The Danger of Donation Hunts
The phrase ‘Auction Hunt’ is high on many a hunter’s agenda. This is where bargains are bought, or hunts are purchased knowing you are funding a nonprofit organization.
It all started in one of two ways.
1: An outfitter said to the hunting association, “Hey, I have a hunt you can auction off,”
2: The association said to the outfitter, “Hey, how about donating a hunt so we can auction this off and raise funds?”
As 2024 dawns, the reality is that they are here to stay. I have heard a lot of whining from outfitters saying it is killing the industry when hunts are sold for pennies on the dollar. I remind them that they always have the right not to donate, and simply offer cash.
Of course, there may be consequences, like poor positioning on the show floor or, in extreme cases, denied being accepted to exhibit.
On the plus side, many an outfitter has used the donated hunt as a vehicle for marketing, awareness, and, depending on the strategy, a source of income.
Associations use this as a major source of income and are unashamed in their approach.
As with many goods offered, particularly in the tourism sector, these this can work well in a variety of ways. The fact that the live auctions sometimes impact on the hours the show is open and pull buyers off the floor is one of my two gripes. The other – and this is the point of this article – is that the unsuspecting winning bid has little comeback when what was purchased does not materialize. And this happens. Regardless of what it may be, a) you don’t want to be the person buying a dud, and b) the negative impact on hunting in Africa is not worth it. Some problems include:
- Species are offered when there are no permits in place, so what guarantee do you have that the permit will be 100%? An Afton, we have a few trophies that have been left behind by clients because of they were unable to export them without a permit.
- Outfitters sell game or hunts in countries where they are not registered outfitters or, in some cases, are not registered Professional Hunters. Essentially, they are acting as an agent. You will be hunting on the ground with a local hunting outfitter and professional hunter – which is not necessarily a bad thing. You just need to know this.
- Species are offered in the ‘package’ only to find the species you have come for are, well, just not there. A story is made up, and you are left disappointed. Never mind, an alternative is offered and that will be your only option.
- When you buy a 7-day package with three animals, the outfitter may ask what other animals are on your list? Of course, the other animals are sold off a list, and you will have to pay for those, which is not the point. Often, you are taken in pursuit of those animals first. In extreme cases your package of three is left to last, and just might be hard to find.
- You thought you could choose the taxidermist you wanted, and it turns out not to be the case. On occasions, the outfitters say, “Sorry, you must use our in-house taxidermist.”
These are just some of the realities experienced out there.
I know that most of the hunts go off fantastically, and this is a very effective way to get hunters across the Atlantic and to get their interest firmly entrenched in Africa. My concern is that after the auction hammer falls, you are on your own. Whether it is the hunting associations or some fund-raising charity offering these donation hunts, most have a clause that states: “The association takes no responsibility…”
My suggestion is simply, ‘Do your homework.’ Before you sign up, create your own questionnaire so you go in fully aware. It is not difficult. Just because it’s a good deal, doesn’t necessarily mean it is not going to be a first-class safari. Conversely, just because you paid top dollar, doesn’t mean it will be up to your expectation.
Without doing prior homework, don’t bid.
All the best,