That's a hard question - I wish I knew the answer. I went on two hunts this fall. The first was a six-day deer hunt where I shot a nice buck the second morning and left camp the next day. I had a great time in that short time and tipped my guide (one-on-one) a little less than 10% of the price of the hunt. I also tipped the packer who took me and my deer back out $50. The second one was a four-day cow elk hunt where I took my son and nephew along. We had the outfitter, one additional guide, and the guide's wife as cook. The first day, hunting while riding in, the outfitter took all three of us while the guide and his wife packed our gear into camp. The second and third days the outfitter guided the nephew and myself while the guide took my son alone. The third morning my nephew and I shot elk, the guide brought pack horses and loaded them up and then took the nephew, elk, and I to base camp, and the outfitter and my son continued hunting. They shot an elk near dusk, and spent most of the evening packing it out on their saddle horses to base. I asked the outfitter the next day about tipping him, since he actually was getting the price of the hunt and was not an employee. He said that some people did but most did not. His wife had cooked on the first hunt and had declined a tip I offered, suggesting I give it to the staff instead. I ended up giving the guide on the second hunt a bit more than 10% of the total cost for the three of us, and his wife about a third of that, for about 15% of the hunt total.
I'd be very interested in what other people think is appropriate here.
Remember 'tipping' is meant to be a reward for service 'above and beyond.'
Historically no tip was required - only offered as a 'thank you' for exceptional service. Tipping has morphed into something else today.
For most instances start at 10% - go up or down, depending on how you feel relative to the service provided. Higher end places (e.g., fancy eateries) you might start at 15%, and again go up or down depending how you felt you were treated.
I have been on hunts where 10% was a generous tip. I've also been on hunts where 40% was probably shy for what I received.
On your family hunt one solution might have been to give the owner 15% and ask him to share it with his staff. You are assuming he knows who served you best, and who might have screwed up behind the scenes. A non-monetary gift to the owner is often a good idea too(bottle of single malt, etc.).
I never got a tip or a bonus for any job in my life. When I started employment, I agreed to a salary and that is all I expected. If we pay someone what he or she agrees to work for, why do we have to tip them? The difference between a McDonald’s tip and a GM bonus is only the size of the payment. Pay a person for their performance, and forget the “extra”. The high performers will get what they are worth, and poor performers get what they are worth. I'm afraid that tipping has gotten to be more of spreading the wealth around, and not a reward for performance.
My wife says just tip and forget it. Maybe so. Pull.