You can find hunting guides and opportunities in every state. Some of the more glamorous jobs include flying deep into the heart of Alaska, horse packing or hiking into the Rockies, or 4WDing deep into the forests of British Columbia. Many hunting guides are also fishing guides. You can change hats for the prime season of each sport. This helps you maximize the number of clients you serve, income, and time outdoors.
After becoming a hunting guide, you’re the expert. Your clients will look up to you for your experience, skill, knowledge, advice, and safety. While leading your clients, you’ll draw on every skill you ever learned. The mission: help your clients successfully track, shoot, clean, and pack out their meat and trophy. There are few things more satisfying than a happy client. Together you went the distance, learned new skills, had a great outdoor experience, and the tips can be big.
As a guide, you’ll increase your skill levels dramatically, and become an expert in every aspect of the job. For instance, from travel planning to camping, from locating game to guiding your client in for the shot. You will know how to handle remote and wild country. In fact, you may be put in survival situations if gear breaks
down or weather changes rapidly. You’ll be an expert with firearms or archery gear – not just in how you hunt, but in teaching others how to be a hunter. For some outfitters, you’ll also be the camp chef and prepare outstanding meals that are part of the clients overall experience. Overall, your technical and people skills will grow. If you do well you could even consider starting your own outfitting business some day. More on that below.
More Good News – It’s A Growing Industry
Hunting is extremely popular, a growing industry, and has deep roots in our history. Here are some indicators of just how popular it is:
• There are over 14 million hunters in the USA • Hunters spend nearly $40 billion each year • Hunting creates over 680,000 jobs.
In addition to local hunting, more hunters travel every year to seek out new destinations and new game. Hunting guides are a vital part of the hunting industry. They help ensure that hunting is done in both safe and legal ways, setting a role model. Guides promote conservation, and bring in vital revenue that supports state and federal wildlife and land conservation programs.
The Reality Part – It’s Hard Work And Pay Starts Low
Before you get into this profession, think hard about whether you want to make what is currently your favorite hobby into a job. That’s right, it can be downright drudgery at times. Clients may be crabby and
dissatisfied if they don’t get a kill – even if it’s their fault. They will scare off game, miss the shot, and sometimes are not even fit enough to hike to camp or stalk game. After that, you’ll make and break camp, work longer and harder while your clients enjoy the campfire or sleep in.
In addition, at times you’ll deal with injuries, even emergency evacuations. Therefore, guides need to be prepared to be a first responder for a client’s health. As a requirement, you’ll need at least basic first aid and CPR training. However, even better to have wilderness level emergency medical training. Yes the clients sign a waiver, but guides make a huge difference in the outcome of an emergency situation.
Above all, just because you may be good at hunting yourself, doesn’t mean that will translate into being a a good guide. Be ready to take guide training either through your outfitter or through one of the accredited schools (see below).
To maintain your hunting guide license, you must ensure that your entire party adheres closely to the regulations and law. Compromise a bit, and you jeopardize not only your job, but also your outfitter’s license. Some of your clients may test you on this (“c’mon, nobody will know), and you’ll need to be ready for how to handle it.
How Much Does A Hunting Guide Make?
Starting off, pay may be pretty low. Clients don’t know you, and your outfitter will want to see your track record build. Moreover, many guides don’t even make it through their first season – it’s kind of like boot camp. For larger parties, you will be paired with a more experienced guide or even the owner of the outfitting business, who will help show you the ropes.
Average starting hunting guide salary can be under $1,500 a month, or under $75 per day depending on how many days you’re out. While that may seem low, don’t forget that your food and lodging is essentially covered. That helps a lot – it’s pretty much all take home pay. Guides with several years of experience can make over $3,000 per month – take home. With tips on top of that, if you are out with clients most of the time.
Beyond what the outfitter pays you, some clients will tip hunting guides well, others won’t. It’s partly a function of how well you guide, how they feel about the trip (not all of which is under your control), and how much money they have at their disposal.
Where To Get Trained
Many outfitters have a preferred training background or school, and some provide their own. Several of the best hunting guide schools that are independent and well regarded include the following. Do your homework and talk to graduate guides and outfitters before deciding where to commit:
• Colorado Guide School
• Montana Hunting Guide School
• Royal Tine Guide School (check out helpful list of FAQs)
• Western Mountain Guide School
Where To Get Guide Work
As you know by now, most guides work out of an outfitter, or a program which matches hunters with guides. You and the outfitter must have the right licenses to get this work, and plan your hunts according to the requirements of the state and wildlife management agency that issues your permits.
Start by applying to the specific outfitters you are interested in. You can get a sense for which have the most business and satisfied clients by looking online at the reviews and booking activity.
Each outfitter has different requirements, and it’s a popular job that can be competitive to get into, but the industry is growing and there’s always opportunity for new skilled guides. In the long run, if you really enjoy it and start building a repeat clientele (satisfied clients will ask for you year after year and bring new friends and family members with them), you can even think about starting your own outfitting business. How to become a hunting outfitter in your own right? Usually it happens by buying the licenses from an outfitter who is retiring or looking to transition out of their business, because full outfitting licenses are usually in short supply.
If you have more questions about how to be hunting guide, or any specific professions such as how to become a duck hunting guide, be sure to contact us.
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