2023 & Beyond - MDLO Hunts Explained

Over the last six years of taking hunters out into southern Iowa, in a variety of different forms, straight up guiding, fully guided, semi-guided, DIY, hybrid DIY+semi-guided, etc., I have seen not one person that has the same hunting mindset and thought process. Hunting is very individualized. Sometimes, especially from more social hunting states where groups of guys hunt together and learn from one another, views and opinions blend. Yet, I am confident that every one of us hunters could disagree with another about at least something, maybe more. That variance is huge! As an outfitter, I can say that I have seen A LOT of variance. So, I am contemplating making a Google Form that I can upload to the site for visitors, clients, past clients, future clients can all fill out on this topic. I want to really dive into the variance, any established patterns, and be able to further adjust or critique MDLO's hunts to better serve. Of course, it will be impossible to please every single hunter. I can honestly say that after this much time, I have had a majority of pleasurable feedback and input. Yet, those few that disagree mightily with MDLO is worthy of this effort from us.

So, as our new website shows: a Hybrid Hunt Model as DIY+Semi-Guided is relatively simple to understand. There are aspects of our hunts where MDLO offers freedom (DIY) actions/decisions as well as restriction (semi-guided). We reserve the right to adjust this per hunter at any moment. Why? If MDLO has to step in and take action to prevent a hunter from messing up their own hunt, it will be done promptly. If MDLO feels comfortable enough letting hunters take it upon themselves to do something (hang a new set, move a set, pop a blind up, move a blind, set their own cameras, move cameras, scout from within the farm, scout from afar by the road, etc.) MDLO will let the hunter(s) do it. Case-by-case. It is the responsibility of the hunter to prove to and convince MDLO of such. No, it's not as simple as just paying us the hunt cost and having free-reign. Unfortunately, we have seen too many of our hunters go against our guidance, in full or in part, and have them leave at the end of their hunt with a tag in their pocket - not acceptable if at all possible to influence. Relative to the minute, per hunter, per farm, this is MDLO's right and discretion. There is not a single mold this fits into, so further explanation is hard to do. It is best to ask MDLO questions prior to booking, prior to hunting, and while hunting. Improve your knowledge and approach, learn from your mistakes (or just don't make them), and it should be smooth sailing from there. MDLO will make every effort to communicate A LOT of information to you before booking and before hunting to make sure you are ready to hunt with them in southern Iowa.

I had one former MDLO hunter say that we do not offer a "proactive hunting experience" and that we should explain such to our hunters better... which can be translated a few different ways....

1) We do not try to control the hunt but rather let it play out

2) We are not physically present to influence the hunt/hunter enough

3) We are basically selling a lease vs. a hunt

I responded back asking if the following was considered proactive:

- Running trail cameras June - February

- Running summer/off-season mineral/feed sites

- Studying aerial maps of farm & neighborhood all year

- Planting or Buying Back Food Plots

- Scouting the farm on-foot during off-season

- Shed hunting the farm in late winter

- Selectively putting choice stands/blinds out

In my opinion, those all meet the "proactive" definition. Everyone has the right to their opinion though, what do you think? Are we just not sniffing it? Let us know.

I also stated to him that he was assuming, despite almost constant and obvious clarification and explanation otherwise, that MDLO does not offer "fully guided" hunts, which would include travel to/from farms and stands, potentially sitting with them during their sits, bringing them lunch midday, moving them constantly if unhappy with deer activity or farm, trying to find a big deer elsewhere to hunt aside from where hunter is currently at, etc. I did those hunts in 2016 and part of 2017. They are fun and also exhausting. They also cost a lot more money which would be directed in the direction of the hunter. The amount of money that it would cost a an outfitter to produce (before mark-up/profit) for the vehicle usage/upkeep, equipment, gasoline, food, and time would be relatively more, like $100-200+ per day. Driving a truck for 8-10 hours per day (or more if going dark to dark) is expensive... gas, tires, oil changes. Add a little profit on that and you're sitting $250+ a day? 7-Day Hunt prices would increase by $1,750 @ $250/day add-on cost. Add-on lodging (huge range high to low) and meals (huge range high to low) and now outfitters can either raise prices astronomically to keep camp sizes small OR try to run as many hunters through as possible in excess of 25-30 per year to try and "cost share" for these things amongst hunters all while losing farm and deer integrity by too much hunting pressure. What would you rather do? Pay more to keep pressure and hunting quality as high as possible or pay less and suffer a loss to hunting quality and farm inte