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How to Structure an Outfitter Agreement

Before you contract with a hunting outfitter, consider these important tips from a property law attorney.

Landscapes Wildlife 2003

Want to contract with a hunting outfitter? Following are some do's and don'ts from Raton, N.M., attorney Paul Kastler, who has 45 years of experience in property law. He works with numerous area ranchers every year.

  • • The most important thing to consider is the credibility, integrity and credentials of the outfitter. There are many guides who want to get into the more lucrative outfitting business. Get references.
  • • Keep the agreement short-term--not more than one season--until you have experience with the outfitter.
  • • Be as specific as possible, even down to details like closing fence gates and driving only on existing ranch roads.
  • • Designate the areas to be hunted. Exclude cattle areas, residences and barns.
  • • If the outfitter and hunters will be staying in any ranch buildings, get a damage deposit of not less than $5,000 per building per season.
  • • Don't let the outfitter on your land until you have the outfitter's liability insurance policy in hand.
  • • Specify the number of permits the outfitter receives for each type of animal, and place a specific dollar value on each type of animal to be taken.
  • • Include covenants related to the use of alcohol, compliance with game laws, conditions on payment, areas that can be used and when.
  • • Get payment in advance--full payment if possible. At a minimum, require a portion up front and quarterly payments thereafter.
  • • Require responsibility and reimbursement of any livestock or property damage, and restrict hunters to a specified number of feet from ranch buildings.
  • • Specify no fires.
  • • Always include a default clause to terminate the contract and a hold-harmless clause. Also require that the outfitter have all hunters sign indemnity and hold-harmless agreements in order to release the ranch from liability.
  • • Don't accept documents drawn up by anyone but your attorney. Typical agreements will cost $1,000 in legal fees, but it’s not worth the risk of not having them. 

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