No U S Hunters Won t Get Refunds for Canadian Hunts

No U S Hunters Won t Get Refunds for Canadian Hunts Outdoor Life

Jim Shockey on the Real Trouble With the Border Closure: Here’s Why It’s Not So Easy to “Roll Over” Your Outfitted Canadian Hunt

The Canadian border will likely open in the next few weeks, but American hunters who booked trips last year will have a difficult time making their dream hunts happen this year. Canadian outfitters are still hanging by a thread. We have only begun to see the impacts of the border closure on our hunting and outfitting industry in Canada. Here’s a look at two perspectives—the client’s and the outfitter’s—plus, what you should know if you have a hunt booked.

The Client Perspective

You read about hunting in Canada in Outdoor Life magazine or saw it on TV. You thought about it, discussed it, and booked the hunt with a reputable Canadian outfitter.

You sent the deposit and signed the contract without thoroughly reading it. A few months later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The Canadian government closed the border, and as a tourist, you couldn’t go on your scheduled hunt. You were willing to let the outfitter “roll the hunt over” to the following year.

You called the airline, and while they wouldn’t return your money, they would give you a credit for the flight costs. COVID was a setback, but you still wanted to do the hunt.

Jim Shockey guiding an American client. Courtesy Jim Shockey

The Canadian Outfitter Perspective

You dreamed of being an outfitter and mortgaged your home to start your business. At first, it was a close race between expenses and client deposits.

The bookings were slow that first year. Even after the first season’s clients paid in full, there was zero profit. You managed to pay off what you owed, but life wasn’t easy.

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COVID hit, and you were left hanging. You had to keep your company operational, paying the costs, and being ready for the border to open.

You agonized over what to say to your clients. You couldn’t repay them due to expenses already paid. You considered bankruptcy.

The Reality Today for Canadian Outfitters

The Canadian border will open soon with restrictions. Canadian outfitters have had virtually zero income for over a year, but expenses have piled up.

  1. International clients represent the majority of demand for Canadian outfitters.
  2. Booking Canadian clients is problematic unless prices are lowered.
  3. Replacing international clients with Canadian clients raises questions about game quotas.
  4. All reputable Canadian outfitters suffered significant financial losses.
  5. Clients expected outfitters to be prepared, which means spending money.
  6. Canadian outfitters have up-front expenses before a hunt.
  7. Canadian outfitters incur 30 to 70 percent of the total hunt price before the hunt.
  8. Hunt prices have risen by 15 to 30 percent due to increased demand and inflation.
  9. Costs for Canadian outfitters have increased, exacerbating their financial burden.
  10. Most Canadian outfitters want their clients to be happy and avoid litigation.
  11. Negotiation, not litigation, is the best approach for all parties.

Post-COVID Recovery for Canadian Outfitters

Closure is needed in our hunting industry. Canadian outfitters have been hurt financially and recovery will be slow. They deserve empathy and support.

Before calling your Canadian outfitter, ask yourself if the loss of one year’s worth of holiday dollars would affect your future. Negotiate and consider a COVID surcharge to support the outfitters who want to deliver your dream hunt.