Choose the Right Outfitter

Burying her face into my shoulder I could see tears on her cheeks. At that moment I immediately knew that I had crossed a line. In a muffled voice she spoke to me saying, “I’ll be all right. I just need a little minute!”

Next to the front door was a broom and a swept up pile of prairie dirt, cat hair, mouse pooh and some other unidentifiable debris.

Our sleeping quarters were one of the guide’s rooms and nothing more than a set of box springs on the floor with a mattress on top. The sheets were thin from years of use and the bathroom towels - not much better and in short supply. Honestly, she needed more than a minute.

The line I crossed was taking her to a place that probably worked for most guys but not ladies who need a few more comforts. In short, I definitely didn’t investigate enough or ask the right questions when booking the turkey hunt.

Since you have a choice, what are some of the questions you should be asking not only the potential turkey outfitter, but also yourself?

What's my budget? 

Budgets are everything when it pertains to amenities such as lodging, meals, and guide services.

  • Identify what's included in a price. Depending on whom you book with, sometimes lodging and meals are included, sometimes not, and sometimes it’s a combination of both.
  • Budget extra money for things that aren't included in initial price. Three day semi-guided turkey hunts can range from $600 to $1,100 or more. If your three day $600 dollar hunt doesn’t include meals and lodging you will be spending extra money and suddenly, a thousand bucks doesn’t look so bad when it includes them.
  • Consider what's in the area. If your three-day semi-guided hunt is in a remote location where there is limited motels and eating establishments, outside options may be limited.

On one three-day semi-guided Rio Grande turkey hunt in Texas my wife and I lived off of Dairy Queen because nothing else was open after our evening hunts.

When checking references, what are the right questions?

  • My first question always is would you go back?
  • What was one of your biggest highlights? Or did anything stand out?
  • Did the outfitter provide lodging or did you stay at a motel?
  • What was the motel (and guide's lodge) like for comfort, amenities, and cleanliness?
  • Is it kid-friendly?
  • If you’re sharing a lodge with other hunters another question might be what happens when some fellows want to stay up late to party and you don’t?

What will research or social media tell me?

  • Check out why folks are clicking “like” and adding smiley faces. There's a reason for everything. 
  • Look for website pictures of the lodge, cabin, and motel. Google Maps lets you sweep the street in all directions. This can tell you a lot.
  • Read all the ratings, not just the 5 star ones.

Mainly, talk with each outfitter and don’t be afraid to ask direct questions. Remember, you are the customer who is paying for a service. Attempt to do a fair vetting, because at the end of the day it’s your choice to make. 

Photo Caption: The Triangle Ranch Bed & Breakfast is a gem of a find in the remote region of the South Dakota Badlands near prime turkey hunting areas. The author and his wife Christine spent time there during their spring turkey hunt.

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