Club versus an Association
We have this page on hunting clubs as many hunters searching use the keyword phrase hunting clubs and find us. What they are searching for and then find us shows there is a much better alterative to what many consider a traditions hunting club.
Our alternative is self guided hunting for the do it yourself hunter on private land we lease for our exclusive use. This is as a collective of hunters, not as a social group.
Social Versus Hunting
Not a play on words between a hunting club and an Association.
We do provide private land resource many are looking for. We do identify ourselves as an Association rather than a hunting club. The distinction is along the lines between a organization which has a single minded approach of providing hardest to come by resource there is to acquires, that is land. Compared to an organization which supplies a social environment for other than actual hunt activities. This would be such as in a hunting club with a private wet bar for after dark meetings. No such thing exists in our Association.
Our philosophy or operational guideline is to provide private land for those who have wherewithal to hunt on their own. Or, as our maxim states: Spend your time hunting rather than hunting for a place to hunt!
A Further Definition
It appears from the telephone questions we receive this next part we do not describe often enough.
Recommendations where to hunt as a first trip jump start.
A lodging listing for every county where we lease land.
We do not provide any club amenities of meetings, guides, equipment, lodge. Most importantly we do not allow gang/party/group hunts.
A primary product or service is private land we lease for our exclusive use. We conduct all administration of handling with bullet proof written land lease contract, enforcement thereof (lawyer on retainer), payments (paid accounting), liability insurance (specific to the outdoor industry) and schedule of its use for our do it yourself hunters alone.
Land we lease is based on our lifetime of being hunters ourselves. Its derived from living and hunting in this region. Our first hand, boots on ground experience with land is year round. It serves as our basis for recommendations to hunters of where to hunt. In this regard, we have been providing this hunting service since 1965.
When we make a recommendation of where someone should hunt it is based on his or her game of choice and habitat preference. That recommendation will be within a region with a history of production that will assure as much as possible a good hunt.
Hunting Is Our Business, we are not a Hunting Club
A fact is we operate as a business. An approach which keeps us a serious organization focused on returning customers.
To that end all customers or hunters in our case, receive parity. Same lease land maps available online to all, same reservation system and land access. Having parity ensures all are treated fairly unlike a hunting club that may have implied services. Or, from those who spend more money (all pay one set/same price in our Association).
A hunting club versus a business distinctions identified should not be taken lightly. While any search engine keyword phrase of hunting clubs may have brought someone to our web site knowing now our organization exists should be reason to have a look at what we provide.
Hunting Club Evaluation
Hunting clubs come a great variety of configurations. While all are different there are some common analysis criteria which may be applied to all. Distinguishing criteria is offered as providing a basis to first determine what type of hunting club may be best for any one hunter. Subsequently, as evaluation criteria for decision between any hunting club to join or which to discount.
First, does it offer hunting. Not all hunting clubs are for hunting. Many such as rod & gun clubs or dog clubs are more hunting support organizations. Firing ranges and dog tests being their hallmarks. Or, a social activity of like minded folks.
Many local waterfowl clubs exist within Missouri and our’s is but one to compare to others for finding a good fit for any one hunter.
If offering hunting, type of hunting a club offers is then a screening criteria.
A screening criteria maybe released, fenced or wild, or fair chase hunts. For many hunting clubs this first criterion helps eliminate or identify what a hunter is actually after.
A hunting club which offers released/pen raised hunts is very well suited to dog training type hunting support club. In this case a hunting club exists as a dog training rather than an actual hunt organization. This approach is common to near large suburban areas where those with time and lack space collect for a social as well as an enjoyment activity.
For big game a fence hunt has application similar to recent popularity of community farms. A community farm raises plants and animals for a group’s greater good of others who prepay to cover farming costs. A farmer does the work and members of that farm community share in all harvest. Benefit offered and gained is typically along organic farming lines with a higher degree of certainty of quality foodstuffs. This includes cattle, sheep, chickens and more. A fence non-domesticated animal farm (elk, whitetail, etc.) offers similar with an exception of hunter slaughters any animal rather than a farmer taking domesticated animals to a slaughterhouse. Otherwise, buyers and producers are seeking/offering the same service whether it is a domestic or non-domestic product.
If selecting a controlled (fence/release) hunt a continuing decision criteria is simply a matter of selecting the type and quality of animal desired. Comparing those options to travel distance/time and overall cost.
If selecting a fair chase hunting club decision criteria requires expansion to other considerations such as:
Quality of the wildlife of interest.
Proximity of available population densities.
Weather effects – usage.
Acreage required for wildlife of interest or hunter pressure.
Management and staff.
Past performance and proofs of performance.
Wild Game, Natural Habitat, Fair Chase
Our toughest hunt is wild Bobwhite Quail. Quail require more walking, shooting strength and dog power for success than any other hunt discipline.
Wildlife of choice and quality is easily identifiable. An example is if looking for trophy whitetail those states which have a long history of trophy whitetail are limited. This narrows a search and thereby eliminates contenders.
Waterfowl is another easy example of selecting a club based on where a club is located. Ducks, it is within better international flyways. Most will agree the Mississippi Flyway is the most duck and goose productive of the four flyways.
These two, whitetail and duck, locality examples then work into the next decision criteria of proximity and weather.
Proximity is two fold. First, is reasonable travel distance from home to hunting spot. Second, is a huntable population density within a locality.
Typically, for most, a week long hunt is a high energy requirement. Few of us can actually hunt hard more than a week at a time. To do so is more often spending time outdoors than quality or intense hunting.
Vacation times also are typically a calendar week at a time. These two facets make it reasonable to spend as a cost a day’s travel time at both ends of a hunt. Leaving seven days for actual hunting on a Saturday through the week until the latter Sunday schedule.
As screening criteria a hunt that requires more than a day’s travel time or additional travel conveyance of horseback to get to a remote camp taking two days, or four total within a nine day vacation week, leaving five hunting days, may rule out that hunt as an option. In this case, a one week hunt criteria fails and perhaps the evaluation criteria needs to be adjusted.
A second proximity aspect is wildlife population density. This is easily identified by a duck club example.
For waterfowl, once we agree one flyway over another is better, we then seek to identify what part of that flyway is best. Within that flyway meaning likelihood of having an opportunity to hunt more ducks. No easy task. Like with trophy whitetail what is reality and which receives more magazine print is not always equal.
In a waterfowl/flyway example weather demonstrates a great impact on decision criteria of where to hunt and when. An easy answer is early season is more north in a flyway is better. Late season the more south in a flyway is likely to be a better hunt. A timeline affected hunt brings us back to vacation day availability. That brings us to flexibility of any hunt provider. Or, club to provide a desired hunt matching a hunter’s timeline requirements rather than any club’s organization limitations. A tough bill to fill.
An ideal is hunters hunts when wanting to. However, a club’s viewpoint is frequently other. Such as getting most hunters process through each season as income generation. At this point we must accept hunting clubs exist to profit someone. It is profit making clubs that sustains and generally provides better quality hunts.
Hunter pressure and acreage available are proofs that a club has sufficient land resource for its clients/hunters. How to identify those proofs remains problematic. It seems pictures, testimonials and references are accepted means to test quality of a hunting club prior to boots on ground experience. Be they as good or bad as they may be it does come to a point where hunters must get comfortable with the idea of spending money to know for sure.
Pictures do show a lot. Typically, they are smiling faces of hunters with harvest standing near a club’s sign. Those are least valuable. More valuable are member courtesy submissions as an indicator of gratitude for what was provided.
Testimonials from all successful hunters telling why they were successful are always welcomed. Testimonials from those who were not successful at harvest of choice and are satisfied carry great weight. Further, full testimonial rather than snippets frequently provides many nuances which may add up to a greater understanding of what may be expected. Comparatively, testimonials that offer overall quality accounts that are 100% positive may be suspect. Hunting has far too many variables for any one hunt to be perfect.
The Best Test
References are always a problem. References are always good. How to get objective good and bad points of any organization is not likely through references.
One model for evaluating references is to have a plan before talking to any. A plan may be quickly developed from reading a club’s material.
All hunting clubs have rules. Read the club’s rules to determine first a good fit for any desired hunting methods. Next, use the club’s rules as research to develop questions about the club’s qualities that are most important.
Next, read as many testimonials as required to develop questions about a club’s characteristics. Continue reading testimonials not quitting until no further questions are evident.
Narrow down all questions to not more than two most important to the type of hunt being sought. Any more than three questions and those being asked will grow weary of being questioned. The quality, reliability, of response will decline.
Take those select questions and ask the club’s management and staff for their answers. Take this same set of questions and ask of several references. Indications being sought is degree of consistency in answers as a reliability gauge of what any prospective club member may be buying into. If there is not consistency then perhaps the questions are wrong, sampling of references too narrow or it is a red flag that what is advertised is not what is received. Whatever of the two possible outcomes any one seeking a hunting club then has decision criteria either supporting or detracting from selecting that particular club.
Land resource requirements include much most hunters never see. This is a water level control structure (outflow), part of a levee and inflow controls that all are required to make a wetlands huntable. Or, a better waterfowl hunt success opportunity. Such things require maintenance and employment. Part of costs/services paid for by hunters.
Club management and staff qualities and how to measure them leaves open a wide range of possibly points of consideration. We selected those which most affect decision making. They are: personal work experience of club’s operators, participation is hunts, how hunting land is selected/maintained and how club staff treats members.
Management background offers there is no substitute for experience. How long they have been performing their club responsibilities means much for potential for continued performance. Essentially, higher any operators’ quality of background experiences the better. This includes length of service to club operations. Meaning longer is better. That level of experience must extend to all staffing. Not just owners who are likely to earn the most income. Staff longevity is often an indicter of hunter longevity in an organization. In short, longer all staff have been operating the better. Trial and error or trial and success experiences have been refined in older staffs while in learning stage for young staff. This is no small point.
What experience brings is stability of operation. Those clubs in growth or development phase or have variable low experience staff are the least desirable. Those which have operated a set method for longer periods are most likely to continue with what they advertise themselves to be. It is, club members want quality hunts, not be learning tools for novice management.
Club operators must have strong connection to hunts they offer. Direct contact with resources that provide those hunts. This does not mean club operators have time to hunt themselves. Or, have highest success within any type of hunting discipline. It means that those operators know what it takes for success. They makes those resources available to club members. At this point we offer a caution that club operators must have experience. Prospective club member will be able to tell if that operator has time in stand, trained his own dogs, knows calling and decoying art, from the very first conversation. A string discriminator If that hunt club operator does not hunt any longer he is on the decline.
The deeper discussion about a club’s operator background beyond actual hunting experience includes other facets. That includes connection to resources that make hunt quality what it is. One readily accepted example is habitat. As it is habitat that makes for wildlife or hunt being sought. Then it is the right habitat. Within the right region that allows for population densities within close proximity which make for better hunt experiences.
If the prospective club member can ascertain how a club operators secure resources that more likely increase success opportunity the prospective club member is asking good questions. Good in this case means asking a question which more likely gives better indication for what is being asked than what may appear to be a more obvious question. A distinction some find hard to come by. An illustration of such a contrasting question would be ratio of hunters to harvests to quality of harvests. This is a common and widely accepted information point promoted by many hunting magazines articles about how to select a hunting guide. An inappropriate evaluation for a hunting club, but one widely understood. The reason is those who seek a guide do so counting on that guide being a better hunter, knowing habitat better or other resource than a hunter paying for such service could provide himself. Otherwise, why pay for a guide. For a hunting club such a question of hunter to harvest ratio is inappropriate as within a hunting club hunters’ makes their own hunt typically as a self guided hunt. That narrows down the club provided resource and that which should be examined.
A more appropriate question about a hunting club to ask of references would be about hunt quality itself in terms of quality of habitat, hunter pressure, wildlife seen, how the club treated the hunter rather than harvest rates. That concept alone will do much to frame the more efficient question gaining the more accurate information as analysis of what is to be gained.
At this point there is not much else to say just action to be taken. Contact us by email or telephone 816 761 3636, day or evening on most days.