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My Trophy Deer Hunt in Michigan

Trophy Deer Hunt

I have been on a Trophy Deer Hunt in Michigan at the Refuge Ranch. I would like to share my story. I am 62 years old, retired, and wanted a much bigger trophy whitetail deer than I could have ever harvested in Texas. I decided on Michigan because I wanted to try and get a bigger trophy deer then what Texas has to offer, talking about weight wise and quality of the pelt too because there’s a lot of whitetail deer in Texas that are smaller in body size and the coats on them are a little shorter down there because of the extreme heat. So, I had the idea to come to Michigan and experience hunting for truly big trophy deer. I contacted Paul Wyman at the Refuge Ranch, and he was very nice to talk to and is a very nice outfitter. So, we planned for a nice Trophy deer hunting trip after my retirement.

Whenever I arrive at the ranch he is always extremely accommodating and has a beautiful hunting lodge. The hunting lodge is a giant house that is 7,000 square feet. The whole upstairs is real nice bedrooms for the clients to enjoy and the house itself is one of the prettiest places I have ever stayed in. For meals he usually does the cooking for everybody, and he has extremely good food sense.

Speaking from a Texas hunter perspective, I had an amazing experience trophy whitetail hunting the Refuge Ranch with Paul Wyman. I was out deer hunting with Paul in the year 2021 and I had seen a trophy buck that was amazingly wide, and he had double drop tines. I wanted to shoot but Paul said “David don’t shoot that one, he is only a two-year-old deer, he has not reached his full potential yet. We need to wait.” But the thing is the buck that I saw must have had altered genetics because whenever I got to look at him his rack was close to 30 inches wide, he had double drop tines, and he had about six or seven points on each side. It was truly the biggest whitetail deer I had ever seen, and Paul was sitting beside me telling me I had to pass on him.

It was really nice being there whenever it came time to go trophy whitetail deer hunting because he has hardwood forest and there’s a lot of nice thick trees and there’s also a swamp and the deer like to hide in the swamp itself and then they come out and they end up going to either one of the food plots or a food plot that has a feeder in it and whenever they’re coming in that’s whenever we hunt them because they’re starting to show up later in the evening and there’s beautiful monster trophy bucks that I got to see and one, believe it or not, had 12 points on one side and eight points on the other and I saw him come running into one of the food plots and I shot him running as he was coming in. It was incredible to walk up to an animal that was that big. We weighed him before we started skinning him that night and he was a little over 300 pounds. To me that was an incredibly large whitetail deer, probably the first buck that I ever saw was over 300 pounds and after that Paul helped me draw and quarter the meat.

The refuge Ranch has a nice cleaning shack that is a nice little building, and it has ways to hang the deer up, and there’s also a walk-in cooler and a freezer to put the meat in after. I brought meat wrapping paper and I cut and wrapped all the deer meat and put it in the walk-in cooler then after I got everything wrapped, a little later on, I ended up putting all the packages in the freezer, that way it was ready for my drive home to Texas, and then put it in coolers with a little bit of dry ice and it made it just fine to Texas. The thing I liked about the trophy whitetail hunt the best was experiencing being around Paul and his sons, they’re very nice people that are easy to talk to. They are also a very religious family there and they have names from the Bible like Caleb and Isaiah and whenever hunting with them I feel at ease because it’s like hunting with friends, almost like hunting with people that I’ve known for a long time and people that I enjoy being around. The atmosphere is more of a Christian atmosphere, and I like that because if I would like to take my family with me. I like being around Paul and his people they’re very nice what was also interesting was that Paul has two men that worked for him on the ranch that are his guides and the two guys are about 22 years old and they’re twins, both big tough people and this made it a lot easier for me because if I wouldn’t have gotten a deer out of that area. I could have hunted the swamp and if I had dropped one in the swamp it would have been hard to locate but I am sure the guides could have found it. Also, I did help whenever one of the other clients got a big trophy buck that was killed way back in the swamp and all his guides went in there and they were able to pull it out of there, they’re tough guys.

Trophy Deer Hunt

Michigan Trophy Deer Hunting

So, I returned to Michigan for some Trophy Deer Hunting at the Refuge Ranch a year later. When I spoke with Paul, he told me I could hunt that buck this time because now he was 3.5 years old. So, that was the one trophy deer that I had chosen to hunt in 2022 and I was just after that one buck and wasn’t really interested in any of the other ones. I was hoping to get that one. It amazed me when I got ready to go to whitetail hunt with Paul Wyman at the Refuge Ranch for the second year in a row. Suddenly, he called me and told me that the 245-inch trophy buck I had previously gotten would be a baby compared to the one I was going to hunt in 2022. They had one on the ranch that had double drop tines and his inside spread was 29 inches. It was the biggest whitetail deer with a typical looking rack that I’ve never even heard of and the guides at the ranch had been trying to watch him, but unfortunately he did not come out during daylight hours and he stayed in the swamp and he would come out of the swamp about one second before full darkness and then he would go to the food plots where the female deer were and then he would try to breed them and be around the girls. He only did it at night, so Paul’s sons figured that the only way to get him was to try and intercept him as he was leaving the swamp. They did have an archery blind that they hadn’t used in a couple years, and they thought maybe that we’d get a look at him as he was moving out of the swamp. I got in the archery blind and there was a couple whitetail deer that I saw that evening.

I was waiting and waiting and about one minute before darkness we spotted the big trophy buck as he started walking down a trail towards one of the feeders. I shot him as he was walking out of the swamp and if he had started moving even a few minutes later, I wouldn’t even have gotten a chance to have seen him because it would have been too dark. It was amazing, after the shot the trophy whitetail deer turned around and ran right back into the swamp.

The guides agreed that they wanted me to wait before tracking the trophy deer, that way if the deer was not hit hard, it would have a chance to lay down and maybe stiffen up to where he couldn’t get back up. We went to dinner that night and they took us to a real nice restaurant in town and during the dinner I was completely silent and never said a word because I was not positive that the trophy whitetail went down and died. I was a little bit upset thinking that maybe it was going to get away. After dinner we all went out with flashlights looking for the trophy buck. We found a blood trail and it wasn’t too much blood but there was some because I shot him, and the bullet hit and exited the deer, and we found a little bit of blood from the exit wound. We started tracking him and started looking for him and after some intense tracking we found my trophy buck. He was lying dead in the swamp area in some heavy grass. It was amazing to see such a big buck of this caliber. I had never seen a rack like this on a whitetail, or even knew a whitetail deer could possibly get a rack that big. He was a double drop tine and had an inside spread of 29 inches. Right now, the rack is at the taxidermist and I’m anxious to get that one back. A lot of times I’ll get a split rack on a deer so that he’s easier to manage and get up on the wall but this one I have left the rack hole because it’s such a big rack that I may someday get him scored again or maybe even get him scored by safari club international. 

It was an amazing hunt at the ranch and was probably the most exciting trophy whitetail hunt of my life and the rack was enormous. We had two other deer hunters that were successful in getting smaller bucks and we could set both racks side-by-side inside my monster bucks’ rack. I really do thank Paul Wyman for this trophy whitetail deer hunt because it was fun being around him and it was nice being at the lodge and there were a couple of other guys at the ranch that were on their hunting trip, and they were very nice to talk to and you could feel the excitement in camp. You could feel that during the hunt that everybody wanted everyone to get their deer, and everybody was anticipating who was going to see the big one and it was a big one going to be gotten. It was fun and it was nice being around those people. I feel that the trophy whitetail deer that live on Paul’s place are like free-ranging deer, even though it’s a high fence ranch it’s big enough for the whitetail, they do not feel like they’re enclosed but the deer feel I’m sure that it’s a safe environment because they’re not getting all shot up. There are not people shooting at them every day, then at the same time the good food that they have at the ranch for them, which has a lot to do with the protein feeders, the whitetail have an opportunity to get larger than what most other deer do that are out in the wild environment.

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