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tipping a guide

Old 01-29-2011, 10:53 PM
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What is the appropriate amount to tip a guide lets say on an elk hunt? Assuming that you were happy with the way he did his job.
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Old 01-30-2011, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by jerry d
What is the appropriate amount to tip a guide lets say on an elk hunt? Assuming that you were happy with the way he did his job.
Standard industry tip for an guided elk hunt in the west is 15% of the hunt cost. 10% to guide, 2.5% to packer/wrangler and 2.5% to cook.
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Old 01-31-2011, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by TwoBear
Standard industry tip for an guided elk hunt in the west is 15% of the hunt cost. 10% to guide, 2.5% to packer/wrangler and 2.5% to cook.
Standard set by who? 10% of a $5000 elk hunt is a significant tip.

There's two schools of thought:
1) the % of hunt cost, probably borrowed from the restaraunt industry - which is apples-orange comparison
2) tip what you can and are comfortable with.

this topic comes up every year. I've talked to a couple outfitters about it and gotten answers from "nothing, I pay my guides to do their job", to the above numbers.

Bottom line: Ask the outfitter what he recommends. Factor this into both your decision to go there and your decision on whether you can afford it.

Last edited by Bob H in NH; 01-31-2011 at 05:33 AM.
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Old 01-31-2011, 08:17 AM
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I have to agree with Bob....some poor guy works and scrimps and saves for five years to book a $4/5,000 hunt, is going to be hard pressed to come up with $500.00 more for a tip....this tipping idea has gotten totally out of hand!!! I saw on the web around christmas time the people that were expectin tips....teachers, mailmen, minimart attendants and garbage collectors...wheres it going to stop??? and this idea that there is a expected minimum is just a big pile of BS!!!!!
Tips are not required no matter what some folks tell U!!!! If I get good service at a resturant I will leave a tip... but if I get crappy service I will let my displeasure be shown by leaviing no tip!!! I think that tips are for service abouve and beyond their daily duties!!!! if they just do their jobs and add no little extra service, then a tip is not needed!!!
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Old 01-31-2011, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by finnbear
I have to agree with Bob....some poor guy works and scrimps and saves for five years to book a $4/5,000 hunt, is going to be hard pressed to come up with $500.00 more for a tip....this tipping idea has gotten totally out of hand!!! I saw on the web around christmas time the people that were expectin tips....teachers, mailmen, minimart attendants and garbage collectors...wheres it going to stop??? and this idea that there is a expected minimum is just a big pile of BS!!!!!
Tips are not required no matter what some folks tell U!!!! If I get good service at a resturant I will leave a tip... but if I get crappy service I will let my displeasure be shown by leaviing no tip!!! I think that tips are for service abouve and beyond their daily duties!!!! if they just do their jobs and add no little extra service, then a tip is not needed!!!
In all honesty Finn, everybody tips worthy guides, and they have been for decades. I didn't comment on the right/wrong, this and that of tipping, I simply answered the mans question. As near as I could tell, he wasn't asking for opinions on whether or not a tip was right, he was asking for an amount.

Bob: The industry standard is established by a history of normal averages over a period of years. Nobody is requiring a minumum tip, it is simply a bench mark or starting point to go up or down depending on the hunters evaluation of his guide. BTW, I tip 20% eating out, if the waiter/waitress is good.
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Old 01-31-2011, 10:14 AM
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I have limited experience, I've been on 3 guided elk hunts, all with the same outfitter. Tipping came up each time I was there and the hunters varied in the approach from a "15% is standard", to "tip? You mean I'm expected to pay more?".

the outfitter himself sat in on one of the conversations and said he does not expect us to tip, but if want to go ahead. He also said if any of his guides hint at expecting a tip, he wants to know. Well one of the guides did, it made his hunters uncomfortable. That was his last week with the outfitter.

The tip, to me, is a personal thing. Guides do not get paid much, roughly $100-$150/day is what I hear. This for long days. Yes, they chose to do this. For me, when I have a lot of fun with a guide, we click on all levels and we have a good hunt, I will give him a tip. I even tipped the outfitter above when he was my guide first year there. He argued, I won, told him to take his wife out to dinner after the season is over.

The reason I balk at the 15%, is, again, based on 3 elk hunts, its way to high based on what people said they were tipping. More along the lines of $200-$300 per hunter. run the numbers, $5000 elk hunt, 2-1 hunter to guide. Each hunter goes 10%, that's $1000 to the guide, on top of the $500+ he makes as salary. Seems out of scope to me.

also, not all hunts are created equal. The "guide effort" for an archery elk hunt is one level, the "guide effort" for a whitetail hunt is on a different scale. Should this be factored in? One you spend all day with hiking, calling, spot and stalk etc. If you get a bull down, you could be in for carrying 100+lb packs miles. A whitetail: jump in the truck, walk you to the stand, come back later.

Last edited by Bob H in NH; 01-31-2011 at 10:16 AM.
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Old 01-31-2011, 11:45 AM
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So according to Two Bear on a $5000 hunt you would have to add another $750 Man thats an added expense!!
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Old 01-31-2011, 11:56 AM
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This was written by Mike Moen from www.huntthenorth.com and is one of the best explanations I've seen, especially since most outfitters really don't specify much on their websites about tips.

"Planning a guided hunt today is easier than ever before. With the tools that the internet offers, a hunter can sit in the comfort of his own home and search through a seemingly endless supply of outfitter websites. These sites usually contain everything that a prospective hunter needs to know about an outfit. Information about the area hunted, accommodations, pictures of animals harvested in the past, and rates for each of the different hunts offered are just a click away. But the one thing that you won’t find is how much gratuity you should leave when your hunt is over. This is a topic that most guides and outfitters step lightly around when asked. Giving a specific dollar amount or percentage of the hunt cost can seem presumptuous, and because each hunt can be so different, coming up with an average tip can be tough. Unfortunately this gray area can be very confusing to hunters, especially those who have never been on a guided hunt before.

To start with, it should be understood that a tip is not required. A good guide shouldn’t expect a tip simply because he shows up. Those that do generally don’t stay in the business for long. Most guides are there because they truly love what they do. If you choose not to tip, nobody is going to call the authorities and have you hauled off to jail. That being said, it is important to realize that what a guide provides you is a quality service that would be missing if you did the hunt on your own. A tip is a good way of saying thank you for this service.

If your guide is not the outfitter, you should realize that there are some things that may be out of his control. Generally, guides who are not the owner of the outfit are told what to do. They may not have any say in choosing the area to hunt, or what your accommodations will be during your stay. To punish them by not leaving a tip because the outfitter may have misled you really isn’t fair. Your tip for your guide should be based on the job he did for you. A good guide is not just someone who tells you when to pull the trigger. For the duration of the hunt he should be your partner. He should be willing to work as hard as he can to help you fill your tags and to make sure you have a safe hunt.

For some businesses the outfitter is also your guide. In this case the person guiding you is also responsible for all of the details and accommodations involved in setting up your hunt as well as the hunt itself. This is most likely the person you talked to on the phone and who told you what to expect during your stay. He is responsible for following through with his promises of what the hunt will be like as well as the state of the accommodations and food. It is his job to take care of all the details to make your hunt enjoyable. I believe it is fair to take into account all of these factors when determining how much gratuity to leave. Whether or not to tip your guide if he is also the outfitter is kind of a gray area. Technically it is ok not to tip the owner, and some people choose not to. In my mind if the hunt is as promised, and the guide busts his tail for me, it doesn’t matter who he is, I’ll leave a tip.

In many camps, the guide or outfitter isn’t the only one working to keep things running smooth. There is usually someone around to do the cooking, and perhaps a wrangler to keep tabs on the horses. If this is the case, tipping these folks for a job well done is very appropriate.

So how much should you tip? When you eat at a restaurant it is widely known that a 15% tip is the going rate for a waitress, but there is no standard for a hunting guide. Different people have different expectations, and this can make it hard to know what a fair tip is. In my mind, though, I would say that a good tip for a guide would start in the neighborhood of 8-10% of the cost of the hunt. For most waterfowl hunts, that would be around $25 per day, and for a 5 day big game hunt somewhere in the $250-$350 ballpark. For camp cooks and other hands, something like $10-$15 per day would be a good starting point. Also, it is obviously okay to tip more. If your guide and camp help show you the best week of your life, by all means give them a little extra if you’re comfortable with it.

One last thing to keep in mind is that in most cases the amount you tip shouldn’t reflect whether or not you filled your tags or downed your limits. If you were unsuccessful because your guide spent most of the day sleeping on the hillside, or stuck you in a tree so he could head out and fill his own tags, by all means take it out of your tip. But most guides aren’t like that and will usually do all they can to make your hunt a success. Bad shooting on your behalf, uncooperative animals or weather shouldn’t affect the amount you tip. Remember that we are hunting wild game in their environment, and there are certain things that are out of our control. If your guide does everything he can to put you in a position to be successful a good tip is a great way to say thank you"
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Old 01-31-2011, 12:06 PM
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Good article dack,thank-you. That article about sums up what Two Bears said.
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Old 01-31-2011, 12:39 PM
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Tips shouldnt have a standard %. I believe a % shouldnt dicate a tip, the guy who saves for years to go on a hunt is expected to give a big tip is outragous. I dont see that being fair, to that guy who works his butt off to go on a hunt like that a 100.00-200.00 could mean a good tip for him and wouldnt meet the % he is suppose to tip. I think its up to the person and what they feel is right accordingly to what they can afford. The biggest factor does the guide even deserve a tip? The outfitter should pay there guides a fair honest wage and not rely on tips as part of there wage, if the outfitter cant afford to give more money in wages keeping a good guide they should raise there hunt prices to cover there guide wages. Tips are meant for a good job done and appiracation, but should not be expected. Prices on hunts range widely. A wilderness elk hunt could go for 4000.00 bucks and a private land hunt could go for 6000 for example purporses. Odds are the guide is going to have to work his butt off on the wilderness hunt and the private land hunt he might be able to drive around in the truck. If the set % is a standard in the industry, why should the guy going around in the truck get more of a tip than the guide hunting in a back country hunt, just because the price of the hunt says so? Do I believe in tips, yes, not by a % of the hunt cost. I believe in what the hunter himself thinks is fair.
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