Trail Escapes Outdoor Adventures

December 2012

And So Ends Another Year

Well, as another year draws to a close, it’s time to take stock of the events of the last twelve months. Hunting season is in full swing, the fishing reports are great and all we need is some colder weather. We have had mixed reports on the duck hunting, with the weather and lack of water in some locations causing the ducks to stay up north longer than usual. Is it me or does it just wrong to be hunting in short sleeves in December.

As a company, Trail Escapes has had a good year in spite of the poor economy. We have expanded both our client base (thank you) and our inventory of quality locations for our clients. There have been several developments that point to next year being even better (that’s assuming the Mayan’s were wrong). I would like to thank all of you who entrusted us to handle your hunting and fishing needs. We appreciate your business and will continue to work to make our services even better. We are beginning a new series in this issue on how to find the best hunting and fishing locations and will be adding some new features to the newsletter in the coming year.

On a personnel level, we lost several good friends this year, both human and canine. The loss of my wife’s cousin Jack, who walked her down the aisle at our wedding, was followed days later by the sudden death of Mousse, our Chocolate Lab who was the inspiration for the Trail Tales column. We also recently lost Belvedere, another beloved pet and companion. They will all be missed.

One thing I would like to add is my appreciation for all the new friends this job has given me. I didn’t expect one of the benefits of this company would be the number of clients, outfitters, guides and fellow sportsmen who have become like family to me. I have made friends with people from just a few blocks away and from the other side of the world.

To each of you, I would like to wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May God bless you in the coming year.


Photos from our 2012 Trips!





Turkey Season; Really?

Yes, believe it or not, it really is time to start thinking about next year’s trips. I know we’re still hunting deer, duck’s and all the rest, but outfitters are already booking elk, turkey and bear hunts for next year. Alaska will be opening their seasons for fishing and hunting around April, so now is the time to start planning what you want to do next year. We had a number of clients calling this season at the last minute for duck and deer hunts, after several lodges were booked up.  Our annual hunts in Arkansas were just completed and we are already half booked for next years trips. The exact dates should be set in a few weeks but generally speaking, we will have one weekend in the early season (late November-early December) when rifle season for deer and duck season coincide, and at least one late season (January) duck hunt and bow hunt for deer.

We have a number of locations such as Alaska and South America, to name a couple, that have different seasons than many of our clients are used to. Our Argentina and Uruguay locations duck hunt in our summer season, for example. Other locations, such as Florida Osceola turkey hunting lodges, have a limited number of spots available and are almost booked up for the 2013 season already.

As you can see, there’s always something going on in the hunting and fishing world, so give us a call and let us show you what’s happening next week and next year.

Choosing an Outfitter, a 5-Part Series

Part 1

I’ve had people at some of the outdoor shows ask how we decide which outfitter or guide we’ll represent and book our clients to. That’s a fair question and, while we hope you’ll let us handle your outdoor adventure needs, a little insight into the research process will give you an idea of the work involved in doing our due diligence. We carry the research further than most individuals can, with onsite visits and a few other things, but over the next five issues, we will discuss some of the basic steps.

  Picking an outfitter for your next hunting or fishing adventure could easily be the most important thing that you do to prepare for your trip. Trail Escapes interviews a lot of outfitters, lodges, guides and charter captains, so we see it all.  (For brevity, we’ll use the term “outfitter” to cover them all.) Let me start out here by saying that the vast majority of outfitters are really good ones that are in the business for the right reasons. When you ask a good outfitter what they like about the business, they will likely tell you it’s the people and the pleasure it brings to show them a great new experience. There is also the incredible experience of being a part of a young person getting their first deer, turkey, redfish, etc, which happens a lot at these lodges.

 Then on the other hand, there are a few that are in the business for the wrong reasons and those are the ones you need to avoid. If their priority is making a quick buck (no pun intended) at the expense of their client’s experience or running mass numbers of clients through their locations as fast as possible, you will probably feel cheated, with good reason.  We hear horror stories from clients who have taken trips with such outfitters.

One of the curses and blessings in this industry is that it, in large part, is not heavily regulated. In other words, the standards by which they operate can be highly variable from one outfitter to the next. Thanks to a little thing called competition, the good ones usually survive and the bad ones go by the wayside. The trick is to not get caught on a trip with one of the few bad ones.

To avoid disappointment on your trip of a lifetime, there are a few things you should do to make sure you are with the right outfitter (other than using our services, of course).

One thing I want you to consider is the price. The commercial hunting and fishing industry is like any other, you get what you pay for. There is a tremendous investment on the part of the outfitter in equipment, property, guides and more. They have to pay for those steaks you had for dinner, the roof over your head, and the boat you rode in. The better outfitters and lodges usually WILL cost more, so make sure what amenities you are looking for in your experience. You should know what you want before you ever make the first phone call. You can’t, however, use the price as the only factor in your decision. Just because an outfitter is expensive doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best. (Yes, it does get complicated!)  OK, the impossible question arises of how much you should pay for hunting or fishing trip. The answer is “It depends” (I told you it was complicated!). Use your common sense; if a duck guide offers you an all-inclusive hunt (meals, accommodations, guides, etc) for $100 a day, chances are you won’t be happy with the result. By the way, that’s based on a true story.

Asking for references!
First, ask the outfitter for references from previous clients. I have had clients tell me that they didn't use references, because they assumed the outfitter would only give the good ones. That’s probably true, but so what; of course they won’t tell you about the bad ones. You can still get some good information from their references about such things as accommodations, travel arrangements, and generally what to expect on your trip. Pay special attention to repeat customers. Ask why they would go back again, what they did and didn’t like about the outfitter. One other thing:  get online and check out some of the websites that allow clients to rate or comment on outfitters. In most cases, no comments are good, good comments are great, and bad comments need to be investigated!

NOTE: If you find a lot of good comments and one bad one, it may be from someone who has an axe to grind. Some hunters and fishermen can be a problem all on their own. If they are drinking to excess, obnoxious to other clients, or have caused safety issues, etc., the outfitter may have had to ask them to control themselves. In some cases, they might have been asked to leave. They can and will take it out on the outfitter by leaving bad reviews. Just saying, use a little judgment in evaluating the comments.

Now, let me say a word about going online to find an outfitter. The internet is a great tool and can be very useful, but it is very easy to make a location look good online. Those pictures of that beautiful lodge may be 20 years old. Questionable outfitters are very aware that the majority of hunters and fishermen only go by what they see on the web. Doing a web search should only be one part of the process, not the entire thing.

*Next month we’ll discuss meals and accommodations.