This is a subject I’m frequently torn over.
To me, hunting is a year-round activity. Even when game are not in season, days on end are spent in the woods hiking and scouting learning about the animals and their habits. Where legal, bait stands have to be refilled even in the off-season, and shooting lanes around blinds and stands have to be maintained.
Recently my day job has kept me behind a desk and out of the woods so I haven’t been able to be as diligent at scouting. In fact, I haven’t made it out into the woods at all since April this year. Naturally, as I watch deer season come to a close, I’ve got the urge to get out and see what I can find. But I’m afraid that without having the chance to scout my favorite hunting grounds before hand I’d just be wasting my time.
This has me looking at paying for a guided hunt.
Guided hunts come in many forms, and many prices. Some take place on huge 10,000 acre ranches with miles of 10 foot fences keeping monster bucks and does alike on the property. Smaller operations on ranches only a thousand acres or so in size offer a bit better odds for a hunter who only has a limited amount of time for a day-hunt. These kind of enter a bit of a moral gray are for me though. Even if the animals are wild, not hand-raised, if the herd is captive on a thousand acres or so, can we really call it hunting?
Then there are the “canned-hunts” that take place on facilities that are much smaller, only a few hundred acres, with bottle-fed bucks with no fear of humans wandering the park-like grounds. I’m not even sure these even qualify as hunting. Harvesting, maybe. Regardless, many of these operations are pretty unethical in my opinion.
Google “Guided Texas Deer Hunt” and you’re instantly bombarded with literally thousands of options. Most of these offer “guaranteed” trophy bucks with kill fees based on the size of the rack. Deer breeding and “hunting” ranches have become a multi-BILLION dollar business lately. Naturally however these outfits spend thousands of dollars on ads and SEO to remain near the top of the search results. When a quality “shooter” buck can cost an operator over ten thousand dollars, and exotics even more, it’s easy to see why.
Show me a low-fenced ranch where the guides have spent days scouting out the best locations, identifying scrapes and noting what game trails are active, and that’s where I want to be. Finding a quality guided hunt like this is not very easy however, and this late in the season many ranches are fully booked up.
I’m keeping my eyes peeled If I don’t get a chance to go up to Oklahoma to hunt with Evyl Robot before their gun season is over, I may just find a nice big low fenced ranch with a quality management program where the bucks roam freely and the does have never seen the inside of a stock trailer.