There's good news and bad news about Texas whitetail hunting. The good news is that the hunting has never been better. As a case in point, a record 211 bucks grossing 160 B & C or more were entered in the Los Cazadores Contest at Cotulla, Texas, this past season. Seems good management programs have added at least 10 inches to what was formerly considered a "big" whitetail. As recently as 15 years ago, 150 gross B & C inches was the benchmark in Texas. These days it takes a minimum score of 160 to get much attention, at least in South Texas. But there's a downside to all of this. It seems that hunting prices are increasing right along with the quality of bucks being produced by management programs. In this seller's market, many ranches are charging a flat rate to hunt and are then adding trophy fees based on the gross B & C score of the buck taken. Bottom line for a 160-inch deer on some of the best ranches is $6,000 to $7,500 or so. Hunters "lucky" enough to shoot a real monster may find themselves writing a five-figure check.
The silver lining here is, good management involves more than allowing bucks to grow to full maturity and giving them plenty of nutritious food, through natural browse management or supplemental feeding programs: It also involves selective harvest of less desirable, or so-called "management" bucks. And hunts for these bucks have emerged as good bargains on some ranches.
Here are four good deals, that should give you some idea of what is available. None of these hunts are conducted under game proof fence.
Stasney's Cook Ranch offers a two-buck management buck hunt for $2,750. This is a three-day hunt conducted along with the trophy buck hunts on this 25,000-acre ranch. Albany is northeast of Abilene. Management buck hunters stay in the same ranch facilities and eat the same food as the trophy hunters, who pay $4,000.
Cook Ranch Game Manager Johnnie Hudman said........(continued)