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Share Your Hunting Camp with Guests …
And Stay Friends
by J. Wayne Fears

Sharing your hunt, and hunting camp, with guests is part of the fun of the hunt but sometimes guests can become a major problem. During the past four decades I have worked with hundreds of hunting clubs and guest problems have always been one of the most stated reasons for camp dissatisfaction.

Examples of guest problems are easy to find. One of the most common problems is a hunting club member that brings the same guest over and over, usually a family member. It becomes obvious that they want the club privileges without paying the dues. You will notice this guest is never around on work days when there is work on the camp, or food plots, to be done.

Then there is the guest that comes into camp without any food or beverage and consumes everything in sight. He usually doesn’t wash dishes or bring his own sleeping bag. What about the guest that drinks too much or the one who doesn’t stay in his assigned hunting area and wanders through everyone else’s area.

The list could go on for pages but these examples illustrate just how quickly the hunting camp that doesn’t have a written and enforced guest policy can become a "war zone."

Everyone enjoys sharing the hunt with a friend or family member, however before inviting them to your hunting club, be familiar with the camp guest policy.

The written guest policy, agreed upon by all members of the club, should include the following:

· Set a limit on how many times per season a guest may visit the camp. The size of the property and the abundance of game will help determine how many guest days per season each member gets. Most successful clubs limit guest visits to two times per year.

· It costs just as much for a guest to take a buck or gobbler as a dues paying member, so charge a fee for each day a guest hunts the property.

It is a good policy to have guest hunters sign a liability release. At the same time have them review and sign a copy of the camp rules.

· Be sure there are overnight accommodations available for a guest before he is brought into camp. Also, make sure the guest knows what is expected of him in the way of food, beverages, bedding, and the sharing of camp chores. There is nothing more irritating than a stranger in camp who won’t wash dishes, take out garbage, sweep floors, help clean game, etc.

· Make sure all camp guests have, in advance, a written copy of the club rules and understand them before showing up.

· Require all guests to sign a liability waiver.

· Make it a policy that the host member is responsible for the actions of his guest.

Well written club or camp rules should include provisions for enforcement of guest policies including the asking of a guest to leave if he is dangerous or offends the camp members to the point that it ruins their hunting experience. If the host and his guest have a well thought-out, written guest policy to follow there are seldom problems; and when there are, there are guidelines so the problem can quickly be resolved.

Are your camp guests willing to share in camp chores, bring their own food and beverages?

My hunting camp is not a club but I have found that written rules given to guests before they arrive assures everyone that they know what is expected of them and everyone has a good stay without many problems. Problem guests are never asked to return.

A hunting camp, and property, should be a fun place you want to return every chance you get. Sharing it with guests is part of the fun, but let your guests know that their visit is a privilege and their best behavior is expected. Everyone in camp will appreciate it.

J. Wayne Fears is the author of the book Hunt Club Management Guide and the editor of HUNTING CAMP JOURNAL MAGAZINE, a magazine for the hunter who manages the land and wildlife, www.huntingcampjournal.com.

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Date Last Updated January, 2006