Stars… you never get to see stars so bright and numerous as in a remote hunting camp. But that’s not the stars we’re going to talk about today. Did you notice the stars, with the numbers from 1 to 10, near the avatars of some outfitters? Let us tell you what they stand for.
The stars and numbers indicate the outfitter’s rating. Every hunter that books a hunt through BookYourHunt.com is asked to evaluate their experience. The rating is divided in five categories, that you can see by pointing the mouse over the number. Each category gets points from one (worst) to ten (best). These numbers are then averaged to show as the general outfitter’s rating, and visualized via stars. Let’s walk you through each of the categories:
This is the most general, and perhaps the most important item of all. It answers the basic question – how was hunting? Not it the bed was soft enough, not if the cook in camp frowned too much, not how many deer per square acre are there, and not if you felt you’ve been overcharged. Was your hunting any good? That is the question.
Accommodation and hospitality
Like we said in the previous post, a hunting camp or lodge is a key point in a hunting adventure. Of course, you can hardly expect a fly-in camp in Alaska to offer the same level of comfort as a five-star resort on Mauritius. But, as we discovered, the hunters understand it all too well, and the attitude matters more than spacious rooms or chef’s cuisine. For instance, Hunting & Conservation Alliance of Tajikistan got near maximum ratings for Accommodation, even though their hunting camps in the most remote areas of the Pamir have no running water or indoor toilets. But clients realized the guides were doing their absolute best to make them feel as comfortable as possible under the circumstances (read our story for just what pains they took), and that’s what counted.
You can have the best possible herd of deer or immeasurable number of birds, five-star lodge building with caviar for breakfast, dirt cheap bottom line, and yet describe your experience in that famous Rolling Stones hit lyrics. All because the guide doesn’t know cow from bull tracks. By contrast, a great PH can make you forget that the roof leaked and the “chef” served canned rations every night, and find you a great trophy under the worst of conditions.
Are you going to see deer with 200+ point antlers? Where do you find highest densities of game? Is there a healthy bighorn herd, with good genetics, and in good numbers? The game is the piece de resistance of a hunting operation. In some cases, it’s a matter of luck – whether the caribou migrated to the wilderness you fly to or not, for example. But in many preserves and concessions both the number of animals and the quality of trophies depend on the work the outfitters put in wildlife management, anti-poaching measures and such. That’s what makes this category so important.
Value for money
Everything is relative, and if you come back happy or not depends in no small measure on how much you paid. Low “value for money” points don’t mean precisely that the outfitter is bad – it usually signifies that the reviewers felt they could find the same product and service for less.
How to read the ratings.
We didn’t only install the ratings to single out the best outfitters and guides. The five categories are also there to help you make the right choice. If you see two outfitters who offer a similar product in the same price range, and have about the same overall rating, which one would you choose? The categories can give you a very useful hint. While everyone should strive for perfection, it is hard to achieve; most operations, like all of us, have their strengths and their weaknesses. But people are different and you may be more willing to put up with some compromises than others.
A hunter who’s so experienced they could teach advanced hunting skills at a PH university would probably prefer good game country, and ignore other parameters. Someone in the early stages of their hunting career should perhaps, by contrast, pick the most professional guide. A family vacation calls for the most hospitable and comfortable camp, while many die-hard hunters will willingly sacrifice comfort for the ultimate hunting experience. Whatever your preference, our ratings will help you find the right hunt for you. Why don’t you do it now? The stars are waiting!