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#6077671 - 12/10/15 08:12 PM Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou (long post)
catorres1 Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 05/12/14
Posts: 15
Well, just got back from my first guided hunt ever. It was my gift to my son for his 13th birthday and we chose to go with Mike Odell at Wendy Lou. He told me he had around 6k acres of spot and stalk country, no feeders, though blinds are available if you wish. We were specifically looking for 'no blinds' to get our first learning experience with spot and stalk. We wanted the opportunity to learn more than anything else, so the stalking experience was key. His land is cut into 3 parts, each around 2k acres, due to roads that run through and small parcels owned by other people. But two of the parts are connected by several wide tunnels that allow the animals access to both sides of the roads, so I think it was about 4k contiguous, and then another 2k where tunnels were not possible.

We met Mike at about 6.45 and headed out around 7. The country was beautiful and varied, Mike said there were 3 or 4 distinct biomes. We are used to Hill Country, this was much more open in most places, but in some places, very thick. All of it was pretty hilly. And full of animals! Waterbuck, Blackbuck, tons of Gemsbock, whitetails everywhere, impala....on and on. To be honest, I became a little concerned, as we passed a large herd of red deer right away, that we would be done in an hour and on our way home rather unsatisfied. We had brought packs and gear expecting to be walking almost the entire time, but Mike drove us around showing us the lay of the land, so I wasn't sure this was going to be what we expected.

About a half hour in, we jumped out of the truck and he said to follow him to try and get on a herd. We hiked in a large circle to get the wind and suddenly they were there trotting through the bush about 200 yards away on a brush covered ridge. No chance for my son to get on them, maybe no chance for anyone. He can shoot well seated from sticks, and prone, but he is not fast and not well experienced shooting standing from sticks. That was not a shot he could make. And that was really the point of this trip, for us to learn different ways of hunting, and what is demanded in terms of knowledge, equipment and skills. Tick one....learn to get on target and shoot faster.

But that was okay...that would have been way too easy and we would have learned too little. Next up, we drove to another area and spotted from the truck as we moved, very African style. After some time, we found another herd and Mike planned a stalk. Again, we made a large circle to beat the wind and come on over a rise, but we got busted by some Gemsbock, and they seemed to warn off the Red Deer. When we got to the rise and peeked over, they were gone. We continued hiking for another hour to try and locate them, but no luck.

So back we got in the truck and went on to another place, where we got out and worked our way to a meadow where he thought a herd might come. We bushwacked through trees, creeks, over hills etc. then crawled into position 300 yards from some whitetails, but the red deer never showed and we backed out quietly to try again elsewhere.

By now, I was pretty happy, and my son was thrilled. After all the stand hunting he has done, this was really exciting and much more adventurous, and we were learning alot about what we needed to do to be successful in places we hope to go in the future, both in terms of skills, tactics and equipment. This was not going to be easy, or truck hunting or anything of the sort. This was what we were looking for, and my concerns from the morning were forgotten.

I'll spare you all the details, but we hunted hard the rest of the day, which included hours of searching, finding, stalking, losing and trying again, getting stuck in mud and me pulling on the truck with a chain to get us out!

So by the end of the day, my son was worried he was going home empty handed and was looking for alternatives....but Mike was pretty resolute, he really wanted my son to get his spike.

We got to about an hour or so before sundown, and we came upon a herd in an open field probably 400 yards away. Mike stopped the truck and we were wondering if we could get closer. At that point I made a suggestion I really regret, which was maybe just the two should get out of the truck to minimize the noise and profile. He said that was a good idea. He and my son dropped down into a pond basin and ended up army crawling on their stomachs to the edge of the basin to try and get a shot, but the herd had disappeared by the time they got there. Again. But the day was not over, Mike had another plan, he had said. I watched a huge stag WAY out in the field as Mike and my son were watching it in the field and chatting a bit, my son practicing his prone technique. He did not have his backpack for a rest, so he was trying to practice for shooting off his elbows. They sat there for a while, Mike apparently giving him some pointers, probably waiting to see if that herd would come back out to feed with the stag.

Then, as I turned the camera off...boom! They sat there for a second and then sat up and high fives! And out ran that big herd....they had been down in a basin that I could not see, between the stag in the center of the field and the edge of the pond, which was actually a hill. I knew he got something and I was so happy for him, because he worked very hard for this. We had been up since 4 am, hunting since 7, no stopping. But I must admit, I messed up not being with him when he took the final shot, I missed sharing that moment with him and that is my only regret. I thought I was being helpful by staying back, but in hindsight, it would have been fine and I should have been there. My chances to hunt with my older son are becoming non-existent, as my younger has come of age and I now need to be with him, and I never get to hunt for myself, so this was our chance to be together. I missed that last climactic moment where his heart and mine both beat faster and as we finish the hunt together. But I did what I thought would be best at that moment. C'est la vie.

He took a beautiful spike, long antlers, just as we had hoped. At one point, my son suggested just taking a hind that we had a shot on, but Mike encouraged him to hold out, he really wanted him to have what we came for, and that was a good lesson. I ranged the shot and it was about 240 yards, right where he thought he aimed. That's a pretty good poke for a 13 year old. He is good on steel a good bit further, but it's different when your heart is pounding, and I am proud of him for pulling it off. We did learn we both need to be faster, and better able to use our equipment and improvised techniques (and quickly), just the kind of learnings we were looking for to take to our next training class to become better 'real world' hunters.

Final thoughts in part II.

#6077768 - 12/10/15 08:54 PM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: catorres1]
catorres1 Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 05/12/14
Posts: 15
One thing that made setting up this hunt difficult (I'd been working on something for over a year), was that so many places were not the hunt we were looking for. It seemed that many were practically put and take hunts, or they were still shooting over feeders or whatever, on small plots of land. That was not what we were looking for, and though all of our whitetail hunting has been from blinds and most (though not all) have been with feeders, I did not want that. In at least one case, the place I called admitted they would just let the animals out of a tiny pasture and they would put alfalfa out in another clearing on a 200 acre pasture, and we could 'stalk up' and shoot one when they ran up there. Definitely not what we were looking for, so I was concerned about how wild these animals would really be. Mike told me on the phone that there were no feeders, that these animals were born there and just run wild and that is how they want it. He said we could do a blind if we want, but he preferred spot and stalk. So I decided to give it a try, but what we were looking for was an experience that teaches us deeper hunting skills, ones that will serve us in the future in places where there are no fences, feeders, or blinds.

In the end, I was really surprised at how spooky the animals were. Places I have hunted whitetails, including around Rock Springs on no fenced massive ranches, the deer don't get terribly upset at a moving truck. Stop the truck, yeah, start to open the door....they are gone gone. But getting inside 100 yards or so is generally not a problem if you are in the truck, even if it's stopped. But here, most of the time, all we saw were white-tails at 400 yards running long before we stopped moving. Some animals, like the Gemsbock, didn't seem to care (most of the african animals were more sedate), but the whitetails were really spooky compared to all the hunting we have done so far.

And the red deer seemed impossible to close to under 300 yards, even in a moving truck. When the truck appeared, they moved quickly to cover far away, usually keeping going over the nearest hill. They also did a great job keeping the wind in their faces when they moved, so we were always trying to beat the wind. And for most of the day between morning and afternoon, they were more scarce than I expected. Turns out, in the evening, you will find there are a lot of red deer there, some amazing stags for sure. You just can't find them very easily for most of the day.

If you are a long-range shooter, yeah, I suspect you can probably get it done pretty easily. But if you are looking to get your shot in under 300 or maybe 400 yards, you are going to have to work at it, at least that was our experience with the red deer, and would have been, I think, with the whitetails. That seemed to be their 'circle of comfort', which is much larger than any place I have hunted thus far.

Skills wise, learn to shoot standing off of sticks, seated as well. Learn to use whatever rest is available. And learn to do it all very fast and get your shot off quickly and accurately. The winds constantly swirled and changed directions due to the hills, and there are so many herds of animals around that the number of eyes and noses looking for you made it difficult. Ultimately, we were able to get the shot off from a prone position, where my son's shooting is strongest. Mike was looking for that opportunity, and it happened.

The style is exactly what I understand plains game hunting is like in many places in Africa. You use the truck to cover lots of ground while glassing as you move. When you spot something from a distance, you plan your stalk and go after it. Sometimes, we just hiked, though, without the truck, as well. You don't really need a pack, unless you want to shoot off of it. We brought them and hydration pouches etc. because we thought we would be on foot the whole day. But you get back to the truck often enough for water or food. We hunted non-stop, so bring a sandwich you can eat while glassing because the game is on until you are successful.

Shots...depends where on the ranch you are. If there was some way to get into the bush with them un-noticed, I guess it could be short. Realistically, I would say 150 yards is a rare minimum, and in some areas, I ranged animals at over 1k, so the max is very far. For us, it seemed most actual opportunities fell in the 200 plus range. Getting to 200 was very hard, in fact, we never really got there, except for that one time in the morning where they were in brush moving, and I would not call that an opportunity. The rest of the time, it was 200 and beyond.

Mike was a pleasure to spend the day with, he adapted to the fact that my son could not set up and get on as fast as would have been optimal, and found a way to make it work. He did not give in and just let my son shoot a hind to 'get it done', even though it would have cut a few hours off the hunt and ensured it ended with something in the cooler. He went after what we said we preferred, even though we did say a hind would be fine.

His area was large, varied and just beautiful to be in. Streams, thick forest, open prairie, just lots of varied terrain. Lots of hills. The animals we hunted were completely wild, and the hunting experience he provided was as advertised. Like I said in my last post, my only regrets were due to my own decision that caused me to miss that climactic moment with my son.

Will I go back? Well, my son wistfully has said several times already that he wishes we were back there, and it's only been a couple days. So that says something. I don't have the money to do it again right now, and I don't know how I can make it happen again any time soon. But I have not had a chance to hunt for myself in 15 years, and this is something I really want to do again, for my own education. So yes, when I can swing it, I hope to return, this time as the hunter so we can, as Mike said "Channel our inner Comanche and find those 'maningee' red deer".

Edited by catorres1 (12/10/15 08:58 PM)

#6077823 - 12/10/15 09:28 PM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: catorres1]
TGT Offline

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 733
Loc: south
Great write up and Mike and the Wendy Lou are great! I will go back!


#6077851 - 12/10/15 09:48 PM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: catorres1]
nsmike Online   content
Extreme Tracker

Registered: 05/02/12
Posts: 4531
Loc: MN
As the saying goes, "it's the hunt and not the fence that counts", it sounds like you had one heck of a hunt.
for every stereotype there's a prototype

#6077860 - 12/10/15 09:54 PM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: catorres1]
TCB Online   content
Pro Tracker

Registered: 09/01/04
Posts: 1761
Loc: Denton, TX

Great write up but we need pictures!!

#6077948 - 12/10/15 11:15 PM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: TCB]
catorres1 Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 05/12/14
Posts: 15
Hah! I was wondering when that request would come in. They are still on my camera, I'll try and post some in the next day or so, but no promises. Been elbow deep in meat processing, so am a little behind on work around the house. blush

#6078060 - 12/11/15 06:52 AM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: catorres1]
venator ne Offline

Registered: 07/17/13
Posts: 52
I also have hunted with Mike at WLR. What a fantastic place and experience. I will also be returning, I hope in 2016.

#6078089 - 12/11/15 07:18 AM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: catorres1]
kdkane1971 Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 01/30/14
Posts: 2116
Loc: Mesopotamia
up texas

#6078321 - 12/11/15 09:27 AM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: catorres1]
NMGW Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 01/16/12
Posts: 1570
Loc: New Mexico
New Mexico: Not Really New, Not Really Mexico

#6078379 - 12/11/15 10:16 AM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: catorres1]
TXSIGNGUY Online   content

Registered: 09/08/15
Posts: 903
Loc: College Station


#6078986 - 12/11/15 05:22 PM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: TXSIGNGUY]
Matpk Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 03/06/15
Posts: 1146
Amazing...!Idea of shooting beyond 300 yards in a HF is thrilling up

#6079523 - 12/11/15 11:33 PM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: catorres1]
syncerus Online   content
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 12/01/08
Posts: 2652
Loc: Dallas, TX
I enjoyed my trip to the Wendy Lou as well, and I second the opinion that Mike is the best of hunting companions. I hesitate to post a picture on this thread as I think the successful young man should be the proper focus, but this image will give some idea of the quality of the property and the exceptional surroundings. I also posted this on a previous WL thread.

Edited by syncerus (12/11/15 11:35 PM)
Edit Reason: speling
NRA Endowment & DSC Lifer

#6081354 - 12/13/15 12:37 PM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: syncerus]
catorres1 Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 05/12/14
Posts: 15
No worries, thanks for posting this picture. I don't know when I'll have time to get any up, I have not even bought Christmas presents for my sons yet....I'm a little covered up.

#6082965 - 12/14/15 09:24 AM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: catorres1]
WLR Hunter Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 07/17/12
Posts: 386
Loc: Erath County
I got a big kick out of reading your detailed report of your hunt with us catorres1. Its great to read your feedback and I'm so glad we were able to live up to your expectations. I think Mike takes a special delight in our younger hunters - did he tell you he was a high school teacher in his other life? Mike has been hunting hard but will read this as I have sent it to him on email (he doesn't get on the forum much). This hunt was a special one for you and your son and one you will both always remember - thank you most sincerely for allowing us to be part of it - no doubt you have a great hunting partner in your son and can look forward to making more such memories in the future - nothing better than that! We hope you enjoy that good meat - it was well earned. Congratulations to you both!
Huntin....Shootin....Fishin....Tex-African Style

#6090621 - 12/18/15 08:06 AM Re: Red Deer Spike Hunt at Wendy Lou Part II (long post) [Re: syncerus]
colt45 Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 08/19/06
Posts: 7955
Loc: bastrop county
Originally Posted By: syncerus
I enjoyed my trip to the Wendy Lou as well, and I second the opinion that Mike is the best of hunting companions. I hesitate to post a picture on this thread as I think the successful young man should be the proper focus, but this image will give some idea of the quality of the property and the exceptional surroundings. I also posted this on a previous WL thread.

how is the meat compared to wt?
hold on Newt, we got a runaway

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