You’ve saved up some vacation time and some cash, and this fall you’re ready to go on the ultimate deer hunt. The following four lodges are among the best in the country, and their prices are reasonable:
** Quaker Neck Gun Club **
** Eastern Maryland**
The Eastern Shore of Maryland is crawling with big, heavy-antlered bucks, and last year a new state-record typical that scored 194 net was taken from Kent County.
Tyler Johnson manages some of the best deer habitat you can hang a stand on in that county: 3,500 private acres with lots of food plots and over 30 ponds. Voted the Wildlife Management Farm of the Year in 1995 by Progressive Farmer magazine and Remington Arms, the property is nearly surrounded by almost 10 miles of Chester River waterfront, making it easy to control hunting pressure. Hunting and lodging runs $150 to $235 per day. Contact Tyler Johnson, 410-778-6965; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bird-n-Buck Outfitters **
Glass for miles across the bluestem prairies as you search for a buck in this western habitat, but don’t forget to scour the oak thickets, cedars, and pockets of brush in the coulees and draws. That’s where the big whitetails like to hang out as they feast on the outstanding forage produced by the limestone-rich soil in Osage County.
All the open spaces here mean that glassing and stalking is the most productive tactic during the mid-November rifle season. When I recently hunted the 33,000-acre main base-camp ranch, I saw 30 bucks in two days and took a heavy 9-pointer. Rattling and watching from blinds works well during the early muzzleloader season. Five-day hunts cost $2,500Â¿Â¿Â¿$3,000. Contact Ron Thompson, 918-642-5509; www.bird-n-buck.com.
Alabama River Lodge
Can you go on an outfitted deer hunt for less than $1,000? Yes–and with a good chance for a 120-class buck.
The property has been in Bojie and Ed Beers’ family for years, and during that time they only harvested does or bucks they wanted to mount. Now they take fewer than 50 bucks a year on 12,000 acres that lie in the famous Black Belt region. A fourth or more of those score 120 or better.
Hunting is done from tree stands in the woods during the morning and overlooking green fields in the afternoon. Six thousand acres are managed with a 14-inch minimum spread rule; the other 6,000 acres are open for any buck. I saw eight bucks in two days of hunting here on a recent trip, and I took a fine 8-pointer. A two-day rifle hunt costs $900 (one buck and one doe); a two-day bowhunt, $600; self-guided bowhunt, $150 per day. Contact Bojie Beers, 334-874-4281; www.alariver.com.
Bluff Country Outfitters **
Access to prime hunting land is guarded like gold in Buffalo County, Wisconsin, which has produced more record bucks than any other county in the nation. By booking with Bluff Country Outfitters, though, you can have access to lightly hunted land in this famous location in the upper Mississippi River Valley. In 2001 a client here took a 1873/8 gross, 1771/8 net typical with his bow at 8 yards.
Success on Pope and Young bucks runs from 30 to 50 percent, with archery hunts from September through mid-November and again in December. Bluff Country offers a comfortable camp with hot showers and hearty food.
Bowhunts are $1,450 for three days; gun hunts, $2,150 for four days; semiguided bowhunts, $850. Contact Tom Indrebo, 608-685-3755; www.bluffcountryoutfitters.com.