How to Choose the Right Deer Hunting Outfitter
Many people dream of a rugged backcountry deer hunt, placing themselves in the scene of long days in the hills, chasing trophy-class animals, and coming home with their hard-earned reward. However, participating in these endeavors isn’t a possibility for everyone. Not to mention, many of these hunts require extreme conditioning, dangerous endeavors, and long days that aren’t for the faint of heart. They also requires the right gear, property or public land, and the know how to be successful in the given hunting conditions.
Despite all of this effort, planning, and any pre-hunt scouting, many times these efforts will leave a hunter going home empty handed. For those who are older, younger, or simply don’t have the resources to endure a successful DIY hunt, embarking on these opportunities aren’t even a possibility.
That’s where deer hunting outfitters come in. They equip guests with the right gear, appropriate accommodations, and scouting knowledge to assure that every hunter has the optimum opportunity at a successful hunt. If you are looking for a deer hunting adventure, and want the best chance at a trophy to take home, a deer hunting outfitter is a dependable choice. An outfitter should:
- Provide productive land filled with ample opportunity
- Guide hunters on the property
- Provide hunting opportunities for hunters of any age, skill level, or mobility
- Provide accommodations that allow for a good night sleep, quality food, and emergency services if needed
- Lifts any concern or thought on the details of the hunt, including travel, access, and hunter placement
- Offers a probable chance at the caliber buck you are searching for
However, not all deer hunting outfitters are created equal. Therefore, before investing any hard earned money into an outfitting experience, be sure to evaluate the factors below. Taking time to do the right research will lead to a better chance at harvesting that buck of a lifetime (and getting what you pay for).
Proper location is essential for any outdoor endeavor. This is especially true when selecting a whitetail outfitter. In fact, some hunters will book hunts only to find that the property they are hunting doesn’t hold trophy class deer. Perhaps 10 years ago it did; but drought, disease like Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), or a change in vegetation has left the area more barren of older age class bucks or bucks in the Booner class. Researching location is the first step in finding the perfect outfitter.
To have a productive harvest rate, it’s important that the outfitter is located in an area that’s conducive of producing big deer. Usually this comes down to soil, state regulations, and habitat. If some of these resources are considered limiting factors and populations are scarce, there is a good chance that outfitters in these locations are less than ideal, no matter how controlled the environment might be. Therefore, pick an outfitter in a location that has a natural population of trophy caliber deer. A few things to consider when determining this include:
- How many licenses/tags are allotted in this area?
This helps identify the probability of older age class bucks existing or how much pressure exists around the outfitter.
- What class of deer has the area provided historically?
Is the outfitter in a well-known Booner state and/or county? The Boone and Crocket and Pope and Young Record heat maps of entries exists for a reason. Is the outfitter in a hot zone for giants?
- Is there plenty of vegetation and nutrition for the animals naturally?
This one may be a little harder to tell, but soil maps and ag yield maps can help align giant deer and sturdy populations within nutritionally rich ag and natural forage.
- What’s the harvest success rate of the outfitter?
Dive into the harvest rate/success rate for the state and/or the specific outfitter, what percentages of hunters go home empty handed? What is the average antler size and age class of harvested deer?
By evaluating the outfitter through their website and marketing resources, looking through the local conservation websites, latest news articles, and reaching out to individuals on social media, finding these answers can be the first step to finding the best deer hunting outfitter.
Know the Quality of Their Deer Herd
Once a few general locations have been chosen, find the local whitetail outfitters and analyze how they manage their deer herds. Just because an outfitter is licensed to outfit, doesn’t mean they produce a quality hunt. In fact, many hunters will invest thousands of dollars into an outfit only to find they could have shot the same deer near their homeland for free (or walked away with no deer at all).
When a specific outfitter is found, consider the following:
- The average class size of deer that can be expected
- Their harvest success rate
- How they manage the deer herd
- Amount, and quality, of land
- Examples of what they’ve produced in the past
- Last year’s success rate
- Last year’s up and comers for the hit list this year
Not all deer outfitters are developed the same way. Many resources are limited, and often times, deer herds aren’t nearly as well managed as they should be. That’s why it’s important to ask questions and research the outfitter’s history of managing their property for trophy bucks.
Part of paying for an outfitter is also paying for the accommodations. For western hunts this can mean experiences filled with tents and camp stove meals. For whitetail outfitters, this can mean high-quality lodging and gourmet options. When considering an outfit’s accommodations, ask the following:
- What are the outfitter’s lodging options?
- Are meals and beverages included?
- Is there room for an entire hunting party?
- Does it offer quality sleeping accommodations?
- Are the accommodations located near the hunting property?
- What are hunters required to bring?
- If flying, is transportation to and from the airport included?
As previously mentioned, part of the benefit an outfitter is to assure the daily tasks are taken care of, therefore leaving hunters the ability to enjoy and focus on the hunt and not the living details. Keep in mind, not all outfitters cover these accommodations and not all are equal.
Research, Reviews, and Results
Arguably, the most important task to complete when choosing an outfitter is to read reviews, testimonials, and reach out to previous guests. No matter how promising an outfit might look on paper; it’s hard to know the quality of the hunt, the people, or the accommodations it actually provides. That’s why reading online reviews and reaching out to previous guests help shed light on what to expect.
Facebook, Google, forums, and simply reaching out to people who have had experience with the outfit are the best ways to evaluate an outfitters reputation. By doing this, hunters can assure they are getting the experience they expect and are paying for.
Evaluating Individual Preferences
Once a few key whitetail outfitters have been chosen, the final step is picking the right one based on individual preference. When making the final decision, it’s important that the hunter knows exactly what they want and expect from a hunt. They need to know their physical limits, their budget, the accommodations they want or need, and the size of deer they want to harvest. Some hunters will do this at the end or the beginning of the process of finding an outfitter, but most should be constantly be contemplating these factors.
Free Range or Preserve Outfitters
Outfitters can come in two different experiences: free range or preserve/trophy whitetail outfitters. However, not every outfitter offers both. That’s why it’s important to know the difference between the two and identify which style of outfitter is the right choice for you.
Free Range Whitetail Outfitters
Free range hunting outfitters allows hunters to experience a more affordable, free range hunt. These hunts allow hunters to enjoy a DIY style hunt, that’s comprised of private and public opportunities. Most free range deer hunting outfitters will still provide quality accommodations, whether in a tent in the mountains or in lodges on the property. The chances of success should still be high, especially if the outfitter does the work required for trail cameras and stand placement to put hunters on bucks.
Preserve Trophy Whitetail Outfitters
Preserve or trophy deer hunting outfitters comprises of hunting deer that are highly managed on a property meant to produce trophy caliber deer. Deer on trophy whitetail outfitters are given all the resources they need to be world class deer. This offers hunters the best opportunity of scoring a deer of a lifetime. Due to the expenses of the trophy whitetail property, the deer, and the top-notch accommodations these hunts tend to me more expensive.
An Outfitter that Provides It All
If you’ve done your research, you know that finding a quality deer hunting outfitter is hard work. From top notch accommodations, trophy class deer, to having both free range and preserve hunting, one Ohio hunting outfitter that stands out is Briarwood Sporting Club.
Briarwood Sporting Club is an Ohio deer hunting outfitter that is home to some of the nation’s largest whitetail deer. It offers both estate and open range deer hunting. Deer populations on the estate are managed for world class potential, while open range hunting gives hunters a more affordable, DIY experience. The club provides exceptional lodging, service, accommodations, and an unrivaled and prestigious experience. This includes cabins filled with all modern amenities, private jet travel, tailored food and drinks, plenty of room for large hunting parties, and arranged meals.
Briarwood Sporting Club prides itself in being an example of what a deer hunting outfitter should be, from world class deer and accommodations, to an unforgettable and extraordinary experience. As you go through the guide and bullet points in the article above, you will quickly gather that Briarwood Sporting Club is in fact a deer hunting outfitter you are looking for.