By Peter Ruddle
Which one suits me best? If you are a newbie or a first-time hunter in a new country it is probably best to buy a package hunt. The same might be said for a hunter targeting a specific species included in an advertised package. Tailor-made hunts are for the more experienced hunters who plan on hunting several selected species in a country that may even require a change in hunting locations.
Package hunts are normally designed to include multiple species, although one-species packages also exist, a specified number of hunting days, and a list of what is included in the price and what is not.
Pros and Cons
- A big plus is what you see is what you pay and it takes any guesswork out of the equation regarding your hunt budget.
- Normally all the costs are included in a package hunt so there are no surprises at the end of the hunt.
- The cost of the hunt is easy to determine compared to a tailor-made hunt.
- In Africa, additional days and some of the more common plains game species may be added to most package hunts at the regular going rate so you are not limited to just shooting what is advertised in the package.
- Sometimes packages contain animals that you do not want to hunt. The outfitter may allow you to exchange one animal for a different species from the same price range, but that would depend on availability. Note the exchange of animals must be discussed upfront and any amendment of the package details is at the sole discretion of the outfitter.
- Packages hunts are generally offered at a discounted rate so if you compare the prices to a similar tailor-made hunt you will be paying less. When booking a tailor-made hunt the daily rates, trophy fees, along with all the extras, like airport transfers, may not be included in a daily rate hunt fee and usually add up to more than a package hunt.
- Some hunts, like an upland bird and waterfowl shoots, are often only sold as package hunts as the success of the hunt relies on a minimum number of guns (shooters).
These are hunts designed specifically to cater for your needs within the specified hunt duration and the nominated species you will be targeting. These hunts are flexible, days and species may be added to your wish list. These hunts are designed by the outfitter within the parameters of the law in whichever country you choose to hunt.
The hunting daily rates may be advertised as 1×1, 2×1 and a few other alternatives like 4×2 or 6×3 with or without observers. So what does this all mean? The 1, 2, 4 or 6, in this case, means the number of hunters in the group and the x1 or x2 means the number of professional hunters/guides per hunting group. An observer does not mean the people watching you but rather refers to the non-hunting companion/guest or familiar members that will be joining you on the hunt.
Observers may hunt the odd animal at the observer rate if permission is granted by the outfitter. However, many countries require that anyone pulling the trigger must have a license issued in their name and this option may not be available to an observer in the hunting party.
A tailor-made hunt specifies the minimum number of days that the hunt must be booked. Should you leave the hunt before the contracted hunt period you will not be refunded. In some cases, like Tanzania, certain species may only be hunted on a specified minimum day license. For instance, a buffalo may be hunted on a 7-day license and a lion hunt requires a 21-day license.
Even when this is not required by law, the common practice when hunting such species as elephant or leopard is that you need to book a certain minimum of days. These hunts are as responsible, as they are unpredictable, and while there are no guarantees that you will get your trophy in any case, a set length period of the hunt should give you a good chance of success.
Pros and Cons
- You only pay for what you shoot as opposed to a package hunt where you pay for an animal even if not hunted unless otherwise stated by the outfitter. Some outfitters, for example, may state that if you do not get your leopard you will not need to pay the trophy fee.
- 1×1 hunts allow the hunter to call the shots and shoot the best quality trophies during the hunt as opposed to a 2×1 hunt where the shooting opportunity alternates between the two hunters during the hunt. Invariably, the trophy quality is determined by the luck of the draw as to who shoots next. This may end up having consequences on your friendship with the other hunter if they are fortunate enough to always end up shooting the bigger of the trophies.
- No matter whether you hunt 1×1 or 2×1 you will be treated like a VIP but in the case of a 1×1 hunt you will feel like royalty and everything will be done especially for you.
- Package hunts may have animals included that you do not want or you have previously hunted and cannot swap out whereas with a tailor-made hunt you choose the animals you want to hunt.
- Some tailor-made hunts make it very simple to calculate the price. You need to book X amount of days at the specified price and then add the trophy fees. This can be done by using the hunt calculator on the BookYourHunt listing page.
- Tailor-made hunts often come with many exclusions and complicated issues like specific taxes on daily rates, trophy fees, conservation levies, game scout fees, and firearms, even ammunition usage in some countries. This can be overcome by asking your outfitter to send you a detailed quotation that must include a tipping guideline and miscellaneous services like airport couriers who help with firearm airport services.
Buying a tailor-made hunt from what I call the “a’la carte hunt menu” can be quite daunting if you are not familiar with the whole procedure. My advice is to either look at a package option if available when hunting in a country for the first time and your professional hunter or guide can then explain exactly how a tailor-made hunt works. This will make your return hunt planning so much easier.
If the package option is not available in the country you wish to hunt or this is a once-off hunt or safari then use the BookYourHunt chat portal to ask your chosen outfitter the questions you need to be answered. And, of course, be sure to double-check the information using independent sources, whenever possible. You may find some of your questions already answered in our “1001 Questions about Hunting in Africa” series and other blogs about hunting in Africa.
At the end of the day, good communication with your chosen outfitter and a detailed signed contract are your best bet.
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