Editorial: Donation Hunts
Since I can remember, many outfitters in Africa have been unhappy with the Donation Hunt concept. PH Associations in Africa have lobbied the big US hunting clubs for minimum standards and rules but nothing’s really worked. Donation hunts are here for good. However, if both parties know what they are getting into, it can work really well.
It can be great way to promote your operation and it is a way to raise money. And with Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, SCI, nearly 200 SCI chapters, DSC, DSC’s Chapters, Mule Deer, Rocky Mountain, Wild Sheep (that’s not even all the hunting industry has to offer), there are loads of places for outfitters to offer hunts. Then there are all sorts of school, community, and a gazillion other associations all trying to raise funds where hunts are offered.
Some outfitters donate 50 or more hunts annually. It’s their marketing strategy – and for them, it works.
All I ask is that you, as hunters, know exactly you are buying. Not only with the hunt but during and after the hunt. Otherwise, there can be a misunderstanding and your experience could be compromised.
The outfitter is:
- Showcasing his safari operation, at the very least. That way your experience and word-of-mouth promotion is going to help for years to come, assuming you had a great experience.
- Hoping you hunt more than what you bought, so he can make some money on the other game. If you are just buying the accommodation, check the price of his game.
Earlier this year, a hunter in Nashville came to me at our booth at the convention to complain about one of our Africa Dawn members – said I should remove them. I asked him to give me the facts from his side so I can look into it – because we have removed members over the years – but he didn’t supply anything. A few months on, this same gent was at Afton, in the midst of a 5 hunt, (yes 5) back-to-back safaris all with donations he had bought, proudly, for pennies in the dollar. A professional donation-hunt buyer.
I saw first-hand how difficult he was. Nothing could please him. He was with another Africa Dawn Member this time, and this time, I got the story from the other side. Difficult, difficult, difficult. Left ZERO gratuity for anyone and moaned throughout his hunt. At Afton, he did the same. We’re in the middle of winter and I asked, “Chuck,” let’s call him Chuck, “did you sleep well?” “No, I was so too hot!” What? Did you not take the duvet off then, Chuck? Complaining comes naturally and the hunting forums were made for these folk. They complain about an outfitter and their one-sided experience has no right of reply from the outfitter – and that contributes to what people think. It’s wrong.
On the outfitter side – here’s something I found out recently:
There is one (well-known) outfitter in the Eastern Cape (with a base in Namibia as well) that offers free hunts at the major shows. Currently he offers a safari for ONE EURO. I kid you not. Unsuspecting hunters take up this offer, not seeing the fine print. And here it is.
He forces you to use his own in-house taxidermy operation. Forcing may be too strong a word because you can Dip & Pack the trophies and export them if you want to have them mounted abroad. But if you want them mounted in South Africa – with a taxidermist of your choice – well, sorry for you. He does not offer a salt pit, a place to keep skinned and salted hides for another taxidermist to collect. And if you want to use your own taxidermist of choice, you’ll have to pay him to do the Dip & Pack regardless, which is a complete waste. If there is going to be the full processing and mounting done in a South African taxidermy shop, why do you need to pay an additional Dip & Pack fee on each animal?
Subtle – but an effective business model for him if you like being held hostage.
Every now and then, my inbox has just the best mail. Thank you Piet van Rooyen for sending this month’s wonderful hero pic from beautiful Namibia of Mountain Zebra on a mountain. Does not get much better than this.
Until next month.