This time of year it's tough trying to catch up with outfitters because they are busy hunting, but I still was able to talk with one of the best - Jim Schaafsma of Arrow Five Outfitters. Schaafsma runs a variety of hunts in California and Mexico, but he is particularly well known for his trophy blacktail deer hunts. He has produced a number of bucks for his clients scoring more than 140 points - a giant buck by any standard. The downside of his success with this species is his backlog of blacktail hunters. At this writing you need to get moving now to get a crack at one of his trophy hunts in the year 2003. Not to worry, though. If you can't wait that long to go hunting, Schaafsma has other hunts that may interest you. First, you should know that the biggest upside to hunting with Schaafsma is that his big game management practices work, and he continues to add to the properties he hunts. He works closely with ranchers and local biologists to implement programs such as cattle rotation, predator control and fencing projects. When I talked with him, he was considering controlled burns and even more sophisticated, but proven, management practices. This season he is adding food plots and small ponds around some of the natural springs on the ranches he hunts. Both are expected to create improved antler-producing forage.
Now, let's turn to his various offerings, starting with his top-of-the line trophy blacktail hunts. These are for the best buck you can find at a cost of $4,000, plus a $2,000 kill fee. This hunt produces some monsters. Last year, Schaafsma tagged one buck that scored 168 SCI points and two others that scored 142 points. Another buck scored 139 points with a drop tine. For a broader picture of the big bucks Schaafsma has taken, check the record books for entries from Humboldt and Trinity counties in California. The Stewart ranch, which is Schaafsma's base of operation, is one of the best ranches in this area. Several years ago I hunted there and counted 254 bucks. While I'm........(continued)