Choosing an African Outfitter

Are you considering an African Hunting Safari for Plains Game, are you overwhelmed and don‘t know which African Outfitter to use? Here is a list of questions to ask.

Choosing an African Outfitter for you and list of questions to ask

Is the cost of the hunt based on a day fee plus trophy fee or a hunting package?

Is the cost of the hunt based on a day 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 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

 
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 which includes the day fee.
  • The outfitter offers hunting packages consisting of trophy animals which occur in significant numbers in that area. This ensures close to 100 percent success rate
  • These packages are always the most efficient way to start for the first-time African hunter.
  • The hunter can always add trophies at the end of the hunt or as and 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

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 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 additional cost.

What is the day fee for observers and gratuities policy?

What is the day fee for observers and gratuities policy?

01

If you are bringing an observer you need to find out what the day fee for observers is.

02

Also, find out what is the expectation for gratuities for the guide, trackers and camp staff.

Choosing your African outfitter and list of questions to ask.
How many days will I be hunting? How many days will I be hunting?

How many days will I be hunting?

01

Ascertain if the arrival and departure day are billed at the agreed day fee or are excluded.

02

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?

Should I be using my taxidermist or a taxidermist in Africa?

01

Another key consideration is which taxidermist to use. Should you be using a taxidermist in your home country or a taxidermist in South Africa. You may well just want to support your home country taxidermist. Nevertheless, taxidermy has come a long way in South Africa and lot of South African taxidermist have trained in North America.

02

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 and be aware that it is common practice for South African taxidermists to give brokerage for referral.

The cost of hunting in Africa is structured in two ways and can be very cheap when compared with hunting in the United States.

What airline do you recommend?

What airline do you recommend?

01

Another important component of cost is travel. Get your travel arrangements taken care of by a specialized travel agent. You should ask the outfitter what he recommends. The outfitter will have a good feel for the situation and add value in this area. The outfitter will know which airlines carry rifles and if you will need to sleep over somewhere which adds cost.

How to determine the Experience and Suitability of the African Outfitter

Shall I deal directly with an African outfitter or an agent?

Shall I deal directly with an African outfitter or an agent?

01

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.

02

Some prospective hunters deal directly with outfitters in order to evaluate the outfitter’s offer and decide which is the best fit for them.

03

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?

How long has the African Outfitter been in the hunting business?

01

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 which were in camp. Contact those hunters and ask them to share their experience.

02

Another good source of reference is www.africahunting.com.

www.africahunting.com

03

This is the largest African hunting forum and allows for hunters to ask the community for feedback via private message. The forum consists of well-informed people who hunted in Africa before and who can give you impartial advice.

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
How many hunts does the outfitter do in a year?

How many hunts does the outfitter do in a year?

01

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?

Will you be the only hunting party in camp?

 

01

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 sort of exclusivity.

Warthog Hunting is a must for any African Hunting Safari

Will the Outfitter be present with you in camp and who will be your guides?

Will the Outfitter be present with you in camp and who will be your guides?

01

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.

02

Also establish if each hunter will have their own 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.

Does the Outfitter hold the required licenses?

Does the Outfitter hold the required licenses?

01

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 professional hunter or “PH” for short.

02

An example of an outfitter and professional hunter license for South Africa can be found here.

In South Africa the guide qualification is referred to as professional hunter or PH for short.

Did the Outfitter grew up in the area?

Did the Outfitter grew up in the area?

01

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 land owners. This has many benefits including gaining access to the nearby farms at very short notice as well as following up 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.

02

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.

03

Expert trackers who have been working in the area can be important, from spotting trophies at 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 the plains game you will be hunting.

Who owns the hunting area and what size is it?

Who owns the hunting area and what size is it?

01

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 good minimum size would be around 20,000 acres.

02

Most hunting will be done in the core area but access to adjacent and surrounding areas is very important. 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?

Where is the lodge situated in respect of the hunting area?

01

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.

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.

Are you looking for a true wilderness hunting?

Are you looking for a true wilderness hunting?

01

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.

02

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?

Is the area you will be hunting in high fenced or low fenced?

01

The majority of first time African hunters on a budget will end up in Namibia or South Africa and 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.

02

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 have the ability to move and roam at will. Certain animals will be held in check. Typical examples are Wildebeest and Blesbok.

03

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.

04

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.

05

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.

06

Nowhere else can you hunt so many species at a cost that was not dreamed about two or three decades ago.

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?

What is the nature of the terrain you will be hunting in?

01

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 hill sides to climb?

02

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 interesting and the area will contain more endemic species which always make 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?

How many animals of the species you want to hunt for are on the property?

01

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.

02

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.

03

For animals, that are not endemic, you should understand when the family group was introduced. How wide spread are these animals and how many are there. Ideally there should be a few hundred.