Few things in life are as thrilling and memorable as hunting for game. Whether you’re in it for the meat, trophy, or sport, game hunting provides an experience that you won’t likely forget for the rest of your life. When going on a hunt, you typically face two choices: a DIY hunt where you do practically everything by yourself and a hunting trip where you get the help of an experienced guide every step of the way. Many hunters choose to go hunting DIY style. Apart from the satisfaction of going through a hunt with little to no assistance, a DIY hunt also means they won’t have to pay an outfitter for a guided hunt and all the trappings that come with it. However, there are hunters who will find a guided hunt useful and, in some cases, necessary. It doesn’t matter whether they’re hunting for the very first time or have been doing it for years.
Here are some signs that a guided hunt is right for you.
1. You’re A Hunting Newbie
While it’s not impossible for a first-time hunter to go on a DIY hunt, it’s undoubtedly going to be tough to succeed without help from anyone with hunting experience.
Given how intimidating the hunting world can get with all the factors you need to consider, hunting beginners can surely use a hand from experienced hunting guides, whose job description includes helping you navigate the hunting grounds safely and prepare meals for you, among other things.
Guides who have been at it for a long time can also provide beginners precious hunting advice. An experienced hunting guide can give you tips on anything related to hunting, from finding the exact location of the animals you’re hunting to tricks that will help you field dress and quarter the animal you harvested more efficiently.
With the knowledge you can gain from your initial hunting trip with an experienced guide, you would be better equipped for your next hunting trip.
2. You’re On Unfamiliar Hunting Grounds
Let’s say you’ve been big-game hunting for a long time. You’ve gone on countless Arizona hunts, bagged pronghorn antelopes in Texas, and harvested bighorn sheep in Idaho. But what if you suddenly become interested in putting your skills and stamina to the test in the hunting paradise that is Alaska?
With all the big-game animals native to Alaska, including caribou, bison, muskox, elk, wolves, moose, Sitka black-tailed deer, black bears, and brown and grizzly bears, The Last Frontier is indeed a prime destination for hunters everywhere.
However, unless you’ve hunted in Alaska before, you will likely be very unfamiliar with its acres upon acres of hunting grounds. It would be easy to get lost, which no hunter would ever want to be, especially in a place where even the summer months are freezing.
Maps and GPS devices can serve you well when hunting in unfamiliar territory, whether it’s in Alaska or anywhere else. However, to be on the safe side, you need to work with professional hunting guides who know every nook and cranny of the hunting grounds you’re setting foot on for the very first time.
3. You Want A Hunting Experience That Doubles As a Vacation
Many hunters go on DIY hunts because they love the idea of “roughing it.” But what if “roughing it” isn’t your thing, and you want your hunting experience to feel like a vacation as well?
If you go on a fully-guided hunt provided by an outfitter, you will receive any or all of the following services, which are more than enough to make the whole hunting trip feel as comfortable as possible for you:
- Arrangement of transportation, supplies, and equipment for the hunt
- Harvested game preparation
- Meal preparation
- Instructions for the use of hunting gear
- Wildlife scouting
- Planned itineraries based on firsthand knowledge of the hunting grounds
If you’re lucky, you might find yourself working with an outfitter that provides laundry services, trophy care, and alcoholic beverages, too.
4. You’re Pursuing A Different Species
Let’s say you’ve hunted whitetail deer for years, and you want to try your hand at elk hunting. Most experienced hunters and guides would agree that hunting deer is easier, and elk hunting is an entirely different animal, literally and figuratively.
While you can read up on things like the grazing habits of elk and where they usually roam, it’s so much better to pick up elk hunting strategies and tactics from a professional hunting guide firsthand. They know practically everything there is to know about elk, and their advice increases your chances for a successful hunt.
5. You Want Better Chances of a Successful Hunt
While it’s true that there is no such thing as guaranteed success in hunting, your chances for a successful hunt tend to be better when you’re on a guided hunt.
Hunting guides are already quite familiar with the hunting grounds and the species you’re hunting. They also provide other services that make the whole hunting trip easier and more comfortable for you. With the things professional hunting guides do for clients like you, you can direct most of your energy and concentration on making the kill.
6. You Need Advice On Firearms To Use For A Specific Hunt
If you’re not sure if your firearms and ammunition are appropriate for the game you’re hunting, you can rely on your professional hunting guide to give you much-needed advice.
Hunting guides are expected to have the expertise to provide their clients information about the right cartridges and calibers to use on their hunt for a specific animal. With their guidance, you can avoid using ammunition that’s so weak it allows your prey to get away or so powerful you end up ruining the meat.
On top of choosing the right caliber, a guided hunt can also help you understand everything you need to know about firearm and equipment safety.
7. You’re Hunting With A Handicap
Big-game hunting is a highly physical activity. A typical hunt requires walking for hours or climbing trees for a vantage point, among other things. Being in a wheelchair or having difficulty walking hasn’t stopped people from going on hunting trips, though.
Hunters with physical limitations have a chance for a much better hunting experience by going on a guided hunt, as it can be tailored according to their physical capabilities and limitations.
8. You Want A Safer Hunting Trip
Anyone who says that only animals are in harm’s way during a hunting trip clearly hasn’t heard about hunting accidents where hunters get shot by other hunters. On top of accidental shootings, hunters also run the risk of sustaining an injury during a hunt. Clients could fall from a tree trying to get a better view or slip and fall after stepping on a mossy rock.
Since client safety is a hunting guide’s top priority, they will do everything in their power to keep everyone in their hunting party out of harm’s way. Their familiarity with the hunting grounds will allow them to guide their clients through safer terrain. They can also help their clients avoid other hunting parties that might mistake them for prey.
Hunting guides can also warn and stop clients if what they plan to do during the hunt jeopardizes their safety. A good hunting guide is expected to have first-rate first aid skills as well.
9. You Have The Right Attitude For It
Being a good listener is a plus if you’re on a guided hunt. So is showing up on time and fully prepared to head out.
If you’re the type who rolls with the punches that typically come with hunting, like uncooperative weather or unusually elusive animals, a guided hunt is definitely right for you. Nothing ruins a guided hunt like a client who complains incessantly about the seeming lack of success.
Reputable hunting guides will do their best to give you a successful hunt, but they aren’t miracle workers. There’s nothing they can do if animals suddenly change their grazing patterns, and they surely cannot do anything about the weather.
If you fully understand that going into the trip, then you are an ideal candidate for a professionally guided hunt.
DIY hunting has a lot of things going for it, especially if you’re the type of hunter who wants to learn everything there is to know about hunting the hard way, and without spending a lot of money.
However, if a guided hunt suits you better because of any or all of the reasons listed above, then go ahead and book a guided hunting trip with a reliable outfitter. As long as you can swing the considerable price tag that typically comes with it, there’s no reason for you not to give a guided hunt a try.
In any case, whether you hunt the DIY way or with the help of a professional guide, it doesn’t change the fact you can depend on hunting to provide you an experience unlike any other.