Chris Farrell, owner of Margaree Outfitters, says that 90 per cent of his guests are coming up from the United States.
He offers duck hunting, cod and mackerel fishing, as well as sightseeing boat tours to resettled and isolated communities like Grand Bruit and LaPoile along the southwest coast.
Business is booming, according to Farrell. He says his duck hunting trips are 60 per cent booked for this season and last year was great too.
“Every nice day on the water I had people going out three-four trips per day,” he said.
Business has been so good that Farrell was able to invest in a new boat, a 21-foot Goliath. The new boat, with a 150-horsepower motor, will allow Farrell to provide longer trips, accommodating up to six guests. Farrell hopes this will lead to increased repeat business, which he says is quite high for duck hunting trips.
“A lot of people are coming out two, three or four times a year,” he said.
Dave McLaughlin, manager of Adventure Quest Outfitters, says 20-30 per cent of their guests are coming from the United States and Europe.
The company offers week-long moose, bear and caribou hunting excursions as well as fishing trips based out of four fly in and two drive in lodges. McLaughlin says the rest of Adventure Quest’s business comes from mainland Canada, with a sizable amount travelling from Quebec.
Newfoundland is a must-see place for most of McLaughlin’s guests.
“Everyone hears a bit about Newfoundland and Labrador and they want to come experience it,” McLaughlin remarked. “They see the beautiful tourism commercials and it intrigues them.”
McLaughlin maintains that outfitting tourism benefits other local operations and businesses as well. His guests often want to spend a couple of days before or after their adventure looking around.
Adventure Quest Outfitters books 150 moose hunts per year with approximately 40 guests returning annually.
McLaughlin gives some credit for their interest in returning to the meat itself.
“A lot of our repeats that come hunt moose all have one thing in common,” McLaughlin said. “The meat from Newfoundland is better than any other moose they’ve had. A lot of them tell me that the Newfoundland and Labrador moose has its own little taste to it compared to other moose meat. It has to be something about our vegetation to make it taste that way.”
McLaughin says their seasons usually book up 100 per cent and this year looks just as promising.
“I always tell our guests the hunt is the experience and the moose is the bonus,” he said. “It’s the wilderness, it’s the mountains, the rivers the lakes, the valleys.
“You tell them about all that, but they don’t realize until they get there. It’s like ‘Wow, you were right.’ Especially when they fly in. Their biggest complaint is that they didn’t bring enough memory cards for their cameras. They are really infatuated when they come to Newfoundland and Labrador to experience the wilderness and how beautiful it really is.”