Starting to understand hunter's problems with outfitters

Blizzard Ridge

Well-Known Member
OK, bear with me this may take me a minute to tell this story.

So this morning I get a text from a friend. It is a message between he and another guy that is looking to purchase used camera equipment. So any in the message it says that the guy looking for camera equipment leased 400 acres from the previous owner of the ground that I have leased. So my friend proceeds to tell him that he believes that I have all of that ground leased. The guy says he would like to talk to me because I stole some stands of his and that I don't have any of that ground leased. So I say fwd. my number on to the guy I would love to talk to him now that I know who the trespasser is. To set up the rest of the story back in July when hanging my stands I came across 4 stands and 4 cameras in one of my farms, in which they clear cut a 30 yard circle around each stand (of Oaks). So as anyone would do if found a trespassers stands in their woods would do. I took all of the stands and put them in a safe place in hopes that trespasser would contact me to get their things back. So hence the reason I was being called a thief.

So I immediately call the outfitter that had access to these farms in years passed in which it was rarely hunted (legally). I proceed to tell the outfitter that I have this ground leased as well as the other 20,000 acres that was sold to the new owners and that I am finding signs of trespassers and he then says well I gave them permission to hunt that farm. I say well I didn't and I have their cameras and stands that I would like to get back to them if you could please give them a call and let them know they are trespassing and will be prosecuted if caught in there again. Being that my day owns 40 acres right next to this property I have left the entire 80 acre farm as a sanctuary and would be hunting the deer from dads farm. I also reiterated that I am quite upset that there have been people roaming around in one of my sanctuary farms and the fact that they clear cut an oak flat so that they could have 360 degree line of sight around their stand sites.

Ok anyway back to the story. So the guy calls me and proceeds to get a little cross with me about stealing his stands off of "HIS LEASE". So I proceed to explain to him that I have it leased and he argues for awhile. So I tell him about me talking to the outfitter and explaining to him that you were trespassing and I have your stands and cameras if you want them back. He continues to argue so I get the lease agreement out and start to read off the farms and legal descriptions to his amazement he finally agrees that maybe I do have the farms. So he starts asking about other farms that they have so called permission to hunt.

You see I know this farm well because it joins my dad's farm and I hunted it as a kid before the old guy that owned it at the time passed away and his family sold it off to a big farmer in the area. So I can be very specific about many of these farms and know exactly what I have leased and where it lays, every corner, property line and most of the individual trees and I know each other from morel season. Long story short I know when someone is trying to buffalo me when it comes to my hunting ground.

So after a long conversation convincing him that I was right and he and the outfitter were wrong, he then proceeds to tell me that he doesn't have any paperwork just exchanged money and handshake and actually he hasn't met the outfitter himself because one of the guys he leased the ground with from out of state does all of the talking to the outfitter. You see I already knew this about this outfitter as I had a few hundred acres leased from him last year with the same guys he is leasing the ground with. So I knew what a fly by night deal it was and I also never received a lease agreement from the guy.

Back to the point of understanding why folks have problems with outfitters. If you are an outfitter you should know every inch of every property that you are putting hunter's on. You should know whether you have a piece of property leased or not. You should never ever put hunter's on a piece of property that you are unsure about leasing and you better never put hunter's on your landowners properties without a release of liability being signed to protect your landowners. You see I just leased all of this ground this year to have great places to hunt around my house. I too had to obtain an outfitter license so that I could sell a few hunts to recoup some of the expense as 20,000 acres is quite pricey to lease, insure, etc. This was take it all or nothing deal. If I do not lease the ground it will go to an outfitter and my adjoining properties would be ruined right along with all this ground. So I had to do what I could to get this ground leased. The farmers and owners actually pushed for me to have after hearing about past problems with the ground.

It is very discouraging when you see these kind of activities from outfitters. The outfitter misled and did not inform his clients that he did not have these farms and I had their stands and to not set foot back into that woods. I feel sorry for the clients as they have spent a lot of money to hunt these farms, but this is the reason why both parties need to make sure that paperwork is taken care of before setting foot on a piece of property.

Just to inform everyone I am an outfitter but take very limited amounts of hunter's. We have looked to go the hunt club route but feel that this is not the right approach on the properties that I have. It is still a work in progress but I have been leasing a few properties out to pay the bills as well as a few self guided type of hunts. I am not a guide and don't want to be but have some great properties for guys to hunt on their own. Pretty much all I do for the client is run trail cameras year around and plant food plots. I give what knowledge I have of each farm to them as well. I also have strict rules/guidelines that my clients obey property lines, protect and treat the land given them with respect and do not disrespect the farmer or farmer's fields. Oh and that they damn sure do not cut down half the woods to hang a tree stand, especially cash trees.

Ok sorry for the rambling I just got a little set off this afternoon and needed to vent. Makes me mad when people give me a bad name for their behaviors.
I remember part of that story, BR. About them over-pruning. I didn't think you'd ever hear from them, though.

Few folks who run hunt clubs enjoy the experience very much. One friend of mine gave up an enviable 1,000 acre lease with farm house just to be free of the headaches and heartburn. There are just too many folks who equate dollars with killing; they feel cheated even though the pursuit is all that's guaranteed. Very sad. Hell, I don't go to the woods to kill, kill, kill. That pressure would drive me from the sport. I go to the woods and pay money for that privilege to GET AWAY from the rat race competition. We did an outfitted hunt a few weeks back for our anniversary and there was one negative nilly in camp that drove me to distraction. First time ever I couldn't wait to leave the outfitter's veritable paradise to return home!
Yep you got that right. People think because they are on a outfitted hunt we will have a monster buck tied to a tree beside their stand. This is why I am doing self guided hunts or leases only. I can show them pictures of deer that are using the farm and if they can't seal the deal then I am sorry but it was your woods to yourself and your hunt and you hung your own stands. All my farms are fair chase typical small Illinois woodlots surrounded by Ag.

And you hunt for the same reasons I do. I just want to be in the woods. Don't get me wrong I want to kill the oldest buck in that woods but I am not heartbroken at the end of the season if I don't. Finding a target buck and killing that same buck is not as easy as it may seem.
Good luck with the outfitting blizzard... hopefully there are very few headaches for you this year, and you enjoy going down this route! I'll pass the word for you if that's what you want
I won't mention any names, but I hunted two years with one outfitter and that was enough. The guy had good ground, but I certainly think that he vastly inflated the amount that he actually had leased. My issue along with many others was not only his lack of communication, but more in the fact that he would clearly state that the week you were booking for would have "X" number of spots and a corresponding price.

Fast forward to when you arrive and low and behold there are not six guys in camp as was stated, but sixteen. Of course there is not enough room to comfortably sleep ten (guests and staff) let alone eighteen. Naturally it leads to slower going getting out in the am and slower going when you get picked up. While I failed to do my part of actually making a hit the first year I re-booked for the next year.

Second year was said to have eight spots open for "X" dollars, but of course when you show up there was fourteen guests. Then you find out that most of the people that were over the eight were last minute bookings, and at a substantial discount from what you paid. Outfitter making a money grab in the hopes that the word would not spread among the guests, but it did. Despite the fact that I had encounters with even better bucks then on the first trip I was not going to re-book as the guy was clearly unethical.
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It seems like for every one honest outfitter there are several bad ones. I'm good friends with a guide who has a sizable operation and has really good ground and from what I hear has a good reputation (never hunted with him). But he has told me stories about very clearly going over maps and aerials of the boundaries with clients yet it seems a handful of them always wonder off the property and he is the one who has to deal with it. However he does call the warden on clients if something illegal happens, he makes it clear to them before hand about this and I think more outfitters need to respect the laws and boundaries of others.

I was shocked at how much he deals with similar stuff, a lot of locals despise him for legally hunting land they may have used to, and every year he has over a dozen cases of poaching, stand and camera stealing as well as vandalism to the properties and even his own car and house. These problems can go both ways
You all listed several reasons why I am leaning towards weekly personal farm leases. Most of my bigger farms are split in a way that one hunter could have a tract to himself or bigger tracts for hunting parties. I already have put limits of max. hunters per farm to keep the hunting pressure down. My other plan is to rotate farms so an individual farm would not be hunted more than a week at a time unless that same hunter re-books for another week in that farm (if on a target buck and feels needs a few more days). I do not like pressure on farms and I am a hunter first so this is the reason I am doing very limited hunts for the amount of land that we have.

The difference from what I am doing and what other do is, Others may have 1200 acres to hunt and it gets pounded by 8 hunters a week. We have 20,000 acres spread over 5 different counties. Now don't get me wrong the majority of the ground is tillable ag ground which people that know this part of Illinois know what I am talking about. Small woodlots, fence rows and woods rarely over 40 acres. This puts hunter's in their own piece of ground with no other hunter's very close to them unless in the same hunting party. The other difference is I am not looking to get rich. I am looking to be able to pay the bills and have good places for my family, friends and myself to hunt (those friends actually pay to hunt as well). There is no doubt with the amount of ground we have that i could run 30-40 hunters a week make a small fortune in a few years and leave the decimated deer herd for the locals to worry about. That is just not me. I respect my deer and deer hunting far too much.

This is definitely a rough business to get into, when a large piece of ground is leased you have folks coming out of the wood work like cockroaches looking for something for nothing. Trades and swaps are great but when in the initial years of this business those $$ is what is needed to operate and pay the bills. We will see how it all plays out. Not many hunter's this year only 8 for the year plus my family (3 boys, one of which will only be gun hunting only and myself). What keeps me going is all of the great people I meet along the way. Whether they are looking for a way to hunt as cheap as possible or someone that is willing to pay to play. I have met a ton of great individuals and never blame anyone for trying to get something as cheap as they can either. Poor boys/girls gotta hunt too, just ask me I am one of them and lucky to have good family and friends that helped me get these farms leased up this year even though I did not have the initial investment myself.

Ok enough of my venting. I was not looking for a sales plug on here just wanted to tell my frustrations with what other outfitters do to the honest hard working ones. Most everyone on here already realized that I was an outfitter so they knew where to go if they needed a hunt.

I am on this site to learn more about food plots and habitat management as everyone else is. And to especially talk deer hunting which is what I know a little more about (very little it feels some days)