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Are all legal outfitters licensed?

Estimated reading time: 1 min

No … and yes … depending on where you are hunting or fishing.

Some states and provinces place minimal regulation on hunting and fishing guides and outfitters. In fact, they have no state licensing program for outfitters or guides. Others, like Alaska, have wide-reaching formal programs that require training, testing, apprenticeships, inspections, certifications and annual licensing. This is also true of Africa where becoming a professional hunter (PH) is a career path that requires a great deal of study, certification and on-going education.

You’ll usually find that states, provinces or countries that require that nonresidents hunt big game in the company of an outfitter or guide have formal licensing and accreditation programs. Those jurisdictions where you can elect to hunt big game on your own, should you choose to do so, often don’t have outfitter licensing programs.

Independent of governmental certification or licensing, outfitters and guides …

… in many states, provinces and regions have created their own professional organizations such as the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, the Quebec Outfitters Federation and the Alaskan Professional Hunters Association. These groups serve the outfitters needs in providing assistance in marketing their services in addition to creating various levels of accreditation and oversight. However, in most cases the association’s ability to enforce standards on member outfitters is limited.

Most independent guide/outfitter associations have websites and offer various services to assist you in finding the type of hunting or fishing adventure you are seeking in their state, province, or country. These sites can be a great place to launch a search for an experienced, trustworthy outfitter especially when you follow up what you learn there by cross-referencing the information with the ratings on

The advantage of booking a hunting or fishing trip in a jurisdiction where outfitters are required to be licensed is that if the outfitter does not live up to the contract, there are additional legal avenues available for you for recovery. However, if you knowingly made a hunt with an unlicensed outfitter, then you are breaking the law and can face legal consequences as well.

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