Ron Mason, who owns Mill Creek Ranch, is managing the North Branch Wildlife Group and its trophy deer program. He says that for four years, the two properties were largely off-limits to hunting except for the harvesting of does to manage the sex ratio. That effort, coupled with the creation of food plots and water management, allowed the bucks here to mature and show their trophy quality for the first time in many years. Mason says he set up a trail camera and has captured photos of numerous bucks in the 160 class and one monster that he thinks will score between 180 and 190. At this point, Mason estimates the herd has grown to about 200 head, and he has opened the property to paid hunters.
Plans call for five-day, semi-guided archery hunts to be offered in 2005 for $1,500. Mason hopes to have six to 10 hunters for the 2005 split bow season, which typically runs from early October to December and then late December to mid-January. Mason says each hunter will be assigned a section of the properties with a number of stands from which to hunt for the week. Hunts will run from Monday to Friday. Mason says he currently does not have accommodations for hunters, but that the properties are only 30 minutes from Des Moines, where there are numerous hotels and restaurants. For more information, contact Mason by phone. For photographs of deer on the property, see his web site.