New Jersey hunter Jeff Herrmann had shot a lot of deer in his day, but he’d never killed a trophy-class buck. Last year he decided: I’m going wherever it takes to finally get a big one.
Jeff wasn’t looking for a full-service outfitter with a fancy lodge. He just wanted to hunt good ground in a state with big-buck potential. Chats on one of his favorite hunting forums led him to an Oklahoma landowner who was looking to book just a few hunters on his working cattle ranch. Jeff did some research. He mapped out the ranch and studied the November hunt dates. He called the rancher back and set up the hunt.
Jeff hopped a plane to Oklahoma City, drove three hours and arrived at the ranch. Paradise! He’d be staying in a cool guesthouse in the middle of 6,000 acres. Best of all, the only other hunter would be hunting the ranch later during the rifle season.
Jeff scouted and hiked and saw a ton of deer. On the second morning he spotted a buck he knew to be a very nice 10-point. The shot was 197 yards with his .280 Ack. Imp. Piece of cake for Jeff, who shoots his guns a lot throughout the year. The buck buckled and ran 50 yards.
“I was absolutely amazed when I walked up to him,” said Jeff. “I knew he was a nice one, but he had three beams.” The mainframe 10-point’s bonus beam was 12 inches long. The rack, scored as a 16-point non-typical, went 171 5/8 net.
Lessons Learned -Visit websites and forums and network with other serious deer hunters across the country. It is buyer beware, but if you do your homework and follow up with solid research you can find a dream hunt online. At least it can be a good place to start.
-A private ranch hunt like Jeff found—semi-guided with a place to stay and access to prime land with little pressure—offers some of the best deer hunting in the country, and at an affordable price. Be on the lookout for such an opportunity.
-Jeff shoots and tests guns and loads throughout the year, so when that Okie buck stepped out at 200 yards it was lights out. If you’re headed to open country, shoot steadily before your trip so you’ll have that kind of skill and confidence.