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Thread: Tipping Protocol

  1. #1
    Member MTBrownBearHunter's Avatar
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    Question Tipping Protocol

    I'm going on a brown bear hunt this spring and was curious as to what the usual protocol is for tipping the guide and packers/camp helpers.

    Is there a percentage of the total hunt cost a guide usually expects?

    I assume the tip also depends somewhat on the success of the hunt, but not entirely.

    Thanks for any advice that may be forthcoming, basically just trying to figure out the budget before I go.

    Can't wait to get back to Alaska in May!

  2. #2
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default tipping

    Tips vary greatly, depending on the hunter and the guide. Personally, when I guide fishing, I'm happy with any tip, a little disappointed if none is given, but not too much, 'cause if I did a great job I feel it is zero reflection on me as a guide that I wasn't tipped- it's all on the client. Most non tippers just don't know, and I'm not one to tell them. I can't really answer to the hunting guide/packer, but just think of the work they do to get you into game, then look at what you tip a server at a bar when they pour you a drink, or a waitress at a restaurant for bringing you the right order and refilling your coffee a time or two. Typically packers/assistant guides earn a pretty poor wage for the amount of work they do in a day, so I like to tip accordingly. In kind tips are sometimes the greatest, but sometimes the worst, too. It all depends on the gift and the person you're handing it too. A nice digital camera or rifle would probably always be received well, whereas a pack, foul weather gear, etc, could be a nice tip. I packed once just out of high school, so at that time anything would've been bonus. Nice pack, camo hunting gear, camera: woohoo! If I packed now, I'm a little older, have hunted a lifetime, so I'm pretty well geared up. I sure wouldn't scoff at a rifle, though! The reason I even mentioned gear is that it is really common for a hunter to gear up specifically for Alaska, and then never use that gear again. Just be extremely careful, though, that its not just a white elephant gift.

    I wouldn't be afraid at all to talk to the guide you're going with, while you're arranging the hunt. It can give you some good insight into his character.

  3. #3
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    Default

    On a trip that is well organized, successsful or not, I try to end up with a total tip of around 10% of the hunt package price, some I've gone more and some less. I think the country makes a difference, US more, third world less.

    Again, to me, success is a minor factor if it is a factor at all. I probably tip less on a 1 day successful hunt than on a several day unsuccessful hunt, and I've had a few of both. Some guys will work really hard trying to make it successful but ultimately it isn't. An example is where an outfitter puts you on a questionable ranch but the guide works very hard to make you comfortable and the hunt successful. Chances are you aren't going to be successful.

    I also like to tip personally and individually. I prefer not to give it to the head honcho asking him to divy accordingly. I like to walk up, shake their hand, look at them eye to eye, and thank them. Even if they played only a minor part and the tip is only $10-$20. I think no one likes to be left out.

    I carry a planned selection of bills to be ready for variables, 5s, 10s, 20s, 50s, and 100s. As you mentioned, you could have cooks, guides, packers, game prep, camp hands, drivers, etc.

  4. #4

    Default Tip the Air Taxi??

    I was planning on asking this same stuff about my trip. Do you tip an Air Taxi?

  5. #5
    Member kahahawai's Avatar
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    Default Tipping

    I would tip the air taxi, if he flies around the area within the L.Z. looking for Rams!

    My next question: how do you tip in Africa? Individually? or or each person for what he or she does? also do they prefer U.S. currency or local currency?

  6. #6

    Default africa

    It depends on the PH. Sometime the PH doesn't want you to tip the help directly as sometimes they may "leave"! $50 bucks over there is a lot of money. I trusted the PH with money for camp help. They said they put it all together and at the end of the season gives it to the help. I tipped the PH directly for his tip. I was am not rich in any sense of the word, but tipped my PH $350 when I left. I don't think he felt slighted in the least. I am not going to tip someone $1,000 when I paid $6,000 for the hunt.

    We did leave hats, gloves, shirts, etc. with the help. Bring a crap load of candy with you. Everyone including the PH loves it! You will be especially popular if you get to spend any time around kids over there. I brought an entire duffle bag full of old clothes to give away also. Clothing is a big deal over there.

  7. #7
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    Default I'm not guiding any Brown Bear hunts this spring so.......

    I'll give you my perspective as an assistant guide with no "horse in this race"

    First off you have to realize that in Alasaka only Registered or Master guides can book hunts........ in other states this might be the function of the "outfitter"......... the Registered of Master guide you contracted with owns the business

    If they take you on the hunt themselves you could give them a tip, but they're already getting the full fee (minus the booking agent fee) that you paid, so in this instance a tip is really just an "extra thankyou" for a job well done

    More typically they might have assistant guides or other registered guides working for them who actually take you hunting............ tips are a large part of their income

    The assistant guide is making $150 or so a day for taking care of you from the time you get up in the morning until the time you go to sleep at night....... that means 18 hour days more or less

    he's working before you even arrive getting the camp pulled together and/or set up

    he also has a lot of "gear" he buys on his own to make your hunt more comfortable and potentially more successful.........

    i.e. top notch optics, trophy care tools, a good digital camera and tripod GPS, headlamps, water bottles, etc. (you'd be amazed how many hunters show up with a disposable 35mm crappy binoculars no headlamp no water bottle inadequate rain gear etc.)

    the point is they have to spend a fair amount of money out of pocket

    let's say you're on a $15,000 hunt...... (pretty average for a quality Brown Bear hunt)

    you've probably spent another $3-4000 on airlines, hotels, rental cars, air taxis, not to mention trophy shipment and taxidermy fees when HOPEFULLY you're successful.......

    bottom line is .......... if you tip the guide (i.e. the person who actually TAKES you hunting be it a registered guide or assitant guide) less than $1,000 you're "cheap".......

    $1500 would be more reasonable, $2,000 would be an awesome tip

    (I'm assuming a 10 day hunt here)

    Your guide doesn't want your binoculars, he doesn't need another GPS, nor does he need or want your waders, rain pants, or left over bullets or your knife or compass blah blah blah blah............. unless they are a thrown in on top of the tip........

    Now this is for a guide who puts in his very best effort to provide for your comfort and make the hunt as successful as it can be.........

    that means he does everything he can to allow YOU to hunt.......... and he's out there with you glassing, suggesting new areas or vantage points to move to........recommending strategy, etc.

    you are the HUNTER........... he is the guide.........

    if through no fault of the guide, or lack of effort on his part, things just don't come togehter, it's human nature that you might give him less of a tip.......... not fair...... but guides pretty much understand that........

    at the same time if you spotted animals, and maybe you couldn't "make the hump" to get to it, or the wind changed, or it got dark on you, or maybe YOU decided to pass and wait for a bigger blonder bear........... should you really reduce your tip?

    same way if the guide does a great job and you get your bear in 3 days instead of 9....... you'll still be paying the guide you booked with his full fee......... knocking $7 or 800 off the guides tip is really hurting him.........

    now......... if the equipment is poor, food is lean, the booking guide is hardly invovled and just leaves for 10 days in an area that isn't producing ........... and/or the assistant guide is just going through the motions........... a reduced tip is more than justified and a minimal tip if any if understandable if that all adds up to a poor experience and unsuccessful hunt (and should result in a call to your booking agent)

    I'll also tell you that MOST guides would rather have an affable hunter who puts forth a good effort and appreciates the HUNTING over the guy who sits around expecting to be waited on and rousted from the tent or woken up when the guide finds and animal for him close enough to the tent for him to shoot

    but most guides ARE doing this as a job and a significant portion of their income so no matter how "nice" a hunter is, if he stiffs the guide tip wise, he leaves a bad taste, and no matter how big an eh-hole a hunter is, if he leaves a good tip that will be noted and appreciated

    I know that's a long answer and the bottom line is like any other service you should tip for quality effort and results

    just be aware that the big check you write is MOSTLY going to the booking agent, expenses, and the business operated by the registered/master guide

    in MOST cases only a small portion goes to the guy who actually accompanies you in the field who is responsible to make your hunt SAFE, Enjoyable, and successful.......

    tip accordingly...........

    slipping $100 or so to the cook back in main camp who sends the food out or makes you a meal or two on either side of the field is always a great gesture

    if you're unsure if there's a packer or helper back in main camp who might have helped with your hunt as far as fleshing or salting or whatever you can always ask your guide about that but that would not be the norm during spring hunts

    good luck and enjoy your hunt!!

  8. #8
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    Default upon further review

    $15,000 is probably on the high side just for the hunt

    $10-12,000 would be more typical........... I was adding in some of the other expenses

    sorry

  9. #9
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    Default

    To any of you Hunters who have to work hard most of your life to squirrel away the cost of your "Once in a lifetime Alaska Bear Hunt" a simple "Thank You" is all they deserve compared to what you've done.

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    Default I'm not going to.........

    get into a long drawn out back and forth here but......

    by that same logic when I save up money and get a nice steak dinner down at club Paris I should feel free to stiff the waiter because it took me a while to save up for the meal......

  11. #11
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    Default

    Well there's no way in the world if I ever have enough to pay for a 15,000 hunt that I'd have the extra $1000 just for a tip so I guess I'm cheap. A couple hundred to the assistant guide that actually worked with me, is not a problem. Actually, since I'll never have that much disposable income its a mute point.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKCheese View Post
    get into a long drawn out back and forth here but......

    by that same logic when I save up money and get a nice steak dinner down at club Paris I should feel free to stiff the waiter because it took me a while to save up for the meal......
    saving up for a steak dinner and saving your whole life for an alaskan hunt aren't comparable. You're the one pimping the idea some guy gotta work a few more years to save up the cost of a "reasonable" tip.

  13. #13
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Default

    tips aren't required..just expected. i've gotten lame tips no tips and great tips and ok tips. thats all they are...tips. i don't add them into my income or count on them to stay alive, its just a gift someone gives you as a sign of appreciation. if your worried about what your guide will think of you..just be upfront and don't ever say, ITS IN THE MAIL!!!!! just be straight with him, i ain't got nothing left to give man, this hunt strapped me....but don't be jerkin someone around and then head to the Bush Company and drop some big coins....just be honest and up front.
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
    Master guide 212

  14. #14
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default

    Great post Jake. Pretty much says it all! Plan tips into your budget; it will help you make them more affordable. I'll stick to my guns on bartering, or in kind tips- if discussed beforehand, they can be better than a monetary tip, and easier to afford on top of the hunt cost; its just a fine line between being something great and something awful, though.

    A funny thought, that just occurred. It seems the guides who don't worry about what or how they're tipped generally never HAVE to worry, as they have the right attitude toward the client, and good tips just follow. Those that DO obsess about their tips, often DO have to worry about them, as their attitude toward the client ends up getting them a bunch of lousy tips.

  15. #15
    Member MTBrownBearHunter's Avatar
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    Default

    Great information, I certainly appreciate everyone's perspectives.

    Like I said, I was working on the budget and wasn't sure how much extra cash I would likely spend so the information is a big help.

    I'd certainly welcome other comments or recommendations.

  16. #16
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    Default

    Why tip at all? It isn't required and all it does is inflate the cost of the hunt for the next person that saved for years to do it.

    If you pay $12k for a hunt why should it be "expected" that you pay another $1000-1200 MORE for the hunt? "Here's another $1k because you did such a great job above and beyond the $12k I already paid you plus the 3-4k I paid to get here plus the 3-4k I paid for all my gear!"

    That's BS plain and simple.

    Guides/Master Guides that "expect" tips should reduce the prices they charge for the hunt if they "expect" a tip as well.

    To me, and I know LOTS will disagree because they think it is "ethical" to tip people, I expect to pay $12k for an all inclusive hunt. I should not be expected to TIP a guy for doing a good/great job. Isn't that what I paid $12k for to begin with?

    If you want to just throw money at people (because that is what a tip is), send me a PM and I'll give you my address! Tipping someone that is making 3-7k a trip profit cannot be compared to tipping a waitress who makes minimum wage +tips.

  17. #17

    Default Tipping

    I think the point most people above were making is that you should tip the assistant guides that only make $150 a day working 18 hours a day or 8.33 per hour (comparable to minimum wage) humping your animal out for you for miles , cooking and serving the meals, and what not which is much harder work that waitressing a table. But yet you don't feel the need to chisel open your wallet? Well to each their own.

  18. #18

    Default Tipping for GOOD HUNTS

    OK, tried to stay outta this one, but too much dialogue not to contribute...or not, you'll have to decide.

    First off MTBrownBearHunter, I hope you have a great hunt! This is a touchy subject and is highly subjective, so many of the guides don't chime in on this one, as it's hard to set a standard for what constitutes really good service. Jake (Brwnbr) books and guides his hunters and stands behind his words, so you can trust him to give you the hunt he commits to give you. You won't see him ever promising to deliver a bear to a hunter, that's a warning signal if people promise you a bear.

    Seen a few guys "who have buddies in the guide business" chiming in, I'd wager they've heard more "that guy was a tightwad" stories from their friends than "I felt bad because I didn't deliver the hunt I committed to deliver" stories. So, maybe an additional perspective is in order.

    Why me? Well, I've been on 4 guided hunts in Alaska, with 3 different outfits, and have talked to many other guided hunters about their experience, both before and ESPECIALLY AFTER their hunts. Before my first guided hunt, I emailed a 5-page questionnaire to 27 different outfits, so you might say I researched this a little deeper than skin deep....

    I'm all for tipping someone if you felt they delivered an outstanding hunt, regardless of whether an animal was harvested or not. The key to remember here is outstanding service or effort; to me, that means fully meeting or exceeding what you commit to BEFORE the hunt.

    The funny thing about the guiding business is, few guys hold the guides' feet to the fire in terms of meeting the things they commit to before the hunt. Before you opt to tip someone, I'd recommend making sure they met all of the commitments they made either on the phone or on their website; if they don't meet those commitments, why tip someone who didn't even meet their original service level agreement?

    IF you feel that the guide met all of the initial commitments they made to you, and IF the hunt is conducted in an ethical and safe (as possible) manner, and IF you feel that it met most/all of your hopes in terms of the hunt (not the harvest), then the amount of tip is up to you. If the hunt didn't meet those things, I'd tell the guide about it, and possibly not tip at all.

    I ended up tipping the guide on 3 out of 4 hunts I've been on; have never tipped an outfitter and never will, they already got their money. I have also tipped bush pilots and meat packers, have never had a camp cook.

    BUT - I'm also not shy about telling the guide or outfitter when they don't meet any pre-hunt commitments. If they don't like it tough ****, they shouldn't have agreed to it pre-hunt.

    Some of the things that often get "forgotten or overlooked" between the time you book your hunt and the time you actually do the hunt:

    - any special dietary requests (almost always forgotten in my experience)
    - special meat care or handling requests
    - contingency plans (if you can't fly in or fly out on planned dates due to weather)

    If you have any concerns/questions in those areas, I'd recommend you go over them often, so they are forgotten along the way. Good luck, and good hunting!

  19. #19
    Member MTBrownBearHunter's Avatar
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    Default

    I appreciate the information Mdhunter, you and I share a lot of the same ideas.

    I also agree with you on regarding Brownbr's post.

    I "lurked" on this site quite some time before chiming in and it was apparent that he contributes valuable, useful information when he posts, which is what we're all here for.

    I appreciate everyone's thoughts. I agree with some, disagree with others, but that is why I posed the question, to sort through what I thought was the right approach while taking the advice and information that worked for me.

    Thanks again and look forward to more feedback.

  20. #20
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    Interesting topic!

    mdhunter, would you tip the outfitter (small operatior, Jake for example) if he was you guide on a hunt that met all commitments?

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