Contributors to this thread:
Outfitted Hunts - Time to Tap Out?
. . . or just keep after it like the motivational posters suggest?
Just got back from an outfitted hunt in KS. No shot opps but did have a nice 140ish 10-pt get to within 80 yards.
Typically go on an outfitted or semi-guided hunt every other year or so for the past decade and considering packing it in. Love the experience and meeting other hunters for a "deer camp". But the reality is that the odds are starting to get to me. In my experience, the probability averages out to 10%. This time was no exception ... 1 arrow flight and 1 buck for 5 hunters. Even if the outfitter and area is good, you still have weather, moon phase, unfamiliar territory and finicky deer moods to contend with.
It just seems to get more and more intimidating to get it done (or at least have an ethical chance) in 5 days with limited intel and that I perhaps should consider other options.
But that is hunting ... throwing more money at it won't really solve any thing. Pat's hunts, with passing multiple deer and his last minute heroics don't really help my fragile psyche out either ... :)
I would switch outfitters. I get better than that odds in a crappy area with no intel.
Outfitted whitetail bowhunts are some of the worst success rates you can find.
I do not know how much you spend, but I go to Kansas on DIY hunts and I can hunt for 15 days or so for about 2200 dollars. That is everything, add another 100 to have deer butchered and thats it. That is actual hunting days. I have been here a week and have had a mid 130" buck at 7 yards and a couple other bucks a lot of folks doing it themselves would of shot. To me part of the fun of the hunt is scouting on the fly, setting my own stands and figuring out spots myself. I say give a DIY hunt a try next year! Shawn
If you're going with an outfitter I'd say with your past experience you should ask those questions up front before giving any money to one.
Unit 14. Area seemed good, though by all the "dog houses" I saw around, it does get heavy rifle pressure. One of the biggest factors was that I was a week too early ... the bucks were just starting to get warmed up. A lot of stands I sat were in what would seem to be good travel corridors, but they were just not traveling during the day.
Shawn, either that or some type of lease is what I was thinking about. Where you have some days to observe and pattern and can then move in on them. Plus if you have 10-14 days, you have some leeway for rut activity, weather, etc.
I'd question how you shop for outfitted hunts.
Shawn is right. I hunted my public honey hole for two and days this weekend. I passed on a 160+ deer Friday evening. Didn't realize how nice he was till I let him pass. But in my small area the bucks were not really fighting yet and somewhat still cohabitating. All in all by Sunday night I had seen four bucks a fork horn a 140 buck two 160 bucks and a 190+ buck which had me pass on the 160+ buck at 10 yards from the cedar blind. The 190 was following the nice 160 very mature deer. After the 160 passed the 190 decided he was hungry and held up past dark. Go figure. I couple more days and one of them would have been mine as I have their pattern now. But work Meeting for two weeks have me on hold I've never seen anyone archery hunt this area so hopefully it stays that way and I can make it back. I've hunted this area for 35 years and have taken most of my deer on public land hunting from the ground. Now I don't always seen this many big deer in one spot but have seen it happen several time over the years. So study your walk-in maps and you'll probably find a good spot or two with less pressure the a guided hunt and cheaper. Saturday I drove around to look a new to me piece of ground. Walked back in a found a nice watering hole with no sign that anyone else has been there at all. So it's now on my list of places to watch. Good luck!!
Too bad. I would say You went too early. You should arrive the 8th on.
Copperhead, SDHNTR, et.al.
Not ready to totally throw the outfitter or myself under the bus here. It was pretty much as advertised and met my expectations. Promised only 5 hunters and that is all there were. We all hunted separate unpressured farms that were miles apart. But there was a lot of huge ag fields (beans) that made them tough to pin down. I think the toughest part of the equation, even with a good outfitters, is the defined scope of time. Other than that, it sometimes just lousy luck :) I think that for the money, a longer DIY hunt would have the same or better odds as a good outfitted hunt.
Large ag fields make for tough bowhunts. I've run into many outfitters at shows that sound great til you get specific about bowhunting. Many consider it simply a way to get early money. Talk to them like bowhunters, see if they bowhunt themselves
Guided deer hunts are not necessary but if you are going to do it go on one that baits so your chances will be much higher
Never understood how shooting a deer over a feeder could be challenging or fun. More like being a shooter vs being a hunter. IMO
Go get yourself a recurve or longbow and go hunt public land with a decent herd and any deer you shoot will be a true trophy. There is something about taking a whitetail with traditional gear , it is truly a rush. A big mature doe within 10/20 yards is a 150 in my book. All that money you waste for a guided hunt can be spent on gas, hotels, equipment etc... You won't regret it.
This outfit had feeders but they were not running? He had put out some small piles of corn near the stands to get the deer to stop or swing by on their way to the ag. The last farm I hunted had no corn out whatsoever and that is where I had the not so close encounter.
I prefer not to hunt right over feeders, but also understand that having feeders is no slam dunk either. Having trail cam photos of bucks at the feeder at 1am does not always equate to success ... :)
Outfitting is a business....they make money. You are hunting deer that has already been hunted and depending on the date....maybe heavily. Outfitted hunts were by far my worst experiences and least successful of my hunts in the past 35 years.
If you are having fun while hunting and money isn't an issue and you like it. Keep doing it. If not, stop.
Went to Alaska on a high percentage moose hunt a year ago. Went with a friend. Neither got a shot. I had a close encounter. Went on a high percentage grizzly hunt in August, in Alaska, never got a shot at a grizzly.
Posted by Wally... “Never understood how shooting a deer over a feeder could be challenging or fun. More like being a shooter vs being a hunter. IMO”
I agree BUT nearly every outfitted hunt is like that. The outfitters hunt (scout, hang stands, check cameras, etc) while the client shoots. That’s primarily why I don’t go with outfitters anymore.
Let`s be totally honest here....75% of deer hunters climb into a stand and are hoping a buck comes by. Most bucks shot by hunters are deer they never have seen before. Shooting "targeted bucks" was extremely difficult prior to trail cams. Probably one of the most difficult thing to do decades ago.
If you have the $$$$…. lease a piece you can hunt and control. You can actually get yearlong rights for a reasonable price.
Wally - I would say that generally outfitted hunts where you hunt in an area the outfitter scouts for you, picks out the tree for you and tells you when to hunt there, whether you are hunting over bait or not, the outfitter has done the majority of the hunting for you...bait or not.
But it is still a lot of fun being in a new area, seeing deer and having an opportunity to shoot something bigger than what we have in our own areas. Baiting is generally boring to me, especially on my property. But I have been on hunts with bait that I enjoyed. But I certainly don't begrudge another man for how he hunts or kills or whatever as long as it is fair chase. Let's not do that here.
I just returned from my first and last whitetail outfitted hunt. There were six of us in camp and not one of us even seen a P&Y deer. A group of six before us did not take a deer. There was a $500 fine if we took anything less than 130. Either the big bucks were not there or they were all nocturnal. I have better things to do with my money.
"But it is still a lot of fun being in a new area, seeing deer and having an opportunity to shoot something bigger than what we have in our own areas." That is really more of what it is all about.
Windwalker, that can and will happen even with a good outfitter in a good area. Then again, you could get lucky and shoot a Booner on the first day with a bad outfitter. The biggest enemy on these hunts is the 5 day time span.
I don't place a priority on lodging or meals but rather the hunting itself. Each time I sit, I look around and ask "is this how I would set up a stand here?". Then it is a matter of getting lucky to observe deer movement and having the flexibility to change stands if needed to move in on them. I am very leery of guides that want you to sit the same stand all week even if you are seeing nothing.
I've went on 1 outfitted WT hunt in Iowa. Didn't shoot anything but have never seen so many deer and some big ones. I was holding out for a very large one and ended up passing some smaller 8's anywhere else I would have shot. I did see one I would have taken had I been a little closer. No complaints even though I didn't pull a trigger. The only bad outfitted hunt I went on was my very first bear hunt in Ontario. My partner and I were the first ones to hunt and the outfitter was an old guy who was not prepared....no baits set, no help, etc. Teachable moment on asking questions on outfitted hunts.
The negative comments and general attitudes some take on outfitted hunts vs. “DIY” wear me out. This “DIY only or you’re not a real hunter” craze over the past 20 years or so is just another way for some to chest-thump IMO.
Most people have jobs and lives. You can’t successfully “DIY” all over North America unless all you do is scout and hunt 24/7 like the Eastman boys do. And even they do most all of their “DIY” hunting in their home state of WY. I have hunted whitetails in east TX for over 40 years now. I could drop most hunters off at my place for a week and they would have a very difficult time. But with a little guidance from me their chances would vastly improve. Would that still be a “DIY” hunt? I guess. But I would be performing the same function as an outfitter/guide. I get some love “DIY” only, and that’s great. But it’s not for everyone all the time.
In many cases an outfitter is required. In many other cases a guy would be crazy not to use one because of the location access and knowledge they provide.
Back in the old days that was simply understood. Nowadays, not so much.
For the most part it all Depends on species, location, time, and money.
Sometimes it’s worth it, sometimes not...
Guided whitetial and elk hunts are some of the toughest odds unless you really shell out! Sometimes it’s good to pick your guided scenarios. For instance I’ve done it for bear but wouldnt be as likely to do it for elk. Pronghorn absolutely! Mule deer maybe...whitetial I don’t think so It’s a combination of things if you have the money I say why not? Or maybe that money would be better spent arranging a lease with some friends next year for the same “deer camp” experience? If you have the money I wouldn’t play the public land game. It’s fun but it’s annoying and although I’ve had success doing so the last few years in Kansas and Oklahoma but it takes so much time and all the investment can be lost overnight if walk in areas change or another hunter moves in. Also if you are hunting public land in Kansas I’d say attainable goal is 130” ...115 if for Oklahoma. You aren’t going to shoot a 140” every year unless you work your ass off and spend the same in gas and other expenses as you would on an average guided hunt
I figured my gas bill last year on DIU public hunts at nearly 4K and that’s only during the hunting season. The doesn’t include other expenses like food I did save money on extra tree stands and cameras because you can forget leaving them out. Wither one of two things happen: 1: Someone sets up on top of you or 2: it gets stolen or tampered with
TXHunter, It also cracks me up to see or read DIY and then see 8 people posted behind our hero for the pics. Friends, uncles, dogs, neighbors, the neighbors cat. all scouting and glassing and then acting superior to a hunter paying ONE guide.
Lbshooter- having nature bucks within 10 yards is exciting no matter what weapon you have in your hand.
There are better opportunities than where you’ve been going. Do your homework and remember... you get what you pay for.
Have tried 2 guided whitetail hunts in KS, they sucked! Stands setup for left handed shooters, no shooting lanes cut, and had to sit like a dog being told to sit even after seeing the movement of the deer. Asked to move the stand into the next cut, even offered to use my own stand and hang it. Was told "no". Guided hunts are not for everyone. Plenty of opportunity for a guy willing to work and hunt how you want. Much more enjoyable as well! I'm not the "deer camp" kind of guy. Prefer to not socialize with anyone other then who I choose while hunting. Just my opinion, but do it yourself if you can.
Each to his own. I enjoy both DIY and outfitted...and have been successful on both and eaten tag soup on both. As has been said “it’s Hunting not killing”. If you want easier targets Africa/New Zealand and Texas come to mind.
I have been on several guided hunts. I stopped when I got in on this lease. I hunted with some good ones and some bad,, okay a terrible one and another folded up before I was able to hunt... Long story but it got me here on this lease.. Anyhow an outfitter that I hunted with several times,, and I was pretty happy, able to move when I wanted, use my climber, etc, I was hunting a farm with really nice bucks. The next day I was told I had to go to another place. I asked why and they talked shot opportunity,. Blah, blah, blah. It turns out that the shot opportunity he was going for was for a celebrity bowhunter who was coming in to film. They bumped me, a paying customer to another place and put in the, "celebrity", hunting for free, on my farm. I was pretty pissed. One thing though, the food and accommodations we're awesome. It was nice to roll out of bed and have everything is all set for the day.. . Here in Ohio, even though I have hunted the same area for 8 years, having the time to drive out from NY to check and move stands, clear shooting lanes, maintain my trailer, etc is very hard to do.
for the price of these hunts, I could lease a nice chunk of land ... I dont want to do neither, lease nor pay an outfitter .. I'm done leasing, and dont care for a "outfitted" pay hunt .. I'll stick to DIY and state lands ..
Always find out if a film crew will be there when you are. Most times they get all the attention.