Guides are people, too. They're in business to help you experience your dream sporting trip, but you must remember they're limited by nature. A little patience and politeness goes a long way.
Here are some things to remember:
- Be honest. Do you have any physical limitations that your guide might need to know about? Can you walk up a steep incline? Do you have a heart condition? Or do you suffer from diabetes and need regular rest breaks and the certainty of taking your insulin shots? Let the guide know in advance of any potentially limiting physical condition.
- Be prepared. Are you hunting blacktail in Oregon? Bring rain gear! Fishing for redfish in Southern Louisiana in July? Wear loose clothing and pack your sunscreen. Ask your guide in advance what to bring... and trust his advice.
- Know your weapon. Know the safety rules and be familiar with your weapon of choice. If you've never shot a gun before, please don't bring the gun in its box and ask the guide to assemble it and teach you UNLESS you've talked to him in advance and in detail about your limitations.
- Be polite. While your guide will do his level best to listen politely to all clients, he will go the extra mile for those who are genuine about the hunting experience. Even if you're an experienced hunter, there's still a lot you can learn about the area that is as familiar to him as is the back of his hand.
- Be generous. Tip well! Tipping is always based on service, not the bag... and not just the service you got that day. Guides spend untold time and money scouting, setting up tree stands, clearing shooting lanes, etc. Your tip should reflect the fact that hiring a guide means he did the prep work you couldn't do. Fifteen to twenty percent is considered a reasonable tip.
- Write a review. Were you happy with your sporting trip? Then please leave a written review! These days, it is very easy to write a quick summation of how much you enjoyed your trip and either email it or leave it as a review on your guide's Facebook page. These reviews are very valuable!
A list of possible questions you'll want to ask:
- What are the accommodations like?
- What kind of meals are served?
- Where will you be hunting, and what is the terrain like? Mountainous, flat, etc.
- What kind of livestock are you using? Horses, mule, gentle?
- How long are the hunting days?
- How long is the average shot?
- What is your responsibility once the game is down? Will they dress it? Pack it out for you?
- What are your responsibilities for processing the meat? Will they take it to the butcher for you? How much does it cost to process your game?
- Transportation? Will they pick you up from the airport and return you after the hunt? If not, what are the fees?
- What are the deposit requirements to hold your hunting dates, and what is the process for cancellation if something comes up?
Your guide works hard to be sure your trip is successful. There are many factors, such as the weather, that he (or she) simply cannot control. By having realistic expectations, communicating honestly with your guide, and planning in advance, you can greatly increase your chances of experiencing a the trip of a lifetime!