Across the upper Midwest, and particularly in the Dakotas, there are many private businesses and landowners that have devoted their livelihood to conserving upland habitat and providing quality pheasant hunting opportunities. Rare is the pheasant hunter who doesn’t consider staying at a pheasant hunting lodge or enlisting the services of a pheasant hunting guide at least once in their winghsooting career.
Before you begin your search, consider these five tips.
Determine Your Best Option
There are full-service lodges with packages that include room and board, guides and dogs. Some guides are independent, leaving lodging up to you. Other ranches and landowners have guest houses or cabins and simply charge trespassing fees, allowing access to land but the rest of trip details are up to you to figure out. It’s nice to have options, but you’ll want to determine what suits you and your hunting party best before you book.
Ask Questions, Check References
How much acreage is available? How are bird numbers? Where do you put up the dogs? Once you’ve gotten answers, ask for references to call and do so. And the biggest reference check may be the internet, where some simple searching should lead you to any number of upland message boards where more information can be gathered.
Do they offer wild bird hunting? If 100 percent wild bird hunting is what you want, don't settle for outfits that only offer hunting for liberated, released or put-and-take birds. There are enough truly wild options for you not to settle.
Start in Person
You can book online right now. Or, you can meet with the owners of lodges, guides and outfitters at sports shows (such as Pheasants Forever’s National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic
). Beginning that personal relationship during the offseasonseason gives you ample time to consider your options, do research and check references before putting money down.
Try it Once
Maybe it’s taking your father on one last bird hunting vacation. Perhaps a romantic getaway. Or maybe you just want to harvest a few more tips from some of the best pheasant dog trainers and hunters around. There’s probably a good reason for you to try upland hunting in a different location and setting, and chances are there’s a lodge, outfitter or guide that fits exactly what you’re looking for.