A great day at a wingshooting lodge is characterized by certain key elements. The quality of the birds and dogs are important, as are the food, accommodations and hospitality. If these aspects meet a certain standard—a high one, usually—hunters will come away happy with the experience. But for Russell Edwards, owner of Kentucky’s Winghaven Lodge, simply meeting a high standard doesn’t cut it. In his view, if you want to provide the best possible experience, you have to go the extra mile. For every customer. Every time.
Edwards has earned a reputation for personally going to great lengths to make sure his guests are 110% satisfied with their visits. His motivation is fueled by a simple line of thinking: “I never lose sight of the fact that every wingshooter who books a hunt at Winghaven had a lot of other great options, but they picked us,” says Edwards. “And some of those folks are spending hard-earned time and money to come all the way from places like Utah and Alaska just to hunt with us. When I think of all that, I feel obligated to try to set the world on fire for these people.”
Edwards is a big believer in greeting all of his guests and making himself accessible to them. Being personally tended by the actual owner shows people that their presence is valued. Edwards spends the bulk of his waking hours at the lodge, and he makes a point to check in with his hunters in the morning, at lunch and in the evening. “One of the most important things to me is that people feel comfortable at our place: comfortable with their guide in the field and comfortable in the lodge. The ambiance here is such that this usually occurs naturally, but being there in person allows me to take action if a guest happens to need something particular to feel totally at ease.”
The feedback that results from being closely connected with his hunters is indeed the key to Edwards being able to go the extra mile. If, for example, he overhears someone talking about a rare whiskey that they someday hope to try, Edwards just might be able to surprise them with it the following evening. Or, if Edwards discovers that one of his guests has a penchant for shooting pheasants, there is a decent chance that Mr. Phez will make an appearance before the hunt has concluded, regardless of the fact that Winghaven is predominantly a quail lodge. And it’s not uncommon for guests to be spontaneously treated to world-class country music performances as part of their evening entertainment.
“We can’t go above and beyond if we don’t know how to get there, but once we find out the likes and preferences of our guests, we can take it the extra mile from there,” states Edwards. “And I say ‘we’ because it’s not just me. My wife, Michele, also spends a tremendous amount of time with our guests, and our staff does a great job being attentive as well.” Winghaven’s “extra-mile” odometer reading is one of the highest in the business, but if every mile represents another happy customer, that’s just the way Edwards likes it.
Winghaven Lodge is a full-service Shooting Sportsman Endorsed Lodge. For more information on Winghaven Lodge, call 270-836-7998 or email [email protected].