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Being unprepared is worse than setting money on fire!
Fancy headlines with cheap prices are an age old sales tool that tricks us all at one point or another. How many times as bow hunters have we jumped on the $250 a day deer hunts only to realize there 1) probably isn't a deer within 5 miles of the ranch and 2) if we happen to see one he or she is going to be the smartest deer we've ever encountered?
In my younger years I was suckered into this game a few times but quickly discovered that if I honed my skills a little, I might be able to be the 1 in 10 people who gets a chance at a deer instead of just being another statistic.
Luckily for you all, I also grew up to become and outfitter and since bow hunting is my passion, I am trying to build the best bow hunting ranch in the state for hunters to have a true opportunity at a successful, rewarding hunt. Here are my tips for what to look and prepare for as well as a short excerpt about what we are doing in Aspermont to try and increase your odds.
1: YOUR BOW - What does your set up look like? Are you serious about bow hunting or did you just buy a bow so you could try to go on a "cheap" hunt? If you are the latter of the two, let me be quick to inform you that you are just wasting your money. The less expensive bow hunts are by far the hardest and least successful hunts offered in Texas. You would be better off saving up your money and going on a rifle hunt...or playing the lottery. If you are a serious bow hunter, then the secret of your set up lies in speed and distance on one of these types of hunts. You need to be comfortable at 40 yards and you need to be prepared for string duck. Comfortable does not mean being able to hit a target. You need to be just as good at 40 as you are at 20. Also remember how smart these deer are and how high strung they can be at times. They are going to duck. You need to be set up for speed and be ready for their attempt to duck your string.
2: CONCEALMENT - Being in a pop up blind is not enough. Great tools, but just like any tool, they need to be used properly to work. Camo is rad but black is best for pop up blinds. Be a ninja! That's the best clothing advice I can give you. Black long sleeve shirt, black face mask, black gloves, black pants, and black face paint on everything except the whites of your eyes. After you finish blacking out, make sure you sit in the far back corner of the blind. Now, close off every window except a small shooting hole for you to slip an arrow out of. Treat hunting out of a pop up blind like cooking a brisket. If you're looking you ain't cooking. The blind is position in the right spot, so pick your shooting lane and focus on it. Open windows let light in and expose your shadows and movement. You can't kill a deer that sees you before you see him...period.
3: SIT TIMES - You're there to hunt...so HUNT. Going out for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening drastically decreases your odds. Yes I know we are spoiled in Texas and deer come to feeders but it is an absolute myth that your hunt is over when the corn is gone. Come in for lunch and come in at dark but be in that blind any other chance you get. I can assure you that you cannot kill a big buck sitting at camp telling stories. There is also no better way to hone your hunting skills than to be outdoors in their environment, learning the their habits.
4: CHOOSE THE PROPER RANCH - Ranches can only sustain so many deer at a time and choosing a small ranch because it has cheap pricing is equal to buying a low odds lottery ticket...sometimes even worse. Do some research. Don't worry so much about other hunters success rates, because 1)outfitters don't really keep up with that and 2)you don't have a clue if the other hunters are good bowhunters or slappies. Go for ranch size, location, and properties that provide photos of the deer on the ranch. This all seems pretty self explanatory but we've all made the mistake of the 500 acre free range bowhunting ranch for $250 a day that hasn't had a deer killed since Lincoln was president.
5: REVIEW THE OUTFITTER - Check out the guide you're about to spend your money with. Is this going to be a camp you will enjoy yourself at or is the trip going to be miserable. Believe it or not even though I am an outfitter, I still spend my money with other outfitters every year to take trips with my family and friends. One of my biggest points is to review the outfitter. I wanna hang out with a guy that I feel comfortable spending my money with no matter what my kill results are. I don't give my money to jerks, drunks, or know it alls but there are a lot out there that fit that bill. Be diligent in your reviews.
6: STAY POSITIVE - No matter what you or the guide does, sometimes hunting is hunting and the animals win. The goal for a successful hunt is to learn something, have a good time, and ultimately beat the animal at their own game. It isn't easy nor should it be. You're a bow hunter right? You don't want it to be easy or you'd use a gun...correct? My goal on every bow hunt is to guarantee myself that I learn something new and have a good time. If all goes perfect I will also beat the animal but even if I don't my hunt will still be a success because I will leave smarter than I came.
What are we doing to help? Right now we have acquired 6,000 free range acres of caprocks and coolies. We have used google earth in an attempt to strategically place blinds and feeders at 14 different locations associated with pinch points, natural funnels, feed/water, or entry/exit to bedding areas. We have maintained a fantastic buck to doe ratio and are excited to be of assistance to any hunter in camp with us. We are designed to root for our clients as opposed to rooting for the deer. We give each of our hunters 5 days to hunt and allow them to choose their own blinds and sitting lengths. We only allow up to 6 people in camp at a time in an attempt to keep from overcrowding. We do not have nice lodging facilities but we do have a couple campers that we allow hunters to stay in or you can camp primitively or stay at the motel in town. We allow each hunter to take 1 mature buck, 1 doe, and unlimited wild hogs. We also are willing to skin, cape, and quarter any animal you wish to take home at the conclusion of your hunt. We have a fair pricing system at $1500 for the 5 day hunt and our only additional fee is $500 if you shoot a buck over 150 inches. We have ultimately designed the set up I was personally looking for all the years I was day lease hunting whitetails myself.
If you're interested in hunting with us we'd love to have you, if not we understand that also and hope these tips help you to be successful wherever you hunt this fall!
Owner and Lead Guide of Black Water Guide Service. Sky has lead thousands of hunters through some of the most amazing experiences of there lives. Read Pro Hunting Tips from an experienced Texas guide who's been through it all.