It has been over five years since we offered a Fully Guided Hunt to the public. Most of the time, the reasoning behind not offering such was my ability to be present for 9 full weeks out of the year, not being able to trust a guide that I hire, and the input cost (lodgings, meals, and/or transportation) being too much. It was not worth it to me. We even went strictly archery back in 2019 for 2020. Five years later, five full seasons of semi-guided hunting (3 of which being just archery), I have learned a lot about bowhunters in comparison to myself and others I know well. There is no bowhunter alike. I know the same can be said for gun hunters. Yet, they all share one thing in common when coming on an out-of-state hunt to the Mecca of Southern Iowa - they need guidance of some kind to truly help them harvest a big deer like they had hoped.
The reason that a hunter needs guidance is really a fill-in-the-blank. To be honest, some hunters are lazy and just want to pay someone to do the work for them, which is completely fine. Some hunters don't have enough experience in Iowa or even the Midwest, so what they are accustomed to seeing and experiencing is so different they would not be able to make sound decisions to benefit their hunt. Other hunters are experienced enough in the Midwest to be on their own, but they just don't know the land nor the deer, so they need that help. All are acceptable scenarios for an outfitter, but of course, some are easier than others.
Having watched a great number of hunters do their best on the semi-guided archery hunts, we know that we would have many more deer down at this point if they were fully guided clients. I don't say that arrogantly, but I have a lot of proof to support such. The proof, or support rather, has pushed me to wanting to revisit the past, the fully guided hunts. I have spent the last week almost non-stop calculating and planning how such would be doable for MDLO, physically and financially. Most hunters want to be semi-guided but need fully guided. The accommodations on such is rarely a deciding factor according to what I have been told. It comes down to the hunt quality. I think we can make it work if the stars align.
Depending on where you look, the phrase "fully guided" means that a guide actually guides you, at least driving you to the farm every day. Also, accommodations are always included in the fully guided package... lodging (hotel, AirBNB, lodging, cabin, etc.), meals (home cooked or restaurant), and transportation (noted above). When I first stopped offering fully guided hunts, I explained to many inquiring hunters that I could put them up in a local hotel to their farm (due to us being so spread out across Southern Iowa) but I'd charge a premium for that, as little as it may have been. Why would I not just refer you to them directly and save you some money? I have had guys on fully guided hunts arrived with a week's worth of catered food from their wives in that back of their suburban, and I've had guys live on bologna sandwiches all week. I've also had guys want to get steak and shrimp every night with a cocktail. It is as random and spontaneous as one could ever imagine. How do I cater to everyone? Seemed all a bit overwhelming when all I wanted to do was offer hunting.
In future blog posts, we will go over some specific differences between the two types of hunts, DIY+Semi-Guided and Fully Guided. I want to make sure that I am very clear on certain topics within that.
MDLO's Fully Guided Hunts (Planning Stage, Q&A)
Q: When would this become available?
A: 2024 is when we would make the full switch, but it may be limitedly offered in '23. If you want to book for 2023 and go fully guided, call Matt. If you have already booked for 2023 as a DIY+Semi-Guided Hybrid hunt and want to switch to Fully Guided, call Matt. There would be a price increase to go fully guided in 2023 if you're already booked.
Q: What would be included in this package?
A: Lodging (Hotel or AirBNB based on farm and availability), Transportation (To/From Farm), 2 x Meal/Day (Sandwich Lunch, Normal Dinner), and Field Care (Gutting, To processor to donate meat & get caped to the neck)
Q: What would this cost?
A: This varies per time of year, but we are only going to take a few hunters each week to keep pressure down and allow for more deer to be harvested for sustainability.
Q: Does MDLO have a guide?
A: Yes, MDLO will have one, maybe two, guides to start. Iowa resident big deer hunters.
Q: Will you (Matt, Owner of MDLO) do any guiding?
A: TBD, I would like to when I can make it work, but that may only be weekends. I definitely can't do a week straight unless it's over a holiday break when kids are home from school.<