John's Journal...

"How to Book a Super White-tailed Deer Hunt” by John E. Phillips

Day 3: What Deer Guides Look for in a Deer Hunt at Another Lodge

Editor’s Note: How does a sportsman know how to pick the best hunting operation where his chances of bagging that deer of a lifetime reasonably can come true this year or next? Some top-notch lodges still may have some hunts open that you can book for this year, or you can start now to plan your trophy deer hunt for next hunting season. To find the answer, I went to the men who should know best. Each of these men either owns, manages or guides at a successful hunt-for-pay operation where I either have taken or seen trophy deer. Some of them asked to remain anonymous.

Click for Larger ViewDeer season starts early in South Carolina. In August, whitetail hunters go to the Bostick Plantation in Estill, South Carolina (, and begin to hunt the velvet-antlered deer of the Savannah River swamp. The guides at the Bostick see sportsmen bag over 200 deer per season, so the guides usually are ready for a vacation. Here’s how they’ll spend their weeks off hunting whitetails at someone else’s lodge.

* Take the most-recent print and online outdoor magazines, and look in the backs of them for a list of hunting operations. Then try to find outdoor magazines 3- or 4-years old, and search for hunting operations in those magazines to learn which lodges have been in operation during that time. A quality lodge will have been in business for several years, and to stay in business, the lodge must provide a quality hunting experience for the customers.

Click for Larger View* Call the four or five hunting lodges selected, and ask what their kills have been, how-many big bucks they’ve taken, how-many deer they have per acre, and what their buck/doe ratio is. If the person doesn’t know this information, then eliminate that lodge from your list of choices. Assume that the lodge has no type of game-management program in practice, which will make the lodge’s continually producing big bucks very difficult. Learn what type of land you’ll be hunting – swamp lands, hills, mountains and/or agricultural fields to know what type of hunting to expect.

* Learn how the hunters go to and from the stands, which is a good indication of how well the hunting operation is organized. If the lodge operator says, ‘We give you an area, and then you just drive your vehicle over there and start hunting,’ then you can know this hunting program isn’t very organized and isn’t the type of operation where you want to spend your money.

Important Extras:

Click for Larger View* Expect the guides to clean your game. If you’re taking a vacation to enjoy yourself, you want to have an enjoyable experience at the table as well as in the woods. The type of food they have and the amount they feed their hunters will be important too.

* Learn the attitude of the guides and the employees at the lodge. If they are helpful, courteous and genuinely interested in the hunters, then the hunts will be much-more enjoyable. The best way to get this information may be to call the references that most good hunting operations provide.

Click for Larger View* Ask about the quality of game that you’ll have the opportunity to hunt. A sportsman can take a small buck at almost any hunting lodge. On your week off from work, you don’t want to hunt a small buck. Even if you hunt all week and don’t take a deer, still you’ll prefer to hunt for a big buck rather than just a little buck.

* Hunt in an area that is controlled by the hunting lodge. The lodge should tell the hunters where they can hunt and make sure that no one infringes on another hunter’s land. Expect to have a minimum of 500 acres solely for you to hunt, and try for 1,000 acres.

For more deer-hunting tips, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks "How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,”
How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” and “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” or to prepare venison, get “Deer & Fixings.” Click here on each, or go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.


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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Guides and Lodge Managers Want Quality Bucks to Hunt Rather Than Numbers of Bucks

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Book a Super White-tailed Deer Hunt” by John E. Phillips"

Day 1: How to Begin the Quest to Book a Super White-tailed Deer Hunt
Day 2: Information You Need to Book a Dream Deer Hunt
Day 3: What Deer Guides Look for in a Deer Hunt at Another Lodge
Day 4: Guides and Lodge Managers Want Quality Bucks to Hunt Rather Than Numbers of Bucks
Day 5: Game Managers and Guides Explain How the Deer Rut Impacts Your Hunting

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Entry 744, Day 3