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I've thought about this recent experience with Whitetail Heaven Outfitters and I'm almost at a loss at where to begin. Let me begin with Objectives I use as a hunter; 1). Know the most current weather reports and have stands picked out appropriately to hunt wind, rain, snow, etc.. to control scent and exposure. 2). Know deer travel patterns i.e. Rub/scrape lines, feeding and bedding areas, tendencies on bad weather days, safe zones, and no access zones (I call these sanctuaries and I never go in these areas rather I hunt the edges of these areas as they travel to and from). 3). Know the terrain by topo and physical inspection. Pinch points, draws, bowls, oak ridges and flats, cliffs, creeks, springs, escape zones. Know wind direction to when to hunt or not hunt. 4). Inventory my deer and know when, where, and how many I have coming and going. 5). Trail cameras to establish habits and confirm travel patterns not just over food. I need to know where, when, and how long. 6). Equip my stands for appropriate weather conditions. If it's 10 degrees and 30mph winds I'm Agg fields and open food plots from a box blind or shooting house so when the time presents itself I'm not frozen to a tree. I never hunt the same stand in back to back days especially if I've killed something there the day before. 7). All equipment is in working order Carabiners are in place, safety lines attached and in working order, and all stands are checked for level, function, and direction of established travel patterns for highest percentage of success. 8). If I'm in a wooded area I establish shooting lanes while ensuring I don't lose proper cover and concealment of my stand. 9). I never ever ever enter the woods without proper scent elimination and control. 10). I never hunt in a tree stand in winds over 25mph because the risk vs. reward is too high. Stands of this nature are typically a deep woods stand anyway and a Hunter knows deer don't move in deep woods in high wind because they can't hear. Knowing rule #1 eliminates being caught by surprise on this one. Knowing all these things helps me eliminate "losing" a hunt to being unprepared. When on a guided hunt many of these things are left up to the guide since the Hunter doesn't have the opportunity to establish these things on his own. In this instance none of these rules were owed with any consistency. None of the guides had rules 1-4. Joe's excuse was that the farm that was being Timbered was acquired late and he had only covered maybe 25% of it in his own words. Joe stated he didn't want anyone walking around because Tev didn't want scent marking up the hot spots, but he had no problem hunting same spots 6,7, and even 8 days in a row. In fact Jim from Virginia sat the same stand 8 days in a row and then Craig sat that stand 4 days in a row right after. 12 days in a row Rule #6! Also while on stand I heard chain saws, men talking, loaders, bunchers, and all that goes along with Timbering property. Pretty sure those guys don't focus on scent control..... I was also placed in a ladder stand where 5 logging roads met at a landing zone by a creek bed. That morning Damon drove threw me as well as Joe. John, the Naval fighter pilot, killed his buck. When Joe returned to retrieve the deer he drove past, then Damon, and then CJ. 30 minutes later they drive back through my location, stop and Joe yells, "You doing alright need a bottle of water or anything?" I shake my head NO and yells "Ok see you tonight". Then arrives an hour after shooting light and I enduring 4 hours of rain in the process. Rule 7: If I hunt a blind I expect t a chair be in it not asked to carry a hard wooden chair from the dining room to the blind to sit in for 14 hours. No blinds were equipped with chairs or shooting rails. Pretty much just thrown up and tied down. Joe also had a tendency to make deer grow after they were already rubbed out. He began by talking about 190" deer and by the 5th day that same stand had 2 or 3 200" deer under it and none had been killed. Even touting a 184"and a 186" deer had been killed out of Brandenburg the week before we arrived. Sunday evening while leaving the Timbered property the Game Wardens pulled a license check on myself and Egore, the dentist from Buffalo, NY. In casual conversation I asked the Wardens if they'd seen any big bucks in this county and they said, "No not around here biggest one checked in was a 141". Joe had no reply. Yet each stand location he placed me in he had trail pictures of in his description 190" buck and 200" buck. Each evening hunters were reporting poor numbers and when Joe was asked what he had seen that day.... Well Joe was back at the lodge after dropping his hunters and just was too busy he didn't scout out anything else. Then he'd change the subject and start talking about other hunters in the group stating, "2 MF' ers called Tev wanting to be moved and I'll move the SOB's I'll put them in the f'in Gaunt stand and show them! You talk to your guide don't go crying to daddy!" Guess Joe has never had a professional bone In his body. When the floor of the ladder stand froze over and I dropped my rifle Joe was angry. He informed me he thought it was BS that he had to make a special trip for just 1 guy and morning drop off and evening pickups were enough already. Then complained to me that 1 of the Louisiana hunters wanted CJ to take him into town to replace his phone that broke when he dropped it. I just sat rubbing my head thinking to myself if Tevis only knew how he and his company were being represented down here. I once had a guide drive me 4 hours to an airport after I was able to fill my tag the first morning of a 3 day hunt. I tipped him $1,000 not bad for a day's work if say. I considered just following him to my stand in my truck just to shut him up. After returning to the lodge after a miserable day last night I sat down in the dining hall and spoke to Craig from Philadelphia. He asked where I had hunted and I told him of my silly mistake wit my rifle and that I was moved to an Alfalfa field after the pipeline workers came through. He then informed me he'd hunted that stand the entire day before and of course I knew of Jim's deer there the day before that. There goes low hunting pressure and rule #6 again. So my first morning hunt I'm 30' up a tree in 25mph sustained winds and guide never texts back to move. 0 deer seen. Second day placed in a cut corn field in a ladder stand where all the cover had been cut away and i looked like an Orange lollipop in the middle of 2 fields. Personally I would have placed a brushed in blind in this location to get out of wind and control scent and cover. Third day placed in a ladder stand on a bench where I was told Realtree had filmed a 190" buck but the Hunter couldn't get a shot and no one had hunted it for 3 weeks. That evening I was informed that one of the Louisiana hunters had hunted it on their 1st day the day before I sat it. I saw a 1 horned Spike the entire day. The fourth day I hunted the 5 Timber road and landing area. I saw an old mature deteriorating buck that had about an 85" 8 point frame. He probably weighed 250lbs on hoof. That was seen at 8am then at 4:30PM I saw a die with a button buck. The fifth and my final day you already know that story. I saw no reason to continue this journey after 70 total hours on stand in 5 days I think I had a pretty clear picture. I just couldn't bring myself to getting up even earlier than 3:30 to drive to another location after all I'd been through. All I will say about meals is this; Wednesday evening Dinner Wendy's Chili and Kroger Salad Thursday breakfast bagel with peanut butter Lunch cook forgot to make sandwiches had protein bar and water Dinner Salisbury steak on a biscuit, mashed potatoes, and corn Friday breakfast Bagel and peanut butter Lunch Roast beef sandwich Dinner Fried Fish, hush puppies, cole slaw, and fries Saturday breakfast Bagel and peanut butter Lunch cook forgot sandwiches protein bar Dinner Chips and Salsa Finger foods Sunday breakfast bagel and peanut butter Lunch same cook same story Protein bar and water Dinner Papa John's pizza Monday breakfast bagel and peanut butter Lunch Roast Beef sandwich and water. Dinner Vegetable soup (I gave up at this point and went to Lil Dave's Roadhouse). Lodging: after 14 hours in a stand every day I could have slept on a rock. Shower was hot and heater worked most of the time. Wasn't that world class lodge that's for certain. Your bright spots in all of this were CJ and Damon. Those guys truly tried to make a decent experience but poor management by Joe will ruin them soon. Hunter is beyond help and I told him Wednesday night he was incompetent, unprofessional, and should leave now before I had a chance to see what else he was. Kid showed up the first evening smelling of beer, bragging it was his 18th birthday, and saying he was headed to Louisville to party. 18 and drunk good start. All this said this falls on you! This camp is not ready to open and should never have accommodated any hunters. We each paid for hunting, lodging, and accommodations appropriate to your website and these were the expectations. None of those were met so in a nut shell you falsely advertised and have set yourself back enormously! Profit was placed in front of Probability and this leads to short business life expectancy. Your staff was incompetent and in such presented you in this light as well since you didn't bother to ever stop in and check on YOUR clients. I personally am embarrassed for you and cannot fathom the fall out your about to face. From this point on my advice is to never wait on a call from a client to complain. If you are too busy to show up personally you best have someone you can trust to call and talk to each Hunter to ensure expectations and concerns are met. My life is caring for others. I spend 51 weeks a year making sure every expectation is met just like you claimed on your website. The 1 week I had this year to relax and hopefully be taken care of was a complete disaster. The hunting turned into sitting and rather than feel I was on a guided hunt I felt like I was in Canada again being dropped off 3 hours before daylight and picked up an hour after dark left to my own accord. Canada I had a blind, comfortable chair, and a heater. When you asked I stay at this Motel and get up even earlier to hunt a farm an hour a way and then drive all the way back to sleep then jumped back to maybe the main lodge or ... I decided then I had had enough. I don't think you gather how truly exhausting this experience was to every Hunter involved. I can promise you I met 8 hunters that you will never see again. Everyone was disgruntled and Joe washed all complaints right out the door. Here is my proposal I paid $4,900 for 7 days of hunting, food, and lodging at a world class lodge. My best calculations of cutting my trip short your out of pocket expense for my lodging and food was a generous $500 for this low budget lodging and food bank meals. I'm giving you the chance to return $4,400 of my money and we'll have no other communication.
Was the outfitter notified of problems? - YES
Wow! I would like to respond by indicating that I was very disheartened to read that Mr. Grayson did not have a hunt to his satisfaction. My name is Tevis McCauley and I’ve been the owner and operator of Whitetail Heaven Outfitters for over 14 years and each year we’ve taken steps to improve our operation. I started my business guiding on a few thousand acres and housing hunters in a basement with one of my best friends as the head cook and let me tell ya he wasn't the best of cooks, yet a lot of those same guys back then, hunt with us today! Over the years I’ve listened to the feedback provided by our most important asset - our clients. Today we manage over 20,000 acres of literally some of the best hunting land in the country and are running hunts out of 3 separate camps. Our main camp has first class lodging and meals which will be in place at our other camps this upcoming season! To meet customer demand we had an opportunity to open a new basecamp in West KY approximately mid-summer this year. We typically have a little more time to strategically plan out and set up a property but the opportunity to open this basecamp was too good to delay until the 2015 season as it’s some of the best land we’ve ever had. The deer density in this area is low and the hunting is hard but the rewards are worth the wait. We killed a 180" 185" and 186" in the West camp Mr. Grayson hunted during the 2014 rifle season. To put this into context these bucks of a lifetime are probably 3 of only 20 of that size or so killed state wide all season.
We pride ourselves on our re-book rate which is why it bothers me to read Mr. Grayson’s review. Another hunter that was in camp the same week Mr. Grayson was in camp contacted me just this week to re-book and this hunter had heard of Mr. Grayson’s negative attitude towards his hunt and told me that Mr. Grayson moved stands 3 times in one day and couldn't be pleased no matter where he was. Just a little FYI. Mr. Grayson's first day he was placed in a big oak hardwoods where we have pictures of a 100% for sure net Boone and Crockett scoring buck, which is a world class once in a lifetime animal and he came out early and complained about how he could hunt big woods and places like that spot back home. Mr. Grayson left after day 5, came out of the stand early several times and literally complained about everything. We shoot a lot of bucks between 11-2 during the rut in Ky and if your not in the woods during those times when we suggest you should be then, well what else can I say. One of the last days Mr. Grayson was in camp he was in a big buck honey hole and he dropped his rifle out of the stand right after daylight and he contacted his guide about wanting to come out and when we checked the camera at that spot we had a high 170" old mature stud on the camera in broad daylight!
Mr. Grayson complained about the food and lodging which is amazing as I discussed the 3 hunting camps with him and he was the one that indicated he wanted to hunt our West camp. I specifically told Mr. Grayson that the West camp does not possess a 4-star lodge like the one pictured on our website. I explained that I just picked this property up approximately mid-summer and that housing would be done out of local cabins and a cook would be provided. I informed him that the food and lodging wasn't that good as this camp but that we had some giants we were hunting there. Mr. Grayson responded by indicating that he did not have an issue with food and the cabins and in fact he joked that he could eat spam for 3 days. When told of the lodging Mr. Grayson had this to say "I lived on MREs for 6 years, I can handle anything for 7 days." This is why it bothers me that he is complaining about his accommodations and food as I went out of my way in full disclosure to provide him with an accurate picture and told him the food and lodging was nothing like the main lodge.
Mr. Grayson argues that you should not hunt stands over consecutive days. The two most important things on a guided hunt is patience and persistence. Several of the biggest bucks we have ever killed have been taken after a stand has been hunted over consecutive days. Several seasons ago one of our clients hunted a stand that had been hunted 9 consecutive days and he was rewarded by taking a gross 200 inch typical. During the rut we are a firm believer in hunting food sources and travel corridors. Some of these travel corridors may not have a lot of activity until a buck cycles through the area and we would not ask a hunter to hunt stands over consecutive days unless we were confident that the stand would produce. This year we hunted a stand 7 days in a row daylight to dark and the hunter present on the 7th day harvested a near 180" bruiser. I could give lots more of these types of scenarios where patience, persistence and trusting your guide paid off! Mr. Grayson mentioned that he talked to the game warden and the game warden indicated that the largest buck they’ve seen taken in the West area was a 141 inch buck. Well we don’t broadcast to the local community of the success our hunters have. If we did this the local hunters could take it to mean that we are flaunting our success. Mr. Grayson I would be happy to provide you with the contact information for the 3 hunters that harvested bucks this year that were over 180 inches on the West property you were hunting. In fact I can show Mr. Grayson a recent trail cam pic of a very mature 6.5 year old buck that was taken at the stand he was hunting in which he dropped his gun out of the tree and a Booner at the stand he said was in to big of woods. Mr. Grayson may be correct in that it’s difficult to hunt a treestand over consecutive days if a hunter is not patient, makes multiple trips to and from his treestand and creates un-natural sounds like dropping a gun out of a treestand I’m extremely proud of the operation Whitetail Heaven Outfitters has grown into. Each year our clients have taken bigger and bigger bucks. We are successful as a result of 20,000 quality land that we manage, the hard work provided by the guides and the repeat booking of our clients. I am a fan of the internet but one thing that bothers me is that an individual like Mr. Grayson can write a negative review like the one he wrote and others could base their perceptions of Whitetail Heaven Outfitters based upon his unconfirmed feedback. The 2014/15 hunting season is still currently underway but to date our clients have taken 7 bucks right at 170" or better. I would challenge anyone to find a free range outfitter that can say this. If you are considering a hunt in the great state of Kentucky, please give me a call and I would be happy to provide you with references from hunters that were both successful and unsuccessful and let you form your own opinion of our operation. Kentucky is the hottest state in the country and it’d be my pleasure having you become a part of the Whitetail Heaven family. God bless. Tevis McCauley Whitetail Heaven Outfitters
Had high wind 3 of 5 days with no option to hunt in a stand or ground blind over looking fields or food options. Heavy wooded stands all available.