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.
The news on Schaafsma's remaining hunts for the '99-2000 season regards his Mexico operation, where he is limiting the number of hunters he takes to around 25. Unlike many other outfitters operating in Sonora, he only offers Coues deer hunts. One advantage to hunting here is that you can take two bucks. He charges $3,500 for one buck, and only $2,000 more for the second. This hunt is a five-day affair (if you choose to hunt two bucks, the hunt is extended two days) and is guided on a 1 x 1 basis, often with both an American and Mexican guide. He is currently hunting four ranches and still has a few openings this season in December and January. In........(continued)