Like a travel agent for hunting, a booking agent’s advice can be critical.
“One of the huge benefits of using a booking agent is our vast knowledge of hunting and fishing all over the world,” says Keith Atcheson, second generation booking agent with Atcheson & Sons Inc. in Butte Montana. “It costs the client no extra money because the commission is paid by the outfitter from his published rates. We customize hunts and ask eight or ten question of each prospective client so that we can match that individual with the hunt he’s best suited for.”
Booking agents are not married to any one outfitter and they want to make sure that their recommended outfitters deliver goods and services as promised. Prospective hunters vary in experience, physical ability, party size, and budgets and the experience of a booking agent can recommend the best matches. Growing up in the business, Atcheson believes he’s a pretty good “psychologist” and can help a client help figure out the best choices most of the time.
Mountain goat hunts are a good example. In some parts of Canada stalking a big white billy will make you feel like a window cleaner on the Empire State Building where every step can be treacherous. However, some coastal Alaskan hunts allow sportsmen to sleep on large comfortable boats and eat king crab and shrimp between time on deck where they spot and then climb to game, often in a single day. The game animal is the same, yet the hunting styles are dramatically different.
Like any business, a hunting operation can experience problems and even outfitters with the best reputations are subject to Murphy’s Law. “Our company and others have leverage with an outfitter and we can often right any wrongs or work out differences to make sure the hunt has a happy ending,” Atcheson says. “Remember, our reputation is our lifeline and we have a large return clientele and have had long term relationships with folks for years. If we take on a new outfitter, we visit his operation and do our due-diligence to assure he is dependable.
Jack Atcheson was one of North America’s first “hunting consultants” a term he coined and the family business can be found at www.atcheson.com