Making the Right Choice with Contributing Author Aaron Zimmerman

 

Mack at Hang'Em Outfitters is constantly scouting for his hunters. Mack at Hang'Em Outfitters is constantly scouting for his hunters.

With hunting season just a couple weeks away for most of us, it’s time to run through the final checklist to ensure we have all of our ducks in a row, and are ready to hit the ground running on opening morning. From shooting lanes, brushing blinds, to checking cameras- our focus is almost entirely on making sure that we are setting ourselves and family up for success.

Each season we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make sure our children, spouse, or close friends have a chance at a deer, but we also understand that it’s hunting and there are no guarantees no matter how much effort we put into the preparation process. Now, if you were an outfitter and paid to make sure a hunter has the best chance possible at taking a deer, I’m sure the level of stress and pressure would go through the roof for each of us. For most of us, paying for an outfitter is a rare thing and often a bucket list item is getting checked off the list. We entrust our hard earned money to these folks that typically we’ve never met. So before laying down that hard earned money, what are the three things you should be looking for from any outfitter?

 

1. When choosing an outfitter I want to know how many hunters they guide each year, how many acres they guide on, and what their success rate is on hunters having at least one opportunity at a shooter quality (for the area) deer. Recently I read an article written by Shelby and Macklin Nusz of Hang’Em Outfitters out of Pratt, KS that really brought some clarity to not only the importance of asking these questions, but also how the outfitter views the topic…

We at Hang’Em Outfitters strive to find that balance every year. We are running a business, we do need our income to be greater than our outgoing expenses, but you do need to have a cap. Every year we sit down and re-evaluate the previous year. How many hunters did we have? How many acres were we hunting? What bucks were harvested? Were they all the age and size of what we want to see taken from the land? What mature bucks made it through the season? Those are crucial questions we use to determine how well we are doing on herd and land management. We never want to put ourselves in a situation where if everyone that hunting with us took a great buck (which is always the goal) would hurt the population or result in bucks not reaching their full potential.”

Finding an outfitter that first focuses on the land and true game management above the almighty dollar is first and foremost when choosing an outfitter. I want to know that they have a plan for their property and I’m not just one of many coming onto a highly pressured property with the hopes of rolling the proverbial dice on a big buck. If they turn you away because of this, keep them on your outfitter list. This is the kind of outfitter you want to work with.

 

 

This dude is at the top of Hang'Em's list this fall. This dude is at the top of Hang'Em's list this fall.

2. I also want to know if they will send me trail camera pictures periodically so I have a chance to get a good feel for the quality of deer and what that area can produce. Couple that with pictures on their webpage of past success pictures really helps in educating yourself on what to expect…

While Macklin and I can pass on many bucks due to the knowledge we have of our land and animals, this is not the case for our clients. We strive to make sure we give our clients all the information we gather year after year and can only hope they make knowledgeable choices once they are ready to pull the trigger.”

If you are speaking to an outfitter that does not want to provide you with periodic trail camera photos or those little bits of knowledge before a hunt then my recommendation would be to keep looking. You wouldn’t go into a business partnership blind and you shouldn’t go into a hunt blind either.

 

3. What kinds of things do they do year round to set themselves apart from all the competition? Yes it may be a question used often times in a boardroom or on a sales call, but this is a business transaction after all and I want to know why I should hunt with them and not the neighboring outfitter 10 miles down the road. In the case of Hang’Em Outfitters, I’ve had the chance to have many hours of conversations with them to fully understand what it is they do to separate themselves from the competition. Below is a list of a few items they do to really enhance your hunt and the types of things you should be looking for in your outfitters.

 

DUI is useful in many circumstances. DUI is useful in many circumstances.

1. Year round they will run ScentBlocker DUI. This is a spray used at feeding locations that supports a buck’s need for feeling secure. A comfortable buck is more prone to appearing during day light hours when the hunter is on stand. This spray is added to their feed, sprayed on food plots, around camera locations and stand locations. It is an additional cost to their business, but the results speak for themselves when they are sending me 3:00pm pictures of 160+ inch bucks feeding in 104 degree temps. It’s a product we have actually started using on our properties back home as well with very similar results.

2. Food plots, mineral sites, water troughs, and feeders are the name of the game for holding deer on their properties. South Central Kansas is an extremely dry area. Providing these deer all that they need through not only the winter months, but also summer months is crucial to their success. Many of us will plant small food plots or run feeders, but to maintain them and water troughs year round is an incredible undertaking especially when you are managing 8,000 acres of hunting ground.

3. They operate under strict scent control when working on their properties throughout the year as well as require their hunters to abide by proper scent control methods. Before checking cameras they are spraying down with ScentBlocker’s Trinity Blast, wearing rubber boots and impacting the hunting areas as little as possible.

4. Hours upon hours of time glassing from vehicles and sitting in blinds scouting. Again they will adhere to their scent control program by wearing their ScentBlocker 1.5 clothing. Let’s face it, in 104 degree temps that is about the only thing on the market you can wear and still stay cool.

 

Food plots are no easy task... but well worth the effort come fall. Food plots are no easy task... but well worth the effort come fall.

I don’t want this to be taken as a sales pitch for an outfitter, but a learning tool for what each of us should be looking for when we pick an outfitter. Hang’Em Outfitters does it right and responsibly, but they are not the only ones who take their business very seriously. Do your homework and make sure that when you finally make the choice on outfitters that you keep one thing in mind. They don’t wave a magic wand and a deer appears for each and every hunter. Be prepared to make the shot when your opportunity comes, and then let nature take its course. Happy hunting and God Bless!  

Guest contributor Aaron Zimmerman of New Bearing Media knows how much work it takes to consistently harvest mature whitetails. Guest contributor Aaron Zimmerman of New Bearing Media knows how much work it takes to consistently harvest mature whitetails.
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