Hunting Agent Or Outfitter
Hunting agent or outfitter? The hunter needs to decide whether he should book direct with the African hunting safari company or through one of the many hunting agencies.
"The first thing a gent should do, if he is safari-minded, is put himself in the hands of an established firm with a reputation to maintain." Robert Ruark
A Hunting Agent, or Hunting Consultant can represent many hunting companies or outfitters but are a separate company, mostly not in Africa.
A Hunting Outfitter is the company who actually conducts the hunt - owns or leases the hunting area, provides staff and camp infrastructure etc.
Ask 10 experienced African hunters whether they use an agent or not and you'll probably get a equally split, strongly advocated response between the two options.
If you are new to African hunting and not sure what is best to do, contact a few hunting agents and see if they impress you. Use the same criteria you normally use to judge whether you want to make a purchase or do business with any company - speed of response, knowledge on their product, inspiring confidence, etc etc.
If you are looking towards using a hunting agent....
- Look for a good reputable agent who has been in the business many years. It is very easy to be an 'instant agent' - some hunters return from their first African hunt and, having had a ball, decide to be an 'agent' for the outfitter that they used. A phone, computer and website is all that is needed and he may get a cheaper deal on his own future hunts.
- Make sure the agent has intimate knowledge of the hunting areas he is selling in Africa. It is an idea to check if he has actually been there. Ask lots of questions and if he promises that you can hunt a Thompson's gazelle in South Africa - run a mile.
- It is a good idea to use an agency that specialises in African hunting rather than one that specialises in Alaska salmon fishing and, because both involve fresh air, has the odd African outfitter on their website. They are not going to be able to supply the detailed information you are going to need.
- Check what you get from them. Do they just collect the deposit and tell you to pitch up at Johannesburg Airport on a certain date? Or do they take on all the hunt organisation on your behalf, doing the documentation for firearm import, advising on health requirements, CITES permits etc? Is he going to be available to answer questions accurately that you may think of in the middle of the night?
- What after-hunt support can you expect from the agent? Is he going to be remotely interested in your anxiety if it is taking 4 years to get your trophies home? Has he got the inclination and credentials to troubleshoot any problems for you?
- Many clients use agents in their own country because it gives them a sense of security especially where such large amounts of money are involved. At least there is someone at home to complain to and sue if the hunt goes wrong. Remember hunting agents are not an insurance against things 'going bad' and in most, but not all cases, are really in no better position to get you recompense. The deposit money will have to be sent to the outfitter sooner or later to secure the booking.
- Many who advocate agent usage also erroneously believe they will get preferential treatment from the outfitter. They base this on the fact that because their particular agent may send a few clients to the outfitter each year, it is in the outfitter's interest to give them a better hunt than they would a client who books direct.
- Good outfitters based in Africa will, in most cases, do the same and more as agents, as regards assistance with all the hunt arrangements. Actually being in Africa, they are in the position of knowing potential problems early and taking action. With regular and satellite communications now, it should be no problem getting hold of your outfitter or PH in Africa.
If you are thinking of going direct to a hunting company in Africa, please go to Choosing A Hunting Company.
More On Planning An African Hunt