of rifles)
- Field preparation of trophies and delivery to the taxidermy
- All taxes and permit fees
Inquire if there are any services which will incur an additional cost.
What is the daily fee for observers and gratuities policy?
If you are bringing an observer, you need to find out what the day fee for observers is.
Also, find out what is the expectation for gratuities for the guide, trackers, and camp staff.
How many days will I be hunting?
Ascertain if the arrival and departure day are billed at the agreed day fee or are excluded.
Is there sufficient time to obtain all the required trophies, and what is the outfitter’s success rates. How many instances did clients not complete the package in the last three years?
Should I be using my taxidermist or a taxidermist in Africa?
Another key consideration is which taxidermist to use. Should you be utilizing a taxidermist in your home country or a taxidermist in South Africa.
You may well want to support your home country, taxidermist. Nevertheless, taxidermy has come a long way in South Africa, and many South African taxidermists have trained in North America.
Taxidermy is far cheaper in South Africa, and local taxidermists work exclusively on plains game.
Obtain a quote from your outfitter and check that against both your home country and South African taxidermists. Be aware that it is common practice for South African taxidermists to give brokerage for a referral.
How to determine the experience and suitability of the outfitter?
Questions to ask when choosing an African outfitter
- Shall I deal directly with an African outfitter or an agent?
- How long has the African outfitter been in the hunting business?
- How many hunts does the outfitter do in a year?
- Will you be the only hunting party in camp?
- Will the outfitter be present with you in camp, and who will be your guides?
- Does the outfitter hold the required licenses?
Shall I deal directly with the outfitter or an agent when choosing an African outfitter
An outfitter is a licensed business that provides services for a guided hunt.
Guides are hunting guides who scout and accompany hunters on the guided hunts.
Some prospective hunters deal directly with outfitters to evaluate the outfitter’s offer and decide which is the best fit for them.
Agents are being used in the United States by many African outfitters. The agent helps the client to decide which outfitter to use.
There is nothing inherently wrong with using an agent. Prospective hunters who use an agent should understand the relationship between the agent and outfitter.
How long has the African Outfitter been in the hunting business?
Any hunter wishing to visit Africa for the first time should be considering outfitters with a good track record. Make sure you get a list of references.
Also, consider asking for names and contact details of the last three hunting parties in camp. Contact those hunters and ask them to share their experiences.
Another good source of reference is www.africahunting.com.
This is the largest African hunting forum and allows hunters to ask the community for feedback via private message.
The forum consists of well-informed people who hunted in Africa before and can give you impartial advice for choosing an African outfitter.
How many hunts does the outfitter do in a year?
An over hunted area is not what you will be looking for. Ask your outfitter how many hunting parties are hunting the core area in a season. Ideally, it should be between 10 and 20 hunting parties per season.
Will you be the only hunting party in camp?
This is an important question. Many hunters will want some exclusivity to enjoy the hunt as a closed group. Being the only hunters in camp ensures that you will not see any other hunters while out in the field. For some of the large outfitters, it will not be possible to have any exclusivity. This may be an essential aspect for some hunters for choosing an African outfitter.
Will the Outfitter be present with you in camp, and who will be your guides?
You may also want to consider if your outfitter will be present in camp or if there will be only your guide with you. It is an advantage to have the outfitter in camp with you.
He will have a good feel for what’s happening and will be able to meet the hunting party’s expectations. It’s also not unusual for the outfitter to be the guide for one of the hunting party.
Also, establish if each hunter will have their guide, or two hunters will be sharing a guide. This will have a cost implication. Will your outfitter be one of the guides?
What experience do the other guides have, and how long have they been guiding. How long have the guides been working for the outfitter, and how much of their guiding has been in the area, you will be hunting. Who your guide will be is an essential point for choosing an African outfitter.
Does your chosen outfitter hold the required licenses?
Every South African outfitter is required to have a valid and up to date outfitter license. Ask for the certificate. It is not unreasonable for you to expect that the outfitter is also a qualified guide. In South Africa, this qualification is referred to as a professional hunter or “PH” for short.
My outfitter and professional hunter license for South Africa.
Did the Outfitter grew up in the area?
Another factor you may wish to consider is if the African outfitter grew up in the area and is part of the local community, he will know the adjacent area and landowners.
This has many benefits, including gaining access to the nearby farms at terse notice and following up with wounded animals.
Most land is privately owned in South Africa. He will also have an intimate knowledge of the whereabouts of animals outside the immediate area being hunted.
Your outfitter should be able to speak all the local languages, including the local African dialect.
This is important when dealing with camp staff and the trackers.
When an animal is wounded, clear and effective communication with the trackers can make the difference.
Expert trackers who have been working in the area can be important, from spotting trophies at a great distance or in a thick brush and leading the stalk.
This is an overlooked aspect of the African outfitting business.
How to evaluate the hunting area and plains game?
Questions to ask when choosing an African outfitter
- Who owns the hunting area, and what size is it?
- Where is the lodger situated in respect of the hunting area?
- Are you looking for real wilderness hunting?
- Is the area you will be hunting in low fenced or high fenced?
- What is the nature of the terrain you will be hunting?
- How many animals of the species you want to hunt for are on the property?
Who owns the hunting area and what size is it?
The hunter should understand how much of the core hunting area is owned by the outfitter.
The hunter conducting his due diligence should understand the size of the home property. A reasonable minimum size would be around 20,000 acres.
The size of the hunting area is essential for choosing an African outfitter.
Most hunting will be done in the core area, but access to adjacent and surrounding areas is essential.
There will always be one or two trophies that you might be struggling with; access to the nearby area will make the probability of getting your trophy wish list much higher.
Where is the lodge situated in respect of the hunting area?
The lodge should ideally be situated in the middle of your hunting area. Driving an hour to and from your hunting area should be avoided. The hunter should also understand how long it takes to get to the other areas the outfitter has access to.
Are you looking for a true wilderness hunting?
If you are looking for a true wildness hunt you will need to hunt in areas like Zimbabwe and Tanzania. In these areas you will be hunting without any fences or man-made obstacles like a barrier in the form of public roads.
This remoteness comes at a cost with expensive day fees been mandatory as well as extra time and cost to get to these wilderness areas. These costs come before you have even seen an animal. For many the cost and time are prohibitive.
Is the area you will be hunting in high fenced or low fenced?
The majority of first time African hunters on a budget will end up in Namibia or South Africa. You will struggle to find a property in South Africa or Namibia with no fences.
The properties will either be high fenced or low fenced.
Areas that do not have high fences but four-foot barbed wire fences.
These are designed to stop the movement of sheep and cattle, and the vast majority of wild animals can move and roam at will.
Certain species will be held in check. Typical examples are Wildebeest and Blesbok.
These non-high fenced areas belong to the local farming community.
Outfitters who have a low fenced core hunting area are farmers and have a dual income.
The majority of hunting in South Africa is done behind high fences.
The size of the high fenced areas varies greatly. High fences are necessary for outfitters from an economic standpoint.
For these typically larger high fenced outfitters, outfitting is their only source of income.
These larger high fenced outfitters need to replenished trophies as a result of hunting and genetics.
This has made South Africa the most affordable hunting destination in the world.
Nowhere else can you hunt so many species at a cost that was not dreamed about two or three decades ago.
What is the nature of the terrain you will be hunting in?
You should consider the nature of the terrain from two different angles. The first relates to the hunting parties’ physical capabilities.
Ask how long stalks will be and how much walking will be required each day, as well as the difficulty of walking. Are their steep canyons and rocky hillsides to climb?
You should inquire about the variability of the terrain. Its always good to have different types of topography to hunt.
A mixture of thick bush and canyons as well as savanna and rolling plains.
This will make the hunt more exciting, and the area will contain more endemic species, which always makes for the best hunting. Many hunting areas are plains or very thick bush.
How many animals of the species you want to hunt for are on the property?
Ask the outfitter how many animals of individual species are in his hunting area and if the species are endemic to the area.
If the animals are endemic, the quantity and quality will be higher.
It is also good to ask for the ratio of females to males. A very high male ratio would suggest a “put and take” practice.
For animals that are not endemic, you should understand when the family group was introduced.
How widespread are these animals and how many are there. Ideally, there should be a few hundred.