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Old 02-12-2018, 05:34 PM   #1
Pope & Young
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Kingwood
Hunt In: Polk Co., TX & La Flore Co., OK
Default Tatonka Creek Ranch

I hunted here this past weekend with a buddy from work. He’s hunted here many times over the years and has a good relationship with the owner and guide. I will try to provide some good objective comments as well as my own personal preference on my review in case it helps someone else.

First, my initial impression from the website and from the few online reviews of the place is that it was probably a ranch that I would not choose for setting up a hunt. Kill fees for does and good quality rams appeared to be higher than other places, and the automatic $30 or $100 guide fee on top of the hunt was also a negative. Additionally the trophy wall on the website is almost entirely rams, so my expectation of seeing much of anything else was not high.

Still, I figured I would just relax and go have a good weekend and just see what happens. Being that I didn’t have high expectations I brought some fun guns that I don’t normally hunt with, like my Weatherby 378 magnum, and my bow. Got to the ranch Friday evening and let ourselves in.

The camp house and facilities were pretty decent. The camp was recently improved and is an ongoing work in progress for further improvements. There is a large pit under a covered patio, a nice shooting bench and 100yd range for target practice and sight in, on-site cooler, and plenty of room for hanging out. The guide mentioned that they are going to put in a big fire pit next and will continue improving the camp house.

Met with the guide Saturday morning and got the layout. The property is divided into two 250 acre halves. The north section holds all the bison and blackbuck, and the south section holds all the other animals. There are a LOT of blackbuck. Mostly does, but I saw a really nice buck. I believe the blackbuck may be a new addition and they are working to stabilize their population to begin offering hunts. We had a bison stroll through camp, and saw several more while riding to and from the south section. Most of the bison were smaller to medium meat hunt animals but I did see two really impressive bulls and a huge cow that would make great trophies, as well as filling the freezer.

The ranch is set up more for rifle hunting than bow. Long senderos have been cut into the brush, and there are two main tower blinds and the crossroads of these senderos to allow sighting well past 500 yds in 5 directions. However, the guide was completely open to me putting up a pop up to bow hunt from and recommended a few good spots to set up, then put down corn from the closest game trail to my pop up to help guide the animals in. Additionally, you could set up right off of one of the main blinds at the cross roads and simply still hunt from the ground.

With the two of us the only ones on the ranch for the weekend, we were able to spot and stalk. I was very pleasantly surprised that the rams weren’t your typical “walk up and smack em with a hammer” stupid sheep. They were skittish and the older animals would stand off and keep guard while the younger dumber ones would feed. This made for some very fun and challenging bowhunting. I would say that the rams were no match for someone with a rifle, would be fun to hunt with a handgun, and were downright tricky with a bow.

We stalked into within 30 yds of a nilgai cow, had fallow within bow range several times, but the red hinds were very skittish. Axis were completely unapproachable and would probably be a rifle only hunt in this ranch. We did not hunt the section that contained the bison or blackbuck, but the bison are basically cattle. The blackbuck however would scoot before we got within 200yds.

The first morning we stalked until exhausted with no luck. My buddy shot a nice Corsican with his AR right before lunch, then we headed in to refuel, rehydrate, and to get my pop up for an afternoon sit. We set it up just off the sendero near a large protein feeder. It had been cloudy and foggy and about 55-60 that morning but over lunch it cleared and went up to 80. No luck that afternoon. The animals recognized that the pop up was new and would not approach it. Had I moved it back and brushed it in, we might have had better luck. But with this being a rifle type lease, the animals are used to corn in wide open senderos and would not follow corn into more enclosed areas.

Sunday morning we changed tactics and planned to hunt just off one of the main blinds and set up a ground spot back in the cactus. Some black Hawaiian rams came in before I even had a chance to get in position and I had to hold perfectly still in the open while the mature ram watched over the others from outside bow distance. Coulda nailed him with my G40 10mm, but I’d left it in camp. Red deer came in and saw him watching me. They bolted immediately and took the rams with them. We tried getting settled but it was now about 45 and misting with a 15mph wind. We wussed out and got in the tower blind.

The rams returned but I couldn’t get a shot off with the way the tower blind was configured. The windows folded in and prevented me from drawing back. We finally figured out a position to shoot from and waited for the rams to cooperate. The rams returned but a chocolate fallow buck and a white fallow buck beat them to the area. They wouldn’t let the rams approach. The fallow busted me and took the rams with them. We didn’t think we’d get a third chance but after 45 minutes the group returned. I got into position before the animals got within suspicion range. They weren’t having it and refused to come all the way in. We didn’t realize it but a few others had come in behind us. At the risk of blowing a third chance, I had my buddy close the windows facing the first group and I did a 180 and set for a shot on the second group. Was fortunately able to get a shot and put a 125 Wasp SST through one lung and out the breastbone. The ram made it about 10 yds and gave up.

High fives and hell yeahs. I was very pleased with the challenge of the hunt, and my ram was very reasonable on price. Cheaper than what it would cost at other places. I was initially not so impressed with what I thought this ranch would offer, but we had a solidly challenging hunt and saw some good animals. For axis, fallow, and blackbuck, the trophy quality isn’t as high as some other places, but if you want to bow hunt, the opportunity to stalk them will offer a more fun hunt than places that just put you in a blind. As far as nilgai, this ranch has the biggest bull I’ve ever seen, and several huge cows. I would absolutely come back and hunt nilgai, but they only allow rifle hunting for those.

The guide, Anthony, is a great guy. Very energetic and accommodating. The automatic tips fees described on the website weren’t mentioned at all and were not added. They are continuing to improve the ranch facilities, and they are managing the axis, nilgai, and blackbuck to produce better animals. I think rams and some other animals like the fallow are bought and turned loose to be hunted as needed.

Depending on what you’re after, this ranch might be a great place to go. I give it a thumbs up for the hunt (if bowhunting), the price and no daily fee, guide, and the facilities. The trophy quality could use some improvement to be at the same level as a few other popular ranches on TBH, but the lack of a daily fee and that they will run specials on animals makes this place a good option for those on a budget. I personally would not rifle hunt this ranch as it would be too easy. Bowhunting a rifle set up, however, makes it a lot more of what most of us want in a hunt.
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