An outfitter is a professional who takes you out into the back country to hunt, fish, or experience nature. They have outdoor survival skills and an in-depth knowledge of the wilderness in their area. If you enjoy horseback riding, camping, fishing, hunting or just exploring the back country, then consider turning your outdoor knowledge into a profitable outfitting business.
1. Familiarize yourself with wilderness in your area. In order to be an outfitter you need to know everything there is to know about streams, lakes, wildlife, flora, marine life, weather conditions, hazards and outdoor sporting rules and regulations. It is a good idea to take survival skill courses, hunter’s safety courses and horsemanship courses, as well as to get certified in these outdoor activities. Finally, you will and your staff will need to be certified in first aid and CPR.
2. Identify your niche. There are usually only a few outfitters in a given area. To make sure your business stands out from your competition you need to find a way to make your services unique. For example, you can focus exclusively on fishing trips, or you can offer trips to locations where you have exclusive access. Many outfitters own large parcels of land on which there are places for water recreation, fishing, hunting and horseback riding. However, this is not a requirement.
3. Acquire all the supplies, equipment and real estate that your business will need. Depending on what types of adventures you plan on offering you will need horses, barn, feed, saddles, bridles, veterinary care arrangements, inflatable boats, oars, patch kits, life jackets, fishing equipment, hunting gear, safety equipment, walkie-talkies, an office location, vehicles to transport clients and gear to trailheads and general office supplies.
4. Hire and train your staff. Your office staff will probably include a receptionist/office manager and possibly sales clerks. Your field staff will be made up of horse handlers, porters, wilderness guides, hunting guides and fishing guides. When hiring your staff you will want to make sure you conduct background checks on each person you hire to ensure they can be trusted with the lives of your customers, and to ensure the experience that they have listed on their resume is real. Bond your field staff to protect yourself.
5. Launch your outfitting business with a special event. For example you can have a barbecue or picnic where people can visit your business, have free food and beverages, talk to your guides and review the activities you have to offer. You can also offer free or low-cost tours on the day of your grand opening. Have door prizes, raffles and other giveaways to attract as many people as possible to your grand opening.