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Last week's hunting trip to SW Alabama

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  • Last week's hunting trip to SW Alabama

    As some of you may remember, I scheduled a whitetail hunt for a few days last week at a lodge in my State. Allowed was one buck per day with at least 13-inch main beam and one doe for the trip. The cost was $550 per day with a two-day minimum. There would be progressive fines for bucks with antlers too short. A trophy hunting area was available but a buck shot there would cost an additional $750.

    On day one, I arrived at 10:45 and parked in front of the lodge. It was at the end of a mile-long dirt road and even further from the nearest house. No one was in sight, so I walked in through the front door, entering the great room. No one answered when I called so I wandered down a hall towards the back of the building. Through the dining room there was noise coming from the kitchen and I noticed a small office off to one side with two men. So, with little fanfare and low enthusiasm from the owners, that was the start of my 48 hours of paid hunting in Southwest Alabama.

    The lodge was unimpressive in construction, furnishings, and decoration, but it seemed adequate and clean. The photos posted below will give you an idea of how it looked. No curtains on the windows and mostly game mounts on the walls. Three other hunters arrived shortly afterwards. They were from Mississippi and very polite. We ate lunch after the owner’s rules and safety talk. Wow! The food was good! Fried Catfish, Hushpuppies, French Fries, and dessert.

    For the afternoon hunt, I was dropped off just a few yards away from a new box blind overlooking a food plot. It was in the middle of a grown over clear-cut (see picture). I saw a yearling, a spike, and an antlerless deer. That last one came out just after legal shooting time.

    That evening we had BBQ pork ribs, beans, corn-on-the-cob, potato salad, and cake for dessert. After a beer and some TV, I hit the sack early while the other three hunters stayed up late. Fortunately, I had a bedroom to myself and ran a provided box fan for white noise.

    I woke early the next morning and was showered, dressed, and ready for the day when the guide came down the hall at 4:30, announcing breakfast was ready. It was scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, and biscuits. The guide dropped the four of us hunters off at different trails leading to ladder stands. Mine overlooked a bottom with lots of acorn trees and moderate undergrowth. About 9am I noticed a couple of antlerless deer moving my way and at 30 yards I shot the larger one in the chest with my Ruger American Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor (Hornady factory loaded 143 gr ELD-X bullet). The doe ran about 25 yards before going down. The entry was about the size of a pencil with the exit about twice as large. There was hardly any blood trail even though the heart was destroyed.

    I was waiting beside the logging road at 10:00 when the guide drove up after collecting the other three hunters. He seemed surprised that I hadn’t dragged the doe to the road. Forgive me but I thought it was his job. However, the youngest hunter and I went back in and got the carcass out of the woods and onto the hitch rack of the Ford Expedition. Back at the lodge, lunch was fried chicken, black-eyed peas, potato salad, cornbread, with pie for dessert.

    The afternoon hunt had me in another box blind on another food plot. All I saw was a doe and her yearling. What a disappointment! That evening we had steak, baked potatoes, salad, and pie for dessert. After a beer and some TV, I again hit the sack early.

    The next morning the same routine and breakfast before being dropped off at another ladder stand overlooking a small oak tree flat next to a stand of young pines. A light rain started just as I got into the stand, but I was prepared with a camo poncho large enough to keep me, the rifle, and my backpack dry. I only saw a button buck and a yearling that still had faint spots on its flanks.

    So, that was it. $1100 for 4 times on stand and only the doe to show for the effort. Well, at least they quartered it for me. I tipped the two cooks and the guy who dressed my deer. I would have tipped the guides if they had put me on some larger bucks… Leaving was as uneventful as the arrival. I hugged the two women cooks, shook the owner’s hand, said goodbye to the Mississippians, and got out of there. It was a fun experience, but I was disappointed about several aspects, including not seeing any larger deer. Nope, I won’t be going back.

    The Great Room
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Bent Creek - Great Room.jpg Views:	0 Size:	440.3 KB ID:	719365
    The Dining Room
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Bent Creek - Dining Room.jpg Views:	0 Size:	401.6 KB ID:	719366
    The Bedroom
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Bent Creek - Bedroom.jpg Views:	0 Size:	341.1 KB ID:	719367 First Day's Box Blind
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Bent Creek - Box Blind.jpg Views:	0 Size:	785.9 KB ID:	719368
    The doe I shot...
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Bent Creek - Deer 02.jpg Views:	0 Size:	472.9 KB ID:	719369
    Last edited by PigHunter; 12-10-2019, 12:47 AM.

  • #2
    Sorry for the disappointment PH, but your results were about what I would expect. I must say though, the price appears to be out of line for the experience ! I know there is no guarantee when it comes to hunting, but those spending $1100 I would imagine, would be looking for a little better return. With seeing that few deer, I would be surprised if others would be returning also. I am not sure good eats are an adequate return of $1100 !!!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by bowhunter75richard View Post
      Sorry for the disappointment PH, but your results were about what I would expect. I must say though, the price appears to be out of line for the experience ! I know there is no guarantee when it comes to hunting, but those spending $1100 I would imagine, would be looking for a little better return. With seeing that few deer, I would be surprised if others would be returning also. I am not sure good eats are an adequate return of $1100 !!!
      Thanks Richard. Granted, we had mild temps in the afternoons but the mornings were cool. Also, the deer were not in rut. But there were no trail cameras to be seen and the guides didn't seem to know enough about the present deer movements. Oh well, at least the food was good and the mattress comfortable.

      Comment


      • #4
        Can I assume the Mississippi gentlemen did not fare any better? One doe for one guy is disappointing, one doe for four hunters is a problem. I thought Alabamas rut was in January, seems like there would be a little pre rut going on. For $1,100 I would be expecting more myself. Wonder what $1,100 for 2 days would buy you in Texas or some other state? Excellent job telling the story and illustrating it by the way. One thing about this site, maybe the best thing, is the gift many of you have in conveying the story.

        Comment


        • #5
          Eleven hundred isn't too bad.
          The price of providing food, fuel to haul you around, plus facility maintenance and paying for cooks and guides?
          Okay, maybe I would expect to be put into a location with a little more deer activity, but remember, even as a guide or landowner, you can't MAKE the deer appear just anywhere! LOL!
          I can't believe the rut wasn't on or had already passed?
          Crazy.
          Anyway, bummer on no big buck!
          Hooray on at least some meat for your efforts!
          Anytime you're paying someone else, one must be prepared to be disappointed.
          Remember guys, fitch270 and son came away from Montana with a memorable buck AND adventure, but fitch270 himself never popped a cap.
          It's just the nature of the beast!

          Nice looking outfit, pighunter!
          Glad the food was good and the people pleasant.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by dewman View Post
            Can I assume the Mississippi gentlemen did not fare any better? One doe for one guy is disappointing, one doe for four hunters is a problem. I thought Alabamas rut was in January, seems like there would be a little pre rut going on. For $1,100 I would be expecting more myself. Wonder what $1,100 for 2 days would buy you in Texas or some other state? Excellent job telling the story and illustrating it by the way. One thing about this site, maybe the best thing, is the gift many of you have in conveying the story.
            Dewman, each of the Mississippians also got their doe, but none shot a buck. One saw 12 deer on the field the second afternoon but there were no shooters. He also could have killed a pig on the last morning but decided to wait and see if a large buck would appear. Of note: He was a repeat customer and sometimes goes twice a season. That makes me wonder if they were putting him on the better stands.

            One of the other men saw a shooter buck on the last morning but in his words, "It was hauling ass and I couldn't get a shot."

            As Bubba said, $1100 for two days is fairly cheap and just about anywhere else is going to cost more. It was only about a 2-hour drive from my house so that was a plus. I'm thinking of going to Western Kentucky next year for the opening days of gun season. The cheaper side will be similar in cost but I may double the budget and see what that gets me.
            Last edited by PigHunter; 12-10-2019, 10:01 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by FirstBubba View Post
              Eleven hundred isn't too bad.
              The price of providing food, fuel to haul you around, plus facility maintenance and paying for cooks and guides?
              Okay, maybe I would expect to be put into a location with a little more deer activity, but remember, even as a guide or landowner, you can't MAKE the deer appear just anywhere! LOL!
              I can't believe the rut wasn't on or had already passed?
              Crazy.
              Anyway, bummer on no big buck!
              Hooray on at least some meat for your efforts!
              Anytime you're paying someone else, one must be prepared to be disappointed.
              Remember guys, fitch270 and son came away from Montana with a memorable buck AND adventure, but fitch270 himself never popped a cap.
              It's just the nature of the beast!

              Nice looking outfit, pighunter!
              Glad the food was good and the people pleasant.
              Thanks Bubba. You are right, there were no guarantees of harvest and at least I came home with some meat. Overall it was an enjoyable experience and I don't want to throw too many negatives on the place. That's why I haven't mentioned the operation's name.

              Comment


              • #8
                All 4 of you getting meat and good buck at least sighted changes my opinion of the facility 100%. Its hunting, and hunting is what it is.

                Comment


                • #9
                  That's one good thing about being an untraveled hunter (I tell myself): If I ever do pay for a guided hunt somewhere, I will at least get to enjoy being in country I've never seen. Probably shouldn't even say "at least." I watch Rinella on Meateater and think, man, how great that'd be to just sit on a peak all day and glass across the miles of mountains or desert.

                  Your not even seeing a buck, though, makes me think of the Lake Ontario salmon-fishing charters I've done. Some were really great, catching fish left and right. Others turned out to be day-long, $800 boat rides. With a splendid view of the shoreline nuclear power-plants.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Folding chairs in the dining room? Yikes! Bet their insurance company doesn't know about that.

                    Sounds like the food was good. Hunting experience was too "canned" for my tastes. In Africa I tried to help with moving the game and was gently but firmly told that was not acceptable. Again, some dude wrecks his back dragging out a deer and this outfit is going to get a serious wake up call from their insurance company! Very, very dumb.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ontario Honker Hunter View Post
                      Folding chairs in the dining room? Yikes! Bet their insurance company doesn't know about that.

                      Sounds like the food was good. Hunting experience was too "canned" for my tastes. In Africa I tried to help with moving the game and was gently but firmly told that was not acceptable. Again, some dude wrecks his back dragging out a deer and this outfit is going to get a serious wake up call from their insurance company! Very, very dumb.
                      OHH, I didn't consider the folding chairs to be a danger. However, the two ladder stands I hunted mornings from did not have pull-up ropes for gear and weapon. So, I climbed wearing my backpack and having one hand on the rifle. I took a minor chance of falling when juggling everything just to get elevated. Granted, I could have gotten a rope out of my 4x4 for the purpose but didn't know I needed it the first time and forgot to take it the second.

                      I had my safety harness also in the 4x4 but was told by the guide that I didn't need it.

                      I know what you mean by being too canned and it wasn't my usual style of hunting. But, I wanted the experience. My normal method is to hunt WMA's on my own terms.
                      Last edited by PigHunter; 12-10-2019, 02:28 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PigHunter View Post

                        OHH, I didn't consider the folding chairs to be a danger. However, the two ladder stands I hunted mornings from did not have pull-up ropes for gear and weapon. So, I climbed wearing my backpack and having one hand on the rifle. I took a minor chance of falling when juggling everything just to get elevated. Granted, I could have gotten a rope out of my 4x4 for the purpose but didn't know I needed it the first time and forgot to take it the second.

                        I had my safety harness also in the 4x4 but was told by the guide that I didn't need it.

                        I know what you mean by being too canned and it wasn't my usual style of hunting. But, I wanted the experience. My normal method is to hunt WMA's on my own terms.
                        With safety issues such as you have described, I think you should give the name of the hunting lodge, just to protect others from going there ! Seem to be damn lax in regards to customers health and possible ensuing law suits by the owner, jmo !

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The Great Room looks pretty nice to me actually, but the dining area could use some real furniture. By the looks of the bunks it’s good that you had your own room. On our trip my FiL shared a room with the boy and I, three twin beds in a smaller room. Was a little tight with our stuff but we pretty much just crashed at night.

                          I’m laughing a little bit about the doe shot at 30 yards with a 6.5 Creed and an ELD-X. I’m not surprised at all about the lack of blood trail, with the pump out you don’t get much forced out of the body.

                          The fact that you got morning and evening sits leads me to believe they knew the deer weren’t going to be moving much, otherwise it seems like they’d left you in stand for the whole day. I wonder what the “Trophy” areas had going on. Two days is short, it would take me that long just to get acclimated to my surroundings.

                          i have a couple more thoughts but have to run, daughter has a middle school winter concert and is waiting on me.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bowhunter75richard View Post

                            With safety issues such as you have described, I think you should give the name of the hunting lodge, just to protect others from going there ! Seem to be damn lax in regards to customers health and possible ensuing law suits by the owner, jmo !
                            I think of the years I spent climbing up into tree platforms on 60d spikes driven into the tree. No safety harness. No pull up rope.
                            Just by grit and by golly!

                            Spent many hours sitting in/on folding chairs and several miles humping dead deer out of the backside of nowhere.

                            Good grief! What kind of litigation happy world are we living in?

                            I'm a growed up A-dult! I got a pretty good head on my shoulders and I can pretty much cover the ground I stand on.
                            I get awfully tired of folks running to a d##n lawyer when they get a boo-boo on their butt from sitting on a cactus and sue the landowner for their doctor bills and compensation for the pain and suffering!
                            LOOK BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN!!!

                            Sorry! One of my "hot button", soap box issues!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by FirstBubba View Post

                              I think of the years I spent climbing up into tree platforms on 60d spikes driven into the tree. No safety harness. No pull up rope.
                              Just by grit and by golly!

                              Spent many hours sitting in/on folding chairs and several miles humping dead deer out of the backside of nowhere.

                              Good grief! What kind of litigation happy world are we living in?

                              I'm a growed up A-dult! I got a pretty good head on my shoulders and I can pretty much cover the ground I stand on.
                              I get awfully tired of folks running to a d##n lawyer when they get a boo-boo on their butt from sitting on a cactus and sue the landowner for their doctor bills and compensation for the pain and suffering!
                              LOOK BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN!!!

                              Sorry! One of my "hot button", soap box issues!
                              I agree with you on the litigation issue, but you have to remember, we are living in a pussiefied world today, and only to get worse in the next few hours at it’s present rate of acceleration !

                              Comment

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