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Old 03-26-2015, 01:21 PM   #1
Nubbin' Buck
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Colorado
Default Hidden Pines Ranch, Brackettville Texas

My review of Hidden Pines Ranch near Brackettville, Texas with Mike Harrell

A group of us went this weekend, traveling from southeast Colorado. We are all successful hunters and have had many great trips to Texas, we like to try new places and thought we would give this ranch a shot even though it sounded too good to be true.

Going into the hunt we all knew it would be a big gamble as there are literally no reviews out there on this place. We accepted that and took the chance. One of the main reasons for this review is to help anyone looking for some solid information on the place. The next guy may post a review about this place, being the best thing since sliced bread, but anybody spending money on a hunt should hear the good and the bad.

The good: We seen 4 hogs and killed 1.

The bad: No axis were seen (bucks or does), no aoudad were seen (rams or ewes), the ranch manager/owner Mike Harrell cannot keep a straight story on anything. We arrived at Mikeís place and he tried to change his rates due to it being Turkey season the next day. We were not hunting turkeys and had already agreed on a day fee. He was very unsure of his trophy fees and even confused himself a few times trying to explain it. We told him what he quoted us and stuck to that. He thought we were staying 2 days and we were there for three. It should be noted that a very detailed letter of what we wanted to hunt hogs/axis mainly, how long we would be there, the exact dates we would be there and everything else I could think of was sent with our deposit.

He showed us a map of the ranch and explained that we could hunt hogs and aoudad ANYWHERE on the ranch, but could not hunt axis in the central 1500 acres. This itself isn't a huge deal but would have been nice to have been told that 1500 acres was not available beforehand. He was hesitant on taking us out and showing us around, he didn't want to scratch up his good truck and his ranch truck had some problems. He put us in a couple blinds that first evening and 1 hog was spotted but no shot opportunity.

The weather played a big role in the first evening and second morning. It was raining very hard. This is not a problem, no one can control that and didn't have us down in the least bit. The next morning he showed us on the map where a couple food plots were planted and said we could try it, but reminded us that we could not shoot axis in there. I took my 4 wheeler out and found the plots and they both had a good amount of hog sign, so I put up a couple baits and a camera. One guy in our group, Jace, made a long walk on the high ridges, and Keith was able to get the Mike to give him a better tour of the ranch on his Ranger. A couple whitetails were all that was spotted this morning.

I linked up with Jace and told him about the hog sign in the fields and we decided to put up a blind and he would hunt the first field that evening and I would hunt the other field that had a box blind on it already. After a quick lunch we rode around to scout out a couple other locations and we met Mike on the road. We told him our exact plan was to put a blind on the first field and sit in the other blind on the field, this is where things really went south. He started acting nervous about us being in those fields saying that one of them was leased to a deer hunter, and that we should try not to get our picture taken on the camera in that field. I told him that I had circled the plot looking at sign, and I am sure that my picture had been taken. He said no big deal, I am allowed to have my hunters hunt aoudad and hogs ANYWHERE on this ranch. He suggested not setting the blind in view of the camera and even suggested turning the camera away from the field!

He again said that we could hunt aoudad and hogs ANYWHERE, and told us not to shoot an axis in the fields. We assured him that we would not shoot an axis in there and that we really wanted pigs more than anything. He also suggested another tripod stand where we could shoot axis, I told him I had found it this morning and that we would rather hunt the two food plots for hogs that evening. We told him we would set the blind away from the feeder in the field and try to stay out of camera range, he said no problem you can hunt aoudad and hogs ANYWHERE. We asked him if he was picking up Keith that evening as we were a long way from camp in those fields, he said yes.

After setting the blind and getting Jace settled in I went to the next field. I had two 75 pound eating pigs come in early so I shot one. About magic hour Jace called me on the radio and said that Mike had drove his Ranger into the field and scared a hog out that he was about to get a bow shot on. Jace said that Mike was questioning him on why he was there and that he wasn't supposed to be. Jace said Mike was very confused on what was going on and where we actually were, and that he was supposed to pick him up after dark. Jace asked him why either of us on this side would need to be picked up, we have a 4 wheeler and got ourselves there. Mike told him that he was supposed to be in the other field and that I was to be in the tripod, Jace told him that was never the plan and that we told him exactly what we doing, where we were sitting, and we had this all figured out hours ago with him in our previous conversation. Mike then told him again that he wasn't supposed to be in there and why did we ask him to pick him up, Jace told him again that you were supposed to pick up Keith who was on the camp side of the ranch. Mike told him that there was a major miscommunication and that he messed up his hunt by coming in at that time. Jace said yes you did, and Mike left to go get Keith.

I picked up Jace and he told me about everything that was said. We really didnít know what Mikeís problem was. But there was definitely something affecting his memory and comprehension. I also detected a very low IQ number as one of his other downfalls.

When we got back to camp, Mike questioned me about why we he was supposed to pick up Jace? I told him that we had never discussed him picking up Jace as he was with me and we had a 4 wheeler. Mike said why would you tell me to pick him up then, I said I asked you to pick up Keith and was double checking that you would, he said of course I would I dropped him off that is only common sense. I told him I was just making sure, as Keith had sat for about 12 hours in that river blind and I didn't want him to be forgotten. This was a somewhat heated discussion between Mike and myself. He said he would be at camp at six o'clock in the morning, I told him yeah whatever, and went back to taking care of my pig.

Needless to say that our group was now pretty upset, we all felt that we were dealing with someone who had some serious comprehension problems among other things. We tried to make the best of it around the fire that night and laugh it off, we knew that this was a 50/50 chance hunt anyway.

The next morning Mike came into the house and his first sentence was "you guys can't hunt the 1500 anymore, youíre not respecting my wishes, you blame me for the weather, the lack of animals, and are not having a good hunt". He then accused Jace of having a hissy fit about him picking him up. He also tried to accuse us of going behind his back to hunt the very places he told us we could hunt for pigs and aoudad. All of us were in complete shock at what he was saying and how he said it! At no time did any of us say anything about lack of animals or the bad weather, we have been on many hunts and know there are always some things that are out of your hands that you must deal with. He calmed down and said that he thought I was in the tripod and Jace was in the second field, I told him again that at no time did I say that I was going to the tripod that we had specifically told him that we would hunt aoudad and pigs in the two food plots and not hunt axis there. He said well you can hunt the second food plot but you must stay out of the first one. He asked where we would be hunting this morning and we gave him our ideas, one of the ideas, was something that he suggested we try the day before, in which he replied that is a bad idea and that he wouldn't hunt that way (another example of his wishy-washy behavior).

He then left to go back to his house. We were all fed up with him and his lack of comprehension and blatant confusion, so we decided to cut our losses and leave that morning. We had another full day that we had paid for and we wrote it off as a loss, to keep from having to have another conversation with him.

Another thing I would like to bring up is that we not against hunting aoudad and any of us would have definitely tried to harvest one if presented an opportunity. But the purpose of the trip was to shoot hogs, we love hunting hogs and make a trip to Texas every year to do it. Keith told us that while Mike and him were driving around that Mike had told him he wished we wouldn't shoot the hogs because he doesn't make any money on them, he makes money on aoudad and axis (I doubt he has seen very many trophy fees). I believe that that statement explains why he didn't want us in the food plots, that if we were there killing pigs and could not hunt axis there it would effect his possibility of getting some trophy fees from us?

I know it is hard to see the big picture just reading my experience, but this trip was an adventure. It had some decent moments, but they were quickly taken away when he made us feel like we did something wrong, even after he repeatedly told us that we could be in there. And the way he was so confused about everything from the very beginning, and how he changed his stories so often it was just a bad experience. To be told you can do this or should do that and then get in a yelling match a couple hours later and have your evening hunt ruined because you did exactly what was asked of you. That doesnít show me that I am dealing with a normal person.

I am sure that axis and aoudad can and do occupy the ranch, and there are a few pigs running around. But in no way would I recommend to anybody to spend a single dime to hunt this place, I wouldn't hunt it for free for that matter.

Feel free to pm me for my phone number and I can go into better detail about the place. It is hard for me to describe him and his intelligence level and the frustrations we encountered through writing. We can also discuss some concerns we had that I would rather not put in writing.
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Old 03-26-2015, 01:31 PM   #2
Ten Point
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Royse City
Hunt In: Hopkins/Wood/Hunt Counties. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

wow... Somebody has a few screws loose if you ask me and wasted a lot of your time and hard earned dollars.
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Old 03-26-2015, 01:39 PM   #3
Ten Point
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Austin
Hunt In: Llano area

Really sorry to hear this, esp after traveling a long way to hunt. I never hunt anywhere that doesn't have reviews by people I know or trust from the GS.
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Old 03-26-2015, 01:44 PM   #4
Pope & Young
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Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Clear Lake
Hunt In: Leon Co, Jim Hogg and Starr Co.

Goodness, I think you handled it better than I would have.... Thanks for the write up.
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Old 03-27-2015, 08:24 AM   #5
Ten Point
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Houston
Hunt In: Anywhere i can!

You definitely handled that better than most people. Thanks for letting us know about this place
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Old 03-27-2015, 08:36 AM   #6
Eight Point
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Montgomery
Hunt In: Deer:Anderson County - Palestine and Elkhart Duck: Blessing/Eagle Lake

Man, sucks to hear that. I hunted Brackettville for a long time, a lot of animals in that area. Always hate to see a ranch with great potential poorly managed.

Like ATX said, great reviews go along way especially from guys on here. Thanks for the write up.
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Old 03-27-2015, 08:52 AM   #7
Pope & Young
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Del Rio
Hunt In: Amistad

That really s@cks!! I hate dishonest people. Hate that you had a bad expeririance. Thanks for the review.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:13 PM   #8
Eight Point
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Cypress Tx
Hunt In: Gouldbusk, Texas. Coleman County

Almost sounds like the owner might have some serious health issues.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:31 PM   #9
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: The Woodlands
Hunt In: San Saba & Mason Counties

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Old 04-01-2015, 05:54 AM   #10
Pope & Young
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: West of Houston
Hunt In: now accepting invitations!

Thanks for your review.

There are so many good places to hunt hogs in Texas. It really sucks that you seem to have picked the worst one.
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Old 04-01-2015, 08:06 AM   #11
White Falcon
Pope & Young
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Holly Lake Ranch
Hunt In: East Tx. and Anywhere I can!

Thanks for the heads up!!
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Old 04-05-2015, 01:41 PM   #12
Eight Point
Join Date: Sep 2012

Thanks man, sorry to here that!
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Old 04-06-2015, 02:21 PM   #13
Six Point
Join Date: Jul 2008

Hate to hear that. Did you see any turkeys or hear any gobbling. I actually called and talked to them. Actually his wife he never called back. Just seemed fishy and actually asked review on here. I was looking to take my 5 y/o for pig and turkey. Glad I decided to pass that up. Thank you for your review and another reason why it is so hard to trust people.
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Old 04-06-2015, 03:19 PM   #14
Pope & Young
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Kings Creek Golf Club, Kemp TX
Hunt In: USA, Concho County and S.E.Colorado

I hope you guys will come back some time. There are plenty of excellent places to hunt and have a good time.
Sorry that you had to find a place like that.
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Old 07-07-2015, 08:03 AM   #15
Nubbin' Buck
Join Date: May 2015

Great review
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Old 07-07-2015, 08:31 AM   #16
Ten Point
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Salado, Texas

When you were advised to misdirect a camera, you told me all I need to know about Mike.
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Old 11-12-2017, 06:31 PM   #17
Nubbin' Buck
Join Date: Dec 2016

I hunted their last year mike pushed me to hunt the stand all day I shot a 13 point whitetail 13 inch spread for 350 dollar kill fee after that he eased up and even offered extra day for free these guys struggle to keep their ranches going but I made that trip from Houston and spent 700 for everything at least he is cheap
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Old 11-12-2017, 07:49 PM   #18
Ten Point
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: San Antonio, TX
Hunt In: Anywhere I can

Originally Posted by Terry View Post
When you were advised to misdirect a camera, you told me all I need to know about Mike.
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Old 11-13-2017, 05:04 PM   #19
Ten Point
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Near Evant, TX
Hunt In: Anywhere close by

Originally Posted by BowJo View Post
My thoughts as well. His brain's obviously not working right.
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