Most hunters have a bucket list of hunts they want to do, empty spots on their virtual trophy walls, animals and locations they’ve always dreamt of visiting and pursuing. And yet, I bet you’ve also been where you want to go hunting, but unsure where and what and when. The popularity of search queries like “what can I hunt in spring” (and our blog post on the subject) is evidence to that. What do you do in this situation?
Well, I – he staff writer of BookYourHunt.com – can’t tell you what to do. I don’t want to push the BookYourHunt.com search system down your throat. If you know a better way to see what outfitters offer at a given time, at a given price, and at a given location, by all means use it. Don’t forget to comment and mention what is it. We at BookYourHunt.com would sure love to know just how our search page can be beat (and if some one can do it, we’ll try to beat them in turn). But to the best of my knowledge this online marketplace makes it easiest to find the hunt of your dreams.
Here, by way of some tips for using BookYourHunt.com, is my own story of looking for a hunt.
Start with the known
Even if you don’t know what or where to hunt, you probably have a pretty good idea what time of year you’ll be able to take off work, and how much you can spend. Enter this data in the search window, and start from there. You can further limit your search with factors like big game or small game hunt, walked up with dogs, stalking or high seat trips, and so on.
In my case, I’m likely to be vacationing with my family in Europe in the end of August, probably in Spain, near Barcelona. Could I send the non-hunting family members to a water world or something, and fell on the wayside to shoot some innocent local creature?
Here I go to search and put in the dates, August 15 – August 31, 2019. I can’t afford to pay ten thousand dead presidents for one dead Gredos Ibex just yet, so I’ll put a more or less reasonable price ceiling of $3,000. Besides, I don’t want to complicate a family vacation with tagging a firearm along (we’re not in Kansas), so I tick the “gun rental” box, too.
Use the Hunting Map
Now, since I’m interested in a specific location, I could further limit my search by entering “Spain” in the “Destination” box, but you know what, I’d rather switch to map view instead. The world is literally covered in hunt offers for these dates, but I resist temptation and put Barcelona in the center of the map.
If you need to jump-start your imagination, there’s no better place than the map. Even if you start from the knowns – your home, or the place you know you’re going to visit – you might be in for a few surprises, because you may never have suspected that a species is legal to hunt at that particular time or space. I didn’t know you could get a red stag hunt during the rut in Spain as early as late August, for instance, I always thought late September was the earliest.
Besides, national borders within the EU being virtually non-existent, distance is by far more important than country. From a Barcelona-based vacation, a hunt in the South of France could work out better than a hunt in the South of Spain. And indeed, I can see a few options nearby in Spain, and some more in France. Now how do I decide which works best for me?
Read the fine print and do the math
There’s a lot of fine print in the hunt descriptions. For instance, many outfitters in Europe list only the daily rate. The trophy fee is not included, and may double or triple the final bill. We at BookYourHunt.com know that and set the system to show the hunt with the minimal trophy fee added automatically, to avoid confusion. If we chose to show you just the daily rate, one of the offers that I see, a $3,000 boar hunt, would be listed at $500. With BookYourHunt.com settings, if you see a hunt offered at a price, you will actually be able to harvest a bird or animal at that price.
Don’t just look at the headlines of the hunts. The devil is in the details, and the hunt that looks like a no-no from the first glance, may actually turn out a great bargain from what is included in the price – or the other way round. Double and triple checking in financial spheres is essential. For instance, another Spanish adventure – an Iberian Red Stag hunt during the roar – comes at about $3,000 if you get a smallish, non-medal class trophy. But should you get a Gold Medal class animal, it would be as high as $5,000. Having a royal stag in your sights but not taking the shot because you’re afraid you can’t afford the trophy? Hmm… I don’t know.
The math doesn’t end at the daily rates and trophy fees. If I get lucky with that Red Stag, I’d also have to shell out 170 Euro for the trophy certificate, necessary to ship the mighty tasks or antlers home, plus the cost of shipping. On the other hand, the hunt price includes the gun rental, the ammunition, the gun permit (yes, you do need a gun permit to hunt in Spain, even if you rent a firearm from the outfitter) and the 21% VAT. As a non-resident of the European Union, I’m entitled to VAT return, which would bring the bottom line to about $2,500. That’s better.
Check out every alternative
But I think I’d rather check out hunts in France, too. One of them is a roe deer hunt listed at $660, which is made up of $330 daily rate and $330 trophy fee (regardless of antler size). The package is not as impressive as in Spain, and after the “not included” things like permits, gun rental, taxidermy, trophy shipment, and tips, my roe hunt will probably bottom-line at a bit under $1,000. That sounds about right. Actually, I don’t think I can get a guided big game hunt near home any cheaper, and the new and unusual experience will come at a bonus.
Now I have but two questions: can the outfitter arrange my transfer from Barcelona, and what would it take to get the gun and hunting permits. For that, there’s the magic button “ask me about this hunt”. It connects you to your outfitter in the BookYourHunt.com chat environment, where everything the outfitter promises can be used against them in case the promises don’t match reality. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I’m gonna press it…
You might also like:
- Come Together: How to combine hunting and a family vacation
- Wild Boar Hunting in Europe