By Bill Miller
Summertime, and the living is easy. Life’s especially good; especially if you have a Quebec hunting adventure awaiting you this fall. Doesn’t matter if it’s for caribou, moose, black bear, whitetail or even upland birds, or waterfowl – you’ve got ample opportunity to dream about and anticipate a trip that will provide memories to last you a lifetime. You can spend the long summer days prepping your gear. You can dream about monster bulls, bucks and boars or skies full of birds that await you on your hunt.
Now, at the turn of the seasonal calendar to summer, is a great time to also check in with the outfitter or guide who’ll be leading your trip. All the i’s should be dotted and t’s crossed months ago when you booked the hunt either in person or online, but almost certainly you or members of your hunting group have come up with questions you didn’t think of then or points you want to clarify.
While most quality outfitters don’t have a ton of time to spend on the phone in long conversations or writing lengthy email replies, checking in with the outfitter once or twice over the summer shows the outfitter you’re enthused and excited. It also gives them a chance to relay details they might have missed when you talked before.
Before you call, jot down a list of items you want to cover. It will help to keep the call short and efficient, and make sure you cover everything you wanted answered.
My list this year includes:
- Details on licenses and permits – I know that there have been adjustments to the caribou seasons in Quebec starting in the 2014-15 season, but I just want to double check that nothing has been effected in the areas I’ll be hunting in 2013.
- Transportation/accommodation arrangements – By now I have my flights to and from the trip booked, but I need a reminder if the outfitter has a private shuttle to and from the hotel I’ll be overnighting at in Montreal. And am I supposed to book the hotel reservation or was the outfitter handling that?
- Baggage and weight limits – What’s the outfitter’s preferred packing method? Do you want hard side luggage or duffel bags? Can I leave a bag securely somewhere in Montreal? What was that weight limit for the float planes, charters? Can I still put in a beverage order for my crew?
- Weather so far this summer — How the hunting territory is doing for rainfall (i.e. Will I need chest waders instead of hip waders?) What is the bug situation likely to be? Will we have a chance to go fishing, too? Do I need to bring my own fishing gear or is there some around camp we can use?
- Ammunition — What’ the supply in the hunting area? Should I bring extra this year if I can get it?
- Meat care — The outfitter said there are processors who can handle meat care for us, but I want to talk to them ahead of time to make sure they will handle it the way I want, and I need to find out pricing. Ask outfitter for specific names and numbers to contact.
- Crossing borders — I heard there was a new proclamation issued on CWD in Canada. Is this going to impact my ability to bring home meat, trophy? What has the outfitter heard? Who can I contact for definitive information? Does the outfitter have any tips or recommendations to make border crossings in both directions as easy and painless as possible?
Now, I know better than to expect outfitters to pick up the phone on the first ring. Even though it’s summertime, he’s still working. Some are guiding fishermen or eco-trips, others are working on their camps, some are doing outside jobs for the summer to make ends meet. So leave a message or if there’s staff at the operation, they may be able to answer your questions just as well. Simply conclude the conversation with the request that the staffer tell the outfitter you called, and encourage them to call you back if the outfitter has any questions or wants to add anything else.
The anticipation of any outfitted hunting trip is a huge part of its appeal, and those wonderful dreams of upcoming hunts are all the better when your questions are answered and you’re certain you’re on your way to a carefree adventure.