Behind the scenes at Winghaven Lodge

Shooting Sportsman Magazine Endorsed Lodge Winghaven Lodge

The Shooting Sportsman Endorsed Lodge program continues its “behind the scenes” series with Winghaven Lodge, in western Kentucky. Owner Russell Edwards was happy to answer a few questions about the lodge….

SSM: How long have you been at Winghaven Lodge, and what compelled you to get involved with the operation?

Russell Edwards: I have been with Winghaven from the very beginning. My wife, Michelle, and I started the lodge after my early retirement. We began as Tradewater Outfitters, in 2001, hunting deer and turkey, but our strong passion for upland hunting helped us discover a way to make our season last longer! So in 2008 we discarded Tradewater Outfitters and became Winghaven Lodge. It was a great move for us; the type of land we own is very well suited for upland birds, especially quail. We never would have believed our little part-time venture would grow to become one of the nation’s top wingshooting destinations, but we are so glad it did!

SSM: What’s a typical day of hunting like at Winghaven?

RE: Coffee starts at 6 for the early risers. Guests like to take it on the back porch, where they can watch the sun rise above the lakes, fields and trees that define our backyard landscape. Breakfast is at 7:30, and then it’s off to the gunroom to make ready for the morning hunt. We like to leave the lodge by 8:15 or 8:30 and hunt until 11:30 or 12. Lunch and relaxation are enjoyed until 1:30, when we head out for another three-hour hunt. Around 4:30 to 5 we return to the lodge, where a full spread of hors d’oeuvres—including fresh, smoked quail or pheasant—awaits. The best of the world-famous Kentucky bourbon trail can be experienced right here at the lodge, and it’s all complimentary as an amenity of the lodge. Of course, many other refreshments are also available. Dinner is usually at 7 PM, with a menu that includes chicken, fish, pork or our handpicked, hand-cut, bacon-wrapped filet. The meal, which includes fresh vegetables, wine and a litany of dessert options, ensures that guests don’t leave the table wanting!

SSM: What aspects of your operation seem to impress guests the most?

RE: This question has a very consistent answer: Guests returning from the field are always commenting on the dogs: “How old were the ones we hunted with?” “Wow, those dogs we had today wouldn’t quit!” Then the guides: “How long has our guide been with you?” “We had a great time with our guide today.” After that I will hear a remark or two about the birds wearing Kevlar our how hard they fly. We receive compliments on our dining and customer service, too—and, of course, the 150 labels of Kentucky bourbon we stock are of great interest as well.

SSM: What is your favorite item on the dinner menu?

RE: Hands down, the hand-cut, bacon-wrapped filet! It is simply amazing!

SSM: What part of the job do you find the most gratifying?

RE: Without a doubt, it’s knowing that I have a place to stay in all 50 states! We have had guests from literally every state, and that has led to friendships that are stronger than just having another customer. Because of this job and the relationships it as allowed me to form, I am truly blessed!

SSM: What has you the most excited about the coming season?

RE: Getting to see all my friends again. That’s really the thing that keeps me interested. I don’t want to disappoint my old friends or our first-time guests, so I get excited about creating new hunting areas, breaking out new pups and the new shotguns I’m going to see. A long list of things like that, but mostly I relish the chance to visit with the people who have helped make Winghaven Lodge what it is today!

Find out more about Winghaven Lodge as a Shooting Sportsman Endorsed Lodge.

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