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- Prostaff Member Steve Johnson
This review is probably going to seem like I am boasting about Mellon Creek Outfitters and some parts may even seem made up. However, since I experienced this hunt first hand I am writing the details of my personal experience and what I believe you could experience if you should book a hunt with them as well!
I've also never hunted with anyone else in South Texas although I have "heard" most places are nice and treat you well. I will say this, I can honestly say I don't see how you can do it any better than Mellon Creek Outfitters is doing it. With that, here are the details of my "Management" hunt.
One key point to make about this hunt, it is 100% FREE RANGE, No Fences!!
Date: October 7th, 2010 - October 11th, 2010
Hunt: Management Whitetail Hunt
Upon arriving at the 110k acre ranch that is Mellon Creek Outfitters, we pulled up to the "complex" of buildings they have and I was shown the main house that I would call home for the next four days. I've stayed at a few lodges I would certainly call nice, but the Mellon Creek lodge takes "nice" to a new level. When you walk in there is a huge open area where the meals are cooked and served, seating for tons of people and huge flat screen TV complete with satellite and high speed internet. The lodge sports all ceramic flooring, cedar walls, deer mounts all over the place and even a huge aerial map of the ranch. I was shown to my room which was a private bedroom complete with a queen size bed and silk sheets (which I told them was my only real complaint).
Right next to my room was a huge bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub and a huge stone walk-in shower! I don't really know how they rate the stars on Hotels, but I'm pretty sure no one is disappointed when they walk in to the Mellon Creek Lodge!
There is a fella named Joe that does the cooking, but "Fella" probably is the right term for a Certified Chief with 10 years of professional cooking under his belt. Joe cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner and there really isn't much to say except WOW! The First evening we had steaks with all the fixings and any 4 star restaurant would have been proud to serve. Breakfast was eggs, bacon, sausage, what else could you ask for?
Another evening we had chicken wrapped in bacon with jalapenos and as I said before, WOW! So the meals were excellent, we got that covered I think. On top of the great cooking, they had all kind of snacks, crackers, chips, candy, you name it. Mellon Creek was also willing to get whatever you'd like that they didn't already have. After I scored on the first evening out, we decided to do a Bobcat hunt. The cat hunt can last all night and since I had already been deer hunting all day I asked at lunch if they had any Redbull. They didn't but said "I'm headed to town after lunch and will grab some". Sure enough at dinner before the cat hunt there were plenty of Redbull's to get me through the all night hunt!
Also included in the menu is beer and wine. They had a large cooler with 3 or 4 different kinds of beer on the back porch for winding down in the evenings and telling the stories of the day around the fire pit. Food was first class for sure but 2nd to the hunting (sorry Joe)!
During my 4 day hunt I had the opportunity to hunt with a few of the guides at Mellon Creek. The two main guides (I'm not sure on the exact structure so don't quote me on that) do an excellent job of managing the ranch as well as guiding the clients. All the guides work well as a team. Plain and simple, together they get it done.
The guides know the ranch, they know the animals and they know how to get their clients opportunities. There were 3 hunters in camp with me and everyone scored on great management bucks, 2 of us on the first day!! I don't know about all other camps, but I can tell you, of all the others that I have hunted in, that has never happened!
I was speaking with my guide Dan the week after my trip and he happened to be guiding a bowhunter that week. Dan actually got this hunter four different shot opportunities with a BOW in his 3.5 day hunt before he connected and harvested his buck! For an outfitter, guide, or anyone to get four different chances at nice bucks in 3.5 days says a lot about not only the guides, but the ranch! To me that is just incredible and having been to Mellon Creek and seen the ranch first hand, I can honestly say it is certainly a possibility!
Arriving at camp on Thursday afternoon before hunt, I wasn't there 15 minutes before my guide Dan, asked me if I was ready. I threw on my boots, grabbed my gun and we headed to the range. I had a slight mishap with forgetting the keys to my gun case at the lodge, but it wasn't too far back to get them (thankfully). 3 bullets from my 7mm and we were ready to "see the ranch".
Within 15 minutes of leaving the range not only were we seeing deer, we were seeing bucks! And not just 4 pointers (matter fact don't think I ever saw a 4 or 6 pointer my entire trip), NICE bucks! I never did count the bucks at any point while I was there, but we saw A LOT. Bucks seemed to be around every corner! The pictures that I did take and my writing this cannot do it justice, it is just unlike anything I have ever seen.
On my evening riding around with Dan we talked about a few bucks he had been watching that he would like me to "take a look at". One in particular he thought I would really like was an older buck with some character, nice tine length and good mass. The first morning out we cruised around checking out some other areas of the ranch because Dan said this buck didn't usually show up until about 8:00. So at 7:40 we were setup along the fence row over looking the field he frequented. We hung out until about 9:30 but the buck we were looking for never showed.
We rode around some more during the mid-morning hours looking at different areas and even during the middle of the day there seemed to be bucks around every corner. We have a lot of deer here in Maryland, but we have nothing compared to the deer in Texas and more specifically the Mellon Creek Ranch! I mean there are deer everywhere, all day long.
That evening, we headed back to the field Dan thought the buck would show and setup about 1500 yards away on his "glassing tower" built on the back of his truck. The wind was blowing steady and it was a comfortable evening to glass the field. About an hour before dark we got a call on the radio from another guide who said he thought our buck just walked on to the field and pointed us in the direction. We were able to see him once he stepped out into the field a little further and Dan quickly decided it was in fact our buck! We climbed down and began our stalk down the fence row.
As we crept down the fence row towards the dozen or so deer in the field I started to get a better look at the buck Dan thought would be a good one for me to take and I was highly impressed! The buck was exactly as Dan described him and sported way more antler then I figured I would be allowed to harvest on this "Management" hunt!
Finally we got within 350 yards of the buck. He was feeding in the field parallel to the fence row, but we just weren't close enough for me and my comfort level. With the direction of the wind we weren't able to get near the edge he was closest to, but he was feeding across and looked like he would make it close enough to the opposite edge with enough shooting light. We backed back down the fence row and dropped into this creek bottom where we could sneak closer. When we popped up on the edge and we were just under 300 yards away. I got setup on the shooting sticks and took a good look at him through the scope. With the unlevel ground and that distance I just didn't feel comfortable and I didn't want to take a chance messing up this shot! We considered at that point backing out and giving it another try the next day, but decided we might be able to get a little closer.
We dropped back into the creek bottom and worked our way down to where we thought we'd be close enough. When we popped back up he was still feeding with the other deer and we decided we were as close as we were going to get without getting busted. At that point we setup the shooting sticks in the bush and I again took a look at the buck which was now about 260 yards across the field. This time the ground we were on was flat and I had a solid setup and felt comfortable enough that I could pull off the shot. We got setup with the camera (I got video!) and Dan gave me the OK to take the shot when I was ready. I felt good about holding and squeezing my shot so I clicked my safety off. I held the cross hairs right on his shoulder and squeezed the round off...! I heard the bullet SMACK and the buck folded up in his tracks and never moved!! Excited was an understatement!! I just took a NICE buck in South Texas on the FIRST DAY!
Myself along with 2 other hunters in camp all took great bucks! For Mellon Creek to have a herd capable of things like that and the guides to put the clients on them, they are doing something right. As I said above Dan took a Bowhunter the very next week and got him four opportunities before he was able to seal the deal and all that within 3.5 days!!
I can tell you that Mellon Creek Outfitters has the land, the deer and the guides to get it done! They are a great bunch of guys, some awesome hunters on an unreal ranch in South Texas and if you've never been to South Texas on a whitetail hunt, you need to look into it, the hunting is unreal!
My opinion is you will not be disappointed with a hunt from Mellon Creek Outfitters, I think they went the extra mile (or 2) to make everyone in camp happy and the hunt is first class all the way!