Auction Hunts Aren't The Value That They Used To Be

Posted On : Apr 6, 2014

Posted By : DAH

Auction Hunts Aren't The Value That They Used To Be

Not too many years ago, there were some incredible deals to be had when buying an African hunting safari at an auction.  Hunters that were looking to take their first or second hunting trip to Africa could go to a hunting auction and expect to save thousands of dollars off of a 7 or 10 day plains game safari.

These donated African hunts were, and still are, available at major hunting conventions.  The annual Dallas Safari Club Convention, SCI Convention, Houston Safari Club Convention, NWTF convention and SCI Chapter fundraisers use both live and silent auctions as primary fundraising sources.

These donated hunting safaris typically used to include airport pick-up, daily rates for 1 - 4 hunters and trophy fees for several desirable animals. In some cases, they even included observer fees for non-hunters. They were basically all-inclusive packages.

The outfitters hoped that if you bought their package at auction, you would bring additional hunters with you. At a minimum, they planned on you shooting additional animals at full price off of their price list. Over time, the outfitters began getting more and more hunters that would just shoot the included animals and were not bringing additional hunters along.

Many of the outfitters in Africa unified and changed the way they structure their donated packages.  The majority of the plains game donations now may include the daily rates and maybe an observer, but offer either a small credit to be used towards trophy fees or a smaller package of less desirable and less expensive animals.  A typical package offered now might include a blesbok, warthog, impala and a baboon or duiker.

The typical hunter goes to Africa the first time with some idea of the animals they would like to shoot.  Once they are in the back of the truck, reality sets in. You will see lots of animals every day.  Many of these animals will be of trophy caliber. The typical hunting concession in southern Africa has lots of plains game and you will most likely get your wish list and several more animals.  Most outfitters will let you shoot on “credit”, as they will be holding your trophies as collateral until they receive payment in full.

Your safari will likely end up costing you several thousands of dollars more than what you paid for the safari at auction. The real difference in costs between now and just a few years ago is that most of the animals you want are "ala carte" off of the price list.

To achieve the greatest bargain, you should carefully examine the included and excluded items in the auction description.  If the pricelist is not included (which it usually isn’t), you should look the outfitter up on the internet and examine their price list.  If their pricelist is not listed, you should E-mail them and request one.  Many plains game outfitters have taken to lowering their daily rates and have increased their trophy fees to above market rates.  They know that the typical first time hunter from the US will be like a kid in a candy store and shoot several extra animals.  Only by doing your homework and knowing what a safari is worth when figuring in all costs, will you be able to make an informed decision about what to bid for a hunt at auction.

In many cases, you are better off booking a discounted hunting package such as those listed on this website that include several of the animals on your wish list, and then paying reasonable trophy fees for the additional animals that you take.

It is only fair to mention that these donated hunting safaris are one of the primary funding sources for many of these organizations conservation programs.  If the primary motive for your auction purchase is to support the organization’s conservation programs, by all means buy your African hunting safari at auction.  But if your budget is tight (like most of us), then your best bet is to do your homework and make sure you know what your costs will be. You may find that you are better off buying a discounted package hunt. That way you won’t be surprised when you get the final bill for your safari.