Had this buck been two years older, it would have found its way to the camp meat pole, but it drew a pass when the author let it walk.
Since 2006, we've made a trip to Missouri to visit Jim and Darlene Wilson, at Ozark Mountain Outfitters (OMO). They provide some of the best whitetail and turkey hunting available in the U.S.; doing it while keeping their hunters comfortable and well fed from arrival to departure. It’s always a pleasure to gather around the table in the warm and homey kitchen of the OMO Lodge.
One of the trademarks of Jim’s establishment is large numbers of wild game; whitetails, wild turkeys and varmints abound in the 3-square miles that makeup the rugged OMO. When you hunt with Jim you know you are going to see a lot of game. The only entity that can affect that given is Mother Nature; and boy did she lower the boom in 2010.
Delmer Bentz; Daniel Hendricks and Bob Jacobs, made up the Minnesota connection on this hunt.
The secret to OMO’s success is the countless food plots that Jim toils over so long and so hard. Beautiful little Gardens of Eden that draw in the game and hold it by providing a nutritious assortment of crops that keep the critters fat, sassy and happy. However, in order to be effective, they must have one thing – water! In 2010, that is one thing they didn’t get. They burned up and when replanted, the seed just lay in the ground, not germinating for lack of life-giving moisture.
To make matters even worse, the acorn crop was a barn-buster! Huge acorns covered the ground so thickly that it was almost impossible to put your foot down without stepping on one. With the food plots dehydrating in the sun and the deep woods full of nutritious acorns, the hunting… (how can I say this?)…it sucked!
The team gathers around Delmer Bentz’s doe as they prepare to move it on the last leg of the journey back to the truck.
Our team managed to take a few deer and a turkey, but the big bucks showed themselves only a few times and then they were well out of bow range. In spite of hunting that left a lot to be desired, our crew had a wonderful time sharing the beauty of the outdoors, the gorgeous weather and the special camaraderie that was shared by all.
Joining us this year were Jackie Seale from AL, Harold Webster from MS, Bill Brown from NY; and Delmer Bentz & Bob Jacobs, both from Minnesota. Bill Brown was the only member that hadn’t hunted OMO before, the rest were veterans who knew what to expect on a normal year. Fortunately, all were experienced hunters that understand the difference weather conditions can make in the final results of a hunt, both good and bad.
L - R: Harold Webster, Darlene Wilson, Jackie Seale, Jim Wilson, Francis Wilson, Bob Jacobs, Delmere Bentz, Daniel Hendricks and Bill Brown.
Jackie Seale was the first to draw blood when she took a big doe. Delmer Bentz took a doe and Harold Webster took a young buck and a turkey. Some of us had chances to take antlerless or young bucks, but passed as we were waiting for bigger and better things. Once again, most of the shooting was done with cameras and there were plenty of things to photograph, both in and out of the woods.
Jackie Seale poses with her first crossbow kill ever, a nice Ozark Mountain Outfitters doe.
Jim and Darlene worked hard moving us from stand to stand as they tried their best to locate the whitetails and provide their hunters with an opportunity. Their dedication to the mission filling their hunter’s tags is both inspiring and commendable, but as hard as they tried, not even they could overcome the circumstances inflicted by the extended dry-spell.
The upside of the drought that had plagued OMO since spring was that we had beautiful weather with bright star-filled nights and brilliant, breathtaking colors that were brought about early by dryness. It was an absolute pleasure to sit a stand in natural comfort as we watched the goings-on of the feral world that we all love so dearly. It was a complete and absolute escape from the telephone, the intranet, unannounced company and deadlines, all while basking in the glorious majesty that, for some of us, can only be found while immersed in the tranquil depth of the wild.
This is a Box Turtle, which when threatened by danger completely seals itself in its shell.
Philosophically…it was what it was! Each member of the team gleaned glory out of the hunt, enjoying the positives that were found each day in the environment and the very special people that shared the experience. Most were friends from previous hunts and the reunion of comrades is always valued greatly by the members of the ACF.
Thanks Jim and Darlene for the sincere dedication and kindness you showed to us during our week with OMO. We had a grand time and will return in 2011 to do battle with your wily whitetails; your tricky turkeys and of course, the whimsical weather.
Another young buck that passed just twenty yards from the Grim Reaper and was unaware of how close it came to being a freezer stuffer.
Harold Webster poses with a turkey that was retrieved by the team mascot, Tracker, which is a complete story of its own.