This was the second time hunting at Shiloh Ranch. The first time was 10/2013 and we had a great time. It was the first time I have ever hunted and Matt and Cheryl were friendly, nice, and eager to ensure we had everything we needed for a successful hunt. This second trip however was 100% opposite. From the moment we arrived at camp my party and I felt like more of a bourdon to both Matt and Cheryl rather than a returning paying customer. It seemed like they were more worried about someone trying to pull a fast one on them rather than ensuring we had a good time. It seems that past hunters have done certain things that were frowned upon by Matt and Cheryl which translated in how they treated us. On our first trip Matt pulled us aside and told us that he didn't care if we strayed off trail to stalk regardless that there were 3 gun hunters there. Not the case this go around but it was never mentioned that he had changed the rules. On their website and rules posted at camp it states that they allow spot and stalk hunts when gun hunters aren't hunting and that is far from the truth. There was one gun hunter in the other group but he had already shot his pig and was back at camp when one of the members of our party went off trail. Matt basically yelled at the guy in our group "there's no stalking here". He called about an hour later letting me know that he wasn't happy with our stalking. I mentioned that the website states it is allowed and the rules posted only talks about gun hunters, he quickly said "I don't care what the website says". I guess that's what they call a "bait and switch technique". Out of the 4 people in our group we did harvest 3 hogs and it was good to be out in the woods for a couple days. One other thing we noticed are the quality of the hogs. They didn't look too good. Two of the pigs we harvested were sitting on frame that could be 180lbs - 210lbs yet they weighed in at 100lbs. They're ribs were practically showing and we couldn't get anything but Italian sausage or breakfast sausage. Neither had enough meat to get some chops. Needless to say, after this last experience we will never return to Shiloh Ranch.
Was the outfitter notified of problems? - YES
Scott, thank you for your review, but in all fairness anybody who reads it should know the underlying reason for the contention. When you booked your hunt with us, you did not have the minimum number of hunters (five) to book the whole ranch to yourselves, so we booked you on a date where we already had a father/son hunt booked (which we informed you of while booking your hunt). Since you had hunted with us before while there were gun hunters on the ranch, you were well aware that we do not allow any stalking or still-hunting for safety reasons. This is clearly written in our rules, and information packet that we sent you in the mail with your confirmation letter. Additionally, it was emphasized during the pre-hunt orientation which we do before every hunt. We never have, and never will allow anybody to stalk while rifle hunters are hunting. Despite this rule being thoroughly explained, we received a text from one of the other hunters (who incidentally, was a father who brought his nine year old son out for his first hog hunt) telling us that one of the bowhunters had just walked in front of his stand while his boy had a loaded gun aimed at a hog he had just shot! We mentioned this to your group and expected that the problem was an error in judgment and would not happen again.
The next morning, the father had texted us to let us know that he too had shot a hog. When we went out there to pick him up, he mentioned that he had the same trouble again from your group. A member of your hunting party decided to walk around to another stand, and came right through the area that the father and son were hunting. And then a third incident, where another member of your party was out stalking and told us that he wasn't stalking, he was just "pursuing an animal that he saw while walking". All three of these incidents occurred while there were rifle hunters in the field. Needless to say, the father and son left early and didn't even stay for the second day of their hunt. It wasn't purely your stalking that upset us so badly, but the fact that you put yourselves in danger, and all but ruined that father and son's experience.
Additionally, I have to admit I was a little put off by you all wanting to hunt from the only stand that the boy wanted to hunt from also. When we have a mixed group, we always try to let our hunters work out their stand choices amongst themselves but in this case we had to intervene. When the father asked if we had any two-person ladder stands with a shooting rail on it, I told him that stand number four was the only such stand. When you and your friend both said you wanted to hunt that stand, I couldn't believe you would actually put your own desires in front of that little boy on his first hunt. You are both grown men that had seven other stands to hunt from and yet you wanted to hunt the only stand that the boy felt comfortable shooting from. I've never in 14 years had to jump in and tell somebody to "give the little boy a shot first". I feel like you were offended by my intervention, but at that point I felt like somebody needed to be an advocate for that father and son. Incidentally, all four members of your group shot a hog, so I don’t believe you were cheated out of a hunt in any way by that young man hunting from your favorite stand for one evening.
Lastly, you mentioned that from the moment you arrived at camp you felt like more of a burden. You failed to mention that we called you the day before your scheduled arrival to confirm that check-in was at noon and we didn’t want anybody to arrive before 11:00. Despite that request, you were already in camp when we went over at 9:30 to finish cleaning from the previous hunters and feed the ranch roads. You seemed disgruntled when we would not allow you to go walking in the hunting area prior to orientation, while the animals were being fed. This is the only opportunity we have to cull any wounded animals and it’s important that there not be anybody out on the ranch in the event we need to shoot quickly, without evaluating if somebody is standing in the road beyond a target. You weren’t being “singled out”, as this is our policy for every group of hunters.
No Mr. Cook, it wasn’t “bait and switch” that resulted in your group not being allowed to stalk the last evening of your hunt… it was your blatant disregard for the ranch rules and lack of respect for the other hunters that resulted in the conflict.
Respectfully, Matt and Cheryl Napper - Shiloh Ranch Hunting Camp
Surprisingly it wasn't too hot for a June hunt. It was pleasant in the morning and the evenings were warm but not scorching.