What Should You Expect From a Whitetail Deer Outfitter?
As a whitetail deer outfitter that has been in business for 13 years in 5 States I have met many hunters over the years. Each whitetail deer hunter seems to have different expectations from the whitetail deer outfitter they have chosen. During their course of their whitetail deer hunt with us I have visited with many hunters over the years, and heard a variety of stories about prior whitetail deer hunts they have been on with other whitetail deer outfitters. Some of the stories about the whitetail deer outfitters they have visited in the past are good while some of their shared experiences with whitetail deer outfitters hunted with in the past are not so good. In fact the majority of past experiences shared by hunters with me about other whitetail deer outfitters they have hunted with is poor.
Literally it seems no matter how much research the whitetail hunter may do prior to selecting a whitetail deer outfitter at some point after talking to several whitetail deer outfitters they all begin to sound the same prior to actually booking a hunt with them. As one begins calling and researching whitetail deer outfitters for the oncoming hunt season it can become quite confusing. As I always state, “Remember you buying something you can’t see from somebody you don’t know when your booking a hunt with a whitetail deer outfitter.” No matter how poor the quality of the whitetail deer outfitter may be you are speaking with you can be rest assured the whitetail deer outfitter has fielded so many phone calls and emails they know the exact questions you are going to ask prior to you even asking them. Thus assume pre rehearsed answers await you before you even begin asking the questions. Here are some common questions hunters ask.
1. How many acres do you have?
2. What do you hunts cost?
3. Give me 3 references.
4. What are you success rates?
5. How long have you been in business?
6. Whats the biggest deer your hunters killed last year?
7. How many people will be in camp?
8. How many hunters do you take each year?
If your not convinced by now that whitetail deer outfitters don’t know the questions your going to ask I can add dozens more, but hopefully you get the point. Their isn’t a question you can ask they aren’t expecting. So the point is, What good does it do to ask questions? At a minimum you can merely try to feel the whitetail deer outfitter out on the phone and try and see if the whitetail deer outfitter is truthful. Believe me, even the lowest quality whitetail deer outfitters are way ahead of you no matter what your education or IQ may be.
The problem is that many of the questions you are asking any whitetail deer outfitter, the question cannot be verified. For example if you ask how many acres the whitetail deer outfitter has he may say 20,000 acres when he really has 4000 acres. The truth is you cant count the acreage when you come to camp. If you ask for references you can be rest assured all the references you get will be good ones. Some whitetail deer outfitters will even use friends or hunters they allow to hunt for free in exchange for glowing reports. If you ask how many hunters do you take each year how could you possibly count them? Thus your literally asking the whitetail deer outfitter questions that you cannot verify. Crazy huh?
Sadly enough its my opinion that I am ashamed of most whitetail deer outfitters in my profession, and spend much of my time with a hunter on the phone establishing credibility as “credibility” is the most important factor to consider when booking a hunt with a whitetail deer outfitter. When a potential hunter phones me about a hunt I spend at least 5 minutes establishing credibility by telling them things about our business here at IMB Outfitters. I am able to present evidence that we are a very credible whitetail deer outfitter. I explain how Petersens Hunting ranks IMB in the top 44 hunts in the entire world. I tell them how IMB has been inducted in the Hall of Fame. I tell them while the average whitetail deer outfitter in the Midwest has been in business less than 4 years IMB Outfitters has been in business 13 years. I tell them we possess over 30 major hunt companies that sponsor our business. (For example, Mossy Oak, Mathews Bows, Nikon, Rage Broadheads, etc. etc. etc.) It is impossible to achieve these accolades and awards and sponsors and be a whitetail deer outfitter that is selling anything less than a high quality hunt.
Think about this for a minute. While I spend several minutes establishing credibility with every client that phones or emails me about a whitetail deer hunt I should not have to. When you walk into the local WalMart the door greeter doesn’t stop you upon entrance into the store and say something like, “Hello and welcome to WalMart. We are a Fortune 500 Company. Millions of satisfied customers have done business with us over the years. We carry quality products at low prices. Other discount stores haven’t won the awards or accolades we have attained., etc, etc.” The point is there are so many low quality whitetail deer outfitters I am forced to share the accomplishments of IMB Outfitters with hunters that are potentially looking to book a hunt.
Once in a while a hunter will call who is totally fixated on price. This profile of consumer is simply looking for the cheapest hunt he can purchase. While price is important, credibility is the most important aspect to consider. Why? If you pick a whitetail deer outfitter that provides you with an inferior hunt you haven’t saved a couple hundred dollars, you’ve literally lost all your money. Just a few weeks ago the phone rang. I answered, “IMB Outfitters”. The caller stated, “We are ready to book with you now.” His tone insinuated I had spoken with him before and he had selected some other whitetail deer outfitter instead of us the year before. So I ask him, “Have we spoken before?” He responded by saying, “Yes last year you told us all about the awards and accolades your business had obtained. Instead of listening to you we booked a hunt that was $300 cheaper.” He then stated, “You know what happened, we didn’t save any money we lost all our money by picking the wrong whitetail deer outfitter.
EXPECTATIONS PRIOR TO BOOKING YOUR WHITETAIL DEER HUNT
So what are realistic expectations for you as you shop for a whitetail deer outfitter. Prior to your arrival you should be looking at a whitetail deer outfitter that has a great website. Much can be told by a whitetail deer outfitters website. You should also expect to receive a very handsome brochure. More importantly you should expect the whitetail deer outfitter to have a thorough and genuine conversation with you about your hunt and what he has to offer. You’ll find most whitetail deer outfitters display an average 5 page website, a plain brochure, and a conversation totally centered about how to get your money in the shortest conversation they can possibly have with you. My theory is if the whitetail deer outfitter doesn’t take care of you in these three areas prior to the hunt, then you won’t be taken care of when you come to hunt.
EXPECTATIONS DURING YOUR WHITETAIL DEER HUNT REGARDING SERVICES
A good whitetail deer outfitter will provide the following:
1. A nice lodge facility. Whitetail deer outfitters that house you in old farm houses, trailers, campers, below average hotels, or bunkhouses are something you should stay away from. Personally I would sleep in my truck to kill a big whitetail buck but whitetail deer outfitters that provide anything less than a nice lodge setting should be a red flag that if this aspect of the hunt is below average your whitetail hunt will also be below average.
2. Great food and plenty of it. Good whitetail deer outfitters will provide 3 meals a day plus snacks, treats, and unlimited drinks. Whitetail deer outfitters that provide anything less or tell you you’ll be cooking your own meals should also be a red flag. Why? If they can’t provide superior food how can you assume you will experience a superior hunt.
3. Educated Guides. A whitetail deer outfitter should train and educate their guides. If a guide isn’t walking you to and from different stand setups and scouting on other farms while your hunting to find big bucks for you to shoot then you can assume you being nothing more than being put in a stand. You want an outfitter who has motivated guides who genuinely are trying to pattern big deer and put you with weapon range of the monster bucks.
4. Shooting Lanes. A whitetail deer outfitter should be maintaining treestand sites and have proper shooting lanes cut for the hunter. Shooting lanes can be controversial as two opinions exist on the issue. You can cut too much as to alert the trophy bucks a tree stand is near by which will cause smart deer to skirt the tree stand site. You can also cut too little on shooting lanes which prevents a hunter from getting a shot at all. Thus shooting lanes and the cutting of them should be somewhere in the middle.
5. High Quality Treestands, Blinds, Box Blinds, and Ladder Stands. Many whitetail deer outfitters will purchase the cheapest stand that a tree stand manufacturer makes so they can buy more treestands. If you’ve ever sat in a cheap deer stand you know that it is nothing short of pure misery. The whitetail deer outfitter should have a vast array of stand choices. Hang on treestands, box blinds, and ladder stand to accommodate the needs of any client. Here at IMB Outfitters we literally have taken professional athletes as well as disabled hunters in wheelchairs.
6. Never book a do it yourself whitetail deer hunt. Any whitetail deer outfitter that will set you up on a do it yourself whitetail deer hunt is simply leasing ground and then leaving all the hard work up to you. This is where the hunter ego can play as your own worst enemy. Deer evolve differently in different states thus when someone just drops you off on a farm and turns you loose you may assume 2 negative things. #1. This type of whitetail deer outfitter has let everyone else walk all over the same farm as you even if he says you’ll be the first one on it. Studies show that farms that conduct do it yourself hunts receive over 5 times the pressure on the farms deer and spook the herd off the farm to a certain degree. Stay away from do it yourself hunts.
7. Book only with whitetail deer outfitters that do it as a full time job. In order for you to be successful on your whitetail hunt you will vastly decrease your odds of success if you book with a whitetail deer outfitter that doesn’t spend 365 days a year as a whitetail deer outfitter. whitetail deer outfitters that possess outside employment don’t have the time to concentrate solely on your success like a full time whitetail deer outfitter does.
8. Good whitetail deer outfitters will never have trophy fees. If you stop and think with common sense why should a hunter have to pay for a buck that is extraordinarily large. Think of this. If you harvest a 200 inch buck with a whitetail deer outfitter they are going to post it on their website and use the photo for marketing purposes to make money and book hunts. I have always thought if anybody ought to pay a trophy fee the outfitter should since it’s the whitetail deer outfitter that is gonna use the hero photos for marketing. I can’t even imagine booking a whitetail deer hunt with a whitetail deer outfitter, sitting in a stand awaiting the buck of a lifetime and when he finally walks in I’m scared to shoot him because of a trophy fee. Whitetail deer outfitters that attempt to make money off trophy fees of superior whitetail bucks are simply trying to “nickel and dime” you to death. Stay away from these whitetail deer outfitters.
9. Quality Deer Management Programs. A good whitetail deer outfitter will have a minimum requirement of measurement regarding the buck you shoot. IMB Outfitters employs a 125 inch minimum. Any buck shot under that score has to pay a $500 fee. This is simply good business so that the whitetail deer outfitter can manage their deer herd and grow big bucks for hunters. HOWEVER I have seen a growing trend in the hunt industry that is an absolute scam. Numerous whitetail deer outfitters have set their minimum harvest requirement at 140 inches or better with a hefty fine if the buck is below that score. They will follow up on this scam by telling you that with a higher minimum harvest score employed that they have bigger bucks. This is simply not true. These whitetail deer outfitters are actually hoping the hunter will shoot a buck below this score so that they can make a living off penalty fees. Think of this for a minute. The National Record Books recognize a deer scoring 125 inches is worthy of Record Book Entry. How can any whitetail deer outfitter ethically look a client in the eye and tell them they can’t shoot a nationally recognized record book specimen without a penalty fee. The truth is we all have misjudged animals, but it’s a heck of a lot scarier to know you have to take a 140 or you will be penalized. In 2007 I had a client that called me from his treestand and stated, “Mr. Bradley, I’ve just killed buck but I don’t know if he will make 125 inches. I told him to relax and congratulated him. I told him I would be right over to get the deer for him. That deer ended up scoring 182 inches. He said he almost didn’t shoot it for rear of the $500 penalty fee if it didn’t score 125 inches. Imagine if he had been with one of those whitetail deer outfitters that have a minimum of 140. I assure you these high minimum harvest rates being implemented of 140 and better are nothing short of a whitetail deer outfitter trying to make a few more dollars off you.
10. Its not a party. Never book with a whitetail outfitter if you feel like the lodge setting is a drink fest. Successful whitetail deer outfitters control the alcohol consumption of their clients or they simply don’t care about the camp as a whole. If you want to party go to a bar. If you want to kill a big deer go to IMB Outfitters. While we don’t care if you have a couple drinks in the evening we are not a club or a bar. Ask the whitetail deer outfitter what their drinking policy is.
I could elaborate on a hundred more red flags on the behalf of you hunters however if I tell all the secrets then I’ll have more competition than I need. You can simply trust if I take the time to cover these issues that I’m aware of them as well as many more, and manage them appropriately. This comes with our 13 years of experience as a whitetail deer outfitter.
DEER HARVEST AND SIGHTING EXPECTATION OF THE HUNTER. WHAT IS REALISTIC AND WHAT IS NOT? WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT FROM YOUR WHITETAIL DEER OUTFITTER?
Outdoor Television has done two things for the hunt industry. It has catapulted products and all hunt related business’s into a new arena wherein people can make a living in the hunt industry. That’s the positive aspect.
The negative effect that Outdoor Television has had on the hunt industry is that it has led many a hunter to the belief that their a trophy buck behind every tree and that the harvest of a trophy whitetail buck is much easier than what it is. Just last year I had 3 men in on the first morning of their whitetail hunt with us in a 4 Starr Lodge in Pike County, Illinois. Nothing had gone wrong with the hunt and the other hunters in camp were having a great time. After one morning these 3 hunters asked to speak with me in private. The stated and I quote, “Us 3 hunters didn’t see any bucks this morning scoring over 170 inches.” I was shocked. I responded by saying, “Fellas, your in the #1 County in the Nation for Boone and Crockett Bucks scoring over 170 inches but you’ve got to be patient. This is your first morning of a 5 day hunt. Just relax. We’ll get you on some big deer, but remember their isn’t a 170 inch buck behind every tree in the county.” The responded by saying, “That’s all we had to hear.” They packed their truck and went home after one morning. Obviously these types of expectations are out of bounds and these 3 men had been watching too much outdoor television.
While our hunters normally see 25 to 60 deer a piece per day deer movement is vastly decreased during high winds and severe weather. No hunter can expect to see anything less than drastically decreased deer movement in high winds and bad weather. Thus on days with bad weather be understanding of the fact weather and wind can shut the entire herd down for that day.
Expect to see more trophy deer during the rut.
Expect to see less deer during late season.
Expect that you will be exposed to a variety of ambush sites or treestands and not be confined to just a couple. The whitetail deer outfitter ought to be moving you around if your not on big deer, and be willing to move tree stand locations on your behalf if needed.
In conclusion, after a thorough study of dozens of Midwestern Outfitters the high cost range of a whitetail hunt in is $4500. The low end price range is $1500. Let me say that I would not book a $1500 hunt as I know it would be a “wild goose chase.” Although IMB Outfitters leads the Midwestern Whitetail Outfitters in regard to quality our hunts range in price from $2250 to $3500. We strive to be the “Best in the Midwest” and may be the most solid whitetail hunt you could book in the Midwest but our prices don’t reflect it.