Our hunting season normally begins October 1 and ends the last Sunday in January, but the actual deer hunting dates are regulated by the Texas Parks &Wildlife.
Brief Whitetail History
Flat Top Ranch has been actively managing White-tailed deer since the construction of it's game fence in 1991. The principal method of management has been to let the animal's age naturally, while controlling their population relative to the forage available. Supplemental feeding is provided by planting various crops, and during drought periods with high protein feed. While the family, and friends of the family, are primarily responsible for harvesting doe and cull bucks from the ranch, a limited number of trophy quality bucks are available for harvest. Recently, the ranch has begun selling management buck hunts.
Our Hunting Style
We do not hunt deer from vehicles. Our typical and preferred way to hunt is from deer blinds that accommodate two persons. The blinds are set in areas where deer are known to frequent. All blinds have some type of feed available whether it is a planted food plot or a timed corn feeder.
We set the hunters in their blinds before daylight and return at the time designated by the hunters. Hunters may walk and stalk in their hunting area. With only 25 blinds on 17,400 acres, there is plenty of ground to walk. In the afternoons, hunters are again placed in blinds and picked up after dark.
Our lodge is leased to groups only, and only the group leasing the lodge will be trophy hunting on the ranch. One of the most enjoyable aspects of a hunt is sitting in front of an evening fire with friends and reliving the day's events.
We also have a 300-yard range to sight guns in upon arrival and also to put a reality check on those hunters who boast of 300 plus yard shots.
Rattling for Bucks During the Rut
The rut in our area begins mid-October and ends mid-November. Rattling a set of antlers to simulate two bucks fighting is one of the most exciting ways to hunt deer; however, because the speed of the bucks coming in and the short few seconds to evaluate the animal's quality, harvesting a trophy size buck can be challenging. Rattling is done with a guide because it is a two or more person event, and also the continual moving to new areas requires knowledge of the ranch.
Trophy White-Tailed Bucks
Our preference is to put hunters in deer blinds without guides. Our reasoning for unguided hunts is twofold. One, there is less movement and noise with only one person in the blind. Two, the hunter is alone and must be the hunter, not merely the shooter. His own instincts and knowledge of hunting are the difference in bring home a trophy or not. For truly novice hunters, a guide will be arranged.
Whether you are with or without a guide, the driver or guide will field dress and transport your game to the ranch cooler. We will skin and quarter trophy animals at no charge. If the hunter prefers to have his meat commercially processed, we will deliver the meat to a local processor, but the hunter is responsible for all processing charges. If the hunter elects to donate his meat, we will find appreciable recipients free of charge. We recommend a local taxidermist from Granbury for any shoulder mounts.
Management of Deer
Each year deer surveys are run in late August and early September to determine the deer density, sex ratios and fawn crop. We attempt to keep the sex ratios at 1.5 doe to buck. This assures the natural balance is in place and only the dominant bucks do the breeding, just as nature intended.
A harvest guideline is established from the survey and through the use of Texas Parks and Wildlife special permits, in conjunction with hunting licenses, we are able to manage the deer herd. The fawn crops are normally high, which requires an extensive harvest of the entire herd. Fortunately for us, our family and friends, with great effort, are capable of harvesting the required number of doe and cull bucks. We do however sell management buck hunts. We have found there is a market for the large 8-point bucks and we are now serving this market.
We have limited the trophy hunts to less than 15 per year. We watch for large bucks and attempt to pattern their habits so we can put hunters in the best spot, but because of the size of the property it would be difficult to guarantee anyone a sure thing. We like to think of our ranch as a deer sanctuary, whereby the animals have many places to retreat to if they feel threatened by humans. There have been many instances that a hunter has harvested a 10-point or better buck never seen before by the ranch personnel. Our trophy bucks have averaged in the 140 - 150 SCI range.
We are sure of our quantity and quality, but to assure the deer hunter of our sincerity, rather than paying up front the full harvest fee, a minimum of $500.00 per day will be deposited and charged for the days in the field, and if the opportunity does not arise for the deer hunter to harvest the contracted animal, the harvest fee will be waived. If the deer hunter is not happy, we are not happy.