Two is better than one . . . . Well, not always. There is nothing “better” about a second flat tire or sprained ankle, for example. But the phrase does hold water when applied to combo hunts. The sport of wingshooting presents traveling hunters a spectacular array of diverse options. In most cases the options are so diverse that they require separate trips. Many hunters consider combination hunts to be a common-sense way to travel and hunt more efficiently. Gary Harpole, of Harpole’s Heartland Lodge, in Nebo, Illinois, has been a huge proponent of combo hunts for years and has weaved so many two-in-one options into his hunting program that he has become a “Combo King” of sorts. Always eager to extol the benefits of a binary trip, Harpole helped explain the case for such trips.
“One of the biggest advantages to combining hunts is that hunters can experience two completely different world-class shoots in one trip. Instead of making trips to Manitoba for waterfowl and Kansas for pheasants and quail, they can come to a place like Illinois and do it all. At our place we can mix pheasants, quail, ducks, geese and even turkeys and deer into a single trip. And it isn’t just about being able to harvest multiple species. An upland/waterfowl combo, for example, exposes the guest to totally different experiences, because the style of hunting, the guides, the dogwork and the setting are very distinct from one another.”
“There are very few guarantees in the world of wingshooting. Bad weather, disrupted migratory patterns and a variety of other factors can compromise a world-class hunt. It is extremely rare, however, that a certain set of conditions will compromise two entirely different types of hunts. There is always a possibility that migratory waterfowl are not abundant at the time of a particular hunt, but our pheasants and quail will still be available to ensure that our guests have an unforgettable hunt nonetheless. A combo hunt also hedges against a hunt being too good. Our waterfowl hunting can sometimes be so good that guests limit out in a matter of hours—or less. Having an upland hunt as an add-on ensures plenty of afternoon excitement!
“Another reason guests book combo hunts is because they want to skip the FOMA (Fear of Missing Anything) that sometimes comes with having to choose between one hunt and another. Traveling to Illinois in early March for a final upland hunt does not have to occur at the expense of a snow goose hunt, making a stressful decision evaporate.”
“Consolidating two trips into one has its financial advantages as well. For starters, an outfitter’s price is usually proportionally lower for a duel hunt than it is for two distinct hunts. On top of that, there is the obvious benefit of travel cost being reduced by half with a single trip.”
“We offer a big selection of combination hunts. Our upland hunt is usually the pillar for our joint hunts simply because it is extremely reliable. The chances of at least one part of the trip being phenomenal are extremely high with our pheasant and quail hunting. Our goal then becomes to make the other part of the hunt world class too. The other foundation for our hunts is our luxury accommodations. No matter what hunt they select, our guests can 100% count on meals and lodging that will be memorable in their own right. Another great thing about our lodge as it pertains to combo hunts is its location. Our upland-hunting grounds are 10 minutes from the lodge in one direction, and our waterfowl hunts are 10 minutes in the other.
“The final aspect regarding a good combo hunt is timing. It is very important to book for a time when both targeted hunts are in season and at their peak. For us, variations of our Upland & Waterfowl combos run from late October until mid-December. Upland & Goose hunts take place from mid-December through March, with the focus shifting from Canadas to no-limit snow geese during the final couple of months. Our area is nationally renowned for its fair-chase trophy whitetail hunting, so we offer that combo, too, from October into January. Last but not least, we even have a brief window in the first half of April that allows for a great Upland & Turkey hunt.
“We have a web page that is exclusively devoted to combo hunts. The best advice for anyone considering one of these awesome experiences is to check it out and give us a call. We have helped countless hunters plan duel hunts and therefore know how to ensure that our guests get the most out of their trips.”