Many of our subscribers attend one or more of the big hunting conventions every year, in addition to local shows and banquets. Virtually every conservation organization solicits hunts from outfitters and permits from state and tribal governments to auction, with the proceeds going to support their conservation missions. Hunters purchase these hunts, sometimes at a bargain price, sometimes at a premium, and support the organization.
The number of hunts being auctioned is amazing. In some cases, the auction hunts are not available otherwise. In others, they represent an alternative avenue to acquire a coveted hunt (often at a premium price).
Again, the pure numbers are staggering. By my count, Dallas Safari Club will auction over 200 international and North American hunts (gametrails.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/FullFinal_DSC2015_111814.pdf) at various events during its convention January 15-18, 2015. Safari Club International (www.showsci.org) alone will auction over 300 big game hunts at its convention February 4-7, 2015. With such a wide variety, it’s not surprising that many hunters will fill their 2015 schedule at these two shows.
Other conventions add even more hunts and tags to the auction mix. Check the offerings at the Foundation For North American Wild Sheep January 8-10 (www.wildsheepfoundation.org/Page.php/Convention/2015/Auctions) and Grand Slam/Club Ovis January 28-31 (www.superslam.org/convention/auctions), plus the hunts and tags auctioned and the Mule Deer Foundation (www.huntexpo.com/auctions-drawings.php) at its Western Hunting Expo February 19-22. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation auctioned many hunts and tags at its “Elk Camp” in early December, but still has many up for grabs at over 400 local banquets and fundraisers (www.rmef.org/Events/StateChapterEvents.aspx). While “regional shows” may not offer as many auction hunts, they can offer hunts as good as anything you’ll find at the bigger conventions. Just check the listing for the Eastern Chapter Wild Sheep Foundation’s Hunting Expo for January 23-25 (www.ecfnaws.org).
While this represents a great opportunity to shop for hunts, there are still some very important things to remember about auction hunt shopping.
A surprising number of the negative hunting reports we receive each year result from hunts purchased at auction, often by hunters who didn’t really understand what they were buying. So our first piece of advice is to DO YOUR HOMEWORK before bidding on any hunt.
Approach buying an auction hunt as you would any other purchase, with eyes wide open and appropriate caution. Take time before the shows to review the auction lists, note which hunts are of most interest to you, and do your due diligence long before the bidding begins.
Believe me, while the organizations only desire the best of the best for their auction offerings, and they do their best to screen the PHs and outfitters, they can’t fully vet every outfitter that offers a hunt. Do your own research on the outfitter or PH. Here’s where our trip-planning database of articles and hunt reports is an invaluable tool. With a quick search you can find a lot of background information, much of it from hunters like you. Positive hunt reports can help you determine if that outfitter or PH has a track record of delivering what’s promised. Negative hunt reports can help you know what questions to ask as you dig deeper. Look for patterns in the reports and articles.
Also, just because a hunt is being auctioned by an organization you trust and respect, and the outfitter or PH has an excellent track record, doesn’t mean that it’s the right hunt for you. The organization can’t know you and your needs. They also can’t know it’s going to come off exactly the way it’s described in the auction catalog. For example, if you’re really driven and desire to hunt from daylight to dark each day, turning down trophies right up to the end to give yourself the best chance to get the biggest of everything, you don’t want an outfitter with a relaxed approach to hunting. Likewise, if you’re taking your kids or grandkids on their first hunt, you don’t necessarily want to start with trophy-only or dangerous-game specialist. This is the time to talk to the outfitter or PH and check out the references they supply — long before the bidding begins.
As you do your research, make certain you understand what is and what is not included in the hunt. This may seem a no-brainer, but impulse buying a hunt is likely to lead to surprises and perhaps an unsatisfactory result. Talk with the outfitter and understand how flexible he is on dates, on add-on species and on travel accommodations. You need to know exactly what you are and are not getting.
Most but not all of the hunts offered at auction are either for one hunter or one hunter and one observer. But at the SCI show, for example, 34% of the hunts being offered are for multiple hunters, including 29% for two hunters or two hunters and two observers, five hunts are for three hunters (no observers), and nine hunts are for four hunters. Have a pretty clear idea about who will hunt and when they need to be notified. If you plan on hunting with family members, this may be as simple as arranging everybody’s vacation time for the dates selected. But bringing together several hunters or couples to go on a hunt together takes a bit of planning, and the time to do that is well before bidding.
Finally, the bigger shows, particularly, will have different events at which the various opportunities will be auctioned. You either need to be present when the hunt you desire is going on the block or make prior arrangements for off-site bidding. Prioritize your hunt preferences, including what you’re willing to pay, and make sure you have tickets for the event not only for your number one hunt, but also for any back-up options you may want to consider.
Here are some of the more interesting hunts on auction this show season:
Dallas Safari Club January 15-18, 2015 (gametrails.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/FullFinal_DSC2015_111814.pdf)
Item # 4039 6-Day Chamois Hunt and Sightseeing Tour for Two Hunters and Two Non-Hunters in Italy (Includes Trophy Fees)
Leone Rossi di Montelera Italian Safari by World Hunting Society
Item # 4040: 3-day 1×1 Pe?re David’s deer hunt for one hunter in Florida – includes trophy fees for 1x gold medal deer. J & R Outfitters
Item # 2013 7-Day Mid-Asian Ibex Hunt for One Hunter in the Kyrgyz Republic – Includes Trophy Fee. ProfiHunt Ltd.
May be upgraded to include Marco Polo Sheep or Hume Argali
Item # 40047-Day Sable Hunt for One Hunter in Zimbabwe – Includes Trophy Fee. Russell Selle Custom Hunts.
May be upgraded to include buffalo, leopard or plains game
Item # 5011- 10-Day Moose, Goat or Elk Hunt for One Hunter in Northeast British Columbia – Includes Trophy Fee for first animal taken. Sikanni River Outfitters. May be upgraded to include all species offered.
# 4006 –
3-Day American Bison Hunt for One Hunter and One Non-Hunter Vermejo Park Ranch / Turner Ranch Outfitting in New Mexico Includes Trophy Fee.
Eastern Chapter Wild Sheep Foundation January 23-25 (www.ecfnaws.org):
-Alaska Copper River Bison Permit
-Wyoming Governor’s Bighorn Permit
-Bighorn sheep and Mule Deer Combo hunt in Alberta with Timberline Guiding
-Alaska-Yukon Moose Hunt with Blackstone Outfitters
-Stone sheep Hunt in Yukon with Anchor Bar Outfitting
-“Four Day ‘180 Class’ Whitetail Hunt for Two Ladies at Private Hunting Ranch in PA”
– “Bear Adventure” and Shooting School with Griffin & Howe at Hudson Farm Club in NJ.
Grand Slam/Club Ovis January 28-31 (www.superslam.org/convention/auctions)
FB 03 Kri-Kri ibex hunt on Sapietnza Island, Greece with Safari Season
FB 09 Fanin Sheep, August 2015 in the Yukon with Tombstone Outfitters
FB 15 Navajo Nation Desert Bighorn tag (see November issue, page 6)
SB 04A&B Two Himalayan Ibex hunts with Caprinae Safaris
SB 13 Free-range Javan rusa on Marble Island, Australia with Kingham Australia Safaris (may add axis and sambar plus blackbuck.
SB 19 Marco Polo in Tajikistan with The Hunting Consortium
SB 20 Desert Sheep Carmen Island, Mexico with Mexico Hunts.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Tucson Chapter, Conservation Hunters Rendezvous January 31, 2015,
New Mexico Elk
New Mexico Deer
New Mexico Big Game Enhancement Package
Washington Eastside Elk
Safari Club International February 4-7, 2015 (www.showsci.org)
Hunt Number 32187, a 20 day BC Stone sheep, grizzly, moose, goat, caribou and wolf hunt for one hunter, offered by Indian River Ranch Guides and Outfitters.
Hunt Number 32320, a 10 day Tajikistan Marco Polo hunt with The Hunting Consortium for one hunter between October and December, 2015 or February, 2016. The CITES Export permit is included as is assistance in applying for a USFWS Import permit (which is not included- an example of something you need to discuss). The hunt can be upgraded to include mid-Asian ibex.
Hunt Number 32434, a 4 day hunt in Texas for addax, Arabian oryx, gemsbok, rusa and hog deer for 2 hunters and 2 observers donated by Rann Safaris at the 777 ranch.