By KEVIN J. DONALDSON
Courtesy Crossville Life Magazine
CELINA – Some people hunt to put meat in the freezer, but most whitetail deer hunters have something else in mind when they hit the woods: bagging a trophy that will be mounted on the wall and talked about for years to come.
There’s a whitetail hunting ranch located on each side of the Kentucky-Tennessee border near here, less than two hours from Cumberland County, that can help whitetail hunters bag that ever-elusive monster trophy.
“At McFarland Creek Outdoors, we’re all about helping serious deer hunters harvest that once-in-a-lifetime buck, the one you simply won’t see in a normal hunting situation,” said McFarland Creek owner Shane Smith. “We think you’ll find whitetail ranch hunting at its best here, and our goal is to help you have a memorable hunting trip.”
The area that has become basically a hunting preserve was a talked-about spot for whitetail (and turkey) hunters for decades. Trophy whitetail deer have been harvested here since before most of us were born, and they’re still around today, and many of them are “bigger and better” than ever, Smith said.
Despite this remoteness, McFarland Creek is only about three miles off State Highway 52 a few minutes west of Celina, and it’s still very much a working farm, with hundreds of acres used for that purpose.
“Since McFarland Creek Outdoors was started, deer harvesting has been controlled and monitored,” Smith said. “We offered limited deer and turkey hunting for several years, and we started ranch-style hunting for the first time in 2014. We had a banner year in our first season of that type of hunting, with several of our hunters booking for 2015 before they left the premises.
“Our goal is to make sure our phenomenal whitetail population will be around for decades to come, and we have practices in place to make sure that happens,” he said.
Over the past several years, owner Smith and his staff have mixed selective breeding and genetics with the already-strong bloodline to produce a prize herd.
“We’ve just taken the best of what Mother Nature has to offer and made it a little bit better,” Smith said. “Our herd is well taken care of, and is under the supervision of a veterinarian. They basically are treated just like a cattle farmer would take care of their herd, receiving checkups and appropriate vaccinations.
“The past several years of good management has given us a superior deer herd, with some fantastic trophies ready to be harvested,” Smith said. “When you combine that with our environment, and the experienced guides you need, we think it all adds up to a great hunting experience.
“All of our guides are very experienced hunters themselves, with a lot of local knowledge,” Smith said. “We want to give hunters the trophy whitetail they’ve been looking for, and they’ll help you do that. We have some true trophy bucks in our herd here – deer we’ve seen grow and mature each year under the watchful eye of our staff.”
How it works
Reservations for three-day hunts for a wide variety of prices are available, with that specific information found on the company website. Hunters confer with McFarland Creek staff on the classification of deer they want to harvest, and pricing is based on that.
Hunting packages include lodging, meals, a shoulder mount for the kill and the use of the weapon of your choice – gun or bow. There is no license necessary.
“We have some really nice lodging, which is a mix of very old and rustic and very new and modern,” Smith said. “We’ve got some decades-old farm houses and up-to-date cabins, all of which will keep you comfortable. The farm houses are scattered throughout the preserve and farm, and the smaller cabins are located near our entrance, next to our modern, log-cabin lodge, which has complete kitchen and bathroom facilities. Wherever you choose to stay on the premises, we promise you’ll come away with stories of your own to tell.
“Our meals speak for themselves,” Smith said. “Aside from the hunting, this will be one of the best parts of your stay with us. Our husband and wife team of Jeff and Amanda Hatcher has prepared hundreds of meals for guests at the lodge and we can promise you’ll be full and very satisfied.”
Where is McFarland?
McFarland Creek is almost equidistant between Celina, the nearest town, and the unincorporated village of Moss. Most of the hunting territory at McFarland Creek is located in Kentucky.
“We’re really not that far off the beaten path, despite our great hunting location,” Smith said. You can drive to Interstate 40 in less than an hour, and I-65 isn’t much further away in the other direction.
“The thing is, when you get here, you’ll see that McFarland Creek has some of the greatest scenery around. You’ll see everything from bottom land to high peaks. Not only will you enjoy your hunting experience, you’ll get to see some of God’s beautiful creation in the process,” Smith said.