Picking a duck hunting guide can be overwhelming if you search for one on the internet.
How do you know which one to pick? And can you trust them? There are many factors to consider such as online reviews, cost, location, species of birds in the area, and type of hunting such as layout blinds or pit blinds.
1.) Reviews. First, reviews are very important because the testimonials and feedback come from past clients and duck hunts and can give insight to what kind of business the guide runs. People always want the truth and honesty. And who doesn’t want the best, most reliable option? Plus, some review sites can let you sort by proximity of location, highest rated duck hunts, and cost.
Many guides/outfitters don't have a website, but they may have Facebook pages or other social networking accounts. Without a Facebook page or website, you have no idea what you are getting into to. Be aware of the unknowns when it comes to hunting with someone who runs a guide business with no actual web content.
Pro tip: Do your homework and check out reviews on Google, Facebook, and local outdoor sites that list waterfowl guides in your area of interest.
2.) Cost. The cost of hunts can range from $100 to $600 a day depending on who you decide to go with. Be sure to ask the guide what is included with the hunt. For example, Rogers Goosedown Outfitters, a duck hunting guide in Missouri, cost $150/per day and includes pit blinds over flooded rice/bean field, a hot breakfast, high-quality decoys, and can provide special accommodations like cushioned seats, heaters in the pit, and bird cleaning post-hunt.
3.) Average cost of a duck hunt is about $150 per person for a morning hunt without lodging and food. Average cost of a morning duck hunt with lodging and meals is about $300 a person. The old saying is sometimes true that you get what you pay for so be aware of those daily duck hunts that seem cheap and don’t provide much.
Pro Tip: Whether you spend $100 a day for a duck hunt or $600 a day there is never a guarantee that you will kill a limit of birds.
4.) Location. Where you choose to hunt really comes down to how far the person is willing to travel. That’s mostly relevant for out-of-towners. You should also consider seasons (see next tip) and temperatures when choosing a location.
Pro Tip: If you are wanting a certain bird or looking to get a variety bag, you may want to go to a specific location. For example, the Bootheel is known for pintails and is the most common duck. They are heavily populated in rice fields and it’s rare that you’ll find them in timber or ponds.
5.) Waterfowl Species. Staying in your home state to go on a guided hunt may save you money on license/lodging/food/fuel but it might now allow you to harvest a species of bird that you've always wanted to put on the wall. This leads us to the next consideration for choosing a guide, which is hunting a preferred species of birds that you have on your bucket list. In Southeast Missouri, the most common species is Pintails, snow geese, and specklebelly geese so a lot of people travel to the bootheel for the opportunity to harvest one of these birds.
Pro Tip: Ask your potential guide what type of waterfowl is common in the area and what are the daily limits.
6.) Season/When to Hunt. The season openings and closings vary in each state so naturally the northern states like Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin have their seasons earlier in the year, while seasons for southern states like Missouri, Arkansas, and Georgia are open till much later in the year. View Missouri’s Waterfowl Season dates.
Pro Tip: When you know when you want to hunt, go ahead and ask for available dates and book the hunt. If you are looking for the best guide, chances are they’re likely to book up fast and you may miss out on an experience with your guide of choice.
7.) Style of Hunt. When you call a guide to ask them questions you will also want to know the style of hunting that they do. Do they hunt from layout blinds? Do they hunt from pit blinds? Each has their advantages and disadvantages, and everyone has their own opinion of them both.
The layout blinds can be more appealing to younger hunters versus older hunters who prefer to be comfortable, warm, and dry in a pit blind. Be sure to ask your guide so you can dress and prepare appropriately for the hunt.
Pro Tip: Always ask questions and let the guide know of special needs or accommodations prior to the hunt.