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- Prostaff Member Jason Mills
Premier Sportsman's Paradise (PSP) is located in Southern Illinois and specializes in trophy whitetail, waterfowl, and turkey hunting.
The Settle Ranch is a 6 mile long, 2 mile deep tract of land in the middle of Southern Illinois with over 4000 acres of prime wildlife habitat. The ranch has 36 lakes and has been managed for trophy wildlife for the past 10 years. The last 3 years of which were hunted minimally only taking 2 or 3 bucks a year off the entire farm. In the summer of 2009 67 bucks were counted in 1 soybean field at one time, over half were 3 years of age or older.
Date: 19-21 November 2010
Hunt: Whitetail Hunt
We pulled up to the lodge on the morning of the 18th of November 2010. It consisted of an older rambler house “currently under renovation” with a fairly large metal out building with numerous archery targets set up for practice in the yard. It's true that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Trash was overflowing the garbage container located next the out building, deer stands were strewn around in the front yard with a four wheeler setting beside the front porch with a flat tire. Not what I had imagined seeing based on viewing Premier Sportsman's Paradise's webpage and speaking with the Outfitter and Lead Guide via telephone and email prior to our arrival. My camera man and I decided to go through with the hunt and provide as an objective review as possible in spite of our first impression. We spent the remainder of the day discussing the history of the Settle Ranch and our game plan for the next three days of hunting. We were shown aerial maps of the property, which is a beautiful plot of land, which turned out to be the highlight of our trip.
The food consisted of your basic hunting camp foods and drinks which were greatly appreciated, we did have two prepared meals during our stay, lasagna and pot roast with vegetables and all the fixings. Plenty of beverages were available for our consumption. The Lead Guide took us to a Mexican Restaurant during our stay which was really good and very much appreciated.
During the 3 day hunt I had the opportunity to hunt with 3 of the guides (Eric, Tom, and Kevin) at Premier Sportsman's Paradise. Tom spent most of the time with us, he was very knowledgeable of the property and experienced in hunting whitetail deer, specifically archery. We had one opportunity to hunt with Kevin; he did his best to put us on a shooter. We spent most of our time with Eric in camp; he was our camp host and Lead Guide.
Arriving at camp on Thursday before hunt, Eric the Lead Guide took us on a tour of the property just before dark to show us the lay of the land and some of the deer the Settle Ranch had to offer. We saw quite a few deer from the vehicle, one shooter buck through binoculars. It was a good warm up in preparation for the 3-day hunt.
Day 1 started a bit early; we were awoken about 2:30 or 3:00 by the sound of a couple of guides returning from a night of entertainment with at least one female friend. Definitely not the most professional exhibition I’ve experienced in my hunting career. We got back to sleep and woke back up at 4:00. We had a quick breakfast and headed out to the stand. We hunted a blind overlooking a creek bottom, CRP, tall grass, and a ridge out in front of us about 150 yards away. We stayed in the blind all day and saw about 30 deer, 10 of which were bucks, 1 shooter out of range.
Day 2 started at 4:00, we had a quick breakfast. We waited until 5:30 for one of the guides to wake up to take us hunting. This didn't happen we had to wake someone up to take us to our stand. We hunted a field overlooking a ravine with a ridge in the background until noon. We saw 8 deer, 4 of which were bucks, no shooters. We headed back to camp for quick lunch then headed out for an afternoon hunt. We set up next to a pond overlooking an autumn olive thicket until dark. We saw 16 deer, 6 of which were bucks, no shooters.
Day 3 started at 4:00, we had a quick breakfast and head to hunt an area overlooking a CRP field from a tree line. Almost immediately we started seeing deer off in a distance in a green field about 400 yards away. As the morning progressed deer started making their way to us in the CRP field, bucks were chasing does all morning many deer in shooting range but no shooters. Overall we saw about 25 deer, 10 of which were bucks, no shooter's. Eric brought us lunch and relocated us back to the pond overlooking autumn olive thicket to finish the day. We saw 15 deer, 7 of which were bucks, and one shooter chasing a doe out of range.
Overall we saw about 94 deer over the 3 days of hunting, 33 of which were bucks, and 2 shooters out of range. I really enjoyed hunting the property. It is a beautiful parcel of land.
A successful hunt to me isn't just bagging a deer, the entire experience determines the success of a hunt from my perspective. It was very apparent to me and my camera man that we only had the opportunity to hunt a very small select piece of this ranch and seemed to be by design. Whether the Lead Guide intended it to be this way or not, it is the perception he left us with. It's very apparent this ranch is set up to cater the bow hunter. I sincerely believe the Lead Guide and his staff missed the opportunity to represent Premier Sportsman's Paradise in a much better light than what we experienced over this 3 day hunt.
In my opinion Premier Sportsman's Paradise Outfitter has a lot of work to do in its day to day operations to command the rates and respect of the hunting community to become worthy of recommendation and to prosper in the outfitter business. Specifically the lack of professionalism, attention to detail, and service to every customer needs significant improvement to achieve the standards of a reputable outfitter in the 21st century.
We appreciate the opportunity to go on this hunt and provide an objective review that will benefit the Premier Sportsman's Paradise in its future endeavors.