They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and for whitetail hunters, that rings true. There’s nothing quite like getting up before the sun, only to watch the flat Texas landscape slowly come into focus as the morning light spreads across the sprawling valleys and hills. Out in West Texas, you’re in for the hunt of your life – especially when you’re with B&B Outfitters. Over the years, Bucky Bonner, owner of B&B Outfitters has probably forgotten more about hunting than most will ever know. He's a book of knowledge when it comes to Texas hunting.
Bucky started B&B Outfitters in 1986, after three years of working for other guiding outfits. Now, 31 years into the gig, Bucky’s built an unmatched experience around whitetail hunting in West Texas.
“You have a 100% chance at an 8-point buck,” Bucky said. “It’s not uncommon to see 10-12 bucks on a hunt.”
The whitetail hunting is good enough to make even the seasoned hunter get excited and start looking at remaining vacation days, but deer aren’t the only game B&B Outfitters will help you bag. Elk, mule deer, spring turkey, quail, exotics, javelina and aoudad are accessible to patrons of B&B Outfitters.
B&B operates on two main ranches. The first is 100,000 acres nestled in the foothills of the Glass Mountains, and it’s where some of the best whitetail hunting is. With its location near Sheffield, Texas, it’s an iconic location for a West Texas hunt.
The second ranch is smaller, at 8,000 acres, 35 miles east of Laredo, Texas. Exotics can be hunted here, in the heart of South Texas. Whitetail, hogs, javelina, quail and dove are also targeted species on this ranch.
It’s an impressive operation, both in scale and quality of animals. Bucky and his crew run 80 hunts for whitetails, 25 for turkey, less than a dozen for exotics, and a half-dozen quail hunts. All in all, B&B Outfitters puts on about 120 hunts per year.
Bucky started guiding hunts to supplement his income during the seasonal lull most boat captains experience in the Gulf of Mexico. Bucky runs marlin fishing expeditions along the Texas Coast for most of the year, but when the fishing turns off he heads to his 100,000-acre ranch in the Glass Mountains to put clients on whitetail.
Whitetail are the main focus at B&B Outfitters, though as mentioned above Bucky offers plenty of other hunts. With nearly 2/3rd of his hunts being for whitetail, though, more people visit him for the chance at a trophy buck.
On the West Texas Ranch – the one that sprawls over 100,000 acres in the foothills of the Glass Mountains – B&B Outfitters has two lodges. Both can accommodate up to 10 people, though Bucky likes to keep the numbers around 4-5 per group. The hunts all last 4 days, and the whitetail season runs from October – December.
Hunters can choose from two packages, which include all the amenities you could ever ask for on a hunt. As Bucky put it, “[Our hunters] can gain weight out there.” Hunters are fed extremely well at B&B Outfitters.
Care for bagged game is included as well. If you want to get your whitetail buck mounted, B&B Outfitters will prepare the hide and head for delivery to a local taxidermist.
The first package includes all of the above services, in addition to the opportunity to harvest 1 whitetail buck and 2 whitetail does. This package costs $2,650.
The second package differs only in the amount of animals you can harvest. For $4,700 you can harvest 2 whitetail buck and 2 whitetail does.
Pricing is the same for the South Texas ranch, though there is a rifle-only option for $2,450.
All hunts – except the rifle-only option – are offered to hunters as an any legal weapon option. And your weapon is all you need to bring. “All [hunters] have to do is pull the trigger,” Bucky said.
Most whitetail hunts are conducted from blinds, though if you want to spot-and-stalk that can certainly be arranged. A key part of the B&B Outfitters experience is making sure every hunter goes away with a smile on their face, so if you want a different style of hunt – within reason – the guides will do everything in their power to accommodate that.
Since 1986, Bucky has had 7 or 8 years of 100% success rates, though he guarantees you’ll see plenty of bucks. Whether or not you decide to pull the trigger is up to you. Bucky also told me every hunter has a good chance at a 150-class whitetail. He’s harvested several bucks that large off the West Texas ranch.
Out in West Texas, Bucky put a ton of work into crafting the lodges his hunters use. Again, it all ties back to his goal of making sure every one of his clients leaves the ranch with a smile on their face.
Two lodges sit on the West Texas ranch. A Lodge is an old ranch house that’s been completely restored. Bucky himself did the remodeling, updating it to include satellite TV. Everything’s included with your stay – even the bath towels.
B Lodge is a renovated double-wide mobile home, situated on top of a mountain with a giant cedar wrap-around porch, 3 bedrooms, and of course, TV.
Both lodges feature something that’ll make every veteran hunter smile in relief – skinning racks. The time-honored tradition of pulling on a rope to hoist a deer over a sturdy branch to make the skinning process easier is completely eliminated with the skinning racks. Of course, clients don’t have to skin their game. That’s included in the price of the hunt. But, it is comforting to know the guides are as efficient as possible with their time.
The food at B&B Outfitters is what you’d expect – plentiful and filling. An average day for a hunter at B&B includes a wake-up call at 5am with a coffee, juice, and breakfast food spread. After a quick breakfast, it’s off to the blinds to glass for big whitetail.
After five hours of hunting, guides will come pick up hunters from the blinds for a buffet-style brunch. Then from about 2:30 to dark, hunters spend the rest of the day chasing their trophy whitetail. Upon arrival back at the lodge, there’s always a dinner appetizer. The dinner that follows is huge, prepared by professional chefs kept on staff.
B&B Outfitters takes great pride – as does any hunting outfitter worth their salt – in the management of their animals. After all, those animals represent their livelihood.
Bucky does as much as possible to keep the whitetail fed on his West Texas ranch.
“We’re very selective on what we harvest,” Bucky said. Being picky with the bucks shot off his land gives Bucky the chance to truly manage the genetics of his herd and ensure that only the biggest, oldest bucks remain on the board.
All the whitetail are fed different supplements to spur growth. One of the best stories Bucky shared with me actually revolved around the feeding of his whitetail.
One client, a lady from back East who’d never hunted before, came out to B&B Outfitters. The first evening she was there, she noticed a giant pile of what looked like sand, sitting next to some large trucks. The sand was deer feed, but when she asked Bucky what it was he grinned and said it’s sand, and that if she’d watch very closely, at dusk that night she’d see the deer playing around in it.
Bucky’s words came true when dusk arrived, bringing with it whitetail that bounded in and out of the giant pile of “sand.” The woman was mesmerized by the sight, oblivious to the fact that Bucky was leading her on.
It was on the last day of her hunt when she finally saw deer eating the “sand” out away from the ranch that she put two and two together and realized the deer weren’t playing in the “sand,” as Bucky dubbed it. Rather, they were eating it.
The fact that the hunter could observe the deer at so close a distance is indicative of just how well-run Bucky’s ranch is. The whitetail are wild, make no mistake.
Another reason the hunting is good at B&B is due to the fact that it’s all private property. Bucky’s owned a few ranches in his life, and the two he currently runs encompass some of the best private land in all of Texas. That, combined with sound management principles, is what makes B&B Outfitters such an attractive destination for whitetail hunters.
Every outfitter knows you’re only as good as the guides you hire. In Bucky’s case, he can’t speak highly enough of his guides.
“I’ll honestly say I’ve got the best guides an outfitter can have,” Bucky said. “We’re old buddies. They’re clean-cut and not lazy. They always get up with a smile on their face. They keep things clean and neat. I can’t stand a camp with crap laying around. They keep everything tidy. They’ve been with me long enough they know exactly what to do out there.”
The guides work typically from 5am to 9-10pm at night. Unless, of course, they have to help a client track a deer after dark. In that case, the guides will work as long as they have to.
After nearly an hour on the phone with Bucky, I came away with the distinct impression that he runs a camp dedicated to showing people a good time. Often throughout our chat, he’d tell me he just loves helping put people on big bucks, seeing them get their first one, and making sure everyone leaves with a smile. A hunting outfitter with this much passion and dedication is 100% committed to giving his clients an experience that won't be forgotten.
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