Guided hunts from a guide’s point of view.

I have had the privilege of guiding for Illinois Trophy Bowhunters for the past 3 years.  I would like to share some insights I have gathered in the past 3 years.  A good guide can make or break your hunt.  If your’re hunting the best property in the world and don’t have a good guide your hunt will not be “good” even if you harvest an animal.  If you go on a hunt and you decide if its a “good” hunt based on harvesting an animal you probably will not have a good time.

A positive attitude is one of the best things a hunter can bring to camp.  This past season we picked a stand and called it the “slam dunk” stand because we were absolutely sure a client would get a shot from this stand.  We put a guy in it and for 3 days he only saw a few doe and a couple young bucks.  Not once did he complain or ask to be moved because he had faith in his guides and a positive attitude.  After doing some scouting including sitting in stands we located another good stand site and right before dark on the last day he took a 145″ 10 point the biggest buck of his ife.

Listen to your guides.  I tied a ribbon on a tree that I wanted someone with a climber to hunt.  I took a hunter to the tree and left him to hunt.  For some unkown reason he decided to move 50 yards to another tree.  You guessed it a booner walked within 10 yards of the tree I picked out.  I don’t care how many years you have been hunting I know more about “these” deer than you do.  I shed hunt, hang trail cameras and scout this property to the point that I know how the deer are moving.  These are things a “good” guide should be doing.  Forget everything you know about hunting whitetails “back home”.  You are probably hunting 2.5 year old deer and they will come to every grunt and smell there is.  We are hunting 4.5 to 6.5 year old bucks.  “Blind” grunting does nothing but cause that old buck to circle down wind and bust you.  You can grunt to a buck you see but once he turns and comes in your direction do not grunt any more.  The best scent is no scent.  These old bucks can tell the difference between piss thats been in a bottle for 6 months and fresh piss.

I don’t care what kind of equipment you use.  Fixed or mechanical heads makes no difference.  The key is shot placement.  A field point through both lungs will kill a deer.   Practice from an elevated stand with your hunting clothes on.  Don’t force shots or take quartering too shots.  As a guide there is nothing more frustrating than tracking a poorly hit deer.  I know bad shots happen but if you take “high percentage” shots your chances of making a quick clean kill go way up.  Don’t shoot past your abilites.  I recommend 35 yard max for whitetails.

Talk to your guide.  Let me know what you saw and be able to tell me using compass directions. If you don’t let me know what you are seeing I can’t make decisions on when or where you might need to move.  Information is very valuable.  When I set a stand it is based on the information I have at the time.  Am I always right; no, but without new information I can’t help you.

Be willing to work for your trophy.  As your guide there is only so much I can do.  I can’t make you sit all day.  I don’t give many guarantees but i will guarantee that you will not kill a deer sitting in camp complaining about not seeing any deer.  Some guys expect to sit 30 minutes and kill a booner.  This is fair chase hunting not a high fence operation.  You only have 6 days so you need to be in that stand daylight to dark because you never know when that buck of a lifetime might walk by.

How much should you tip?  I look at it just like any other tipping service.  If you didn’t get good service don’t tip.  If you got good service tip 10 to 20 percent.  If you feel your guide went above and beyond tip whatever amount you feel he deserves.

What about guides hunting?   I’m up front with my clients and tell you yes I will be hunting but I will be doing it to scout.  As I mentioned earlier we sat in stands that we were going to move the client that was sitting the slam dunk stand.  By doing this we saved him 2 days of hunting a cold stand and got him in a stand that gave him an opportunity at a mature buck.  Now if a 150 or better comes within bow range I’m going to shoot him and I don’t think anybody would pass an opportunity like that.

Update: May 5, 2016

Please read this if you’re considering booking a hunt with Illinois Trophy Bowhunters

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4 Responses to Guided hunts from a guide’s point of view.

  1. Chris perret says:

    Hi Travis would love to talk to you about an opportunity to hunt with you at two rivers


  2. Billy Orologio says:

    Travis i know your not guiding with steve but any tips about the New Salem 17 area i would appreciate. Im hunting there this year


    • If the corn is cut you should be ok if it isn’t cut you’re in for a long week. It’s not one of the best farms. The guide there is a good guy. There’s a good spot up the railroad tracks. Look for a ridge coming off the field. Take a lock on and a climber. Find your own spots. Don’t hunt from the stands he has set. They have been set forever and over hunted. If possible take a scouting trip. Good luck and be careful.


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