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What is the definition of hunting or fishing “outfitter”?

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At we use a broad definition of the term “outfitter.” We include anyone who provides any combination of expediting, guiding, accommodations, meals, access, and transport for hunting and fishing adventures. This can range from complete safari packages like you’ll encounter in Africa to an Iowa bed and breakfast operation for pheasant hunters.

Our ratings don’t cover hoteliers or restaurants or those who simply provide transportation for hunters or fisherman, but guides who don’t offer meals or accommodations qualify in our classification of “outfitter,” and are rated in our program. When you’re looking into hunting or fishing adventures in a particular state, province or country, you must determine that locale’s legal definition of outfitter, guide, and/or professional hunter. It varies widely in the regulations and in what’s required for an “outfitter” to run a legitimate operation. It can also come into play in the type of license and access …

for which you qualify as a non-resident. In many places, it’s required that non-residents or non-resident aliens employ the services of a licensed outfitter. Some designated wilderness areas require you to be in the company of an outfitter licensed to camp, hunt and/or fish there. To be certain your outfitter is licensed, you must understand what that jurisdiction requires for certification.

In Alaska, for example, the terms are flipped from what they are in many other places. There, guides and master guides are what we would call outfitters in most other places, and Alaskan “outfitters” are allowed to provide only limited levels of service. In African hunting, the most common term you’ll hear is “Professional Hunter” or “PH” for short. Though PH’s go through a great deal of training and apprenticeship to acquire accreditation, they usually more focused on in-the-field guiding than counterparts elsewhere in the world.

Our definition of outfitter also includes lodge operations, shooting preserves, and fishing charter services.

Additional “Ask the Experts” FAQs will provide more detail into specific certification of outfitters, guides and professional hunters in various states, provinces and countries.

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