View Full Version : Wilderness Unlimited?
01-17-2003, 06:02 PM
A long time ago, in an alternate exhistance, back when I was young, dumb and single I was a member of the American Sportsman's Club, (if any of you are old enough to remember that outfit). I understand that Wilderness Unlimited is the same type of outfit, allowing hunting on private land that it leases the hunting rights to for it's members. My question is, (since I can't get a stright answer from Wilderness Unlimited without one of their "salesmen" coming over and giving their pitch), how much is a membership? Anyone who si a member, can you give an opinion on if it is worth it or not? What are guest privilages, if any? Policy on family members? And, last but not least, when my son turns 18 in a couple years is he still included in the family membership? Any info would be helpful. Thanks in advance. (I'll also pot this in the Upland and waterfowl forums for more of a chance of an answer) http://www.jesseshunting.com/forums/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smiley-wavin-yel.gif
01-17-2003, 06:51 PM
There have been several "discussions" about WU. Punch Wilderness Unlimited into the forum search and you should get most of the info you need.
01-17-2003, 07:14 PM
You are looking at about 2 grand for the first year and 1200 or so each year after. I am an ex member and will be glad to give you several reasons why. I will send you a private message in the next few day's.
01-17-2003, 07:56 PM
I can't give you the heads up about W.U., but I once belonged to the Golden Ram. Same type of deal. It's just a Pyramid Scheme in disguise. I wouldn't recomend joining. It's a great way to loose $$$$$$$
01-17-2003, 09:54 PM
First of all for you guys that are new, I would like to welcome you to the best hunting web site, we are a whole bunch of nice people that share hunting information, stories, memories, etc., so please feel right at home, pull up a chair and relax.
Now as far as W.U. goes, ME personally I don't think is worth it, but be careful on this subject since it's a "touchy" one and it has been in that way in the past.
Do what you think is best for you.
01-18-2003, 07:03 AM
There's a bunch of land up in Central Oregon that this Wilderness Unlimited outfit has tied up. From what I can tell, a good chunk of your membership money goes into buying "NO TRESPASSING" signs!
I approached Wilderness Unlimted about paying a small fee to allow me access to photograph wildlife on the property they lease. They flatly rejected it, said I'd have to pay the whole membership regardless of whether I hunted, fished, or just took pictures. I didn't join!
01-18-2003, 07:47 PM
Do you mind sending me the same email as to why you did not like WU. I have been seriously thinking of joining WU or Golden Ram. What did you like about it...and what did you dislike.
01-18-2003, 10:15 PM
Gladly, just give me a day or two. My reasons can turn into a small novel so i'll catch up to you guys after the weekend, got ducks to kill.
01-19-2003, 10:48 PM
Here's my opinion,
You are going to find that 50% of the people hate it and the other 50% love it. As for myself, I love it, so far. The biggest complaint is that the opening day hunts for Deer and Pigs are a draw, after that it's a phone in reservation. The problems most people have is that they may not get drawn for the opener, and the weekend they do get drawn for may be a few weeks into the season. This also means that once you have a reservation confirmed through the draw, you can't make another reservation to hunt big game until that first one is over, you can hunt upland birds though. I've been a member for about 5 years and have taken nice deer each year, and missed some shots at pigs. You'll find that some people will compare the annual dues to that of an out of state hunt, saying to save you money for a week in colorado or something like that. For myself, I like to hunt more than just 1 week out of the year. I have 2 boys and a daughter who love to hunt, so for me, the $1,100 or so per year is worth it to me. I hunt about 2-3 weekends for deer and about 6 weekends for pigs, sometimes I'll go for a week for pigs. My oldest son has had opportunities at nice deer and pigs but just didn't connect. Prior to getting into WU I hunted public land, never again, especially with my kids! I used to work for WU, but not anymore. The reason I don't work for them anylonger has nothing to do with the club its self, it just wasn't for me. You will hear about some issues that some people say the experianced about getting bumped from a reservation because one of the owners wanted to hunt that particular blind or ranch, my opinion, that may of happened, but I can't say for sure. I do think there's perks for some of the owners as far as that goes, but I like that ranches and I like hunting a property that's 12,000 acres in size and only having 4 or 5 others hunting it. In comparison to Golden Ram, you will have the same issues. What made me go to WU, is that Golden ram only has about 13 properties and WU has over 80, they are priced the same. Again, this is just my opinion. If you wan't to know a little more about the club and how it works, I've sent caninelaw and rwlittle my home phone in their PM. Just call me and I'll be glad to give you informaiton without having the representative come to your house.
01-29-2003, 06:48 PM
All whom may concern,
I think I have just the information anyone would need to know about WU. I've been a member since July 1992. Here is a break down on the price when I joined:
1992: when I joined,
$475 annual dues
$200 one-time initiation fee
Full membership Big Game Bird Game only Fishing & Camping
Annual dues $1345 $1145 $1145 $815
One time Initial Fee $1075 $975 $975 $775
The Bad side of WU:
WU lost leases to all the more productive deer and pig hunting ranches. All the big properties for deer and pigs in Mendocino County are all thick brush countries. Good only for road hunters. WU now currently have more members than they could manage and growing. They have about 30 or so called Membership Interviewer (Salesmen) that are selling an average of 3 new memberships per salesman per week. If a member don't get drawn for an opening weekend hunt during deer season, he/she better be planning for a weekday hunt towards the last two weeks of the season or else kiss the season good-bye. The success rate in deer and pig hunting now is about that same as public lands if not worse.
The Good side of WU:
It's family oriented club. Taking a family out on WU property is alot safer than public lands. No drunk yahoos to worry about. WU had some of the best Waterfowl hunting properties. If you are into waterfowl hunting, you can't beat their price and quality of waterfowl club. WU also has several deer and elk hunting ranches in Oregon. $900 to go elk hunting and $450 to go deer hunting on private property out of state is unbeatable.
Each WU member is allow 5 guest passes per year. Guest passes are only good for camping, fishing, and upland game bird hunting only. No guest for Big game, Turkey, and Pheasant hunts unless a member paid for a Plus membership (extra $650).
Caninelaw, the policy on family member is that anyone who you legally claim as dependent on your tax would be part of your family membership.
Lastly, I would recommend this club to people that are really into waterfowl hunting and worried about their family safety in the outdoor. For Deer and Pig hunters, wait a couple more years to see if WU can pick a couple more productive properties.
01-30-2003, 09:12 AM
I was a old ASC member 1977 to 87 when they went belly up right after I paid my yearly dues, I was on a ranch hunting deer when the land owner informed us.
ASC sued WU and lost, as some of the ASC people where calling members saying don't pay your dues, just happened these same people went to work for WU afterwards, i'm sure it was just because they need a job and not that there was hanky panky going on http://www.jesseshunting.com/forums/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smiley-idea-blu.gif
I would never join another club like ASC or WU just for that reason they can go belly up in a heart beat and i'm stuck holding a mt bag if there was no initation fee then I might cosider it.
By the way WU is not 25% of what ASC was property wise.
I had joined the old club just a year or two before they flopped. The story I heard was that some of the management went to the new club with info on the price paid for the leases and outbid the old club. This left the old club with little or no property available to hunt. For me, it meant I lost my initiation fees and annual dues after just a couple of trips. Those two or three trips were nice, since we had the places to ourselves. Just an expensive lesson, though.
I went through the sales pitch last year and decided it was'nt for me here are my reasons.
1)No one would tell me how many members or ranch utilization. So I could get some idea as to how hard it is to get on a ranch.
2)No sitting arround the campfire any where I could see in the binder. You can however sit arround the BBQ.
4) My biggest.. All the deer hunting ranches are Africa hot durring the season.
02-01-2003, 02:42 AM
Originally posted by Dano@Jan 30 2003, 11:08 AM
I went through the sales pitch last year and decided it was'nt for me here are my reasons.
1)No one would tell me how many members or ranch utilization. So I could get some idea as to how hard it is to get on a ranch.
2)No sitting arround the campfire any where I could see in the binder. You can however sit arround ###the BBQ.
4) My biggest.. All the deer hunting ranches are Africa hot durring the season.
I went throough the same thing. I had some person email me. I told him "no" but he kept on me like a telemarketer. Sorry I think it's too much mony for A club!
02-02-2003, 01:21 PM
I was ready to make the call to either WU or Golden Ram, and then I just thought to myself...
If I was in a hunting club in that you could only hunt an area if drawn from a lottery (like Fish and Game)...the LAST thing I would want would be more members joining. This would simply decrease my chances to be drawn with each new member.
Just a thought.
Joining a club like Wilderness Unlimited is like paying to join any other type of club. If you use it its probably worth it. If you dont use it, it's not. Cost for a full membership is probably about 2000 the first year & 1000 a year after that, [thats a ballpark figure]. Guests are allowed for bird hunting & fishing. For big game guests you need a plus membership which is extra. Family is included if they are dependents or in college. The hunt drawings are only for opening weekends, after that its reservation by phone. I joined in 1987 to have a place to take my sons hunting, without having to rely totally on public land. We have taken far more deer & pigs off club properties than we would have off public land. I would reccomend having a member show you the list of properties prior to calling a sales rep. Also, it may take a while to learn how to best utilize the reservation system. And it may take a couple of seasons to learn which properties you like, as some are better than others. To get your moneys worth out of a club like this, you just have to use it. It's worked for me.
02-13-2003, 02:30 PM
Looks like a waste of money. My neighbor went to one of the ranches for dove and shot one single bird. He has been three times for pigs and deer and has came back with a big goose egg. 1200 bucks for one dove. What a joke!
02-13-2003, 03:45 PM
Its been good to me when I went active. Right now I'm an inactive member (too busy to utilize it to make it worth the cost). Took my first pig on WU property, when I take my girls on their first trips, it will be on WU propwerty for the security it provides. My dove huting has been excellent on every property I tried for doves: Here's a pic of a dove hunt in Coalinga area, limits between two of us:
02-24-2003, 12:04 AM
I'm an ex-WU member and was totally dissatisfied. The club is a scam and makes its money on initial memberships. I must admit, I killed one hog on a club property, but $3000 for one hog is pretty steep.
I couldn't ever get a reservation and was always going to my third or fourth choice.
They have a pile of members and never give any real statistical data, largely because they know that the hunting on the ranches is comparable to public land and that would kill their sales pitch.
I joined WU specifically to hunt hogs and I was sadly disappointed. The only hog i ever saw, I killed. And there wasn't much more to convince me that it was worth the money.
I recall a specific incident where I placed a reservation on a WU ranch in San Benito County and the operator told me that "they" had been seeing hogs raiding the barley fields. When I arrived at the ranch, the WU patrolman said, "What barley fields?". In fact, later on that same hunt some local cowboys rounding up cattle looked at me and said, "What hogs?"
I'm not pitching some alternative guide or service, all I'm saying is that WU is not for me and I would not recommend it to anyone. SAVE YOUR MONEY!!!
02-24-2003, 08:31 PM
Well said Don. I can add to that, pushy 'salsemen", good ol boys club were patrolman and salsemen get priority on ranches. No campfires, sharing blinds with strangers, and their dogs. Nothing like a good dog fight at 5:00am in a duck blind. No statistics or other pertinent info from the club. No scouting allowed. Having to Draw for access to a ranch for openers of seasons is ridiculous. And the fact that the hunting is not any better than public land. Maybee a lot less crowded but it is not hard to get away from the crowds if you have just a little motivation and a good pair of boots. http://www.jesseshunting.com/forums/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smiley-faces-toast-beers.gif
Zippy the Pinhead
02-27-2003, 12:33 AM
I really don't see the point of posting here just to say "I'll send you a private message." Either post your reasons and experiences here for all to see, good or bad, pro or con, or just send the private message. I don't think you need to advertise the fact that you're sending a private message, and I deplore the use of private messages on forums like this one. Either post it for all to see or keep it to yourself.
Having said that...
I am an inactive WU member. I've been a member since 1995. After trying a half-dozen fruitless pig & deer hunting trips on public land in California, I decided to try WU with one of my friends. We compared Golden Ram with WU, and it seemed like no comparison. At the time, WU had more properties, some of which were more or less local to me in SoCal, whereas Golden Ram had a much smaller number of properties, most (or all) of which were in NorCal, so far as I recall. I don't know how the two stack up now.
Once we joined WU, we only used one property down in the San Diego/Escondido area: Will Valley, which was a wonderful deer property right on the slopes of Palomar Mtn. We used that property for the '95 and '96 deer seasons, and it was great. We had no problems getting reservations, and no problems getting deer, either.
Just before the '97 deer season was to start-- we already had our tags, and were really looking forward to the trip-- we got a call from someone at WU, who told us that the property was now off the list, so our reservations were being cancelled. I can't recall whether any reasons were given, but it was too close to the season for us to change our tags, so our tag fees, WU dues, etc., for 1997 were basically wasted. Both myself and my friend were getting busier and busier with work at that time, as well, so we decided to go inactive as of 1998.
Since then it hasn't been feasible to re-activate, though I have considered it, as I have a 15-month old son whom I will want to take camping, fishing, and hunting as he grows up. Reading this thread gives me pause to think, however. I have long wondered about the statistics of WU membership, success rates, etc., and I have also wondered if there is any accounting for where-all the dues monies are spent. I'd like to see WU be more open in the future.
This spring, I'm trying a guided pig hunt for the first time. The overall cost of this one hunt will probably be close to what I would need to pay WU in order to re-activate, so I'm very curious to see how the two experiences stack up.
I'd particularly like to read any negative WU experiences people would care to post, and not via private messages.
02-27-2003, 07:26 PM
A few years back I made the mistake of contacting W.I. and asking about the cost of me and my brother joining. I was also told they would not give me the information over the phone. I reluctantly agreed to have one of their representatives come to my house and tell my about the club. What a mistake that was. After an hour long high pressure sales pitch the salesman (a person high up in the organization) told me bluntly "just make the check payable to...." When I told him I needed to talk to my brother first, he hit the roof. He actually began yelling and cursing and told me I had wasted his whole day. Needless to say I threw him out of my house and didn't join the club and never will. The last I saw of him he was speeding down my drive way, his tires throwing gravel in the air, still ranting and raving. I figured I wanted no part of an organization that treats potential clients in this manner. Just my opinion.
02-27-2003, 09:03 PM
First, welcome to the list! http://www.jesseshunting.com/forums/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smiley-faces-toast-beers.gif
Thanks for the input on WU.
As to the private messages, maybe a little history will ease your feelings toward them.
There have been so many discussions on this topic already, many of the list members are not interested in recreating the whole thread. They could do one of two things... tell you to search the list, or send you their input in the form of a private message. Which would you prefer?
In addition, many of us here do not wish to publicly badmouth an organization, especially when there are so many members of that organization who take it so personally. Do a search on Wilderness Unlimited and you'll find many discussions where the topic got pretty hot. Bottom line, nobody wants to start that again, and it's much easier to give an honest opinion via private message without having to get jumped all over about it.
Hope that helped. Enjoy yourself on JHP. It's a pretty awesome bunch of folks.
Zippy the Pinhead
02-28-2003, 12:31 AM
Thanks for the welcome, I appreciate it.
As for the search engine, I have used it, and-- as discussed on another subforum-- that one big fat thread on Wilderness Unlimited from circa May 2002 is inaccessible. I realize it is one of many similar threads, but I saw few that matched it in terms of the sheer volume of replies.
If there is anything you can do as a moderator to restore those vanished posts, I wish you would. I had a similar problem on another old Wilderness Unlimited thread.
02-28-2003, 07:34 AM
I think Jesse answered that question as well as anyone could. We're not real sure what happened to the main thread, but the forum move did some whacky things. Wish we could restore them, but they seem to be wiped.
I do know a couple of the WU threads had to be closed due to the flames getting out of control. They may still show up in a search, but they'd be inaccessible.
It is a common question. Maybe one day we'll put a fixed post up containing straight scoop on WU and Golden Ram. From the mixed replies, it's obvious that you can have both positive and negative experiences with these guys...depending on how you go in it and what you're expecting out of it.
At any rate, looks like your getting some responses here. I'll shut up now, and let the posts keep coming. http://www.jesseshunting.com/forums/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smiley-biggrin-aqua.gif
02-28-2003, 04:17 PM
Hopefully this post won't blow up in my face but I'll give you my honest opinion on the subject of Wilderness Unlimited. I've been a member now for 5 years and for me, it's been a good investment. For others, it is not a good investment. First, I'd like to take issue with some comments made on other JHP WU threads.
First, some people on this forum have commented that the hog hunting on WU properties is no better than on public property. I've taken 9 hogs during the past 5 years on WU ranches in Central CA and have hog hunted about 25 times during those 5 years, each hunt lasting an average of 2 1/2 days. That's a 36% success rate per hunt. Many WU members hunt roads and don't do well and complain, but I park and hump it over the horizon, often taking my hogs 2 or 3 miles from my truck. Look back through the hog hunting threads and you'll find literally hundreds of references to JHP members hunting on public land but very, very few success stories. In my experience, WU properties are much better than public land but not as good as Tejon P-O-R hunts, where success seems to be about 50%. On guided hunts, success at Tejon and elsewhere is virtually 100%. WU does not compare with those statistics at all.
Second, a comment was made that WU is a pyramid scheme. If so, I should benefit financially for referring new members, but I have never received a thing for doing that, not even a thank you. I'm unaware of any kickbacks or incentives for bringing in new members.
Third, one person stated that WU sounds like some sort of cult. Well, he's right because every third Tuesday after the full moon all 2000 members of WU meet at an abandoned airplane hanger outside of Barstow and dance naked around a bonfire at midnight, chanting Druid fertility prayers while lightning crackles overhead. It's a good place to meet chicks.
From my experience, the deer hunting in northern CA on WU ranches is pretty good, as is the hunting on WU properties outside of Tehachapi. On the A zone properties in Central CA, I haven't had much luck. How much of that can be blamed on the drought or my lack of skill, I have no idea.
I've hunted Tamarack in the Imperial Valley many times and have averaged 5 ducks on Sat morning and 2 on Sunday morning, that is, up until the last 2 years. The waterfowl hunting for me has been lousy the past 2 years but it's been lousy for other hunters in the Imperial Valley due to weather, among other factors. I don't think it has anything to do with WU waterfowl management practices.
I've taken many doves and quite a few quail on WU properties, but I've really had to work for the quail.
What appeals to me most at my advanced age is that I often have the ranches to myself. I just love to hike around or ride my mountain bike and not see a soul and not worry about theft or vandalism to my vehicle or camp. The hunting becomes almost secondary. That's what I really spend my money on---solitude, serenity, and security, none of which I could find on public property.
Now, on to the flip side. Many members of this forum make reference to high pressure sales tactics. I didn't experience that because I talked to quite a few members in advance and simply signed up, paid my dues, and didn't have anybody pester me. But the consensus on this forum seems to be that the sales staff at WU does indeed apply the pressure and I'm sure, based upon what I've read here, that there is credence in that.
Is it hard to get reservations for opening day on the more popular ranches? It sure is. I don't even apply. I just reserve a hunt for the Thurs-Sat following opening day and seem to do pretty well. Can you bring guests? Not for big game. Only the immediate members of your own family can go unless you upgrade your membership. You also can't have campfires and you can't hunt big game with dogs. You can't litter or get drunk or use any form of motorcycle/ATV, nor may you drive off road in your truck or car. You must adhere to all CA regs and even adhere to some of the stricter WU regs, and if you don't, the brass will toss you out.
Who wouldn't benefit from a membership to WU? In my opinion, anyone who only gets away a couple or three times a year to hunt. You'd do better on guided hunts or at Tejon. If you like to hunt with your buddies, don't join unless they, too, join. If you're in Southern CA, as mentioned by another JHP member, there are fewer properties in the south half of CA now because so many leases expired. Some of the best ranches are gone. WU has recently acquired 2 new ranches in Central CA and just renewed a previously expired lease at Los Gatos ranch outside of Coalinga. This is a very good ranch for hogs and quail. WU is actively trying to get new Central CA leases, but who knows how successful they'll be. But still, Southern CA big game hunters don't have a lot of properties to choose from. If money is an issue, it will cost you about $1300 per year for dues and an initiation fee [I have no idea what that is now] your first year. That ain't cheap for the working family man who only gets away a few times a year.
Who would, in my opinion, find WU a worthwhile investment? If you hunt a lot, don't mind walking a mile or more from your vehicle, like solitude, are a firm believer in fair chase hunting, have a few members in your family who like to hunt, camp, and/or fish, and would be satisfied with a hunting success rate somewhere between the <1% on public land and the 50% on P-O-R hunts, hunt more than just deer or just hogs, like to camp out in very rustic settings, and don't mind not getting a spot on opening weekend, you'll probably be very happy. If you live in Northern CA, you've really got it made, with many properties to choose from. Also, archery hunters have it made because WU has separate archery seasons and some ranches are archery only. When I archery hunt, I always see deer or pigs, almost always get a shot, and rarely see another hunter.
One last comment: A gentleman in a post above mentioned Will Valley on Palomar Mountain in San Diego County and the fact that his hunt was cancelled with no real advance notice. He's absolutely right. I know all the details of why WU lost the lease with no advance notice and it has to do with an "interaction" between a resident on private land adjoining the WU ranch and one of our members. It also involves the Sheriff, gunshots, and the complete disintegration of the fragile relationship between the legal owner of the ranch at Will Valley and hunters in general, all as a consequence of the "interaction" mentioned above.
WU works for some and not for others, but detractors shouldn't bash it unless they have the facts and supporters shouldn't praise it unless they have the facts. Do your research and decide what works for you.
If the readers of this post wish, I'll post my full name, address, and home phone # so you can find out for yourself if I have any relationship with WU other than as a member or you can call/write me and chew me out or whatever. I'm trying to be honest and will not hide behind my forum name or e-mail address.
02-28-2003, 04:49 PM
Dang, great post, Doc!
Especially <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE </div>
Third, one person stated that WU sounds like some sort of cult. Well, he's right because every third Tuesday after the full moon all 2000 members of WU meet at an abandoned airplane hanger outside of Barstow and dance naked around a bonfire at midnight, chanting Druid fertility prayers while lightning crackles overhead. It's a good place to meet chicks.[/b]
I knew it! I knew it! Just like I always said! http://www.jesseshunting.com/forums/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smiley-dancin-red.gif
Seriously, nicely done. I like the way you compared the value for different people.
One caution... you may not want to post your address and etc. on the list publicly. Too much access by the wrong folks, unless you want your phone to start ringing at all hours with telemarketers and who knows what else. If one of the guys asks, you can always send via email or PM. Just a suggestion, of course.
02-28-2003, 05:30 PM
Thanks for the word of caution. I amend my post as a consequence. Anyone who wants any more info---pro and con, and I'll give you both---let me know and I'll communicate with you via e-mail.
I'd certainly like to see discussion on this topic and on other sensitive/controversial topics a bit less contentious. Hunting in CA is under tremendous pressure, hunting lands are being gobbled up, and the politicos in Sacramento see hunters only as a source of revenue. We'd better stick together and stop taking potshots at one another or this forum, sadly, may have no reason to exist within a generation or two.
Good hunting to all.
02-28-2003, 05:41 PM
Great post Doccherry,
I am not a member but have friends that are. For myself at this point in my life it does not make sense. I am 27 years old and facing my first marriage in the next year. My friends who are members have done very well with hogs, deer and ducks. They are pleased and have been for a long time. I get the feeling that the reason that they are please with WU is that they still view it as hunting and realize that you still must work to be successful. Unfortunately I think many who are unhappy with WU expect it to be like a Christmas tree farm. All you have to do is drive up pick your tree (Deer, hog, duck or whatever) and shoot. It is not going to ever be like that. If it was, then it would REALLY be a waste of time and money.
Zippy the Pinhead
03-01-2003, 12:00 AM
Originally posted by doccherry@Feb 28 2003, 04:17 PM
I know all the details of why WU lost the lease with no advance notice and it has to do with an "interaction" between a resident on private land adjoining the WU ranch and one of our members. ###It also involves the Sheriff, gunshots, and the complete disintegration of the fragile relationship between the legal owner of the ranch at Will Valley and hunters in general, all as a consequence of the "interaction" mentioned above.
I'd be interested to read these details, if you'd post them.
Reading your comments jogged my memory a little; I can barely remember a conversation I had around that time with one of the WU board members, and I believe he may have mentioned something about that.
From what I remember, the landowner of Will Valley was already getting tired of WU members when this problem unfolded. I heard that a couple of years before-- 1993, 1994 or so-- some WU members had been observed shooting at game animals (deer?) which were scattered among the cattle of the owner.
Anyway, I really liked hunting at Will & Mendenhall Valleys. I have many happy memories from there.
03-01-2003, 07:13 AM
I have to be very careful how I phrase this, for legal reasons. The WU member who was involved is not known for being timid. This is the way it was told to me: A person who lived close to the WU ranch enjoyed target shooting, often aiming indiscriminately in whatever direction he happened to be facing at the time, often shooting with either the fastest semi-auto you've ever heard or with something even faster, and often sending bullets whizzing overhead or plopping down into the lake on the WU property. On one such occasion, our member, angered and probably shocked by the piece of lead flying past him, returned fire. He was using a shotgun and the distance was 100 yards or more, far beyond the lethal range of a shotgun firing pellets, but the citizen next door was outraged and called the sheriff. The sheriff arrived, both shooters were collared for questioning, the original shooter's elderly dad arrives on scene, becomes really agitated by what has occurred and what is occurring, has a heart attack, and dies. The old man was a friend of the legal owner of the WU ranch and the rest is history.
Do I blame the WU member for screwing up the lease? Yes, I do. Would I return fire if I were in his shoes and someone was sending bullets in my direction? I'd like to say "No," sitting here at my computer in a relaxed environment, but if I were honest about it, I'd have to say that returning fire would at least cross my mind. It was a terribly volatile situation to begin with. The landowner's family, very, very wealthy as a consequence of Dad's landholdings, was more into jet-setting than wildlife. Their only direct experience with the Great Outdoors was watching "Bambi" on the big screen and feeding pigeons on the streets of Paris. The brass at WU did everything conceivable to patch things up but that lease was DOA from the moment our man returned fire.
By the way, I still hunt Mendenhall Valley. It's a tough hike in, circumventing the private property, but I bust through the brush for a few miles and there I am. It takes about 1 1/2 hours each way. I've taken a couple deer in the past several years up there. If you're in good shape and don't mind hiking in at 5:00 AM wearing a headlamp, there are far more deer back in there now than there were when WU had the lease. Nobody hunts up there now, from what I can tell. I'm trying to figure out a way in from the Palomar Mtn. campgrounds and think I can do it. It's a bit farther that way, but it's more level. You can't believe how many legal deer are back there on NF lands. I've seen as many as 60 does and a dozen legal bucks in one day.
Zippy the Pinhead
03-01-2003, 11:34 AM
So far as I recall the careless target shooter lives right next to Dyche Valley, no? I seem to remember hearing that he was also unhappy about WU people straying into his property when they hiked the perimeter of Dyche valley.
At the time that I hunted Mendenhall, there was no hunting on/in the Will Valley/Dyche Valley properties, because of the incident with the deer being taken from among the cattle. Thus, we were just using a small patch of Dyche as a parking lot while we hiked across Dyche on the way to Mendenhall. Even with the easy trip across Dyche, as I recall it took an hour, or maybe an hour and a half, to reach the nice spots at the one end of Mendenhall valley. I remember making more than a few hikes across Dyche in the dark, too.
I think it would be much harder to get in to Mendenhall if you had to use the public forest land between Will and Dyche valleys as your jumping off point. Perhaps there are trails, but from what I recall it can be very hard to bust through the brush in that area. Is that what you do?
BTW, where are the campgrounds you refer to?
Back in 1995, my friend and I tried to hike from Mendenhall Valley to the other valley just north of it-- I can't recall the name, and I can't find my topo map at the moment-- but found that the brush was just too thick. We made it as far as the ridgeline on one of the hills that borders Mendenhall Valley on the north side before giving up.
Reading your account of recent Mendenhall Valley hunts is very interesting. I'd like to go back there some time and hunt. I'll bet it could be really good, just like the old days.
03-01-2003, 03:47 PM
I believe that if you live in No. Cal then maybe WU would be worth it. Cause the majority of the land is in No. Cal. It a pain for me t odrive 8-9 hours to go deer/pig hunting for a weekend. Too much driving.
03-11-2003, 07:26 AM
I was an active member for a year. WU has some pretty good pig properties. I enjoyed meeting folks while camping out on their properties and a fellow I met while active has become a good duck hunting buddy of mine over the last 4 years. I think I hunted/fished 30-40 days that year. They have a great access point on the Fall River.
I wasn't impressed with deer season though--extremely tough to get a reservation at 'good' properties. The waterfowling was a notch below refuges imo but it was nice to have a blind to go to in the morning, getting an extra hours worth of sleep and not dealing with setting up a spread. WU probably has a leg up on goose hunts...but if the conditions are good, good luck getting in a goose pit.
If you hunt by yourself a lot, you'll often get placed with someone else in a blind--only had 1 bad experience as far as that goes, but I sure would have prefered being by myself the rest of the time.
Lots of folks in WU hunt out of state so it can be good place to meet new friends and swap info. You'd have to be highly active and belong for a long time to get in with the fellow's 'in the know'.
Reasons why I opted out:
--I can buy an out-of-state tag and do a far better deer hunt every year than any WU property
--Could do a couple POR hunts which would be better than any of the hog huntin' I saw on the WU properties for about the same price as a big-game renewal fee.
--I don't mind doing refuges for ducks--looks like a 'juniors-only-areas' are starting to catch on in the refuge system so in 6 years or so, I imagine I can take my daughter to tamer public junior areas for ducks.
--There's just as good turkey huntin on public grounds if you really put in a lot of field time and research...ditto for deer if not ever way better deer huntin' on public ground here in CA
03-15-2003, 09:06 AM
Congratulations on your success with WU, however my experience was much different and I have the ability and drive to still be successful on public land at a cost of $0, versus the investment in WU which netted me one hog. your success rate was much beeter, but if you could divide the # of WU big game members by the # of animals harvested, I think you would be singing a different tune. Whether it's public/private/ or club hunting, 10% of the guys will always kill 90% of the game. But don't try to convince me that WU has "great hunting", just because you and I fall into the succesful 10%.
I bought into the "idea" of the club, because I thought it would be a good use of my limited time, however the reservation system(which was falsely represented by their salespeople) was such that I always ended up with my 3rd or 4th choice of ranch and ended up using all of my time driving to a ranch that I never really wanted to hunt. And I never had the luxury of hunting a ranch to myself, luckily I've got good legs so I can pretty much get away from the crowds, but it struck me odd that I should have to pay this much money and then still have guys walk through my turkey-setup.
I can hunt public land with comparable results for deer(and see fewer people), go on a guided hunt twice a year with a nearly 100% success rate on hogs, and I have since secured several good private hunting leases for turkeys/hogs(at no cost to me) through good old-fashioned P.R., and save $1000.
W.U works for the individual that lives close to the leases, has unlimited free time and money, and doesn't care about success rates. (Ironically, that same person could probably have tremendous success on public ground.)
However, if you live far from the ranches, have limited hunting time, and really want to put meat in the freezer, then in my opinion, it's not a good investment.
My opinion merely reflects my experience and I've had some tremendous hunts on public ground in CA,
03-15-2003, 01:50 PM
You indicate in your post [above] that I have tried to convince you that WU has "great hunting." Your use of quotation marks around "great hunting" implies that you are quoting from something I wrote or said. Read the entire thread and find that quote from me or produce any solid evidence of any kind whatsoever that I tried to convince anyone that WU has great hog or deer hunting.
My success on hogs on WU ranches has run about 35% or so. Others experience success rates that are higher and others experience lower. Compared to hunting on public land, WU offers far better hog hunting. Far better, and on that, you can quote me. Spend about an hour or two going thru every hog hunting thread from the past several months and check out all the posts from people who have written about their hunts on public land or who mention upcoming public land hunts and then check the number of posts from these same people who were successful on their hunts.
I clearly stated that guided hunts are far more productive than WU ranch hunts in my initial post on this thread. I also stated that Tejon's P-O-R's are quite a bit more productive than WU ranches.
If after reading my posts on this thread you find evidence that I tried to convince you or any other reader that WU offers "great hunting," then please make note of the specific reference(s) and I'll stand humbly corrected.
I don't even apply for a spot on opening weekend, as I clearly stated in my earlier post. But when I hunt Palm, Cummings, Goldpan, and Los Gatos, I often have the ranches to myself. I usually hunt Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning. Other hunters seem to arrive late Friday night, but even on the weekend, after the opener, I rarely share a ranch [5000 acres plus] with more than 3 or 4 other hunters.
WU works for some and not for others. I've been fortunate with my WU experience but others have not. I don't promote the club nor do I profit in any way from it. I could care less if anyone joins or not. I joined for myself and it is working for me, at least for now.
What I don't find particularly palatable is when someone fires from the hip and makes reference to a quote that I allegedly made, which may cause other readers who don't have the time or inclination to read the entire thread to assume that I am a biased and non-objective person and that my posts may, therefore, lack credibility.
It's all here on this thread in black and white, Mr. Martin. Hope to hear from you.
03-16-2003, 10:27 AM
First of all, Doc, I think it's important to note, that I write only my opinion and there's certainly not even the slightest degree of hostility towards you or your opinion.
2nd, I apologize for using quotes and certainly didn't intend to mislead anyone into thinking that you had actually used the term great hunting. However, I did infer that you intended it to be interpreted it as "great hunting" given that public land success on hogs hovers around the pathetic 5% rate(versus your 35% success rate, which is excellent). The use of the quotes was to indicate the proverbial "great hunting" that we're all looking for.
Written text, lacks the nuance of the spoken word and as a result, people get defensive when there really is no threat. I apologize for any misunderstanding.
My experiences with WU have been very different than yours and as a result I don't recommend WU to anyone. I'm certainly not afraid to tell people about my experience with them and I make it a point to tell people that I did kill a hog on a WU lease, however the company was largely misrepresented, in my opinion, and overall was an unpleasant experience for me in every way.
I certainly respect everyone's individual experiences and opinions and apologize for "getting your hackles up".
03-16-2003, 10:46 AM
My hackles [what few I have left] ain't up, so no problem there. My concern is that I not be misquoted because, I, like you, think that WU is a very poor investment for some folks. I don't want anyone to think that I endorse WU as offering great hunting and then have them sign up as a consequence of my endorsement. Some guy busting his backside for wages and sharing the same dream as the rest of us, the dream of finding someplace, somewhere where a guy and his family can go to in security and with some degree of predictability harvest hogs and deer, may be in for quite a disappointment. For the guy who doesn't have a lot of money and doesn't have a lot of time off, the POR or even a couple guided hog hunts a year are a better bet. For deer, I really don't know what to say. I've done well on the D zones but not well at any of WU's A zone ranches.
There are WU ranches that routinely harvest multiple hogs almost every week, but those are in northern CA. Success rates there are indeed high [maybe in the range of 25%, although that's a guess on my part]. But I, like you, have gone to some ranches in Central CA and haven't found a fresh track.
Again, I don't want anyone to sign up based upon my alleged endorsement and then find the hunting far below their expectations, at a cost that may really stretch their budget and even keep food off the table or braces off their kid's teeth.
What I do find fascinating about your earlier post is that you have managed to acquire access to hunting leases with little or no cost. I'll bet every reader of this forum would appreciate any advice on how the rest of us might accomplish this. I certainly would. I didn't think it could be done, although I have never tried nor has anyone else I know.
No offense taken, Mr. Martin. Just want to set the record straight.
Good hunting to you and best of luck.
Doc "Hackles" Cherry
03-16-2003, 11:33 AM
Wow! Doc, you were all over that! Your response was a matter of minutes!
Anyway, just a quick note on dealing with land-owners and securing hunting rights.
I've got a background in Theatre/Acting, corporate negotiations, and have been working for about a decade in the professional hunting industry. So for me, it's a bit of a three pronged attack!
First off, knocking on doors for hunting rights is the ultimate audition! You are attempting to sell yourself as the "responsible hunter", a tough sell usually. Especially in light of the fact that land-owners at one time or another have usually had bad experiences with hunters. Land-owners generally respect the guy that pulls up and asks permission or at the very least demonstrates a respect for the land-owners rights.
It's important to seperate yourself from the pack, usually on the grounds of hunting ethics and personal experience. I have a huge advantage over the average guy, since I work primarily as a hunting and fishing guide and am a partner in a safari outfit in South Africa. So experience/ethics/professionalism is usually my selling point, especially if the land-owner hunts. I usually captivate their attention with a few stories about hunting Alaskan brown bear or bowhunting Kudu in some exotic African country and they usually offer to let me hunt a day or a weekend.
And once you get your foot in the door, it's good to return the gesture and show your appreciation, usually with something they can't easily get. I like to give moose or caribou steaks, AK halibut, smoked wild boar, fresh produce from CA's central valley, etc. Something distinctive that will, again, seperate you from the rest of the hunters. I must point out, it's not legal to barter with game meat, so I have to say I give the meat/fish freely as a token of appreciation, not compensation.
For the average guy, the best route is usually the family-based argument such as,"..justin lookin' for a place to take my son/daughter(wife, girlfriend)!...or give my son/daughter a chance to take a hog/deer/turkey!" If you have a daughter who hunts, it's nearly impossible for a landowner(who's also a dad) to say no.
For the young guy/gal who hunts and doesn't have a family, it's better to go the solo hunter route. ie, "I'm just looking for a place to do a little hunting by myself from time to time" Which gives the land-owner the sense that you are only going to come once or twice a year and ultimately have little impact on his farm and resources. This is real effective for ranches that are way outside your home-town, or even in a different state.
It's best to approach a landowner well ahead of when you want to hunt and check in once or twice before the season, especially if you can hunt/scout somewhere else nearby, and just drop in to say "hi" and leave a little token of appreciation.
Another approach is picking up garbage/cans, fixing fences, or dropping in to tell a rancher that his cows are out in the road. Sometimes a small gesture yields huge rewards. There's just no substitute for bartering a little sweat to earn your hunting.
Building a relationship with a landowner usually takes a long time to develop, sometimes years, but you can destroy all your hard work in a split second. It's important to really pay close attention to what you do when you're on someone's place, maybe even more so than when you're on public land.
Always have a business card, or a hunter's resume` in your truck to be able to give to a landowner if he comes at you with the classic, "...well if my neighbors or I have any trouble with hogs, I'll give you a call!"
Just a few tips, hope they help. The whole thing is about connecting with people and presenting yourself in a positive light. At the very least, I usually get a lead on another ranch or someone having hog problems or deer in their garden, or some other useful tidbit of info.
04-12-2003, 09:15 PM
I got a reservation for hog hunting in Los Gatos Creek in May. Never been there before, from your post, seems you hunt that ranch before. Any suggestion? Is it a good hog hunting ranch?
04-13-2003, 10:06 AM
Los Gatos can be very good for hogs, particularly during archery season.
If you look at your map, you'll see a lot of BLM to the north, with a road running down thru the center and onto WU land. Try the BLM land to the east of that, back in the NE section of the property. Also, try the NW part of the property and down along the highway on the W part of the property, particularly at first light. Pigs are pigs and they move around a lot, so the first day you might stay out in the field the whole day, even if it's hot, just trying to find tracks or signs of wallowing in the springs or the creeks, then concentrate on those areas where you've found sign. There is a lot of really dense chapparal cover on the ranch and quite a bit of open oakland, so it's a perfect combination---lots of food and lots of cover. Good luck.
04-29-2003, 12:30 PM
This topic seems to get some very spirited responses. I guess that is what this forum is all about.
Here are my quick thoughts on WU:
First, I am not affiliated with the club management in any way. I am a member of 4 years.
It is good to always have a place to hunt. I dont have to deal with the lottery at the refuges any more for ducks. I have had GREAT hunts on W.U. Property for Quail, Turkey, Waterfowl, and Pig. If you go a lot like I do, it is well worth the money. If you go a couple of times a year, by all means go on a guided hunt. It will be more cost effective for you. Another good point is the reservation staff. They are very helpful, answer questions, work with you to fit you in if the ranch is full, and are overall professionals. One really nice item is that often the interior roads are closed on the ranch. I am always willing to walk, and it is nice to be able to walk the roads and still see game. I was recently on a property that has not allowed vehicles outside of camp for a couple of months due to wet weather, and saw turkeys in the middle of the road a half mile from camp. Also for Turkey, the pressure is light. I hunted opening weekend on a 5,000 acre property with only 3 other hunters. Everyone I talked to got birds or at least worked more than one bird during the weekend. One last item is that unlike public land, your camp is safe while you are gone. I have no problem at all leaving a tent and all my gear while I go out for the day. On public land I am always worried.
Bad points: I have never seen a legal buck on a W.U. property. I always hunt public land for deer. Opening day for deer and pigs can be tough. I rarely get on. The initial sales phase of the membership is high pressure and overall a less-than-pleasant experiance. I was not impressed. They dont allow ATVs, even on the roads ( I fully understand them not wanting people going cross country on ATVs). They will not tell you how many members are on the property, which would aid in planning the hunt once you get there (i.e. if you know 3 guys are on the place, and you count 3 trucks on the North end of the property, you have the South end to yourself)
Overall I think it is well worth it for me. However, I go so often that I bring the cost per hunt down to an acceptable level. If you are a 3 or 4 hunt a year type of guy, you will not be happy with the money you pay.
So I guess I am giving W.U. a conditional endorsement. If you hunt like a madman, check it out. If you are only into deer hunting- go elsewhere. If you dont go hunt often- go elsewhere.
Theres my 2 cents.
04-29-2003, 01:04 PM
I think there are smaller clubs that can be better choices. I belong to a club that's has 2 duck clubs and 3 (will be 4 soon) deer properties (about 30K acres total) with a limit of 60 hunters. Getting your buck/bear is virtually a sure thing and duck hunting is decent. 2 of the 3 deer properties are limited to 10 hunters and getting on is never a problem. Opening days are done by drawing at the monthly meeting so it's fair and square. Not bad for $750. In short, a person should do a little homework first before joining any club and once in they need to give it a few years before finalizing an opinion. The first couple years with any club are always rough until you learn the "system".
04-30-2003, 03:03 PM
Seaspearo, what dates do you have at Los Gatos? A friend and I (as his Plus) will be there on Thursday the 15th. I know Los Gatos like the back of my hands. Had a few honeyholes in the property, but one of the better portion of the property which WU used to have access to is now off limit to WU.
Wild Turk, seemed like you utilized the WU properties very often. Like you I wanted to get out often, almost every weekend during hunting season. Several years back I had no problem getting reservation on my first, second, or third choice ranch with just a couple of days in advance. For the last two years of my active membership which is two years ago, my first, second, and third choice ranch didn't work anymore. Even with a Month in advance and during the week it still didn't work. Everytime I called for reservation, I'm on the phone for about half an hour to finally came up with a place to go and that place is usually my 7th or 8th choice of ranch and dates. Did you ever experienced anything similar with getting a reservation? It's my tenth year as a member, but inactive for the last two years. I managed to get all my bucks and pigs from WU properties until they lost the leases on several productive ranches. I now can imagine why you and many other hunters had not seen a legal buck on WU properties is why I stopped working for WU.
07-20-2003, 10:16 PM
I'm a former employee of WU, I used to be one of those people who come out to your house and tell you about the club. I never gave a high pressured sales pitch, but there are a lot of them in there that do, and it is high pressured. Their main goal once they walk into that house is to get a check, if they don't they don't get paid. If you really want to know about the club, the good and the bad, PM me and I'll be happy to tell you.
07-23-2003, 12:08 AM
Here's another .02 from a relatively new (1yr) member:
I have not yet had the chance to pig/deer hunt yet on WU property--although I am planning on both rifle and achery for pigs this fall. However, I have been very pleased so far because of the serenity and security the properties provide for me and my family when we camp/fish. We have never had to worry about any 2-legged intruders, although we have had several of the four-legged variety.
I understand how WU might not be worth it for some. As for me, I view the annual dues as tuition for my childrens' outdoor education, with the added bonus that I get to hunt on un-crowded land.
Like I said, just another .02.
07-24-2003, 11:21 PM
Hello to all. First off I would like to thank Dan at BTC for referring me to this site for info on Wilderness Unlimited and Golden Ram. I did my homework on both clubs and for me WU made more sense. The main reason being more variety. I have to say after reading some of the posts I was a little unsure about having one of those pushy reps come to my house. The guy that WU sent out was from the central valley named Todd. He was actually a really cool dude. Not pushy by any means. He was very informative and explained the club in detail. We put in an application and should hear something in a couple of weeks. Heck for me personally a grand a year is well worth it just to have good places to go camping away from the masses. If I get to kill something that's a bonus!! I'm just glad we applied while it is still affordable. The way things are going in this state it seems in the future this will be the only way to go. Thanks again for everyones input. Cool page Jesse. Keep up the good work!! Good luck to all.
07-24-2003, 11:59 PM
Must be membership drive time at WU. http://www.jesseshunting.com/forums/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smiley-biggrin-aqua.gif
3 people have registered just this week to beat the WU drum here.
I had to pull hunt4life's (an admitted WU salesman) 3 page solicitations because they were too obvious.
07-25-2003, 11:37 AM
Just a heads up for you....Congrats....once you sign the paper, you are guaranteed to become a member no matter what. Beware of the reservation system. I'd be surprise if you can get a weekend reservation for the ranch that you wanted to go especially during big game hunting season.
08-04-2003, 11:12 PM
I just wanted to bum out all you Wilderness Unlimited HATERS out there, I just got home from Big Timber ranch, with a nice 3x2 buck, was on the ranch with 2 others today, no one all weekend , got my buck today and the patrolman helped me drag and gut it out. My B zone tag is filled! I made my reservation on Thursday for Friday, Sat, Sun, and Mon., 1 day notice. I am going to make my A-zone reservation tomorrow. Doc Cherry, you are welcome to come up and hunt with me anytime. PM me- I have a guest rioom and live 1-1.5 hours from about 5 ranches.I will get you on some hogs.
To all the wussies who need a ATV to hunt... go on a diet you fat old roadhunters. Have fun ducking bullets this weekend on BLM.
08-05-2003, 09:01 AM
We pride our selves on keeping to experiences, facts and opinions. You are obviously not a new member so act right. I am not a moderator but I will tell you that you will not be welcome here long if you keep attacking people like you have done.
Now if you want to share some stories we always encourge sharing and build of the community.
08-05-2003, 10:58 AM
I appreciate the offer. Glad you had a successful hunt. To all the readers of this forum, I'd like to present my WU experiences over the past year. I've been to several ranches and had no problems getting reservations. Although I've been very successful with big game in past years, to keep things in perspective and in balance, during my past 7 trips to WU ranches in the south half of the state [all within the past year], I haven't seen one single hog nor have I seen one single legal buck. Lots of quail, doves, varmints, solitude, and beauty, but the big game has been absent. I really get out and hike the canyons and ridges and hilltops, but there hasn't been much sign of anything. I think the drought is responsible, but I'm not sure. All the hidden waterholes and springs that I've worked so hard to find have been dry from June through November. Even during the wet times, there have been very few tracks. Since I live in San Diego, it's been really frustrating to drive 4-7 hours each way, walk my butt off, and then stop at Von's on the way home so I have some meat to eat for dinner.
WU works for some and not for others. It costs about 1200 per year for a family but if you only get to hunt 3 or 4 times each year, Pig-O-Rama's and guided hunts make a lot more sense. If you hunt 10 or 12 times each year, and you hunt everything, like I do, it's a good deal, particularly if you're into waterfowl. If you're somewhere in between, it's a coin toss and you'll have to sit down and weigh the pro's and con's before you sign up.
I wish people on both sides of the WU argument would quit bashing one another. Everyone is entitled to an opinion on the issue, but when accusations fly and snide remarks pepper the posts, it detracts from all the positive aspects of this forum.
If anyone has any questions about WU, I'd be happy to answer them based upon my own experiences. I won't sugar-coat or embellish or exaggerate and will stick to the facts, as I believe them to be. Just post on the forum and be very specific in your questions and I'll reply.
08-05-2003, 12:20 PM
Originally posted by mudroller@Aug 4 2003, 10:12 PM
To all the wussies who need a ATV to hunt... go on a diet you fat old roadhunters. Have fun ducking bullets this weekend on BLM.
I think you need to take a good look at yourself before bashing others in here with the vocabulary "FAT". Not sure what the exact numbers are but I assume you may be 300+ on the scale. As far as ducking bullets on BLM, I've killed just about the same number of deer on BLM as on WU properties. And at least on BLM I can go anytime I wanted to without the hassle of going through reservation.
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