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Do The Paperwork

Feb 10, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT

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By  Bill Miller

These danged computers. Seems like they forever need some kind of fixing. I know they go to “the doctor” way more than I do.

So I took my laptop in the other day for a check up with “The Geek Squad” at a local Best Buy store the other day. Turns out it needed to stay for a few days. So the “agent” behind the counter hands me a form to fill out. Now this thing was a full page of type so small I had to dig out the cheaters to read it. I had to fill out a dozen blanks, initial three places and sign two more – all to spend $129 to have some bugs exorcized from my machine.

Hopping in the truck outside the store I started thinking about some hunts I’ve booked in the recent past. The price tag on those was significantly more and the paperwork was significantly less. Then I started thinking maybe that isn’t such a good thing.

As the last “Around the Campfire” touched on, this is Sport Show Season. What happens at Sport Shows? We book hunting trips for next fall.

You kicked any tires on a quality North American big game hunt lately? For a trophy whitetail hunt you’re talking five-grand and up most places. If you want to go after a private land elk ten grand is where you start. And if you want an big moose or a grizzly or a Dall’s sheep, then you better be thinking more like $20,000.

Now when was the last time you spent $20,000 without doing some paperwork? I know I haven’t … ever, I don’t think.

A lot of hunt outfitters and booking agents are honest hard-working people, but just like in any line of business, some aren’t. Enough aren’t that it’s wise to get a written contract in place with any operation with whom you book a hunt.

I’m a little nuts on this stuff, so if I were writing a contract covering something I was paying $20,000 for, I’d have an attorney at least take a look at the agreement. But it should at least cover the basics like dates, payment terms, exactly what the outfitter promises to provide, the plan for transportation (flights, quads, horseback, etc.), the number of hunters per guide, meals, accommodations, and the like.

All of these are important points to cover. What you shouldn’t be asking for is a guarantee of taking game or of quality of the game to be shot – at least not on a fair chase hunt. The outfitter can not control the weather or what wild animals will do. He may offer to take you again for free if you don’t have the opportunity for a shot at a legal animal, but that’s all.

Most good outfitters will have a contract that serves as a base, but you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions and recommend modifications that will give you additional confidence in the service to be provided.

The months between booking a hunt and actually taking a hunt should be filled with anticipation and excitement and preparation, not with worry as to whether the services you’re paying for will be provided.  A good contract will give you confidence and make the planning that much more fun.