Every outdoorsman wants to find a hunting guide worth the money. Are they out there? Here’s how to find out.
Clearly, you’re not hiring a guide to help you hunt your home property, or your buddy’s acreage in a neighboring state. But there comes a time in most hunters’ lives when they plan a trip, travel out of their comfort zone, and want to return with a hunting experience they’ll remember forever.
When that’s the case, hunting guides are there to serve. But not everyone is able to drop multiple thousands of dollars on one trip, and when they are or they save up, they certainly don’t want to spend it on a subpar experience.
That’s why determining when you truly need a guide (and eventually choosing which one to go with) is going to have to be up to each individual. We’ll help, but the ultimate decision is yours.
Hiring a guide has many benefits, however, fully guided trips can be expensive, and it’s not guaranteed that you’ll bring home your sought after prize. So how do you know when to hire a guide and when to go solo? Here are a few things to consider.
When You Need a Guide
One of the most important rules of accessing wilderness and backcountry areas is the art of navigation. It’s easy to place yourself in grave danger if you are uneducated about the unexplored territory you’re about to enter. There are certain times when hiring a hunting guide will not only give you the best shot of retrieving your target, but will also keep you out of harm’s way and in the hands of someone who knows the area.
When exploring unfamiliar terrain, such as the Alaskan tundra or the crocodile flats in Florida, it’s nearly a requirement to hire a guide. Alaska, Montana and Wyoming are prime grizzly habitats, which can create a dangerous situation for hunters who are not knowledgeable about how to avoid or what to do when confronted by a grizzly bear. The same goes for the crocodiles in Florida. It is useful to have a person with experience hunting and navigating the terrain you seek to explore to keep you out of trouble and point you in the right direction.
Learning Something New
In addition to learning new terrain, it’s also beneficial to have a guide to help with other new hunting aspects or techniques. For instance, if you’re utilizing a pack animal for the first time it is only fair to the animal — and yourself — to learn how to go about it as safely as possible. You can easily overload a horse and push it to exhaustion if you’re unaware of the animal’s abilities and capacity. Or perhaps you’re interested in learning how to bow hunt after decades as a rifle hunter. Bow hunters and rifle hunters approach their targets differently. Having an expert guide with you enables you to become stronger in a new medium of hunting when being able to mimic another’s movements and practices.
When You Don’t
When wanting to expand upon your hunting parameter, it is not useful to hire a guide. If you are simply wanting to explore outside of the territory you have become familiar with, pack a GPS unit to track yourself and record your steps. There are many newly developed apps that will track your movements, allow you to place pins in areas of interest to visit and record your pace, elevation gain/loss and temperature readings.
When you have the time to do the research and properly investigate hunting grounds, there is no need to pay for the knowledge that accompanies a guide. There are a plethora of resources available online and in the Wildlife Management offices to provide you with adequate information to ensure you a successful self-guided hunt. You also do not need to hire a guide if you are hunting on public land. One of the reasons for hiring a guide at times is to gain access to otherwise unapproachable territory. If you are wanting to explore a new area that is on public land, don’t waste your time paying someone to join your hunting crew. Public lands (where hunting is permitted) are available to American citizens for recreational uses at no cost to access.