Story and photos by: Rob Braig
Let’s be honest. We all dream of packing our bags and heading off on an adventure with a guide full of wisdom, knowledge and stories to fill the night.
Our dreams are vivid with images of big fish, bugling bulls and rutting deer. I get it. Those things keep me up at night. It’s been 42 years since my first guided hunt, and I still remember every adventure. My goal here is to help you make the right decisions before heading out on your dream adventure. Guided hunts are a wonderful experience if you have the proper perspective. Prairie dogs, fishing, small game, birds, large game and dangerous game all offer excitement.
1. Choose a Hunt
Decide what you want to pursue. It doesn’t have to be exotic or involve extensive travel. Local fishing trips are a great way to get out and see something new. Bird hunting with an experienced guide and professional dogs is a hoot. Big game hunting with a guide is a wonderful experience. Travelling to a foreign county in pursuit of game is a life changing experience. I encourage them all.
2. Don't Wait for the Right Time
Don’t wait for your friends. They all have various reasons for not going. Forget about them. This trip is for you. Plan it for you, prepare yourself and then invite your buddies. Be prepared to go alone. You won’t regret the decision. Don’t look for “deals.” The hunting world is just like the real world, you get what you pay for. Trying to save a few bucks on a hunt is like stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime.
3. Know Your Limits
Be honest with yourself before sending the email or making the call. You need to accurately describe your ability, fitness and willingness to the outfitter. I recently told a fine gentleman how badly I wanted an “extreme” mountain experience. Three days into the hunt we had a meeting. He was worried about my physical health because I looked as if death was at my door. My bad. I had grossly overestimated my physical conditioning and he simply supplied me with the most physically demanding hunt possible, as requested.
We have to remember as middle aged men or women, the guides can literally walk you into the dirt. Not because they don’t like you, because they hunt every day. Spending 20 minutes on the treadmill does not equal mountain climbing. We re-grouped and the hunt was a wonderful adventure.
Choose your adventure with your conditioning in mind. Or be honest with the outfitter. Make sure you tell them your limitations. We all have them. Treat your outfitter like your doctor or attorney. If you can’t throw a fly 20-feet, tell them. If you can’t shoot past 75-yards, tell them. If you can’t sleep without a CPAP, tell them. If you can’t pass the fridge without opening the door, tell them. If you have never fired your rifle, tell them. Trust me, your outfitter and the guides will know your limits the moment you walk through the door anyway. Knowing and accepting your limits is part of the experience. It will help you grow.
4. Involve Your Spouse
Involve your spouse. This should probably be first on this and I am divorced because I listed it fourth. Read into that whatever you want. My recommendation is to make this first. I’m working on it.
5. Prepare and Plan
Choose an adventure that challenges you mentally and physically. Make this something you will remember for a lifetime. Commit to a plan of action for preparation. Write your plan on paper and show it to your spouse if you have one. Let them help you prepare.
6. Do Your Research
Do your research. Know your limits, financially and physically. I have been very lucky. My adventures have all been a success. Mainly because of my mental approach but also because I have done my research. Success doesn’t mean I have always harvested the targeted animal; it means I entered the agreement with my eyes wide open. Your goal should be to leave the adventure with new friends. I always have.
Talking to the outfitter and calling references is a great idea. Just understand, the references provided will all be satisfied customers. Ask them all about the camp, the food, the dogs, the gear, the time of year they hunted, the personality of the staff and the organization of the outfit. Then let them tell you the story about the wonderful time they had with the guide. They have travelled the path you are about to start. References are an excellent source of encouragement.
You have your mind in the right place, you have your spouse’s encouragement, you have your list of opportunities and you have your checkbook handy. Make the call. Start the adventure. Prepare to be a different person because you chose to step outside the box.
Next up: How to prepare for a guided adventure.
About Rob Braig: Rob Braig is a resident of NW Montana and a lifelong adventure hunter. He has fished and hunted across most of the western US and Canada as well as many other countries around the world. Along the way, Rob has gained a wealth of knowledge in the realm of guided adventures. His experiences and lessons learned, both good and bad, are a treasure trove of valuable information. This post, "An Idiots Guide to Booking an Adventure," is the first in a series of publications from Rob that are geared toward helping anyone book a guided adventure.