Whitetail Hunting photo

Given the recent Field Notes post about the “Bogus Oklahoma Guide,” it probably goes without saying that while many whitetail outfitters are honest and forthright, a few are blatant crooks.

So how do you know who you’re dealing with before you plunk down that deposit check? Outdoor celebrities and writers can paint a pretty picture, but odds are they didn’t pay for the hunt and/or were shown property or animals not available to the Average Joe. Of course, you can ask the outfitter for references, but then he’s apt to cherry pick which client he puts you in touch with.

I’ve long felt that there needs to be an objective source of information to help hunters get unbiased, no-nonsense info on guides and outfitters. A sort of Angie’s List for whitetail hunters. I just looked at a website that has the potential to be just that: nexthunt.com.

This site has everything you need to start planning a hunt; where to go, how to get there, and the outfitters who offer such hunts. But the coolest feature of Next Hunt is the “Outfitter Review” section. Here, clients who’ve hunted with a particular outfitter rate him on a 5-star scale and have with ample room to describe evaluate every aspect of the hunt. Currently, Next Hunt lists 4,400 guides/outfitters and lodges, and some 5,000 reviews.

Five thousand reviews sound like a lot, but consider I researched guides in my home state and not one had been reviewed. Still, there’s tremendous potential here; the more sportsmen who participate in Next Hunt, the better it gets. And while there’s certainly the chance that an unhappy customer or two can spoil an outfit’s ratings, the comments of even the most disgruntled client should give a potential client some questions to ask as he talks to an outfitters. On the other hand, if ten paying clients all say World-Record Whitetails is a top-notch camp, you’re a long way toward picking the right guide.

Check out Next Hunt for yourselves, and tell us what you think.