You don’t know his terrain.
You don’t know his animal herd.
You don’t know his food sources.
You don’t know his weather. So…
Don’t guide the guide
By John E. Phillips
Hunters who go on guided hunts and tell guides where they need to be hunting are just like a patient who see a doctor but refuse to get the prescription filled. Top guides discuss here what happens when someone tries to “guide the guide.”
Charlie O’Brien of Oklahoma’s Catch -22 Ranch
Charlie O’Brien, a former switch hitter and catcher for eight professional baseball teams for 19 years, is a member of Mossy Oak Deer THUGS and a regular on the Deer THUGS TV show on the Pursuit Channel and operates the Catch-22 Ranch in Beggs, Oklahoma.
“My ranch has shooting houses,” O’Brien says. “One day we put a hunter in a shooting house on top of a small rise. That morning, deer came out by a brush pile about 100 yards away. After the hunt, my client said, ‘Charlie, I think we need to set up a ground blind by the brush pile.’ I told him that I’d owned this ranch since 1992, and when deer came out of the brush, they usually fed back toward the shooting house.
“Well, this guy was really insistent that he wanted to put a ground blind by the brush. We knew the brush pile didn’t give him the best opportunity to take a deer, but we did what he requested. When I picked this hunter up after an early morning hunt, I asked, ‘How did your hunt go?’ The hunter answered, ‘I’m not going to tell you where to put me anymore. Several bucks came out of the brush and walked within 15 yards of the shooting house where I was yesterday.’
“Over the years I’ve had hunters tell me, ‘You need to move my stand or put me over here.’ I pretty much insist that these hunters hunt where we suggest, since we know where the deer most likely will appear. I explain to people that deer don’t always travel the same routes every day, and that we put our hunters in stands that give them the best chance for the size buck they want. Successful deer hunting is about playing the percentages. If I sit a hunter in a blind I’ve been watching for most of the year, seven out of ten times he’ll see and get a shot at a buck.
“One of the most important things for your readers to remember is a guide earns a living by taking hunters on successful hunts and puts his hunter in places where he feels the hunter has the best chance for success, based on
the guide’s knowledge, the land, the deer and the deer movement.”
For more information on the Catch-22, go to
www.catch22ranch.com, or call 918-367-2111.
Riley, a member of Mossy Oak’s Deer THUGS Hunting Team and TV show, has managed the 9,400-acre Giles Island near Natchez, Mississippi, for 15 years. “You only can access our property by boat,” Riley says. “I know where the deer and turkeys are, how, when and where these animals move, how the weather affects them, and what they like to do during the year. When I hunt another place, I’ll listen to what the guide on that land tells me and hunt where and how he tells me to hunt.
“One of our best customers at Giles Island became a good friend of mine. I knew the area he’d drawn to bowhunt homed some good bucks. I had him 33-feet high in a tree stand on a food plot close to the main road. Late in the afternoon about 20 deer filtered out into that food plot and fed toward the main road. Sad Daddy — a 13-point buck that would score in the mid 160s — that I’d picked out for my friend was with that group of deer.
“Since all Giles Island hunts are guided I was sitting in the tree with this hunter. As soon as that big buck stepped out of the woods, I told my hunter, ‘Go ahead, stand up, get your bow in your hand, and put the cam of the bow in your pocket to help hold it. You may have to stand up for a long time before Sad Daddy arrives.’ My hunter announced, “I’m going to wait until that buck gets closer, before I stand up.’ I emphasized, ‘That buck is moving with the herd that will be under your stand soon. You won’t be able to move without a deer spotting you.’
“This hunter didn’t take my advice and sat in his deer stand. A shooter 8 point soon was under our stand, as well as other deer. Sad Daddy was 50-yards out in front of us eating some honey locust beans. My hunter said, ‘Let me know when Sad Daddy comes around that corner. I’ll stand and take a shot.’ As soon my hunter stood up, the 8-point buck under the stand spooked, and Sad Daddy spotted my hunter and ran off.”
Kevin Burleson with Heart of Texas Bowhunting
Kevin Burleson, also a member of Mossy Oak’s Deer THUGS Hunting Team and TV show, has about 12,000 acres of free-range bowhunting land where he guides near Brady, Texas.
According to Burleson, “The hunter who hires a guide has to trust the guide to put him in the best place possible for the hunter to be successful. The guide always has the best information on where the deer should be and their habits. Three hundred to 400 bowhunters a year hunt with us. We also offer semi-guided hunts where I tell each hunter where to go, what to do, and where I think they should set up their tree stands.
On my guided hunts, we use ground blinds where I actually sit in the blind with the hunter. Almost daily, a hunter will want to tell me how he thinks he should hunt. “Many hunters want to hunt spot-and-stalk style — a tactic they use in the states where they live. But most of our hunters never have seen as many deer as we have on our property, which means lots of noses and eyeballs are looking for hunters. The best way to hunt our property is to go straight to an area with numbers of deer, set up your stand, get out of there and return to camp. Then your scent won’t blow into bedding areas and across trails. The next morning try and walk a straight line to your stand and stay there, until you take a deer.
“I had one fellow who set up his tree stand and returned to camp, bragging that he had seen 57 deer that afternoon. On set up day, our hunters don’t take their bows with them. Probably instead of hanging his tree stand and getting out of the pasture, he had zig-zagged through much of that pasture – spreading human odor everywhere. He hardly saw any deer at all the next 3 days. This guy’s buddies, who had followed my instruction, all saw plenty of bucks within bow range. When on a guided or a semiguided hunt, remember your best chances for success are to listen to the guide and hunt how and where he suggests.”
Visit www.heartoftexasbowhunting.com, or call 325-660-7819.
Justin Eakins guides and operates the 30,000-acre Canadian River Hilton Hunting Lodge in Crawford, Oklahoma, and is a member of Mossy Oak Deer THUGS Hunting Team and TV show.
“When my hunters first arrive, we have an orientation program for them,” Eakins reports. “I tell them to ‘Trust your guide, and don’t try to guide the guide.’ We have 95- to 100-percent success rates with providing our hunters opportunities to take bucks. My guides and I put in thousands of hours, before the hunters arrive, scouting for deer and learning where the bucks will show up and when.
“We identify the quality of bucks we have in different areas too. All my guides scout as much as I do prior to the season. Before each hunt, a guide knows to which area he’ll take his hunter, and the places in that region where the hunter has the best chance to take a trophy buck. These guides have hunted many of these places for years. I tell all of our hunters to plan on a 5-day deer hunt. If I knew where every buck on the property would be, and what time that buck would show up, we could book hunters for shorter hunts. However, our deer are wild animals, and they move around often. When a hunter starts guiding the guide, he/she actually reduces their chances to take the bucks they’ve come out here to get.”
Fred Law is a member of Mossy Oak Deer THUGS Hunting Team and TV show and formerly the lodge manager at Enon Plantation. “When a hunter comes on a guided hunt, more than likely, he’s read numbers of articles about deer hunting, watched many TV shows about deer hunting and may have hunted deer where he lives,” Law explains. “When our clients would come to Enon Plantation, they’d get excited if they saw rub lines and scrapes where they weren’t hunting and tell the guides they wanted to hunt at those sites. What the hunters didn’t know was the buck that had made those scrape lines and rub lines might have been harvested the week before they arrived.
“Hunters may have other misconceptions when they come on a guided hunt when they discover some smoking-hot signs, like trails with fresh tracks on them, acorns half eaten and deer droppings that you can squeeze and know that those droppings are extremely fresh. He or she will tell his guide, ‘We need to move my stand.’ What that hunter doesn’t know is the deer were feeding in that area at night not during daylight hours, and no one could harvest those deer. So, don’t try and guide the guide. A guide will scout before his hunters arrive, and too, we’ll often be scouting when the hunters are in their stands. The guide has the most-current information about where to find that buck of your dreams.
“Also during hunting season, deer will change their feeding patterns based on the availability of food in different locations. They may have been feeding heavily and left plenty of sign on the edge of a soybean field. But when the deer have eaten all the soybeans, they won’t return there. I do my best to get hunters to take my advice. However, if they don’t listen, I let them hunt where they want to hunt.
“Out of 20 years of guiding, I can’t think of one instance when someone has wanted to hunt in a different place than the site a guide or myself has picked out for them, that the hunter has taken the buck he’s hunting. Pulling a rabbit out of the hat is a trick that only magicians do. If you don’t hunt where the guide suggests, you won’t be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat. You won’t even be able to find the hat. Too, sometimes our hunters spook the deer by moving.
“Often, we’ll have hunters who feel like they have really-good stands where they’ve seen a couple of quality bucks just out of range but have shot one or two does from that stand. We explain that the odds are against them to take a trophy buck, where they’ve already shot a doe and blood trailed her for 150 yards. An advantage we had at Enon Plantation was that the majority of our hunters were repeat customers, who had learned over the years that their best chances of taking good bucks were when they agreed to hunt where and how the guide told them and didn’t try to guide the guide.”