top of page

MDLO BLOG POST PAGE

Level of Difficulty: MDLO Hunts

Zero to one-hundred. That about sums it up. Yes, that is the range for the level of difficulty that these free-ranging whitetail hunts can have, at random and often spontaneously changing. With all of the uncontrollable factors during the hunt, and only limited controllable factors of the hunt, it is truly impressive that we get shot opportunities at the frequency that we do. Having had an entire season's list of hunters tag out who hunted for 7 days on their archery hunts to having the most 170"+ deer seen in daylight from the stand under 80yds ever with only a few kills, it is truly a guess as to how difficult any one hunt can be. This is why we aim to education and rationalize the hunting environment prior to our hunters arriving while also keeping expectations and standards as humbled and modest as possible.


I think that it is proper to state what a "worst case scenario" and to tell everyone coming in each year that this is a very real possibility, no doubt about it. So, to start, I will list fifteen (15) scenarios or courses of actions that have happened and/or remain likely to happen that are considered obviously negative in regards to hunting here and the difficulty of avoiding and/or overcoming such.


• Arriving late to the stand in the morning

- Spooking deer on walk-in or at stand (unknowingly or knowingly)

- Missing a shot opportunity due to this improper timing & consequences of such

• Walking in too loudly (audible noise moving through area on foot)

- Spooking deer on walk-in or at stand (unknowlingly or knowingly)

- Missing a shot opportunity due to this impoper noise control & tming of such

• Walking to stand on incorrect path/trail (being in wrong location & potentially @ wrong time)

- Spooking deer on walk-in (unknowingly or knowingly)

- Missing a shot opportunity due to this improper physical presence, noise, scent, etc.

• Forgetting something needed in truck or at hotel (bow, release, boots, Ozonics, etc.)

- Potentially unable to conduct hunt (screws up timing, intel, opportunities, etc.)

- Missing a shot opportunity due to this inability to hunt in 100% effectiveness

• Dropping something needed on walk-in to stand or from the stand once in it

- Potentially unable to conduct hunt (screws up timing, intel, opportunities, etc.)

- Missing a shot opportunity due to this inability to hunt in 100% effectiveness

• Being too loud ascending the stand or getting setup in the stand

- Spooking deer from the stand (unknowingly or knowingly)

- Missing a shot opportunity due to this improper noise and bodily control

• Not paying full attention with heightened senses while on stand (listening, seeing, sensing)

- Missing a shot opportunity due to this improper physical awareness & attentiveness

- Damaging the integrity of the scouting intel reporting back to MDLO for reference

• Playing/texting on phone while on the stand (at least slightly oblivious to surroundings)

- Missing a shot opportunity due to this improper physical awareness & attentiveness

- Damaging the integrity of the scouting intel reporting back to MDLO for reference

• Focusing too attentively on one deer while losing awareness of remainder of surroundings

- Missing a shot opportunity due to this improper physical awareness & attentiveness

- Damaging the integrity of the scouting intel reporting back to MDLO for reference

• Not spraying down & practicing scent control on your person properly (full process)

- Spooking deer on walk in/out

- Missing a shot opportunity due to this improper scent control implementation

- Damaging the integrity of the scouting intel reporting back to MDLO for reference

- Potentially damaging farm's stand area (bedding area, main travel route, staging area)

• Not continuing to spray down & practicing scent control on person while in stand (repeat)

- Spooking deer while on stand due

- Missing a shot opportunity due to this improper scent control implementation

- Damaging the intregity of the scouting intel reporting back to MDLO for reference

- Potentially damaging farm's stand area (bedding area, main travel route, staging area)

• Not being physical prepared & in position to draw back or aim firearm when needed

- Missing a shot opportunity due to improper physical motion & placement

- Making a low-quality shot or missing the shot due to being rushed or unprepared

• Not committing to a specific farm, area, or stand as per MDLO guidance (recommendation)

- Missing a shot opportunity (potential) due to moving around inconsistently

- Damaging the integrity of the scouting intel reporting back to MDLO for reference

- Damaging the farm, area, or stand location due to too much or too much presence

• Leaving a stand too early or too late in accordance with MDLO's guidance

- Spooking deer on walk-out or at stand (unknowingly or knowingly)

- Missing a shot opportunity due to this improper timing & consquences of such

- Damaging the integrity of the scouting intel reporting back to MDLO for reference

• Parking in the wrong spot on the farm or on the edge or nearby the farm

- Spooking deer on walk-in/out or at stand (unknowingly or knowingly)

- Missing a shot opportunity due to this improper timing & consquences of such

- Damaging the integrity of the scouting intel reporting back to MDLO for reference


PHOTO: A BUCK THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN KILLED NOT ONCE BUT TWICE!

This buck was on a Zone 4 farm we hunted for two years. The first year, I got this buck on camera within shooting range directly in front of a blind setup I had in a field terrace with standing cedar trees. He crossed our fence and got into the lap of this blind, but no hunter was in the blind despite it being one of my recommendations. Yet, one of those hunters stalked this buck to less than 10yds while bedded in our CRP, but no shot occurred before he busted. My hunter got too close and ruined improving his odds of making that opportunity pay out. Those hunters didn't end up tagging a deer despite this buck being all over the farm. The next year, a good buddy was hunting him who drew his NR tag, and he had him on the farm in daylight and couldn't get a shot. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, a very likely and often occurring scenario in the deer woods. Deer don't get to "booner" status often. Yet, luck was clearly on his side for two years in a row. One better thought-out decision could potentially have ended him. I'd call those hunts very difficult because of all known factors, but still each hunt was that close from being a done-deal. When you think about the number of bucks hunters do not see while hunting, due to spooking the deer or not paying attention in the right direction, how many close opportunities do you think never even are accounted for without the help of cameras? Tons. Simply, tons. Yet, cameras only catch a little bit of the action, so add what is missed by cameras, tons, tons more.


When you comb through those fifteen scenarios above and even add some variations of such, you can surely come to understand just how vulnerable a hunt is. The difficulty of the hunt is quite bold. Where does it fall on the 1-10 scale? That is hard to tell. We have had hunts that encountered none of these scenarios. We have had hunts darn near hit 2/3 of these scenarios. We've seen both succeed and both fail. Yet, when you rationalize the amount of shot opportunities you could have, which is likely somewhere between 0-1 opportunities, there is a high level of difficulty just trying to not mess up. It becomes high-stress, high-strung, and very tiring over the course of seven days.


Can I provide more difficulty context? Sure. I had a wonderful gentleman hunt with me a couple of years ago who hunted his rear end off, but he unfortunately encountered a few of the above scenarios on accident (innocent intent, of course). He had an encounter with a 175-180" stud, a 160" stud, and a 145" 3yr old. The shot opportunity didn't present itself for any number of reasons, but he was in tears before his hunt ended and he went home. I have to admit, I was emotional upon seeming him be emotional. I felt it for him. I wanted it for him as much as he did. He was the one who paid good money for the hunt, spent the 6+ years waiting for the bow tag, the 10 days on stand hunting hard, and still no filled tag. I get it, but this hunt was high difficulty, and it ended up not panning out in his favor. Some of the difficulty he encountered was at his own discretion, but yet, it is still difficulty. Of course, if he would have shot one of those mature deer, he would have probably had good/happy tears as he got onto that deer to get his hands on him for the first time. That is the reality of hunting.


I would like my hunters to understand that these are not gimmick hunts. I don't have deer tied to a tree. I don't have a 2500ac zoo that we are hunting. This is real, real wild animals, real nature and environments, real vulnerability, real od7ds of failure and success that can change by the second. The difficulty of the hunts are just that. If I could take past hunts and provide an statement on expectation, I would say that these hunts are hard and you will be tested, emotionally, mentally, physically. It's not just simply deer hunting in the back yard for three hours twice a week at home when the kid's and work schedule align. Besides our First Regular Gun Season (Gun 1) hunts which are 5 days, you're hunting your rear end off. Bow hunts are usually all dark-to-dark for seven straight days. Our gun hunts, whether 5 days or 7 days (excluding late muzzleloader), the hunts are also dark-to-dark. Add the element of the cold, it worsens. Our late muzzleloader hunts are noon to 60 minutes after sunset, likely 6 straight hours in the coldest time for Iowa. Battling the elements and your own self provide huge difficulty, but I've seen 70yr old men succeed and 30yr old men succeed.


It comes down to you as a person, as a hunter, your knowledge, your awareness, your decision-making, your attitude, your focus, your commitment, etc. Once all that is squared away, now it is up to the deer and Mother Nature.


Back when we were operating fully, we were able to produce more shot opportunities than overall hunters. Yes, some had no encounters and some had multiple. A net positive on the # of hunters to # of shot opportunities is what we are after once we start back up for 2023 and beyond. 2022 is a partial year with only a few hunters coming in during bow season. Whether you're coming in 2023, 2024, or beyond, know this - hunting free-ranging wild whitetails in Southern Iowa is not necessarily for the faint of heart, and the quality of your hunt (not the success but the entire hunt itself) is highly influenced by you and your actions. If you prepare properly and conduct the hunt in the right mindset start to finish, you're already in a great position to fill your tag. Yet, if it doesn't happen, you at least know that such is a possibility and to be accepted for what it is. Not every hunt ends with a filled tag, but when an empty tag accompanies you on your ride home, I hope you have gained valuable hunting knowledge and experience with some Iowa memories that may just entice you to give it another try the next time that you can get your tag. That next hunt will be difficult too, but it only takes one deer and one second to be the best hunt of your life.


SIDE NOTE: One thing about "fully guided" hunts is you have a guide physical present to provide over-the-shoulder or at least in-person daily guidance/coaching/instruction. It is easier to abide by the tougher requirements and needs of a hunt when someone else is telling you to do this or do that, especially eye-to-eye. MDLO does such over-the-phone mostly, via call, text, or even FaceTime. It's a different type of guidance, but by design, this is meant to give the hunter more freedom to conduct the hunt themselves. This is what MDLO wants the hunt to be like, more rewarding but more difficult. It is more of a real hunt versus a pay-to-kill scenario. Step up to the plate and hunt hard, hunt right, or feel free to go elsewhere. We do things differently, and we still find a hunter each year who doesn't grasp that. This is where your line of questioning prior to booking is very important. Ask the questions you NEED to know. We'd love to answer all of them to help you make a better decision for you and your hunt. If we are not the right fit for you, I'd rather that be determined by you prior to booking versus during or after your hunt. Both you and MDLO deserve that awareness.

74 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page