An African hunt contract agreement and whether to insist on having one, is sometimes a contentious issue among hunters of Africa. There are those who will rely on trust and a gentleman's handshake and those who won't move a muscle without a contract drawn up by a lawyer. Some even go as far as trying to stipulate the size of their trophies in the contract. It would be a foolish outfitter that promises in writing (and some do!) that a hunter will collect a 94lb elephant, even if it's in a petting zoo.
"A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on." Samuel Goldwyn
Typically, a straightforward hunt contract or hunt agreement detailing hunt services, facilities and conditions to be expected, is all that is needed. Every reputable outfitter should provide this to the hunter to sign and return before any money changes hands. It really serves as a reminder to both parties and if there is a dispute, it is clear what was agreed, possibly years before, when the hunt was booked.
Is it worth the paper it's written on? Yes, usually, if the outfitter and client, for that matter, are trustworthy. Most good hunting companies will go out of their way to make suitable reparation if they have failed in any agreed aspect of the hunt. Though they may get a lot of exposure on the Internet, there are actually only a few charlatans in the business who fail their clients badly and vanish into the night. Equally there are a few clients who are career complainers and dishonestly try to accuse their outfitter of all kinds of breaches of service in order to get some money back or free hunting days.
This is a comprehensive list of possibilities to include in an agreement which may or may not be applicable to your specific hunt.
Hunt payments and any additional sums should be clearly set out - total cost, deposits, balances, method of payment and final payment due date.Trophy Fees:
All species available, sex & number allowed (if pertinent) and prices should be clearly set out. It should be clearly indicated that the fees are payable if an animal is wounded and lost. Again method of payment and currency should be stipulated.Cancellation Policy:
Clearly worded statement of conditions if either party cancels the hunt.Other Considerations:
The outfitter may want confirmation that the hunter knows and agrees to other conditions and may list them here. Equally the hunter may want certain facilities made available which the outfitter would like to assure him of providing.
All pages should be signed, dated and retained by both parties.Sample Contract
With a hunt contract similar to this both parties will know exactly what to expect of each other.
*Named PH - Some hunting companies prefer not to provide a named PH in a hunt contract particularly if the hunt is booked a long time in advance. Personnel may change within this time frame or the hunting company may rely on freelance PHs and does not have a permanent pool of their own PHs from which to allocate hunts. However there are clients who specifically book to hunt with a specific PH, because he knows him from past hunts or whatever. If possible then, the PH should be named in the hunt agreement, with a proviso that while every effort will be made to provide this PH, but there maybe circumstances beyond our control that means another suitably experienced PH conducts the hunt.
**Traveller's cheques are rarely accepted for payments nowadays because they are are so difficult and expensive to cash in at African banks. More and more hunt outfitters are accepting credit cards but there are surcharges.