There was a time, not so long ago, when Iowa was known as the Pheasant Capital of North America. Sportsmen would travel to the state from all over the country and contribute to annual harvests that typically topped 1 million birds. Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors, Iowa’s pheasant numbers began declining during the late 20th Century, and eventually the state was supplanted as the premier destination for taking roosters.
Travis Ewing, owner of Heritage 1865, in south-central Iowa, fondly remembers the good times. As a boy, he along with family and friends would walk the fields of his grandfather’s 3,000-acre farm, in Promise City, and routinely bag limits of long-tailed roosters. Even at a young age, Travis felt a certain pride in his family’s ground producing such valued commodities—and he pledged to one day carry things forward by guiding hunters on the property.
Travis held on to his vision, and during college he began taking paying clients hunting on the farm. Upon graduating, he and his soon-to-be-wife, Abby, moved to the land with the idea of starting a commercial hunting business. The timing couldn’t have been better, as Travis’s grandparents were getting ready to scale back their farming operation, and after first ramping up his guiding efforts, Travis received the blessing of his family—and the bank—to break ground on a 9,600-square-foot lodge.
And Heritage 1865 was born.
The name of the lodge reflects not only pride of place but also a valued history. It was in 1865 that Travis’s great-great-great-grandfather, Samuel Ewing Jr., purchased the ground that the farm has grown from. “Heritage” represents a legacy of hard work and enduring traditions—things of value meant to be preserved.
Of course, building back hunting like it was in the “good old days” has taken effort. Land that previously supported cattle has been converted to bird habitat, with CRP fields, food plots and grass strips supplementing wooded creek bottoms and cropland. In addition, ponds have been installed as steady water sources. The result is that the farm now boasts strong populations of not only pheasants but also bobwhite quail, whitetail deer and turkeys.
Another key ingredient in providing a traditional Iowa experience is hospitality—and Heritage offers that in healthy portions. As one might expect, there is dedication and pride in a family that has worked a piece of ground for more than 150 years. This translates into the day-to-day operations of the lodge, as guests are welcomed as members of the family and made to feel at home. From the world-class accommodations to the chef-prepared meals (made from family recipes), everything is attended to with thoughtfulness and attention paid to detail. As Travis likes to say: “Heritage is supposed to be a home away from home—but with a full bar.”
When it comes to history, it’s been said that you can’t go back again; but Heritage 1865 lets guests relive the glory days of Iowa pheasant hunting and the way things were. Which explains why hunters go back again and again.
Heritage 1865 is a full-service, Shooting Sportsman Endorsed Lodge. To inquire about the lodge’s world-class pheasant and quail hunting, email [email protected] or call 641-780-2290.