Should you judge on whether or not you like to eat at a restaurant based on whether or not you like the food?
Answer: Yes of course!
Now we have to define “success rates” and “success” in general. I’ve written many articles about the concept of a “participation trophy” expectation when it comes to paying to go on a deer hunt. Whitetail deer hunting is still a blue collar man’s sport, so I refuse to turn it into a “buy it for your wall” hobby. I’ve done the African big game hunt. That is a participation trophy! Those animals say, “I either saves enough money, enjoy hunting, or make all kinds of money.” They are the best! If you can go on these hunts you are winning at life, but don’t compare it to the challenge of going on Kentucky deer hunt! When we change the name to a Kentucky Deer “Shoot”, then I’ll cave on my morals.
What defines “success”? Hopefully having a good to great time. We all know shoot a buck equals a great time. I’ve met many hunters and received many nice letters from hunters that thanked me for allowing them to hunt my land, even though they spent good money and didn’t shoot a deer. These are the best compliments you can get, but let’s set the bar a little higher than that. What is “success”? Seeing deer – yes. Seeing a glimpse of a potentially big buck that may have busted you – yes. Planning to hunt that same buck the following morning because you know he’s out there – yes.
So what defines a “success rate” and should we judge Kentucky outfitters on their success rates? Do outfitters really know their success rates? I think it’s a completely flawed way of defining a hunt. Most outfitters are using “opportunity rates” now because there is the suggestion that the outfitter should not be responsible if the hunter is napping, misses the shot, spooks the deer, or is holding out for a 170 inch buck and passed on shooting other eligible deer. So opportunity rates seem to be a fair discussion, but even then, what if all you see as a hunter is a white tail bouncing through the woods and the professional hunting guide said that was a 160 inch buck that smelled us after the wind shifted? Should that count as a 100% opportunity rate for that hunter?
Most outfitters don’t have guides sitting with the hunters unless there are some special circumstances or pricey type of hunt with a good tip on the line. How on earth can anyone honestly give out opportunity rates over any sort of industry-wide standard? I believe the consensus is it’s impossible. Most do their best to answer honestly.