Friday, August 7, 2009
Garden of the Gods- and Whitetails
Garden of the Gods- southern Illinois
Garden of Whitetails- Rocky Branch Outfitters
Bachelor group feeding in one of the numerous food plots at Rocky Branch Outfitters- photo courtesy Daryl Hafford
When it comes to whitetails, there's no better place to be than southern Illinois. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with Rocky Branch Outfitters to do a little pre-season scouting for my fall muzzleloader deer hunt. Yeah, it is a bit early- their muzzleloader season isn't until December- but if you want to see big mature whitetails- this is THE place to go.
There are few properties you can go to in the entire country and consistently see 150" class whitetail bucks year after year. Property manager and co-owner Daryl Hafford had a very simple explanation which came as the result of me making the comment-"You harvest corn- you don't harvest deer- you shoot deer"- one of my pet peeves while watching outdoor tv shows. Hafford responded with this analogy-"Deer to us ARE a crop- we harvest deer year after year." One look at the numerous record class bucks adorning the walls of their new lodge is the only confirmation you will need.
Family room at the main lodge at Rocky Branch Outfitters
Pre-season scouting is best done just before dark and either from a ground blind or from a distance using good optics. A good choice of optics are the new Nikon Monarch X Binoculars because of their fantastic low light capabilities. With the new technologies now availble to sportsmen, it's a lot of fun increasing your days afield by hunting with either a still or video camera and also setting up trail cameras prior to opening day. A good whitetail outfitter has the deer patterned long before any clients ever unload their hunting equipment. By doing their homework- preseason scouting- Daryl and Diane Hafford of Rocky Branch Outfitters have repeat clients year after year.
Accommodations at Rocky Branch have left nothing to be desired. The rooms at the lodge have extra long beds for large hunters and there's plenty of head space between the bunks as well as storage for gear. The main hall of the lodge is phenomenol with a comfortable lounging area fitted with a big screen tv, a Wii entertainment system and also a fooseball table to give clients more than enough activites and a place to relax during the non-hunting hours.
When it comes to growing corn- and whitetails- the Mid-west is famous and there is no better place to "harvest" your next big whitetail buck of a lifetime than Rocky Branch Outfitters.
Before you go hunting deer this fall, be sure to watch the hunting tips "Making Sense out of Scents" and "Call of the Week" on the USA Outback web site to increase your chances this coming deer season.
For more information, call Daryl or Diane Hafford at 618-841-9936or visit them on the web at www.rockybranchoutfitters.com.