BAD experience, South Carolina Trophy Hunters - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2016, 08:36 AM Thread Starter
tdd
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Thumbs down BAD experience, South Carolina Trophy Hunters

I have never done this before, but I think it's warranted in this case.

I have gone south for an October deer hunt every year since 2008, with the one exception of 2015 when I went mulie hunting in Nebraska.

2008-2012 I went with Roanoke Tar Guide Service in North Carolina. In 5 years, I killed 8 bucks and 2 does. Great service, great experiences. They are in business, can be found at the show in Harrisburg, and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

My father usually goes with me, and he wanted to see more deer, so in 2013 and 2014 we went to White Creek Outfitters in South Carolina. In 2 years, I shot 3 bucks and 1 doe. Unfortunately, the land White Creek leased was sold and they are no longer in business.

Last year (2015), as I mentioned, I went mulie hunting in Nebraska.

A hunting buddy talked to South Carolina Trophy Hunters at the show in Harrisburg and decided to book with them. He asked if I wanted to go, and I agreed. I had some other commitments to keep, so I didn't book till the summer. And that's where I'll start. I'll try to stick to factual events and keep my interpretations and opinions minimized, but I'm sure some will creep in. Here's my experience:

July- call the number my friend was told to have me call to make my booking and add it to his group (which was only 2 people at the time, but still a "group"). No answer, no option to leave voice mail. Ok. Wait a couple days, try again, repeat often, no change. No answer, no option to leave voicemail. Jump on their website and use the "contact us" form and also the email listed. No answer.

August- Call another number for the actual owner. He answers, is very polite and helpful, and takes my booking.

October- we go on the hunt. Arrive at the main lodge. Looks like the website's pics, so that's good. Go inside, tell them who we are. They get Gino, the guy in charge of the hunters. He can't find our booking.

Eventually he does, but I'm not listed. They don't know I'm supposed to be there. Whoops.

Finally he finds me, listed by my last name as my first name, and with another group who I don't know. Seriously?

We're informed we won't be staying at the main lodge, we'll be at "The Plantation." OK, sounds fancy.

We're guided over there, and pull up in front of a gated drive back into tall pines. Cool.

Pull up, get out, smacked in the face by the smell of excrement. Um, what?

The smell comes and goes as we unload into the lodge that looks nothing at all like the website pics. Not terrible, but not even close to what's shown on the website. The smell comes and goes. Then I go into the bathroom and it's horrible. Smells like the toilet seals are gone and the septic gas is backing up into the bathroom. Yuck.

Go outside, and I see a pool of sewage. Someone flushes. I see water coming up into the pool, full of paper and.... stuff. Wow.

Ok....so we're getting pretty unsettled.

That afternoon we are given a sheet with the lodge rules. 6pt bucks or better on all properties, but some are 8pts or better. Must be as wide as the ears. No does. Pigs are fair game. Not following the rules means you're sent home and fined $250 per violation. OK, got it.

Go hunting that evening. Stand has a snake in it...interesting.

Saw a basket racked 6pt in a field where I had no shot, and he wasn't big enough anyway. Good start, though, I guess.

That was the only racked buck I saw.

In 7 days of hunting, I saw 15 deer, 3 were bucks. One being that basket 6, the other two being spike bucks that probably were legally antlerless deer if they'd been here in PA.

When I was given a greenlight to shoot a doe, none were to be seen. No one saw a deer after Wed of that week of hunting.

The entire operation was 3 lodges. Hunters joined us from the third lodge that we didn't see. They told us parts were burned out, walls were moldy, and bugs were everywhere. They loved the lodge we were at, even with the septic stench.

Chris, our cook, was awesome. He did everything he could to feed us well and help us as much as he could. Very good guy.

The guides often were late to pick us up in the morning/afternoon to leave for the stands. Three separate times, we were left in the field and our pickup forgot us. Once was just me, and at night, and I could have walked back in 15 minutes, but followed the rules and stayed put. Got eaten alive by skeeters, even with a thermacell cooking. Was picked up over an hour after shooting light was gone, only because I texted a "what the ____?" text to the main guide.

We bailed before our last sit and hit the road for home.

The deer we did see were SUPER jittery. Probably 60-70% of them looked STRAIGHT at the stand the whole time they were in sight of it. The hunting pressure they put on their properties must be staggering. We counted up what how many hunters we were told were in each lodge, and discovered they were running over 50 hunters that entire week. They claim 12,000 acres of land, we saw about 1000 acres, if that. Every stand I was in had trash in/around it.

In 7 full days of hunting, I saw two legitimate bucks come in from hunters in our lodge. I saw two more brought in by a hunter who killed them for spite. One was a small 6pt and one was doe, neither was permitted by the rules. A serious argument followed that episode, and I stayed far away from that blow-up.

When we left, we stopped at the main lodge to get ice. We saw about a dozen capes/racks from the week. Big racks, beautiful deer. We never saw the hunters from the main lodge. No idea where they hunted, but it wasn't where we hunted.

So....

That's my experience. I talked to every hunter I met, and none were repeat customers. And none planned to be, either. One guy was so mad, he was calling his credit card company to stop the charge.

These folks have two booths at the Harrisburg show. I cannot in good conscience recommend them in any way, shape, or form. If anyone wants more "candid" info, feel free to PM me.

There are much better places to hunt. Of the three of us, none of us ever saw a deer we were permitted to shoot. Looking back to my other southern hunting experiences, this was far outside the trend. VERY far.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2016, 08:50 AM
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Man, I sure hope you left them some type of feedback. This sounds like the typical half-behind run southern outfitters I see here in NC popping up left and right.

"The good that men do live on long after they're gone"
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2016, 09:01 AM Thread Starter
tdd
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I didn't even bother talking to them. The owner was present a few times when others weren't available to run hunters to stands. He saw and smelled the septic. He didn't care.

The guides couldn't have cared less about whether or not we were successful. We were something they had to take care of and say they did it, and that was about that. We didn't tip the guides, nor even let them know we were leaving. I got back after being picked up 1.5 hrs late on Saturday morning and we left.

We tipped our cook well. He was a hard working guy, very friendly and very helpful. He earned a good tip.

It's my opinion that this outfitter is wholly unconcerned with earning repeat business. The other outfitters I went with, they WANTED repeat business. They both were clear that they felt the ideal was to have a full season of bookings that come every year, and they wouldn't have to look for new clients. They could get to know their clients and provide better service, plus have a more reliable income stream.

This outfitter seemed clearly to have two booths at Harrisburg for the purpose of "catching more fish with two nets". Whether or not anyone comes back doesn't seem to matter to them, they'll just go find more butts to fill the seats.

That, at least, was the impression the three of us in my group had. We talked with others in camp and I believe they all felt likewise. No one I talked to was pleased with what the outfitter provided.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2016, 09:11 AM
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Maybe you can get your own booth next to them at the next show and let everyone know how great their services were.

"The good that men do live on long after they're gone"
USAF AD 2006-Til they make me leave.
2B and 2D
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2016, 09:14 AM Thread Starter
tdd
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You know, a few of us (some of the other hunters were from PA) discussed doing just that.

In the end, I don't feel like spending time or money on them. I figured I'd put reviews out there on various forums I visit so that google searches will find my comments, and leave it at that.

I didn't do my homework. I'm mad at the outfitter for the "service" they provided, but more mad at myself for not doing my due diligence in vetting a potential outfitter like I should have. This could have been avoided if I'd done so.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2016, 09:21 AM
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Just a thought, and maybe I'm wrong because I've never used a guide like this... is this "outfitter" and his buddies hunting the honey holes and using out-of-towners to fund their lifestyle and pay the bills?
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-02-2016, 09:31 AM Thread Starter
tdd
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That is my distinct impression, yes.

They had us in stands near a Georgia-Pacific plant's property. They said there was no hunting on that property and they got as close to it as they could because there were really big deer in there.

My HUNCH is the people they know and/or who know who and how much to pay, they go hunt IN the Georgia-Pacific property very quietly and carefully and take some nice deer.

The rest hunt the beaten properties over and over and pay the bills. The access roads to the places we hunted were badly wallowed and rutted. They clearly drive those roads A LOT.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2016, 04:47 AM
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We had a bad experience like yours with an outfitter in Montana. I purchased two of his T shirts before we left, my uncle thought I was crazy after already losing thousands of dollars with this outfitter. He didn't think that after I painted a big red X on them and we wore them to Harrisburg ! Got lots of responses from total strangers even got a few pats on the back and a lot of "way to go" responses. Other guys stopped us and told us they had basically the same experience with the same outfitter.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 03:57 PM
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Wow, I wish I would've read your review before we booked. But after reading your story it was like I lived it. We were there from November 15 - 20, 2017. Everything that you said in your review was exactly the way it was or us. Friend of mine booked the hunt at the Harrisburg Outdoor Show. He was told if they got 8 - 12 guys that we could have the whole "lodge". Lodge being a very funny description for the run down, smelly building that we were put in. When we arrived, we were escorted to the lodge and one of the guys went to the bathroom to splash some water on his face after a 12 hour drive. Yep you guessed it, no hot water in the sink. Ok, I can live with that. But the shower looked as if it wasn't cleaned since the start of hunting season.
When they booked they were told that we could shoot 3 buck, 1 doe and 3 hogs. Sounds good right? When we got there Gino informed us that some of the farms had an 8 point minimum plus they had to be out past their ears, only one hog per day and they were out of doe tags. Funny how the rules change. We thought that wouldn't be a problem beings the rut was just starting per Gino.
To make a long , frustrating story short.....we had 9 guys and we seen 2 doe and 2 small spike buck and no hogs in three days. After the third day of not seeing a deer, I'd had enough, so two of us packed our ---- and got out of there as quick as we could. I can't say enough good things about the cook. He went out of his way to make sure we had enough food.
I would definitely NOT recommend this outfitter and I find it hard to believe (if you read their reviews on their website) that they EVER have any repeat customers. I ended up putting the last half of my payment in dispute, and the owner had the balls to say that I didn't finish my hunt. These properties are definitely over hunted and I do think that they were coasting, and collecting money just to close out the year. Bottom line is that the next time I book a hunt I will be doing my homework.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 02:57 PM
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I just checked out their website. Looks pretty nice there. We've been fooled by online pictures with hotel or rental house accomotations and it stinks. Luckily, never had a horrible hunt. Sorry to hear but thanks for letting others know.
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