SSM: How long have you been at The Signature Lodge, and what compelled you to get involved with the lodge?
Sean Finley: I have been at the lodge for nine seasons. I first got involved when our sister lodge, The North Platte Outpost, was in search of a managing team, and we (High Adventure Company) were asked to run the day-to-day operations for that facility. A year later we were running both locations for the Weinreis Family, and we have been proud to do so ever since. The Signature Lodge is my home seven months out of the year.
SSM: What’s a typical day of hunting like at The Signature Lodge?
SF: A typical day starts at 7:30 am with a huge breakfast that includes our live-chef station, where we do eggs to order, omelets to order, hand-cut New York strip and eggs, or pork chops and ham steaks. We also make French toast and pancakes to order. Of course, this is in addition to the country buffet, with over 12 fresh-made items on it. Can you tell I’m proud of the food . . . ?
Guests depart for the field just before 9 and hunt until 12 or 12:30. Guests hunt a different section of property during each half-day hunt. The farmland has been planted in a mosaic of crops for bird habitat, with corn, milo, sorghum, grasses and shelterbelts providing food and cover.
Hunting is the typical “push-and-block” style. Flushing dogs of various breeds work out front to put pheasants in the air. The action is pretty much nonstop. Guests can expect to have the opportunity to harvest up to 20 roosters per day. After the morning hunt, guests return to the lodge for a plated lunch, and then rest until around 2:15. The afternoon hunt runs from 2:30 to 5:30. In the evening guests enjoy our appetizer bar along with our sports bar, which has over 100 liquors, beers and wines. We call to dinner every night around 7.
SSM: What aspects of your operation seem to impress guests the most?
SF: Our staff, with our guest service and food-and-beverage service. Anybody can shoot pheasants, but no one takes care of you like the staff at The Signature Lodge.
SSM: What is your favorite item on the dinner menu?
SF: Our signature item is our slow-roasted prime rib of beef: 50 days of in-house wet aging, served at a perfect medium rare, a 20-ounce cut, along with a baked potato, roasted jumbo asparagus and thyme-infused au jus. It competes with the best steakhouses in America and is a tribute to our owners, the Weinreis Family, and their love of the cattle industry. As the executive chef for the company, I put it on the menu the day I arrived; and it is our most-requested item.
SSM: What part of the job do you find the most gratifying?
SF: Having guests who travel the world in their jobs and personal lives tell me that the meals at The Signature Lodge are the best they've ever had, that the staff is “over the top” and that they can't wait to tell their friends and return to hunt with us again.
SSM: What has you the most excited about the coming season?
SF: For me, personally, the new menu, seeing guests return for another great hunt and walking out on the back porch of the lodge and taking in the view of Lake Oahe on a beautiful October day. There’s simply no place better.