For upland hunters, the winter months can bring a mix of emotions. There’s hopefully a happy hangover of a season well spent, but then there is the melancholy reality that a half-year or more stands between you and flushing birds. Thankfully, there’s a cure for midwinter’s wingshooting blues: booking a spot on one of Shooting Sportsman’s Readers & Writers Adventures.
Every year we look to some of the finest wingshooting lodges and reserve spots for a select number of readers. In fact, this is our 25th year offering these hunts, which have been extremely popular with hunters across the country. Not only are these world-class experiences, but they also are opportunities to meet other sportsmen with similar passions. Readers & Writers Adventures are where friendships are born and cultivated, skills are sharpened, and memories are made.
For 2020-’21 we are excited to offer the following four trips.
Skip Halloween and request your election-year absentee ballots early, because we kick things off with a bang from October 31 to November 4 at Firesteel Creek Lodge. Located in north-central South Dakota—the small town of Isabel, to be precise—Firesteel is the hunting equivalent of a best gun. The hunting, lodge and social life are at the highest level. Small groups of hunters chase sharp-tailed grouse, Hungarian partridge and the state bird of South Dakota, the ring-necked pheasant. SSM Editor-in-Chief Ralph Stuart hosts this hunt. The cost is $4,545 for a double-occupancy room, and this includes transportation to and from the Bismarck, North Dakota, airport, lodging, meals, licenses and ammunition. In addition to the excellent hunting, highlights of this trip are the group cocktail hours and banquet-style dinners.
Associate Publisher and Director of Wingshooting Terry Bombeke will host our next hunt, at Castle Valley Outdoors, in Emery, Utah, from November 16 to 20. This trip is quintessential of hunting the American West, with the lodge smack dab in the middle of the Beehive State’s famous monument and butte country. With three hunters to a guide and no limits on pheasants and chukars, this is a remarkably affordable yet upscale experience with some of the most affable staff anywhere. The cost is $3,795 for single occupancy and includes pickup from the Salt Lake City International Airport, lodging, meals, licenses and ammunition.
Kentucky is synonymous with Southern hospitality, and Winghaven Lodge is a sterling example. This year we return to the Bluegrass State from December 9 to 13. The 10,000-square-foot main lodge is surrounded by 3,000 acres of no-limit quail hunting, with pheasants and chukars mixed in. Each day hunters can expect to come in contact with upward of 200 birds. And did we mention the lodge’s bourbon bar? Winghaven is located midway between Nashville and St. Louis along the Bourbon Trail. Associate Publisher Terry Bombeke will host this hunt. Evansville, Indiana, is the designated airport, and the cost of $3,995 includes all relevant fees, including gratuities and airport pickup.
We round out the season with a return to reader-favorite Pine Hill Plantation, in Donalsonville, Georgia, from February 18 to 22, 2021. Hunters fly into Tallahassee, Florida, and are transported to the heart of South Georgia’s quail belt. Between sessions in Pine Hill’s iconic mule-drawn wagons, guests are treated to lodging and meals that celebrate the Southern quail hunting tradition. Editor Ralph Stuart leads this trip, and the cost is $5,350 for single occupancy. Like most of our trips, the price includes everything but airfare, taxes, gratuities and shipping birds home.