Tipping Your Guide

How much does a hunter tip his or her guide? This has always been a perceived dilemma among hunters but there is really a simple answer. Some believe that for minimum average service, the tip should be 10% and up to 20% for excellent service. Of course, if one holds to that method, then the next question would be, “What is average or excellent service?” What gauge or barometer does one use for such a subjective question that will result in a fair conclusion?

What if the hunter didn't get his animal, or if it rained every day, or the food was bad, or there was a full moon every night, or if there was a lunar eclipse? What if, what if, what if! Even though there are exceptions, guides and outfitters want nothing less than for the hunter to have a fantastic time and memorable experience. Most of the things that happen while hunting are not influenced by human intervention so the size of one’s tip should not be determined by such foolishness.

What if a hunter is lucky enough to fill his tag? Most agree that that’s just additional icing on the cake! However, many hunters use this as their benchmark as to whether and how much to tip. Bad reasoning! Truth be known, many hunters are just bad shots because they don't practice enough and screw up lots of easy opportunities given to them on a silver platter.

Guides do what they do because of their love of the outdoors and the sport of hunting. While guiding, they are on call 24/7, which makes their per hour pay anything but extravagant. In conclusion, the “generally accepted tip” for service providers, such as waitress/waiter, hairdresser/barber, manicurist/nail technician, hunting guide, etc. is 15%. So, if the cost of a guided hunt were $5,000, then a tip of $750 would be appropriate.

Let’s expound on the end-of-hunt. What if a hunter is disgruntled or unhappy with the hunt, for whatever reason but disregarding the fact that it was or was not legitimate? Well, he or she will usually tell anyone who will listen, "Don't ever use that outfitter/guide." With the possibility of getting a tainted reputation, which means a loss of revenue, outfitters take great effort to ensure this doesn't happen. This means that the hunter has an obligation to voice any problems or concerns to the outfitter as soon as possible. If it’s fixable, he’ll fix it to the extent that he can.

On the flipside, what about the hunter that had a good time, which includes the vast majority, but showed his or her appreciation with a token tip? Guides are a dime a dozen and won’t last, but good guides are hard to come by and will stick around a long time. If an outfitter has been around for any length of time, chances are pretty good that his guides are well seasoned and very good at what they do. However, circumstances beyond their control may deceptively indicate otherwise. From the outfitter's perspective, a hunter that is a “token tipper” is bad for morale, bad for business, and probably won't get an invitation to come back.