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-   -   Bitterwater Outfitters [Full Experience] (https://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=1769854)

TheCilician 01-12-2022 2:40 PM

Bitterwater Outfitters [Full Experience]
 
I had searched here before I booked with them about 1 month ago. Seems like one of the users had a similar experience to what I had...but regardless, just want to recount it here so it's hopefully useful to anyone researching them.

We (buddy and me) arrived Saturday morning for a wild hog hunt. The ranch looks like any other cattle ranch; though if you look at their facilities pictures from the website you get the idea...it's not much different from that. It was balls cold though...definitely glad we went prepared.

Immediately upon arrival, it's easy to just walk up to the office and announce yourself. The staff was friendly, and helped up out with all the paperwork. Then they directed us to the gun range on site to sight in the scopes. They took us out on a Cam-Am, and the range was decent, up to 200 yards, with all the tables properly placed. they provided targets. Forgot my wrench at the car, but fortunately they had a whole tool box available.

After sighting in, we went back and waited for the guides to show up. It was about 10am at this point. When the guide showed up, he was friendly middle-aged guy. Asked our names, told us to grab our gear and meet him at one of the Cam-Ams. Once loaded in, we were driving off to what we all thought was the edge of Los Padres, or the border of Hunter Ligett (remember, this is in Paso Robles).

After driving about 15-20 minutes from road to mountain to complete dirt road, we went on some bumpy hills until finally arriving to what seemed a shallow "fire road." This road we took until we reached a gate, which he asked me to hop out and open. Once "inside" he told us to load up, because the hunt would start. I asked if we would be driving, and hiking to a spot up the hill, he just said "maybe."

One thing to note is the landscape. Paso Robles is a LOT of hills. Small hills, medium hills, grassy hills bushy hills....but just lots of hills. Nothing against the skyline protrudes out like a sharp mountain...so it's easy to believe that you would hike, so that your Cam-Am doesn't stick out like a sore thumb.

So we start driving up one of the hills not 100 yards from the gate when the guide slows down, almost to a stopped idle, and loudly whispers: "I sense some movement." Lo and behold to the left of us, on the opposite "ridge" of a hill are a herd of hogs...about 8. At this point I'm thinking we're about 500 yards away from these things, so they must not being able to see us...right?

He puts the Cam-Am into park, and we unload from the ATV. He just singles to me and my buddy to follow him very slowly. Now, again, mind you - this is my first hog hunt, and first hunt in the last 10 years, so saying i'm green around the ears is on-point; same goes for my friend. We're bobbing around and behind the guide, our hearts racing, watching EVERY step we make as to not make a noise from a broken leaf or twig - because to our knowledge, hogs hear EVERYTHING.

We get to a spot where my binos read 260 yds, and he tells us both to sit down. He comes between us and says: "OK, load up." I look at my friend, and signal that he should shoot, but he is so nervous he tells me to go first. I chamber my .308 and am glassing the group. I spot the boar with 7 fat sows. The guide comes back and whispers, "why aren't you chambered?" to my friend, and he replies that he's going to wait on this group. "Bull****!, load up! we can get them." This totally confused us, because we thought the moment I shoot, everything else will scatter. But, being green, we didn't want to argue...just comply with your C.O as we naturally thought.

Finally, it comes time to shoot the boar, and BANG, I let one rip. The boar goes down! I'm exhilarated, but then quickly get up and scoot behind my buddy's LOS so he has a clear shot at any of the running pigs. But when I look up, all I see is my board laying there, and the sows just munching on the pasture just 5 ft from the dead boar. We just both looked confused as hell. The guide quickly said: "Pick one, and kill it!" to my buddy. My buddy finds one, takes aim, fires...misses. Nothing moves. Nothing twitches. The pigs go about as if nothing. He reloads, aims, shoots, and gets one dead on. Topples over...the others? Same thing. They just graze on.

We go to gather our pigs, cautious that one of these bastards are going to charge us...nope. They just stand their eating and watching as we haul away two of their group. We take some pictures, high five eachother because it's still an amazing experience, then we head back to the ranch.

On the way back, I ask the guide where we just were...was that a petting zoo - I joked. He just laughed and said "it's a game reserve...we got lucky they were there." At this point it's 10:50...less than an hour ago we were sighting in and drinking coffee. Now we have shot two pigs and are done with our hunt...

We get back, and they skin and gut the hogs. Fortunately, we're very curious so my buddy and I asked to watch and partake as much as we could to learn. They were very courteous about it. By 11:30 we were squared up and done...

TL;DR: Booked a hunt with Bitterwater Outfitters. Straightforward and simple process. Hunt lasted less than 1 hour with less than climactic "hunting" experience" and more of a "live target practice" experience where you keep the meat.

In all...for the first time hunting anything, $850 isn't bad. You get what you pay for...a hog, transportation to the hunt, gutting, cleaning....If you're looking to LEARN how to hunt a hog, this is not the right type of guided hunt. This is a "you've never pulled your trigger on any big game? Come to us."

All in all experience, 6/10. I talked to my brother who hunted with another area outfitter and he actually was taken out on public land to hunt the day...they optioned it to him, got lucky with a feral hog and taught him to field dress, and skin...he loved it. I probably wouldn't go back to BitterWater, though, like I said, for anyone wanting to pull their trigger onto a living thing..good place to start. Feels like one of those trout pools you take your kid to.

One note if you do go, DO NOT use their recommended butcher. Those *******s took 1.5 months to butcher my pig, and are full of excuses. Find a local butcher, and haul the thing back same day. Not worth using the Crescent Valley people.

Jusgunn3 01-12-2022 6:31 PM

Sounds like you got your pigs which is great, these are businesses and that’s what it is. I have spent a ton of time in the woods and in the field hunting big game. I have been unsuccessful most of the time to be honest but I have enjoyed it all. Learned a bunch and continue to learn every time I go out. If its just the meat you want and a guarantee then you found the right place. My wife and I have a pig hunt scheduled in Feb but its our buddies ranch so not so Guided I suppose. I have been on a guided hunt that was a horrible experience and no hog to show for it. It’s all fun just have to understand what you are getting into I suppose. Glad you and your buddy got some meat even though it wasn’t what you were thinking it would be. Keep on hunting, you can’t get um from the couch.

k1dude 01-12-2022 7:11 PM

Okay. That's just a weird experience. They must be putting weed in the feed or something. That isn't normal or natural behavior.

Spyder 01-12-2022 8:59 PM

Sounds odd and unenjoyable to me, but for a new person, good introduction I guess.

boarcrz 01-13-2022 9:31 AM

A guide asking or telling you to get out of the quad and open the gate....
Spechless
The guide shows up at 10AM.... must be a petting zoo.
I hope you didn't tip the tour guide.

bigboarstopper 01-13-2022 10:40 AM

Was this a high fenced area? Few things don’t make sense to me. I’ve never done a guided hunt at ten in the morning. Typically your already in the field at o dark thirty waiting for first light. Hunting at 10am is not the right time of day. Hogs usually are bedded down by then and your checking brush patches for sleeping hogs. Hogs run when shot at. The only place I’ve seen pigs not run is from videos of hunts in high fenced areas where the hogs are fed and have no place to escape. They are essentially tame.

Questions, did they require you to have a hunting license and did you fill out a pig tag? Did you enter any fenced in areas that were overly secure? Fences that look much more secure than a standard barbed wire fence for cattle/horses? Was there any hay or other feed of some kind on the ground around where the pigs were killed? Lastly, did the guide see pigs or did he just say he “sensed movement” without seeing them. If your guide can “sense” movement at 500yds before seeing the pigs, he either is psychic or you shot some “high fenced” domesticated pigs with out telling you.

JagerDog 01-13-2022 1:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by boarcrz (Post 26540498)
A guide asking or telling you to get out of the quad and open the gate....
Spechless

The guide shows up at 10AM.... must be a petting zoo.
I hope you didn't tip the tour guide.

How so? Common etiquette. Passenger is gate bytch.

MJB 01-13-2022 1:30 PM

Sounds like those pigs don't get hunted much.......

edgerly779 01-13-2022 1:35 PM

If i showed up and took a hog in an hour I would feels[cheated. Should be more work than that

Kevin11mee 01-13-2022 3:10 PM

Thanks for the write up. It sounds like a decent experience to get your feet wet with some hunting. Iíd suggest butchering the game yourself next time. Itís kinda fun and you arenít depending on some unknown person to hopefully give you your meat.

deckhandmike 01-13-2022 3:36 PM

I can say pigs not running off after a shot isn’t rare, I’ve seen it several times. They are not too spooky on private property. I usually just walk right up to the ones on our property, no real concern about noise, just smell. The hunt taking a few minutes at 10:00 am is kinda suspect. But the guide might have already been out that morning while waiting for you to sight in. What time did they tell you to show up?

The guided hunts I’ve been on all started super early and you show up with your rifle already dialed in.

TheCilician 01-13-2022 5:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bigboarstopper (Post 26540755)
Was this a high fenced area? Few things donít make sense to me. Iíve never done a guided hunt at ten in the morning. Typically your already in the field at o dark thirty waiting for first light. Hunting at 10am is not the right time of day. Hogs usually are bedded down by then and your checking brush patches for sleeping hogs. Hogs run when shot at. The only place Iíve seen pigs not run is from videos of hunts in high fenced areas where the hogs are fed and have no place to escape. They are essentially tame.

Not high fenced, just the standard cattle barbed wire that I saw. But yeah it looked like these things were domesticated pigs that were released maybe a year ago...which is fine, but I wish they told us that.

TheCilician 01-13-2022 5:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by k1dude (Post 26539004)
Okay. That's just a weird experience. They must be putting weed in the feed or something. That isn't normal or natural behavior.

I didn't see feed around where they were, but yes it mostly looks like these were likely brought in a year ago and just released. I've been looking at pictures of some domesticated pigs turned feral and these kind of fit the bill. Anyway, not a big deal but just wish they were transparent about this being a petting zoo

edgerly779 01-13-2022 5:09 PM

Post a pic of hogs.

Divernhunter 01-13-2022 5:13 PM

I filled my tag within the 1st 30 min on a hunt with another outfitter and it was non-fenced areas. I did not have to do much walking that time either. My buddy would have gotten his also if he had not shot it in the foot and had to spend 2 hours chasing it for miles.
Sometimes it just goes that way and sometimes you hunt all day and get nothing.
I have hunted at Bitterwater several times and enjoyed myself. The fenced area(1000 acers) is easy to hunt usually. I did spend 4 hours trying to get a shot at a certain ram I wanted and then it was a 300 yard shot. Not hard and I did not have to do a lot of walking the hills which is good for me. I can no longer do the long or hard hikes due to injuries/surgeries/age. But this allows me to still get out and shoot animals. My days of starting out before daylight and hiking until dark are over even though I wish I still could. My hunts started at 7am

So depending on what you want in your hunt you can still enjoy yourself.

TheDadLife 01-13-2022 6:26 PM

I heard a story from a guy who knows a guy, his guided hunts started around 10:00 am too. This gave him enough time to load up a pen raised pig, drive it out to a specific spot on the ranch and drop it off with a handful of feed. He would then go pick up the hunter and drive back towards the pig to then
“spot some movement.”

lewdogg21 01-14-2022 8:06 AM

Post a photo of the pigs you guys killed.

"Game reserve"...

CVShooter 01-14-2022 10:55 AM

Years ago, I worked part time as a river guide. I have friends that guided on remote pack trips as well as hunting trips. I've done one paid guided fishing trip and one guided pig trip (2020).

I've come to the tentative conclusion that most guides and outfitters are like pimps -- great if you just want to get some experience and are unsure where to start. They can certainly hook you up. Don't get me wrong here -- there's real value in that. On the river, I took out groups of kids, elderly people and everybody in between for a fun experience doing something they may not have otherwise done. There's a niche for it.

But I also learned that if I want a deeper, more meaningful or more thrilling experience, guides are out of the picture. Going with friends and family add to the experience and make me feel all the more grateful for their invitations -- much more so than when I've paid cash to a guide. That generosity leads me to share places & experiences with others & pay it forward. I know some good people who repeatedly use guide services. But, for me, I just don't get it.

And, yes, I highly recommend doing your own butchering. If you're pushed for time, okay, fine. Better to get it done than risk spoilage. But, to me, it's just as much a part of the hunt as the shot that took the animal down. You'll get more out of your animal by doing it yourself. Far less waste. It takes an investment in kitchen equipment, which is hard to do for a lot of younger folks just getting started. It also helps to have a yard that you can bury stuff in (my garden is well-fed by deer, pig, bear & turkey carcasses). But it's well worth it.

deckhandmike 01-14-2022 11:05 AM

After looking at their website it’s pretty obvious they are running a petting zoo. I can see why as a new hunter some of the lingo may be misleading. Be aware of anyone offering a 98% success rate.

bambklr 01-14-2022 2:58 PM

Their web page says "No License or tag needed" for pig hunts

MJB 01-14-2022 3:02 PM

How much is BHCR

180ls1 01-14-2022 3:14 PM

That's all the hunt some people want. I remember after killing myself (10ish miles and 2-3K vertical) trying to get a public land turkey one day. Some guy came over (I was in camo at a taco shop) gloating about a huge pig he killed. It was clearly a high fence hunt. I didn't say anything but it was interesting to see how proud he was of it.

sealocan 01-14-2022 3:18 PM

The giveaway should have been all the hogs waiting near that gumball machine filled with pig food.



:)

:no:

I'm just joking, I'm happy you got something and that you shared your experience with us.

12Ga Hunter 01-14-2022 3:44 PM

Actually, I think it is colled butchering, not hunting.
As much as i remember from my younger days hunting was a different acrivity, but i gues time has changed.

edgerly779 01-14-2022 3:49 PM

Edited and got 2 fer.

edgerly779 01-14-2022 3:50 PM

Better to go o costco business and buy a hog. Ready to go just season and roast. Shoot a gun in the air if in country and save money and travel (LOL)

bigbossman 01-14-2022 4:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bambklr (Post 26544666)
Their web page says "No License or tag needed" for pig hunts

Well, there you go.

edgerly779 01-14-2022 4:25 PM

Canned hunt. Good place to take visitors. No ca dfw involved. Like BHCR just farther away with prettier country.

Divernhunter 01-14-2022 6:58 PM

They also have hunts where you have to have a lic and tags. Just to fair about it

Spyder 01-15-2022 7:42 AM

I still think that sort of operation is fine, for folks who want to do that, and it'sa great way for folks to be involved and hands on in the meat procurement process. Id even say it's better than grocery store buying, because you're still hands on. It just isn't for me.

deckhandmike 01-15-2022 8:32 AM

I think I had as much fun riding the sxs for three days as I did pig hunting on my guided hunt. I like to be in the field.

yoteassasin 01-15-2022 8:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Spyder (Post 26546313)
I still think that sort of operation is fine, for folks who want to do that, and it'sa great way for folks to be involved and hands on in the meat procurement process. Id even say it's better than grocery store buying, because you're still hands on. It just isn't for me.

I agree , however donít attempt to regale me with a hunt story from a high fence.
Iíve had idiots try to tell me tale about their Texas whitetail hunt or Utah elk hunt on a private elk ranch Ö any fair chase hunt out classes that chit no mater how cool the trophy they bought

edgerly779 01-16-2022 5:19 AM

^^ I agree with yote. Rather buy hog from costco than shoot tame animals

Bull Elk 01-16-2022 7:10 AM

Years ago an older friend of mine told me that he killed a 6x6 bull elk on the first day of his guided hunt. The bull scored around 360. Beautiful bull. He told a great story of his hunt, including the stalk and one shot kill. Only later did he share the rest of his story with us. It was a high fence hunt costing around $8k. He arrived the day before his hunt as scheduled. After lunch, the owner/outfitter told him to jump in his truck and he would give him a tour of the ranch which was about 800 acres. This was the day before his scheduled 3 day hunt. The owner told him to take his rifle with him. They saw 3 bulls grazing about 35 yards away minutes after they got into the truck, and my friend, George, was given the option to shoot one of the bulls. He then pulled the trigger on the biggest one. His hunt was over. He stayed the night, tipped the “guide” $1,000 and left the next day after breakfast. This was George’s last elk hunt, and he knew that it was going to be the last big game hunt of his life. He always wanted a big bull. Yes, not very sporting in most people’s eyes, mine included, but George was thrilled. I won’t fault him because he chose a high fenced hunt. Somebody was eventually going to kill that bull. I’m glad it was George. This experience made him happy and that’s all that matters.

JagerDog 01-16-2022 2:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Spyder (Post 26546313)
I still think that sort of operation is fine, for folks who want to do that, and it'sa great way for folks to be involved and hands on in the meat procurement process. Id even say it's better than grocery store buying, because you're still hands on. It just isn't for me.

Agreed. Get's a toe in the water. Become more familiar with the whole process. You still have to execute.

bigbossman 01-16-2022 3:41 PM

I work with a guy that lives down south by the Bighorn Ranch. He and his wife go there every once in a while to shoot a pig and learn how to process their own meat. He makes no bones about it, he realizes he's shooting "domestic" type hogs. He doesn't care, and neither do I.

Spyder 01-16-2022 7:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bull Elk (Post 26549382)
This experience made him happy and thatís all that matters.

Yep.

yoteassasin 01-16-2022 9:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Spyder (Post 26551511)
Yep.

Agreed , at least itís better then them being a vegan

12Ga Hunter 01-17-2022 7:52 PM

I have more respect for poachers (which I don't have much if at all) than to the "hunters" like this

JagerDog 01-17-2022 8:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 12Ga Hunter (Post 26554779)
I have more respect for poachers (which I don't have much if at all) than to the "hunters" like this

In other news, no one was seeking your respect.


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