This is a list of some of the important questions that you should ask a potential outfitter. You want to make sure you're fully informed before you make any deposits on a hunting trip. There are obviously many other questions you may or may not want to ask. This list was simply designed to help the novice hunter ask the right questions before choosing their elk hunting outfitter.
- What Specie(s) Does the Outfitter Specialize In? - You'll notice that most elk hunting outfitters have multiple different animals you can hunt. Generally one or two of these animals will be their "specialty" and the others are just offered because they are in the area. Try to find an outfitter who specializes in elk or the type of animal you're looking to hunt.
- What Hunting Methods & Tactics Do They Use? - It seems that the most common issue with an outfitted hunting trip is the methods used by the outfitters during the hunt. Sometimes you have no choice and a specific type of method or tactic is the only way to successfully harvest an elk. You'll want to know exactly how you'll be spending your trip. Will you be sitting in a blind all day? Will you be hiking in the woods or using a 4x4 vehicle? These are all questions you want answered.
- How Much Experience Does Your Outfit and Your Guides Have? - When you talk with a potential elk outfitter they will ask you about your experience and you should do the same. You'll want to know how long they've been in business and how much experience their field guides have. Knowing how much experience they have will help give you an idea of how successful the hunt might be.
- How Much of Your Business is Repeat Customers? - Let's face it, nothing says more about the quality of an outfitter than how many repeat clients they have. Ask them how often their clients repeat their trips and how many clients are from word of mouth. You'll notice that the top tier elk hunting outfitters will be booked out far into the future while the less than best have a lot of openings.
- What is the Success Rate of Your Previous Hunting Trips? - If you contact an elk outfitter and they tell you they can guarantee success you need to hang up and contact another one. No one can guarantee you'll actually harvest an elk on your trip. When they do give you their success rate you'll want to know if that is based on actual elk harvest or elk actually sighted.
- What is the Quality of the Elk Harvested on Previous Trips? - You'll find that many outfitters have a great success rate, but don't have the quality elk that you're looking for. This is why you want to get an idea of the average size and number of elk taken in previous trips. It's a good idea to inform the potential outfitter exactly what you're looking for; the next world record or a just a respectable trophy.
- Are You Properly Licensed and are you a Member of Any Associations? - Many states have specific hunting regulations aimed directly at outfitters. Your outfitter may need a specific license and/or need to be a member of an outfitters association. Make sure to verify they are still legally licensed and/or an actual member of the outfitter association they claim they are associated with.
- What if You Cannot Locate Any Elk? - Sometimes many factors and events can lead to a situation where there are no elk located where you're hunting. You'll want to know if the outfitter has any additional camps or locations you can relocate to in this type of situation.