Tag Archives: Deer Hunting

Wild Cat Springs…Where The Deer And Buffalo Roam And You Can Play

The interview with Jarrett Williamson, Manager of Wildcat Springs Ranch began like any other minus the Zebras.
Wildcat Springs Ranch is a hunting ranch located just south of Fittstown, Okla., a geographic area of the state known for it’s rocky terrain, crystal clear springs, and it’s quality and quantity of wild game to hunt.  It was late September, but the morning was still cool and there was game running everywhere, which as a hunter, made it hard to focus on the task at hand.  As ranch manager, Williamson is accustom to giving ranch tours, servicing clients, and ensuring the best possible trip to the ranch as possible.  Williamson was content to drive around the huge property all day discussing his passion for guiding and hunting, but I wasn’t there to sight see.  I wanted to find out what made this high-fence hunting paradise different from all the rest, and that’s exactly what I found out after touring the rustic terrain that made up the expansive landscape of the ranch.
The ranch sign which reads, “Billy D. Howell’s Wildcat Springs Ranch” resembles many iron constructed ranch gates, but as the gate opened, and I drove towards the ranch lodge I realized this gate was an entrance to an entirely different type of ranch.  It was late in the morning and yet there were whitetail deer on the move just within a few hundred yards of the gate.  Needless to say I couldn’t wait to see what
else this hidden gem had to offer.
Tucked away in the eastern part of the Arbuckle Mountains, Wildcat Springs offers almost 8,000 acres of prime hunting and fishing land that is fueled by an endless aquifer that supports the wildlife of the ranch.  It’s private and secluded, yet it’s just short drive from two major cities, Dallas and Oklahoma City.  Steep hills and expansive views can be expected as can quality game animals like elk, buffalo, deer, hog, turkey, Aoudad sheep, and other exotics.  The wide range of game animals are managed year round by a full-time staff of seven employees in order to provide hunters the highest quality of trophy animals available.  The ranch also features spring fed lakes stocked with bass, crappie, catfish, and even walleye.  One of the bigger watersheds is an impressive 40 feet deep in places.  At Wildcat Springs Ranch guests create custom hunts to fit their preferences and budgets, but regardless the hunt, it’s always an experience to remember.
One of the things that makes this hunting ranch stand out from others is the surprising low amount of hunting pressure it has.  Wildcat Spring would exist as is, without serving  a single hunting client.  That being said there’s anywhere from 60 – 80 clients that hunt each year.  The fully guided hunting trips offer a variety of tactics and methods of hunting.  You can hunt from a heated blinds or spot and stalk more elusive game like the Aoudad sheep.  With over 35 miles of high fencing there is a hunt that can be tailored for everyone.  In addition to your hunt there is on site processing and taxidermist available for your trophy.
Guests looking to get away and spend the day on the water while catching truly big fish have found the right place with this ranch.  The trophy fishing lakes are complete with fishing docks and boat ramps, and vary in size and types of fish offered.  The water and underground springs are one of the more interesting features about this ranch.  The Arbuckle Aquifer has been a topic of much debate in recent years, and one can easily see why when fishing on such quality waters as what is available on this ranch.
Excellent lodging and accommodations are what you’ll have after a full day of being outdoors.  Speaking from experience, clean and comfortable accommodations can make or break a hunt.  When you spend long hours outside, a good place to regenerate is always a plus.  Guests at Wildcat springs can take full advantage of  the luxurious  4,000 square foot lodge, featuring a master bedroom, 3 private rooms and two bed/bunk rooms.
The lodge can  accommodate 12 guests at a time. There are a variety of leisurely comforts around the lodge including an on-site chef, coffee bar, poker and pool tables, sitting areas, outdoor hot tub, and much more. The entertainment pavilion is equipped with restrooms, showers, full kitchen, and built-in wood burning grill.
Other Options
Those who don’t enjoy the thrill of the hunt or the excitement of catching a largemouth bass can request nature watching tours or a relaxing weekend at the lodge.  The ranch is also a great place to host company picnics.
8,000 acres would be hard to manage without the use of serious equipment.  The ranch utilizes a variety of equipment.  From skid steers, to UTVs, and even machines for building and maintaining roads, Wildcat Springs takes full advantage of equipment in their operation.
Before heading out to explore the ranch further we passed an old Kubota, which, at first glance appeared to be sitting idle, but Williamson quickly referred to the late model Kubota as “ole reliable,” and Williamson should know as he is no stranger to benefits of good equipment.  He has years of experience operating and maintaining equipment, and when asked what he liked best about the Kubotas they use at Wildcat Springs Ranch Williamson said this:
“Everything is right there where you can get to it.  They are easy to operate, but most of all they are reliable tractors.  We use a lot of different machines out here but we can always count on the Kubotas.”
After touring several large bottoms and passing multiple lakes we began to make our accent towards an elevated part of the ranch where the buffalo roam.  We pulled up to a Kubota M9960 hard at work discing up a rocky field to prepare a food plot.  This year alone, Williamson and his team will plant over 650 acres of food plots.  They plant a variety of seed but the main seed planted is one developed by the National Wild Turkey Federation.
There are a lot of different things that make this ranch special, but when you break it all down, its really about the thrill of the hunt.  So when I asked Williamson what hunt provides clients with the best overall experience, Williamson could only talk about the buffalo.  Their size alone make them a difficult animal to hunt, and with options ranging from trophy bulls, to meat cows, hunters have different choices and methods to hunt them.  The meat alone would be a reason for me to hunt them.  There something about this animal that ties it with our nation’s wild past.  They are the very hide of the American West’s history.  From Native Americans, to the expansion of the railways, the American Bison has always been a symbolic animal of wild America.  Native Americans wasted no part of this huge animal, and if given the chance I would do the same.  The trophy, meat, even the hide could all still serve a purpose to the modern hunter.  Williamson enjoys guiding these hunts because he feels they provide clients with much more than just a thrilling hunt.
“Our buffalo hunts offer the most bang for your buck.  You couldn’t buy as much beef as what it costs to harvest our buffalo, plus you get a trophy of a lifetime.  Last year I guided a buffalo hunt where, after being shot, the bull charged several times.  It was thrilling and rewarding to both myself and the client.”
Wildcat Springs Ranch is a great destination for any outdoorsman. Whether it’s friends looking to experience the hunt of a lifetime, or groups needing a get-a-way that offers top-notch hospitality with plenty of adventure, this unique ranch has it all!  For more information about the amenities and services of Wildcat Springs call Jarrett Williamson at (580) 235-7599.

Whitetail Deer

Building Relationships And A Better Deer Herd

partnering with land owners to improve deer herds is just the beginning

When neighbors Garrett Clark and Chuck Roberts decided to improve their deer herd near Fitzhugh, Okla. they couldn’t have foreseen the impact a common interest would have in building strong neighborly relationships and better hunting opportunities.

The Limestone Game and Range Management Association consists of 25 land owners working with the Noble Foundation and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife to improve deer herd balance and health over a combined 13,000 acres.  Associations such as this are rare in both existence, and how they operate.  This group has taken a step back from social media posts to use face to face communications, and hands on learning to achieve their goals, which, have now become a side note in comparison to the profound connections made among the neighbors involved.

Misunderstandings between neighbors have led to many a conflict, but when Garrett and Chuck figured out they were both shooting each others bucks they decided to benefit from this new found knowledge.  They called upon the Noble Foundation, and set up a meeting with Russell Stephens to form a plan which eventually guided them and their neighbors to where they are today.

Garrett has seen many benefits to this program since it’s inception.  Not only does he get great enjoyment managing a quality deer herd, he feels this association is improving the land and it’s value as well. Garrett noted these aspects about the program and the association he helped create.

“We’ve already noticed a difference in herd quality in some areas.  I can honestly say my hunting land wouldn’t be as productive without this program, or the cooperation of the land owners, and the knowledge of the aiding organizations.  Sharing trail camera pictures and other information is really just the starting point.  Without the shared idea of a healthy, balanced herd our individual acreages wouldn’t be as collectively productive.  The only other way to achieve something like this would be to fence the deer off with “high fence”, but that isn’t hunting in my book,” said Garrett.

Whitetail Deer
Great Plains Kubota Sales Manager, Garrett Clark harvested this mature buck with his bow in part of his cooperation with the DMAP program he and neighbors participate in.

Without the complete control of a “high fence” neighborly cooperation seemed to be the only option to manage a balanced deer heard that would produce a closer buck to doe ratio and larger, more mature bucks.  What everyone in this association found out that fewer does meant increased herd health.  By harvesting more does, and shooting fewer bucks, the given amount of nutrients would be distributed equally.  Chuck commented on this aspect.

“I have not always been a management hunter.  I’ve tried for several years to harvest mature bucks, but this didn’t always happened because of elements that were out of my control, and honestly harvesting does wasn’t a consideration of mine until recently,” Chuck said.

Chuck Roberts has seen the improvements of this program on his family farm, but admits the most beneficial part has had nothing to do with deer at all.

“I’m most happy with the increased communication among my neighbors.  Deer hunting was just a catalyst for this cooperation.  After we fined tuned our deer management ideas, and were all on the same page, everyone began to benefit both on the farm and socially,” explained Chuck.

Of course the main focus of this association was to increase health and buck to doe ratios, but this all hinged on the cooperation between neighbors.  The level of success relies not only on cooperation, but of the expertise of outside agencies such as the Noble Foundation and the wildlife department.  The DMAP program, or Deer Management Assistance Program allows these hunters to harvest anterless deer any day during the archery, muzzle loader, and gun seasons with special DMAP permits.  In cooperation, members of the Limestone Game and Range Management Association collect detailed biological information on their harvests.  Department biologists then analyze this data to provide further management recommendations.  Spotlight surveys are the groups primary means of counting deer, and through this hard work they’ve determined the percentage of bucks that they should harvest.  This is really the key factor to the whole program.  By setting a cap on the amount of bucks harvested, which has been less than 20% of their entire deer population, the association has improved there buck ratio.  Garrett committed on this process.

“It doesn’t really matter the age of the bucks harvested.  They can be spikes or extremely mature bucks.  What really matters is the number taken.  This is where the cooperation and complete involvement of all the neighbors pays off.  Within a few years we should see a real difference,” Clark said.

The neighbors of the Limestone Game and Range Management Association  have become closer friends and better neighbors.  With a common goal and lots of cooperation they’ve built equal hunting opportunities and a healthier herd.

– Visit www.greatplainsliving.com or www.greatplainskubota.com for more information about this story or the Kubota dealership that produces the quarterly magazine Great Plains living from which this article was reproduced.

Deer Management
Garrett Clark of Great Plains Kubota discusses management plans with neighbor Chuck Roberts and representatives from the Noble Foundation.

Interview with a bowhunter

How important was hunting during your childhood?
JD:  Growing up, I worked for my Dad’s company, Danker Roofing.  We’d go hunting a lot, but the biggest thing in my life was roping.  My dad would haul me to every rodeo in the country when I was a youngster.  After graduating high school my life consisted of Rodeo, Hunting, and Roofing.  I was content!
How did your hunting shows, Buckventures Outdoors and Major League Bowhunter start?
JD:  While hunting big deer across the Midwest I hooked up with a guy that had a local TV show.  After filming for him for a year I decided to start my own shown, and in 2003 Buckventures Outdoors (BVO) was born. The first three years were tough, but things took off after we got picked up by Knight rifles, Summit treestands, and Knight & Hale calls.    Then, Chipper Jones, Matt Duff, and I started Major League Bowhunter (MLB) in 2010.  Both shows have become a platform in my life to spread Gods word.
How are the shows alike, and what makes them successful?
JD:  They’re similar in that we’re all humble, hard working, and like to hunt our own ground.  I believe people connect with us because they see us like they see themselves.  Each week we look viewers in the eye and speak from our hearts, no cue cards or scripts.  Everything is in God’s hands, and he paves the way. I feel this is what’s made both shows very successful.
What do you want your viewers to walk away with?
JD:  We want our viewers to know that we make mistakes just like they do.  We show our failures, and successes in hopes to truly educate the viewer.
Personally, what goals are you trying to achieve with BVO & MLB?
JD:  I think we can all make a difference in the short time we have on earth.  I believe wholeheartedly that God has given this platform for me to use for Him.  I travel in the off season speaking and delivering the Gospel.  This is my most important job.
What role/roles do you play in the shows?
JD:  I handle most of the business for both companies.  I make sure things are always done right, and that we are always giving God the credit.  I’m also a co-host on MLB, and show up from time to time on BVO.
How long does it take to make one show?
JD:  The edited version of the shows spits out 22 minuets of footage which typically requires two weeks of hard hunting.
How much of your business depends on sponsors?
JD:  Sponsors are a huge part of our success, but we’ve never used a product we didn’t believe in.  We use products that work, and we believe the people behind those products are the most important part of the equation.
How has your experience with Great Plains Kubota been?
JD:  Great Plains is a pleasure to work with.  Their Kubota equipment has a strong name, and I’m proud to be associated with them.  What’s impressed me most is GPs professionalism.  In my opinion Great Plains Kubota is the best in the business!
How important are the Kubota RTVs in your daily work?
JD:  The RTVs are huge for us, and get used everyday.  We just finished dragging all off our plots with them.  The belt driven utility vehicles we used before would always over heat doing this, but not the Kubotas!  They are the workhorse of all utility vehicles, and that’s exactly what we need.

How do viewers see Brandon Adams?
BA:  I’m the young handsome, somewhat goofy guy of the bunch.
What is your actual job with the shows?
BA:  I’ve filmed Jeff since 2007, and done all video production of BVO and MLB since 2010.
How would you say the style/content message of MLB/BVO differs from other shows?
BA:  First our message is that it’s okay to put God in the forefront.  Secondly, killing big bucks is an obtainable goal by anyone with a little effort.
What is the single most useful tool you have in the field?
BA:  The Heater Body Suit may top this list.  It allows us to stay longer in the brutally cold plains state’s wind.
From a production standpoint what is your greatest asset in producing a quality hunting show?
BA:  It’s the great group of guys that make good ideas happen.
What’s more rewarding, harvesting a huge buck or capturing that perfect video shot?
BA:  It’s a toss up, but if I had to pick one it would be harvesting the buck.
If you could film a hunt anywhere in the world where would it be?
BA:  I’d say an elk hunt in Utah or Arizona.
What Kubota equipment have you had a chance to operate since partnering with Great Plains Kubota?
BA:  I’ve used a SVL90 skid steer to move a 5X8X7 steel safe room into my house.  I also used it to take terraces out of my food plots.  It’s one BAAAADDDD piece of machinery.

How did you get involved with BVO?
BG:  I liked the show so I bought half of it. I’ve been hunting on the show full time now for three years.
How would you describe the show?
BG:  It’s a family friendly show that’s educational, and represents the average hunter.
You were a major league baseball player for thirteen plus years, and now you’re a full time hunter. If you could only do one of the two which would it be?
BG:  Hunting, because I’ve always had a passion for hunting.  They are alike because they’re both challenging, but rewarding when you accomplish goals.
How has baseball and hunting impacted your life?
BG:  It takes discipline and hard work to be successful at both.  They’ve helped me get where I am today in every aspect of my life.
What’s the most rewarding part of owning BVO?
BG:  Being around the guys on the show is rewarding.  We’re truly like family, and enjoy hunting together.
GPL:  Where would you like to see BVO in five years?
BG:  I want to see it as the best show on the Sportsman Channel!
Finally, what’s your most memorable hunting trip?
BG:  I’d have to say last muzzle loader season in Kansas.  I’d been hunting this buck hard, and finally killed him on the 13th day of the 14 day muzzle loader season.

What does Daniel Mcvay bring to BVO/MLB table?
DM:  I co-host and hunt on BVO.  I’m also the land manager for both BVO and MLB.  I’m responsible for managing, working, and maintaining over 70,000 acres across the country.
What type of hunting did you do growing up?
DM:  I was born and raised in West Virginia, and grew up hunting whitetails and other small game.  It was a way of life back then.  It’s how we lived and survived.
How did your hunting career begin?
DM:  I started my hunting career guiding elk hunts.  I was introduced to BVO when I guided Jeff on a hunt in New Mexico.  After heading to Illinois to guide deer hunts I became part of the BVO pro staff and film crew.  Eventually I moved to Chandler, OK to work full-time for BVO & MLB.
What do you like best about Kubota equipment?
DM:  I’ve used almost every brand of utility vehicle, but the Kubota RTV is the best when it comes to real work.  I love the RTV’s hauling abilities and fuel mileage.  I think the Kubota SVL is without a doubt the toughest skid steer on the market.  In all, Kubota is the best bang for the buck!
Has hunting lost it’s pleasure due to the long hard hours dedicated to it?
DM:  Hunting for a living is definitely different then simply doing it for pleasure.  You can’t sleep in when you don’t feel like going hunting.  The pressure to produce results can be tough at times, but in all I respect the privilege of hunting even more now.
Finally, what changes or styles do you think deer hunting will see in the next few decades?
DM:  I think hunting is becoming more of a casual hobby instead of a way of life, like it used to be.  I can remember when schools would close for the entire rifle season!  It’s definitely becoming more difficult to gain access to places to hunt, which causes less people to be involved or in some cases include their children.  I think that kids are the future of our sport.

How has hunting impacted your life?
BD:  It’s created countless memories with friends and family over the years.
Personally, how has hunting changed for you since you started?
BD:  When I was first introduced to hunting our mind set was “if it’s brown, it’s down”, but now we try to harvest age and keep healthy herds.
GPL:  What is your earliest hunting memory?
BD:  When I was twelve I took my brothers bow to the river, not thinking I would see any deer, but when one did walk by I couldn’t even pull his bow back.
Have you ever lost a deer?
BD:  Yes, but the memory that stands out the most is a 170 plus inch nine point I lost in northern Missouri.  After releasing the arrow it didn’t penetrate and the negative thoughts began to creep into my head.  After a long sleepless night, and looking for the buck from daylight till dark I was asking myself what I could have done different.  To this day I still think about this hunt.
What is your favorite aspect about being a part of BVO?
BD:  The closeness of everyone involved in BVO has made us a family.
Define the BVO brand.
BD:  We are followers of Christ!  Our motto is…Shoot by Sight, Walk by Faith.
Finally, if you had to choose to be on a horse, or in a treestand which would it be and why?
BD:  Wow!  That’s a tough question.  I can’t choose between the two because they are completely different sports that both mean a lot to me!
Watch Major League Bowhunter and Buckventures Outdoors on the Sportsman Channel.  For more information about this article published in the Autumn 2014 issue of Great Plains living visit www.greatplainsliving.com

The guys from Buckventures Outdoors have teamed up with Great Plains Kubota
Duff, Chipper, Jeff
Matt Duff, Chipper Jones, and Jeff Danker of Major League Bowhunter. MLB airs on the Sportsman’s Channel nationally and on various local Oklahoma stations where they’ve teamed up with Great Plains Kubota, Oklahoma’s Full-Line Kubota dealer

Nothing Controlled About Hunting

     As a sportsman it’s great to live in a state that offers so many hunting opportunities.  Oklahoma has numerous ways for hunters to pursue their passion outside of leases and private lands, and it’s one of the most ecologically diverse states in the nation.  As far as game is concerned, Oklahomans can hunt whitetail and mule deer, elk, antelope, black bear, wild hog, turkey, duck, pheasant, and quail to name a few.  There are more than 65 public hunting areas and over 1.6 million acres devoted to hunters and anglers in Oklahoma.  Within state hunting areas there are “controlled” hunts.  Would be lucky hunters can apply to win a hunt in a lottery type setting, and although harvest ratios are good, hunters will find out there is nothing controlled about the actual hunts!
      Hunting in a somewhat controlled environment is frowned upon by those in and out of the hunting communities.  The hunts awarded to applicants are nothing like high fence hunts, which are, in my opinion a form of canned hunting that can benefit youth and disabled hunters.  The draw hunts offered by Oklahoma are strictly controlled and regulated.  Each hunting area has different rules and guidelines that hunters must follow to participate; however, all hunts consist of 100% wild game and fair chase hunting.
     Draw hunts are awarded to applicants selected in a random drawing.  The hunts are held in areas where unrestricted hunting would pose safety concerns or       where over harvesting could occur.  There are several categories from which hunters can               choose,
and while “drawing in” doesn’t happen every year, applicants do build up
preference points which help their odds for next year’s hunt.  Hunters can
choose from elk hunts, antelope hunts, deer hunts, youth deer hunts, turkey
hunts, and youth turkey hunts.  In 2011, 121,547 applicants applied for at
least one of the 6,210 individual hunt permits available.  The cost to apply
is only five dollars, and it takes less than ten minutes to complete an
application online.  Another benefit for the hunter is if they do draw
and harvest an animal, it doesn’t count against their annual bag limit.  
Participating in the Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife’s controlled hunts is an
inexpensive way to further the hunting experience, which is why
several Great Plains employees and I look forward to
this lotto every year.
     Outside salesman, Brent Elliott, has been hunting his entire life.  For him hunting is a hobby, activity, and endeavor that enriches the seasons he looks forward to.  As a landowner, Elliott practices his own conservation efforts and manages a quality deer herd, yet he still looks forward to drawing in on the controlled hunts.  He believes these hunts benefit both adults and youth hunters due to their high percentage of harvest success.
     “Controlled hunts are an inexpensive way to get access to the big game of Oklahoma, plus they are available from the Panhandle to the Ozarks.  As a result hunters can pursue game in new hunting areas,” said
     Elliott believes the best benefits of controlled hunts are for youth because they provide so much education and opportunity.  This year several of Brent’s nine children drew in for the Foss Lake, Atoka, and USDA Grazing areas.  Unfortunately these were postponed due to the government shut down.  Elliott encourages all youth hunters to participate in controlled hunts because of the quality youth programs the ODWC has to offer.
     “Hunting starts with education.  Hunting areas offered through the hunts provide the high numbers of game kids need to encounter to become active hunters.  Spending time with family while teaching safe practices and simply enjoying God’s creation is what hunting is all about.  Hunting also teaches the sober reality that dead is dead, and there is no reset button in life.  I spend a lot of time hunting with my kids on my own place, but I really look forward to the youth controlled hunts because of the high number of wildlife my kids will see.  My son, Becker, started going on the controlled hunts when he was eight, and I think the target rich environment contributed to his abilities as a hunter,” said Elliott.  
     I have a great respect for public land because I taught myself how to hunt on Blue River public hunting with my recurve bow.  I come from a non-hunting family that doesn’t own acreage, so I rely on public land and controlled hunts for a majority of my hunting experiences.  I’ve been applying for the controlled hunts for ten years, and I finally drew in for a hunt this year.  I had planned on elaborating on this hunt trip, but will simply add that the trip was unsuccessful, but no less fun.

     The ODWC controls the situations not the hunt, so if you are looking for an inexpensive way to explore Oklahoma hunting, check out controlled hunting at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com.