Snow goose guides are a dime a dozen these days. You may be asking yourself “How do I choose one that is going to provide us quality snow goose hunting?” I’m going to give you my insight on how I would do it based on 11 years of running guided snow goose hunts.
First off you must understand that even the best snow goose outfitters are going to have slow days. There are peaks and valleys to every season. Everybody wants to kill birds but how big your pile is at the end of the day should not be your only criteria of a good guided hunt. I consider an average decoy hunt to be in the teens and twenties per field. There are much larger and some slower days but average is what most hunters will experience. This leads me to my first red flag. If the guide you are considering is claiming big numbers every day or very high averages I would move to the next one. It’s likely these guys are combining the totals from multiple fields. “We averaged 100 a day” but they don’t tell you the total is for 4 fields or 25 birds per field. It is very misleading. Slow days happen to everybody. They are usually weather related and EVERYBODY has them if they spend any amount of time in the field.
References are a waste of your time. Why? Simple…you are only going to be given a reference of someone the outfitter knows is going to speak highly of him. If you want a reference the best one is from someone you know that has hunted with the snow goose outfitter in the past. Here are the two steps that I would take. First read the outfitters website. Is it full of misspellings and typos? First impressions mean a lot and if that is the best they can do…I think you get my drift. Secondly call them on the phone and discuss their operation. Does their sales pitch sound legit? Don’t buy into the big claims because you want it to be true. If it sounds too good to be true it likely is.
Should you choose a small or large outfitter? I guess I would consider myself both. On our Missouri snow goose hunts we are a large outfitter. On our South Dakota snow goose hunts we run a fraction of the groups that we do in Missouri. Who gets better service? I think they get the same level in both areas. A large guide service has to have 70% or more repeat customers each year to stay large. These guys are coming back because they were satisfied with the experience. That in itself speaks volumes to me. Larger services also tend to have more money to spend on top notch equipment, leases, and employees. Much of the equipment we have as standard for our guides are a luxury for many small outfits.
Be cautious of those running discounted hunts. Why? This gets back to my previous point of repeat customers. If the quality of service is not there neither is the repeat business. What is the best way to get new customers in a crowded field? CHEAP HUNTS! Spring snow goose hunts are not cheap to run the right way. Some of these discounted guides are running cash businesses so they don’t have to pay taxes, report income, or pay other financial obligations like the rest of us. If they are not paying these they likely don’t have Liability or Workers Comp Insurance. I wouldn’t go with an outfitter that doesn’t have either of these. This boils down to a question of ethics. The outfitters with no ethics are the ones that will burn you.
When snow goose hunting you should expect your guide to show up on time, have quality equipment, have knowledgeable employees, keep you informed, and do what he promised. If they do all of this success in the field will follow. At Up North Outdoors, Inc. we have all these bases covered. When considering a snow goose guide please take a look at us.