It is no secret that Col. Craig Boddington has had a pretty amazing career hunting across the world. It is also no a secret that Craig has seen a tremendous amount of great outfitters and legendary guides in his day. He has encountered some of the worst as well. You do not go on the kinds of hunts that Craig has experienced in his lifetime without having had some learning experiences along the way.
Col. Craig Boddington has been writing since 1979 while he served in the US Marine Corps. Craig served in the Marine Corps Reserves all the way up until 2005. Craig has been a regular writer for Guns and Ammo and Petersen’s since 1979 making him one of the longest running writers in the outdoor market. Boddington is nothing if not prolific, having written over 4000 articles in his lifetime and 25 books. It is no question that Craig Boddington inspires me. I have yet to meet Donna, Craig’s wife, but I have had several conversations with Craig, his daughter Brittany and Conrad Evarts, his long time field producer and the CEO of Craig Boddington Endorsed Outfitters. There is no question that I am a tremendous fan of Craig and his work in our industry, as a conservationist and as a writer and hunter.
We had the opportunity to ask Craig a few questions before he took off for the Caprivi to chase elephants across open flood plains.
How did you come up with the idea of Boddington Endorsed Outfitters?
The concept emerged through “campfire discussions.” One of my limitations is I’m a terrible salesman and have absolutely no interest in being a “booking agent” and directly selling hunts…I learned this through a very brief stint in that business in the late 1970s, after I left active duty with the Marines and before I joined Petersen Publishing Company! Over the years, however, I have had extensive experience with outfitters and guides and have many friends in that industry that I trust…as well as innumerable readers and viewers who often ask for recommendations. CBEO developed as a means to put all this together.
What separates a good outfitter from a great outfitter?
A great outfitter must have really good areas and also exceptional organizational skills. With larger outfits, where the guides are hired by the outfitter while the outfitter does little or no actual guiding, the outfitter must also possess strong managerial skills.
What separates a good guide from a great guide?
Hunting skills and knowledge of areas and game to be hunted are essential for a “good” guide. A “great” guide quickly evaluates and takes on board his client’s wishes and expectations…and also his or her capabilities and limitations.
What kind of information should hunters get from outfitters before they depart on international hunts?
Good equipment lists, step-by-step instructions on what to expect through the clearance process for baggage and guns and, before booking, the hunter should understand exactly where he or she will be hunting, and be assured that the outfitter/operator has whatever legal means or documentation needed to ensure that the outfitter has authorization to hunt that area.
How can hunters educate themselves about the laws within a country they are intending to hunt?
The Internet is a great tool that will answer most questions, but when shopping for and booking a hunt one mustn’t be shy. It is perfectly okay to ask the hard questions: Is the operator fully licensed to outfit/guide in the area to be hunted? Does the outfitter have exclusive rights to the area to be hunted? Does the outfitter belong to and support his/her local guide association or the international professional bodies (IPHA, MOGA, APHA, etc.), and the international organizations such as SCI, DSC, etc.
We asked Conrad Evarts, CEO of Craig Boddington Endorsed Outfitters, how can an outfitter become a part of the endorsement program?
If Craig has an exceptional experience with an outfitter, we invite them. Occasionally, we take suggestions from trusted associates and then vet the outfitter. Craig Boddington Endorsed Outfitters simply alerts serious hunters when we discover exceptional outfitters.
I also had the opportunity to check in with Carl van Zyl of John X Safaris, one of the outfitters within CBEO, out of South Africa. Why should hunters use the Craig Boddington website to look up outfitters?
There are 3 simple reasons why hunters should use Craig Boddington website to look up Boddington recommended outfitters: Craig’s incredible experience, knowledge, integrity.
The biggest challenge in selecting an outfitter is to figure out one you can trust. Craig has been hunting Africa for 30 years. He hasn’t just been there, he has personally hunted the areas where he makes recommendations. Craig knows where to hunt, and who are the trustworthy outfitters who will have both quality trophies, and a quality safari experience.
For first time hunters, choosing an outfitter is overwhelming. There are literally hundreds of outfitters in South Africa. For many the first safari is a major investment…maybe their trip of a lifetime. There is incredible comfort knowing that The Expert they see on Boddington Experience TV knows a specific outfitter and can recommend him based upon personal experience.
For the veteran hunter returning on safari, it is often about finding an outfitter that cans get you to the premier species you want to hunt. Safari veterans know Craig from his many articles and his TV shows. If there is anyone up to speed on where to go for specific species, the name to trust is Boddington. Craig is not only current on hunting areas, but also knows who has quota and quality animals you might want to pursue.
What is the value to outfitters for participating in this program?
Outfitters spend an incredible amount of time marketing their product. They want to achieve the best fit of what they offer with the types of hunters booking. If hunters have spent the time researching the Craig Boddington site, an Outfitter knows they are serious about their safari. Looking for a Boddington endorsed outfitter shows that the hunter is looking for quality in terms of both the trophies and the hunting experience.
John X Safaris is looking for hunters who value the total safari experience. We customize each safari to the hunter’s trophy quest, as well as each hunter’s abilities and experience. The value of a hunter participating in the Boddington endorsed outfitter program means that he or she is looking for quality, not just price.
Craig is a strong advocate for involving youth and families in the experience of a safari, which is very consistent with our goals as an outfitter. So John X Safaris is actively partnering in the Boddington endorsed outfitter program to find more of those hunters who value a safari experience – like those that Craig writes about and illustrates on his TV program.
We know when it is time to book our next hunt abroad, this will absolutely be one of the resources that we use!!