I had never hunted with an outfitter before hunting at Premiere. I didn't know what to expect. However, on the phone, Mark told me and several others in camp that there are no guarentees in hunting but that he was almost positive that everyone in camp would have the oppertunity to shoot at least a 140" deer. Out of 11 hunters in camp, only two people saw a shooter buck. Both were out of range. I kept waiting on him to go over all the rules and things I needed to know over the phone before I booked but he never really discussed anything unless I asked. I started to realize why this was when I got to camp. However, overall, he was very convincing over the phone. He got me excited about booking a hunt but led me to believe some things that didn't end up being true.
When I arrived to camp, I was pleasantly suprised with the clean and pleasant accommodations. The cabin was clean and nice. The food was good. The cook was a nice lady and I felt like she gave her 100% effort to please everyone. The problem is that I feel she was the only one who gave that 100%. We didn't see Mark at all the second day of the hunt. He told us he was going to sleep in. No big deal. However, he never showed up the evening after the first day to talk to everyone and see how things were going. Everyone in camp seemed to have something to say about that. I noticed right away when I arrived that there were no returning clients on opening weekend on gun season. It did take me long to figure out why. I heard from several hunters that their guides seemed to be in a hurry to drop them off at their stands and then get back so that they could get back in the bed. The cabin was never cleaned and there were never fresh towels. These are things that you expect when you pay that kind of money.
As far as the hunting, nobody in camp was very happy with their hunting results. There were NO BUCKS KILLED out of 11 hunters in 4 days. Mark lead you to believe that you had the option of sitting in the stand all day or taking a break during the middle of the day. This was not the case. We had one day when it rained in the evening only and one day when it rained all day. However, two days were almost perfect conditions. Several hunters called their guide and asked to take a break and were told to "hang in there". I found this to be ridiculous. This was suppose to be a fun vacation for the hunters. Everyone paid good money to be there. These are decisions hunters should be able to make themselves. Mark also told me that we were allowed to shoot one buck and one doe. However, on the evening before I left, I decided to I wanted to shoot a doe before dark so I could take home some meat. I had the oppertunity. I called Mark to make sure it was ok because nobody had killed a doe yet. He told me not to shoot a doe. He said we didn't need to shoot doe's at night. One person in camp did shoot a doe that evening and he was very irritated. He claims he told everyone not to shoot doe's at night when we arrived. However, nobody remembered him saying this. It didn't even make sense to me. I figured he knew nobody would shoot a doe in the morning because they didn't know what was to come. The evening was the only time anyone would shoot a doe. I feel like they just didn't want to have to deal with them. In a 4 day hunt, there was one doe killed. I hunted three different stands and saw the same does, yearlings, and small bucks in every stand. I saw pretty good numbers of deer and enjoyed my hunts for the most part. However, everyone there was rifle hunters and the majority of hunters reported hunting in lock-on bow stands with no rails. All three of the stands I hunted were lock-ons. Only one had a shooting rail. They were CHEAP lock-ons. Several of the hunters ended up just hunting on the ground and most weren't given the option to swtich stands at all. This was the most expensive outfitter I found. However, I tried to overlook this thinking that there was something to it. What I paid and what I recieved just didn't add up. All the hunters had a long discussion about it. It wasn't just the lack of seeing shooter bucks. You can't guarentee this oppertunity. It was the fact that none of us saw anyone working hard to make our trip worth while. It was like once your money was taken, nobody was concerned. The hunters were charged different amounts to hunt the same week! I paid $3500. A couple of other hunters paid this as well. However, a couple of hunters paid $3000 and then there were a couple who said they paid $2500. Thats $1000 difference! I was very mad when I found this out.
Overall, I enjoyed meeting and talking to the hunters in camp. I also enjoyed the food, and the accommodations were good for the most part. Some hunters saw good numbers of deer. Some didn't see many deer. In fact, there was one guy who only saw two deer in 4 days. We were all very dissapointed to not have the oppertunity at a shooter buck. This happens sometimes, but it shouldn't with 11 hunters. There should have been at least 5 or 6 bucks killed. Everyone hunted hard. It was not the hunters. I do not know how there are no bad reports on here. I know I will not be the only one from my group of hunters to make a report. I hope this outfitter gets a lot of this turned around. They have the land and accommodations to be a very successful outfitter.
Was the outfitter notified of problems? - NO
First of all I would like to say Premier Outfitters incourges thier hunters to comment on their hunts both positive and negative. That's how a successful company grows.However as most people know there is always two sides to every story here is mine.
I never told Mr. Massingale that he or anyone else would have the opportunity to harvest a 140 inch buck. What I did tell him is we had a 140 inch rule. He asked me what could he expect to see on his hunt and I told him just what I tell everyone that ask that question. I CANT PROMISE THAT YOU WILL EVEN SEE A DEER BUT I HAVE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA YOU WILL.Any outfitter that tells you you will see trophy bucks either has a high fence or is not telling the truth.I told him we harvest big bucks every year but you just have to be in the right place at the right time,And that he was paying me for the chance to hunt an area that is managed for and has trophy bucks not to kill one. These are wild animals and if he wanted a sure thing he would need to go to a high fence place.
To address the statement that we had no return hunters in camp for the first hunt of the gun season, the reason is because we only had eight total gun hunters in 2009 and the weather was hot the first hunt so they booked the second and third hunt for 2010 to ensure cooler weather. Still Bucks were harvested but the day time temp's for that hunt in 2009 were high 70s.
As young Mr Massingale stated this was his first guided hunt and I truly hate that his first hunt was so bad for him.But as many of you may or may not know the first four days of the gun season in western KY was plagued by nasty rain storms and high gusting winds, we had a total of three inches of rain in the first four days of the gun season.Only one hunter hunted the last day and he missed a good buck. Mr Massingale and the rest of the hunters left the morming of the fourth day because they just did not want to hunt again in the pouring rain and 35 mph gusting winds and for that I cant blame them. Out of 11 hunters in camp one hunter saw a booner he said he could not get set with his cross hairs because of the high winds. He also saw five other bucks that would make the 140 mark.One hunter passed a 140 inch eight. A twelve year old young man saw a shooter and yes a couple didn't see much. I thought that any deer seen in these conditions was a God send.
To address the statement that I slept in and they did not see me the first night that was true I WAS VERY SICK I HAD A VIRUS ALONG WITH 102 TEMP AND HAD NO SLEEP THE NIGHT BEFORE so I did not see the guys the first night of the hunt because of that and I wasnt going to get out in the pouring rain with a fever but spent every other night in conversation with all the hunters as I always do.
To address the mention of my guides wanting to go back to bed. My guides are required to stay at the farms and glass and video so they can try to get their hunters on a good deer this is S.O.P for my guides, but during the heavy rain I told them to just come back to the lodge.
Mr Massingale first praised the cleaness of the lodge and then go's on later to say it was always dirty and no clean towels (absolutly not true), My staff always keeps a clean lodge and everything a hunter needs is always provided.
Mr Massingale said the hunters were led to believe they could come in if they wanted for lunch this is true but during the rut we try to encourge everyone to sit all day and we will provide lunch and snacks for the day. The night before each hunt I or my head guide get's a head count of the one's who will sit all day so we can have our cook prepare the meals for the day, also to know how each guide will place his hunter because if you want to come out we have to put you in a area that we can get in and out without compromising the hunt of another. Each morning we get another head count just to make sure we are all still on the same page. So if you say your staying be prepared to stay we can't and wont disrupt anothers hunt because you have changed your mind. I hope most can understand this.
On the first nigt everyone arrives in camp everyone is given a what to and what not to do and what they can expect meeting. During this meeting I asked everyone how many were here to harvest a doe all hunters said they wanted to kill a buck first and some even said they had no interest in harvesting a doe at all. I then as I always do explained that if they wanted to take a doe to please do it in the morning on a day they didn't want to hunt all day so we would not have to go in a feeding area at night during the rut and stink up the area with human intrusion and an atv just to recover a doe, not because we are lazy,this is one of the camp rules and always has been. In fact the man that did take the doe at night spoke up at the meeting and said he would go home empty handed if he didn't kill a buck. In fact Mr. Massingale was in the room when the friend of the man that shot the doe reported it to me and said he could not believe the guy had shoot the doe knowing everyone was asked not to.
As for hunting out of lock on stands most hunted out of shooting houses because of the rain and some hunted on ladders a couple did hunt on the ground not because my stands are cheep(by the way our stands are all quality stands) and all there was to hunt out of was lock-on's but because there was more cover under a close cedar. I was told. Mr Massingale Failed to tell everyone he choose to hunt out of a lock-on because he hunted a area that had thick cedar's to try to block the rain and the only stands there were bow stands consisting of lock-on's. That was his choice.
Some of our hunters in camp did pay a different price I had an add in a national magazine to promote a few spots for that hunt because a group of three hunters had to cancel their hunt leaving a balance of $2500.00 if Mr massingale would have booked when those spots were open he could have taken advantage of the special price.Also two booked their hunt at a hunting show at a show special price in Feburary 2010,outfitters are expected to have show specials at these shows.
As for the statement that Mr Massingale feels that five or six of the eleven hunters should have harvested a buck, That would be a 50% success rate and those numbers are just not typical anywhere in the outfitting business especially if you have a minimum size requirement as we do. Evidence there again that this was Mr Massingales first outfitted hunt and his expectations are way to high largely the result of so many hunting shows portraying booners everywhere they hunt each time they go to a stand. This is just not the real world and most seasoned whitetail hunters know this .And I bet that if the truth be told Mr Massingale does not kill a 140 inch or bigger buck five or six of the times out of eleven times he hunts, if he did he would not be going on a outfitted hunt. I am just as dissappointed that the weather was nasty(Mr Massingale did not disclose the weather issue in his report) and no bucks were harvested but as I stated one was missed one was passed and several were seen, but out of the hunters range, again I was suprised anyone even saw a buck in those conditions.Because of uncontrollable conditions and Unrealistic expectations two hunter from this hunt felt it necessary to do what they could to discredit my business.
I wish I could afford to give everyone a mulligan that was on this particular hunt and let them come back for free but I can't nor can I controll the weather and the movement of a whitetail. I think it is evident by the many good reports about us that we give 100% effort to our hunters and I hope everyone that reads this review and the review of the other hunter who has commented unfavorably about us(by the way he was on the same hunt) will be able to read between the lines.
Incidently two of the hunters from that hunt understood that weather conditions dictated deer movement and know what the potential is at Premier Outfitters for harvesting a giant(because just two days before their hunt the Ky state archery record was harvested on our farms a 200 inch gross buck)and they have rebooked for 2011.
Also I would like everyone to know when the weather cleared two days later the next hunt four bucks were harvested and some of those people gave us steller reviews and already rebooked for 2011.
I wish Mr Massingale and every hunter much success in the future.
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