A Texas Hunt Lodge Clients perspective...
About a year ago, I started looking for a Hunting location outside of Nevada, Idaho, and Utah. The deer, elk, and pronghorn hunting in Nevada is on a draw system and about every other year to every 2 years you might draw for deer the average for elk is 10 years and pronghorn is about 3-5years. Once you draw, then it becomes difficult to find the animals and to find the animals and not be overrun with other hunters. I got fed up with unsuccessful hunts and discouraged at the lack of animals.
So I started to look around to Idaho and Utah. Idaho is about a 9 to 11 hour drive depending on which part of the state and you have to know the area. I purchased both deer $310 and elk tags $528 over the counter and a buddy of mine and I went out hunting. After 3 days of seeing only does and no elk, we gave up and drove home. Due do the distance and time to drive we could only go 1 time. I also purchased an elk tag for Utah but quickly found that the hunter to elk ratio was about 100 to 1 and Utah has historically dramatically oversold their tags @ $588 each.
My search began to find a place to hunt deer or elk or exotic species. I found three places and did some research on the web. The first place I found is co-owned by one of the TV personalities on either versus or one of the hunting channels on DIRECTV. While looking at that site I found 2 others and finally decided on Texas Hunt Lodge. I am not sure why I picked them, but I have been back 2x (April and October 2010) and have never looked back or regretted my decision or looked elsewhere; I just have had no reason to look.
Here is the how is works: Aaron Bulkley is the owner and a very active and hands on operator. He takes the reservations and handles the scheduling and coordination of hunters and guides. Other than Aaron, there are at least 2 full time guides: Justin and Dennis. The lodge itself is in town and has a rustic feel and décor. They server breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have a fully stocked bar and non-alcoholic beverages. For breakfast and dinner they usually serve game of some sort (deer, antelope, bison, etc) and it is excellent. I have been very happy with the friendship and generosity of everyone.
For exotics they hunt on 4 or 5 primary ranches, for native whitetail they hunt on 2 or 3 different ranches, and for hog hunts on again 2 different ranches.
Contrary Creek is around 1000 acres and is the smaller of the 2 primary ranches where you can hunt exotics and next year white tail deer. I shot a Water Buffalo last April (about 1200 lbs) and they have Elk, Bison, Scimitar Oryx, Addax, Blackbuck antelope, Rams, Fallow deer, and other species. It is high fence so the animals aren't going anywhere, but believe me, once they are spooked they are gone into the thick brush so it is not like shooting fish in a barrel. You hunt safari style (or at least I did) on the back of a flatbed pick up truck and spot the animals. From then on you decide how you want and if or when you want to shot. You can use a Rifle, Hand Gun, Cross Bow, or any style of Bow. You can shoot from the truck or get off and stalk to get close for bow range. I shot the Water Buffalo from about 70 yards on foot with shooting sticks. This October I went back and shot a Scimitar Horned Oryx (about 350 lbs) from 168 yards off the truck with a rifle. What is really cool is that you will see literally hundreds of animals. They may not be the species that you are looking for but it is cool to see all of them.
Las Catarinas is about 1500 acres and is the larger of the 2 primary exotic ranches. It has a lot more animals an a larger variety of species from Wildebeest to Zebra to Deer (Axis, Fallow, Sika, Red Stag, White tail) to Scimitar Oryx, Addax (antelope), Black Buck, Ibex, Bison, Elk (Huge), Eland, etc...I can go on but they are all listed on the web page. You will literally see hundreds of animals and I guarantee you that you will be amazed and very pleased at the selection and diversity of species.
One of the things that I was unsure of is the listing on their web page for the costing of the animals: Bronze Metal, Silver Metal, or Gold Metal. There are naturally different sizes of the animals so they are put into categories by size; however, the categories can be a big difference in cost and I am just not that familiar or good with being able to score or judge the animals from 150 yards through a scope. So here is how it works. You find an animal and the guide will tell you what it is and what category it falls into and you shoot it. Then when you get to the now dead animal, you discover that it is actually not a bronze metal maybe $1950 but a gold medal $3500, you only pay for the bronze metal because that was what you were told prior to shooting. The guides are good and they know their stuff, but they are only human and sometimes people make mistakes. You will never be on the bad side of the deal and they will always make it right. I have found out first hand at the lengths that they will go to make it right.
At all times you are in charge and in control. You pick the animal that you want and you and only you decide when to pull the trigger. They will do whatever it takes to put you on the animal that you want, but ultimately it is your decision to shoot or not shoot. Last year I went out to hunt an Eland but saw this huge water buffalo and we changed on the spot, no problems, the bottom line is that you decide and they will accommodate.
Mark Van Leeuwen, President