There is no shortage of African hunt research tools. A quick look on the Internet will turn up hundreds of African hunting companies, hunting directories, hunting forums, hunting equipment stores and hunting information sites. There are countless hunting magazines, though fewer dedicated to just African hunting. Don't discount African hunting books which are often a mine of practical information.
"Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind." Marston Bates
You've probably been 'researching' your interest in African hunting for years, reading everything you can lay your hands on and enjoying the Dallas Safari Club conventions but now it is the actual time when you've decided you've got to go....
Serious African hunt research is required now...no more tyre-kicking. So let's get started!
These are excellent sources of knowledge, information and advertisements. These are magazines specialising in African hunting. Other magazines specialising in non-African hunting or sporting firearms may occasionally feature African hunting articles and adverts.
Internet hunting forums can be very useful indeed, but be warned, they can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you can ask questions about specific hunting companies, areas or PHs and you'll get a lot of responses very quickly. However, you need to bear in mind that some of these responses will be from people who have an axe to grind and others who are 'instant experts', who think that because they've spent a few weeks in one African country, they know the entire continent and all it's hunting intimately. These responses might well give you a degree of useful information but remember 'due diligence'. The good news is that you will also get responses from people who actually do know what they're talking about and are not afraidto admit a lack of knowledge on aspects of a topic that they don't know about. So you do need to be able to sift the wheat from the chaff which should be fairly easy after a few weeks of reading on the forum.
Hunting conventions such as the ones held by Safari Club International and the Dallas Safari Club are another popular way for hunters to select a safari company. The conventions are great fun, very informative and a lot of hunters book their hunting safaris there but remember, not all good hunting safari companies attend.
The conventions are a great way for the prospective African hunter to sit down with outfitters and PHs to discuss face-to-face what you want from your hunting safari. You may have an outfitter's hunting info already, or know the company by reputation. Taking a closer look at them and their hunting operation, how they react to guests at their booth and chatting with them, should give you the gut-feeling that you'll get along fine and they are professional and trustworthy.
These are usually your first contact with a prospective hunting company. Good sites will make it easy for you to make contact via email and should tell you everything you basically need to know to narrow down your options. Most sites will publish the prices for the coming season but if you are looking to hunt several years ahead, these prices will only be a guide and are only useful to make general comparisons between companies. Other companies do not publish hunt prices, preferring you to make contact with your hunt requirements and then they will quote you for a tailor-made safari.
These are of limited use as most companies are hardly going to release contact details of any unhappy clients. Still they are a good chance to question and chat with someone who has been to a certain area with a certain company/PH.