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.
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.