In the interest of full-disclosure let me say right out of the gate that I AM A WHITETAIL CONSULTANT. People pay me to visit their hunting properties and develop a plan to make their property the very best that it can be for killing big mature whitetail bucks. Right now we are in the heart of the time period when I do my consulting visits each year. I start in early winter and continue until things green up in spring. I think I offer a fair and honest service and I also think there are other whitetail consultants in business who also do a very good job. There are some however that I really wonder how they get anyone to hire them. Thats just the brutal honesty and I really dont know how to sugar-coat it.
If you are thinking about hiring a consultant to help you reach your whitetail hunting goals, I want to help you get the most for your money no matter who you choose to hire. This is not a sales pitch for my services as I may not be the best choice of consultants for you and/or your property. I simply want to offer some advice to help you find the best consultant for your situation by giving you some things to consider.
First of all I strongly suggest that you find someone from your region of the country. Nobody is an expert everywhere. If you live in the Midwest, find a consultant that also lives in the Midwest as that is where the majority of his experience will be from. A consultant from a different region will simply not be able to give you the degree of advice specific to your region as one who lives and hunts there no matter what sort of titles they may have earned or self-declared. Don’t get caught up in name recognition, notoriety or celebrity status either. Some of the biggest names in the hunting industry are actually far less qualified to be giving advice than some who are not as well known. Again, just some brutal honesty.
Next take a look at a potential consultant’s hunting methods and compare them to your own. If you are strictly a bowhunter dont become enamored by the success of someone hunting with a rifle. There is a huge difference between consistently getting mature bucks within 20 yards of your stands and getting them within 200 yards. This advice is particularly important for bowhunters looking to hire a consultant.
Consider the time period “when” a consultant visits properties. The very best time to get a good feel for a property is during the winter and early spring when trees are devoid of leaves. If you find a consultant willing to visit properties at other times of the year it says a lot about their desire to truly help their clients versus simply taking their money.
Look at what you actually “get for your money”. Will you get a well-written, detailed plan that is custom designed for your property complete with a marked aerial photo? Or will the consultant simply walk your property with you, offer some advice along the way and then hand you the same generic plan that he gives every client? Know what you will get before you hire any consultant.
Can the consultant offer references of past clients? Most can but you need to make sure you take things to the next level and contact those references with some very specific questions. It is easy to throw up some names and photos of people with nice bucks on a website BUT did those clients actually kill those bucks because of something the consultant did? What exactly did the consultant do to help the client kill the caliber of bucks he wants to kill? You need to contact as many referneces as possible and really dig into their true feelings regarding their experience with the consultant and how much he taught them or improved their property.
As a potential client does the consultant that you are considering also interview you in regards to your property and hunting goals? Does he look at an aerial photo of your property before agreeing to take you on as a client? Does he routinely turn down clients whom he doesnt feel is a good fit for his services? If a consultant is more interested in getting you “booked” and on his calendar than he is with learning about you and your property then this speaks volumes about his true motives.
I saved what I consider the most important attribute that you should look for in a consultant for last. HAS THE CONSULTANT CONSISTENTLY KILLED THE CALIBER OF BUCKS THAT YOU SEEK TO HARVEST? I see so many consultants in business today offering advice to clients about something that they themself have never done. Would you take your car to a mechanic to work on the brakes if that person has never worked on brakes before? Would you go to a surgeon for a particular surgery that he has never performed before? It amazes me how many whitetail hunters every year hire someone to offer them advice on something the consultant has never done themself. If a consultant is being hired to design a plan for your property to help you kill mature bucks, then he should be doing it consistently and be able to show you a number of bucks that were harvested from properties he has designed. Ask to see them and dont take excuses when they cant produce them; just move on to the next possible candidate.
There are multiple good whitetail consultants in business today that can do a great job on your property. The best consultant for you may be someone totally different than the best consultant for someone else. It is up to you to wade through the BS and sales-pitches to find the best person for you and your property. You need to remember – Is this consultant from my region of the country? Does he hunt with the same weapon(s) that I do? Does he only offer his services during the time of year when he can get the best look and feel for a property? Is he more interested in getting me committed to his services or in learning more about my property and hunting goals? What will he give me for my money? And most important of all, IS HE ALREADY CONSISTENTLY DOING WHAT I AM PAYING HIM TO HELP ME DO? If not, you better keep looking because if he hasnt figured it out on his own he sure isnt going to be able to help you do it.