I took my son for his first out of state hunt to Dos Plumas Ranch in Trent, TX. We booked what was billed as a 3 day rifle deer hunt. We would be hunting Nov. 11,12,13th, Tuesday-Thursday. Before the actual hunt date I had spoken to Allen Williams, ranch owner, several times. I asked him about shooting hogs and he said that wouldn't be a problem. 1 thing I asked specifically was if he could take us out at night to hunt/call for coyote and bobcat. I have shot plenty of deer and was actually looking forward to this part of the hunt. I told him if he couldn't do this, I could look for someone else in the area while we were there, to take us out for this type of hunt. He assured me he could do it. However, upon arrival the first day when I asked him what night we would be doing this his reply was that he "didn't really do that" but he could "stick us out there somewhere." He also stated that due to the early morning hours to get out deer hunting it was unlikely we could do any of this.
Another thing I clarified before the hunt was that I wanted to hunt with my son in the same stand; he is only 13 years old and is inexperienced. When we got out to the deer stands I discovered the stand was a single seat tripod stand and that I would have to sit below the tripod. I had assummed that for a father and son hunt he would have 2 person box stands so I could assist and advise my son through the hunt. What I ended having to do was to whisper to my son instructions, encouragement, etc. from down below where he was sitting. Allen did make a comment that if he was going to offer father and son hunts he should have put in some bigger stands....no kidding.
When settling the final balance I noticed that it was slightly higher than I had been expecting. When questioning Allen about this he explained that due to our hunt officially ending on Thursday night he was charging us to stay Thursday night thru Friday. We were expected to leave Thursday night, at 7 PM, after we came in from hunting. I had informed him of our plans before the hunt; this had never been mentioned previously.
The first hunt day, Monday 11/11/08, we were put out on our "2 man stand" and my son did get shooting at a nice 8 point buck. Now the morning started out rough as I had gone to a sporting goods store, requested .243 shells and they had given me .270 shells. I hadn't checked them before leaving home, assuming that the sales clerk had provided what I asked for. My mistake, freely admitted. My son had to use my gun which he had never fired. He wounded the deer. Allen had taken a stand and was hunting up above us, on a hill. I thought this was actually unethical to guide and hunt at the same time but I didn't say anything. He and I looked for the deer and followed a blood trail. Eventually we realized that deer had been laying up in a weedy field and watching us the whole time; he ran passed us and I shot and missed at the deer, at which point Allen showed his disgust and what I took to be anger. My son felt bad enough and I explained to him that it happens, we all miss sometimes or wound animals that we wish we wouldn't and it was ok. Allen proceeded to make him feel worse by stating "well that may be but it doesn't mean we have to like it." This is a 13 yr. old kid.
The rest of that first day we saw no other deer. The second day, Weds. 11/12/08, we were placed on another of Allen's "2 man stands" and saw nothing in the morning. Since I didn't want to waste the entire afternoon, I requested that we go out earlier, at 1PM, instead of the ususal PM hunt time of 3PM. We saw nothing until just before dark when a 6 point crossed near us. Since Allen's requirements were 8 point or better we of course passed it up.
It was after dark and I don't know whether Allen was feeling guilty or what. But he offered to take us into the high fence area to shoot pigs. He has a high fence area where he has exotics and hogs that are trapped from elsewhere and put into that area. I thought he would put us on a lighted stand and go that route. Instead he had his ranch hand stalk pigs with a 3 or 4 cell flashlight and we were to shoot them, with scoped rifles, in the head. OOOOOk.
Last day of the hunt, Thursday 11/13/08, and we saw nothing in the morning. No doe, no buck, no animals of any kind. It was after he had picked us up that Allen started hinting that "most guys don't tip their guides but they really should," and "if not the outfitter at least they should really tip the guides 'cause if not they don't make that much." We did see another 6 point buck that evening. Pretty slim pickings for a place that is supposed to have plenty of deer.
The last night of this hunt there were 6 other hunters in camp, a group of 5 and 1 lone deer hunter. The group of 5 had brought a load of alcohol with them and proceeded to get drunk, be very loud, hooping and hollering; this didn't stop until 12:30-1 AM. Maybe we could institute some quiet hours?
Needless to say not a good experience. I have hunted with other out of state guides so I do have something to compare to....