Outfitters….The Best Thing For Deer Hunting?

In my opinion, I say Outfitters are great for deer hunting. (As long as they don’t lease up the land I want to hunt.) I’d love to own a couple hundred acres in the middle of property that was leased by outfitters. Just think about it for a minute. What are outfitters trying to accomplish. Get the best quality deer for their hunters and the most of them. I think that would make a wonderfull neighbor.

My friend Bob and I were talking this past weekend. He lives near my property in IL. Every year he goes up to hunt with a friend of his who owns property in Calhoun County, IL which is near the Pike County border. He hunts for 3 or 4 days and kills a nice buck there every year, usually 140+. He also hunts around his house some on his property as well as a neighbors the rest of the season. Sometimes he kills another buck and sometimes he doesn’t. I asked him how come he can kill a nice buck up North every year only hunting 3 or 4 days. He said the property is surrounded by land leased by outfitters and big bucks are everywhere.

This make perfect sense. When the outfitters lease up large chunks of land, say 2,000-10,000 acres, they have total control of what happens on that land. They control how many hunters hunt it and how many bucks are taken from it. The pressure is kept to a minimum by rotating hunters to different properties. So every deer isn’t loking up into every tree to spot the hunter. They make sure there will be enough big bucks for the years to come and that the little bucks are allowed to walk. I doubt most guys are going to pay $3,000-$5,000 to shoot a basket racked buck. Most also try to take enough does off the land to make bucks have to search a little to find them. Most outfitters also plant food plots and take good care of the properties. It’s in their best interest to have the healthiest deer herd possible.

By contrast without outfitters, a lot of parcells of land are getting smaller. Families are selling off the 120 acre farm and splitting it up into 10-20 acre mini farms for the weekenders. Then the whole family hunts on that 20 acres. Putting many more hunters in the woods and more pressure on the deer. You now have 20-30 people hunting the same land as 4-6 used to. Or if the farmers family does hunt the land. Most of these are meat hunters and shoot the first deer that walks by. Which is fine and needs to happen to keep the herd in check. But not good for trophy hunting. Both of these scenerios kill many more deer than outfitted land would and also make the ones that do survive that much harder to kill. Many of these deer become almost exclusively nocturnal movers.

I think if you could own a couple of hundred acres in the middle of properly outfitted land you would have a deer hunting paradise. Just make your property as appealing to the deer as the surrounding land and don’t put too much pressure on it and you should have some of the big boys using your land too. This is just my opinion and you may totally disagree, but if you stop and think about it, it does make sense. Myself, Bob and 2 other friends are currently working on leasing some ground just like this for next year. I’ll let you know how it works out.



  1. Justin Zarr says:

    John – I agree with you to an extent. It's true that most outfitters enforce antler restrictions on their hunters which helps protect some of the young deer, but that's only part of the picture. This fall we had an outfiter who leases over 15,000 acres of ground move in and hang two sets within 40 yards of our fenceline, and park their vehicle in the timber, directly on one of our main travel corridors which effectively cut our small 80 acre farm off from much of the surrounding ground our deer come from. Both mornings that those stands were occuppied and their loud diesel truck ran up into the timber at sunrise we saw zero deer from stand. Additionally, I had 4 guys waiting for me at my truck one night telling me it wasn't okay to park on the county road b/c they leased all the ground up around it. So yeah, they may help protect some small bucks but when they start crowding in on our spots and harassing us when we come out of the woods they all of a sudden don't become very nice to have as neighbors.

  2. Justin Hollandsworth says:

    I have been hunting with a outfitter in Hancock co Illinois for four years now. Some outfitters might be good about guys shooting a certain size buck on there property's and some are full of it. The first year out there I shot a buck in the 130's. He has on his web site that anything below that is a $300.00 fine. I come back the following year and two guys shoot bucks in the low 120's and when I asked him about it he said well thats the biggest buck they have ever seen. From that day on it just got worst and the prices got higher. This was my last year to hunting with the guy. I did manage to shoot a couple more P&y class animals but the sightings went way down on P&Y's. My opinion hunt with a outfitter when he first gets started and then move on and find another thats just getting started. They start making that money and they get greedy and the quality goes way down.


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