Thomas Merton wrote that “October is a fine and dangerous season…a wonderful time to begin anything at all…you go to college and every course in the catalog looks wonderful.” Well, the compatibility of Merton’s quote to a hunter’s perception of October is clear. For bow hunters, October marks not only the onset of hunting season in the mid-south and particularly at Tara Wildlife; but is also the window from which to view the eagerly anticipated wonder and opportunities that lie ahead.
What are hunter expectations?
But what are the expectations of the hunter that comes to Tara for the first time or for the hunter that has made the trek numerous times? A 2014 survey sent exclusively to Tara hunters provides a window from which to view these questions and the collective response from 597 individuals who hunted Tara Properties.
Interestingly, sixty-nine percent of the survey respondents had hunted at least seven seasons at Tara. Eighty-nine percent made their home in rural or suburban areas and sixty percent reported that they had 31+ years of hunting experience.
Tara’s habitat quality was overwhelmingly rated as exceptional and the bottomland hardwood forest described as scenic. Ninety percent of respondents believed that the deer herd provided them with a quality hunting opportunity and 65% of respondents indicated that they had harvested an animal during their stay at Tara. Interestingly, when asked to quantify the quality of their hunting experience at Tara, respondents were asked to rank 18 questions as: 1) very important, 2) important 3) not important. The question “harvesting an animal” was ranked “important” to 58% of respondents. Ironically, when asked whether “harvesting an animal” was “very important”, respondents ranked that question next to last or 17 out of 18 possible responses and just ahead of “risk taking”.
In response to the question of what one considers a trophy;
- 50% indicated an animal that met P&Y standards (net 125”),
- 28% said a large bodied buck with either 8 or more points or a beam length of 18 inches or greater,
- 22% of the respondents did not indicate a preference.
Ninety-four percent of respondents stated that stand placement at Tara allowed for good visibility and ease of shooting. Loc-on type stands were preferred by 81% of the hunters. Ground blinds were the least preferred stand option.
In terms of customer service, the response was described as being excellent (79%) or good (19%) with 90% of respondents indicating that their Tara experience was of a higher quality when compared with past experiences at similar hunting destinations. Not surprisingly, over 96% of respondents planned a return trip to Tara at a future date.
While a majority of Tara guests find the website helpful (www.tarawildlife.com), others find communication equally effective using Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Importantly, Tara continues to welcome questions and comments related to hunting, habitat and customer service. As a testament to that fact, is the construction of a screened Gazebo located at the southwest corner of the Tara Lodge Complex. This addition will be used as a gathering place for Tara hunters and other guests and will provide a unique outdoor experience for all who visit the Tara Facilities. The stimulus for this addition was a thoughtful comment by one of our hunters. Bryant H. McGill quoted “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” At Tara we have the utmost respect for our hunter partners and will continue to listen carefully as we collectively strive for excellence in all that is Tara Wildlife.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Henry Ford.
By: W.H. “Bill” Tomlinson, C.W.B., R.F.
SUSTAINABLE RESOURCE MANAGERS, LLC
P.O. Box 820186 Vicksburg, MS 39182