Contributors to this thread:
Midwest Outfitters scams
Now that we have lost our incredible Whitetail hunting in Northwestern Montana wolves my wife and I have thought about starting to hunt the Midwest and have been looking for Outfitters for a while. But with the Advent of trail cams I fear that unless you are a super high dollar client the outfiters are not going to put you on a farm where there is truly big bucks. When I look through their Harvest photos from their clients all I see is marginal bucks at best but when I look at their lodges I see giant bucks on the wall which tells me that they are harvesting all the biggest bucks for themselves. Something that trail cams make possible. one outfit this is definitely true with is from Kentucky, I won't use names but if you go to their website you can see a videos of the owners harvesting truly world-class bucks! But when you look at their Harvest photos for their clients most of the bucks are 130 class bucks. Pretty much the same with some of the most famous Outfitters in Pike County Illinois, Ohio,Wisconsin etc. I understand everybody wants to see what's on their land but I think it's sad that we have lost some of the mystery of the giant whitetail bucks that roam our lands.
It’s always been like that. If you live here and can hunt alot you will be more successful than the guy who hunts five days in a stand that’s already been overhunted. Also the hunting is not even close to being as good as what it was in the 90’s and early 2000’s. To make matters worse, most guys that hunt here will not pass them 130’s and therefor are not in the tree when the big one shows up.
Not every big buck is on camera. You have to let the 130's walk if you want a chance at a 150. Given Ohio's season is about 4mo long vs the client's 1wk... guess who is more likely to harvest a bigger buck. Furthermore the guide isn't restricted to the outfitters property and most likely hunts it the least, if at all. If you're dead set on guided big bucks go high fence and kill a genetic freak monster. Basically what I'm sayin is don't read into it too much.
Outfitters have "X" amount of property....on that property they place "X" amount of stands. Then they run groups of hunters in and they hunt the same stands on Oct. 1st as they do on Nov.12th. If you are lucky enough to be on stand when a buck happens by you may be successful. Those that have more bucks and control the number of hunters have a better track record.
It`s frustrating to arrive in camp with 12 other hunters all hunting a piece of land that you and 2 of your buddies would hunt back home....and then realize that has been done every week since the season opened.
Tomtana.....I used to hunt your neck of the woods back in the 80`s and 90`s in the Yaak. Was a real sleeper area for great deer hunting. Sad to hear it`s gone downhill.
Leasing is so expensive outfitters have to take many clients to make money and pay lease fee. Unless your a return client or big tipper they won't put you on a big buck. Try north dakota, or South Dakota archery. There's good public in Midwest for archery just far for you.
I think your issue is with the internet.
You might look into some outfitters with a 140" minimum. I've seen some that even have 150" minimums....fines for shooting a buck short of that are steep....like $1000. Not coincidentally, these are also the guys who are getting the most for their base hunt packages. They are protecting their "resource ", and income, by letting those 130s go....that will very likely be a 140-150+ the next year. A lot of these guys also strictly limit the pressure on their farms. I'm researching Iowa currently, and have it narrowed down to 2-3 operations. The trick with Iowa, vs a lot of other midwest states, is that you have to plan well ahead....it takes approximately 4 years to collect enough points to draw a tag in the southern part of the state. Tougher for an outfitter to play "favorites", which is also a big concern of mine.
Whitetail with a bow is probably the biggest crap shoot in hunting, IMO, when you only have 5-6 days to get it done, especially if your after something really special. A lot has to come together the right way, to put that buck in a a shoot able position, at realistically, 30 yards or under.
I always hear about how the hunting was so much better back at such and such a time. We just set a new WR this year and I see more big bucks shot each year all over the country. Am I missing something? I don't think the hunting is worse, I think our access to that type of hunting is.
I've been fortunate enough to hunt in the Midwest all my life. Great place to hunt, tons of corn, beans & timber for big whitetails. But if I was going to book an outfitted whitetail hunt i'd go to northern alberta, especially considering your location. If your interested PM me and I can give out an outfitter I recommend.
Brodsky, I agree with you that hunting in many places has gotten better due to Modern management but not if you live in a place where wolves have been reintroduced.
I'd be leery of any pictures that an outfitter uses to advertise. A lot of times those deer/elk/antelope, etc. may not have even been killed by someone hunting with the outfitter. They'll use pictures of big critters from friends and relatives regardless of where they are shot.
Case in point, I watched a YouTube video of a couple guys moose hunting. The video harped about how it was 100% DIY. They killed two moose both with a muzzleloader. The video shows the plane they used to transport the moose and you can clearly see the tail number. I happened to be hunting this exact location and have pictures of this plane that show the tail number. The kicker, one of the two moose is featured on an outfitters page claiming to be an archery kill. Nothing like a little false advertising.
There are plenty of great outfitters all throughout the Midwest out there. You just have to get out of that mindset (in your post), do a little research online, narrow it down, then call their references. Also, you might find social media really helpful as well if you have access to that. Follow as many as you can. Reading reviews are helpful to an extent but you have to keep in mind there are a lot of lazy/terribly hunters that watch a bunch of hunting shows and expect it to be really easy. It's really hard to kill a 150+ class whitetail in a full season, let alone when you're just going for a one week trip. You just want to make sure you have an opportunity. Some of the best hunters I know sit 50+ times per year and only harvest one every other year. Granted, they pass up 10-20 bucks a year that most would be really happy with.
I have an outfitter friend that leases a lot of ground in KS. He relayed a story to me of how bad the hunting public has gotten over the years in their expectations because of trail cams and hunting shows on tv. He told me a story of a group of four hunters from a southern state where deer don't usually get very big. The night before their first sit they started asking his guide how many 150-160" deer will they have to pass before they start seeing the big ones! Day one goes by and nobody even saw a buck. Morning of day two one of them shoots a 130" and tells him it's the biggest buck he has ever seen. Day three rolls around and no bucks were seen. The guy that shot the 130 is now mad that he shot the deer and starts complaining to the guide , my buddy and his buddies. The three hunters left complain that they want to move. He moves two to new stands but convinces the third one to stay in his original stand. That hunter kills a 145" deer on day four. The guy that killed the 130" deer is mad that his buddy got a bigger deer than he did so he is really complaining now and got the two remaining hunters all upset. Both remaining hunters go to my friend and ask to be moved again. He moves one of them to a new stand but he convinces the other one to sit in the stand where his buddy killed the 130" deer. He tells him that he knows a big deer is in the area. He goes to that stand and the evening of their last day kills a 165" deer. When they are packing up to go back home they as a group give him $20 for a tip and tell him they will not be coming back!!
Best outfitter in Kansas is the Hashknife. Expensive, but well managed. You won’t be disappointed! You get what you pay for!
That's textbook isn't it 6x6? Then go on to find something wrong and write a terrible review about one mistake his guide made by moving them to a bad location. I've actually kicked around the idea of starting a small outfitting business here in KS but worry that dealing with the public would take the fun out of hunting for me.
Great recommendation by jingalls for sure if you have the budget to afford that. Plenty of good ones at 1/3 the cost as well. Paying $10k for a KS deer hunt takes the guesswork out of knowing what you're getting, haha!
There certainly are scammers out there, but also a lot of good guys that face the tough prospect every year of matching hunters with the wits and unpredictability of the wiley whitetail.
Best you can hope for is an outfitter that is personable, ethical, honorable (for a good experience and adventure) and works hard to give you the best chance ... but realistically it is still long odds that you will see, let alone shoot, a top tier free-range buck in 5 days. Odds could be as low as 10%.
Research and phone calls beforehand will sort out a lot of this. Some of it you will not know until you start hunting with them. Every stand I have sat, I analyze and compare it with what I would do. Is it safe to climb into, concealed enough, proper shooting lanes, etc. If the stand has the bark growing around the steps and there are fresh candy wrappers laying around, then I start to have some doubts.
I also take exception to guides who are relunctant to let you move and tell you that you need to sit there all week. With little or no prior intel, sometimes it comes down to gut feelings about a spot. Damned if you move; damned if you don't kinda thing. I may request a move, but would not blame the guide at all if the trail camera showed a monster buck under my tree right after I left. That is just the game we play.
It is utterly ridiculous that a group of four hunters whines after going 3 for 4 on 130"-165" bucks. I would not care if the guide was an ass, I had to sleep in the mud, eat bologna sandwiches and drink Maxwell house coffee for those kinda odds.
What's wrong with Maxwell House coffee? It's what I drink, lol! I agree, whitetails are just too unpredictable in true free range hunting. So many variables. Unless you strictly manage vast areas and manipulate deer with food and water, it would be a sleepless job to be a true caring whitetail outfitter. Probably the number one hunt I would never pay to go on.
Ironic isn’t it? Most common big game animal in the country. But the hardest guided hunt there is to book, as a client.
No offense meant, Redneck. :) I was just thinking of something witty to say with respect to coffee. My inspiration was reading the thread about the NM elk review where the hunter was complaining about no coffee at all.
Look for small timers with 15O minimums.Let the masses hunt the 140 and under crowd.If a guy is staying booked with a 150 min then then your halfway through your reasearch
It also helps if your guide lets you scout out and set up your own spot. The biggest bucks on the property know how to avoid those stands that have been hunted to death year in and year out. With a little homework (Arial, topo. maps) and proper scent control you can land right in front of a buck like he has on his wall.
“It`s frustrating to arrive in camp with 12 other hunters all hunting a piece of land that you and 2 of your buddies would hunt back home...”
Should not be a surprise or source of frustration if you did your homework on the outfit.
You should know that prior to putting your keys in the ignition at home
Lesson learned from this thread, and this years outfitters reviews, bring my own coffee if I ever book a hunt.
Go to Saskatchewan for big deer, and Texas for lots of opportunity and nice weather. Midwest is over hunted.
I think TV and even the outfitters themselves make people think it's going to be easy. I own some pretty good hunting property and I don't have to deal with getting a dozen guys a buck over a 4 week period. I say this because even though I have great property and set my sights at about 150, I don't always get a buck. Oh, and I hunt at least 3 weeks. If I were willing to settle for a 130's buck, I could fill a tag about once a week. Going on a $3000-4000 hunt and expecting a "good" chance at a 150+ buck is unrealistic. Most of these outfits get one a year like that. Do the math. There are many areas that have that quality of deer but the chances of you getting a shot at one in a 5 day hunt very very slim. You either need lower your expectations or plan on spending twice the money.
I live in elk country where everyone wants a 350 bull. Fortunately, once they see a 280" bull at 30 yards their expectations lower and they are thrilled at a chance at a bull like that. Just be realistic.
I live in a good area and hunt more than 500 hours in a tree. I have 60 tree stands set up spread out over 100’s of acres. I do have encounters with several 3 year old bucks every year, some of which will be over 150. I have a couple of mature buck encounters every year and most of them will score over 150. I have no idea how someone expects to have a great chance on one hunting for 5 days, maybe 50 hours if they hunt all day, in stands that have been hunted multiple times already year after year. Your best bet is a lease where you can hunt more than 5 days in stands that only you have hunted. Getting a lease and setting it up is a pain but it will be worth it in the end. Cheaper also.
Had my neice’s Husband come up from Alabama to hunt 3 days. He said he wanted a 170 inch deer. Based on too much T V, he thought there was one behind every tree in Illinois. Got to manage those expectations.
It would take more work but another alternative is leasing a piece of ground. But the key to that would be having someone local that you could really trust to keep an eye on it and help manage it while you are not there. I've often thought that this would be a great alternative to conventional "outfitted" hunts and that a guy living in great whitetail country could "manage" several properties for remote hunters every year. The local hunter could make some side money and get access to great hunting ground, and the guy leasing the property could be confidant that his farm was being managed and looked after while he was back home working to pay for it. Win-Win if you could put it together.
In my experience, finding someone local that you can trust to manage your lease while you are away might be more difficult than killing a 150" buck. Emphasis on "trust"!