Mention Kentucky to bird hunters, and what comes to mind for many is bluegrass, bourbon and the Run for the Roses. Others tend to think of college basketball and even fried chicken. But front of mind for few is quail hunting, of which there is a fine tradition in the state.
Nowhere is this tradition more evident than at Winghaven Lodge, in western Kentucky’s Ohio River Valley. Launched in 2001 as Tradewater Outfitters, a deer and turkey hunting operation, the business quickly grew to offer upland bird hunting, and in 2008 it was rebranded Winghaven Lodge. Today Winghaven offers one of the country’s premier no-limit quail hunts on 3,000 acres of prime habitat.
The lodge’s success can be pinned to owner Russell Edwards' passion for upland hunting, quality habitat and modern gamebird management. On property owned and leased by the lodge, fields of legumes and warm-season grasses are enhanced by acres of corn, milo, soybeans and wheat. The resulting food and cover are perfect for coveys of native and early release bobwhites, and hunters can expect to encounter up to 200 hard-flying birds per day. Mixed-bag opportunities exist for pheasants and chukars, as well, and flooded-timber waterfowling can be enjoyed below the lodge in the Tradewater River bottoms.
As might be expected, another point of pride at Winghaven is well-trained gundogs. The lodge’s kennel boasts a variety of pointing and flushing breeds—from pointers and setters to German shorthairs and Labs—all handled by a team of experienced, personable guides. Guests are welcome to bring their dogs, as well, and there is an indoor kennel facility to house them.
When not hunting, guests enjoy the 10,000-square-foot lodge, which is well appointed and offers spacious bedrooms with private baths. Country gourmet meals are prepared with fresh ingredients and served with a side of Southern hospitality. After dinner guests can relax in the great room, with its stone fireplace and impressive trophy mounts, and may even enjoy live bluegrass music while sampling the lodge’s extensive selection of Kentucky’s finest single-barrel bourbons. If so inclined, they also may opt to relive the day’s hunt around the outdoor fire pit or in the cigar lounge.
Once hunters experience all that Winghaven has to offer—from the quality hunting to the excellent food and accommodations to the attentive and friendly staff—it’s little wonder they begin making plans to return. And why forever after they recognize that Kentucky and quail hunting go together like bourbon and ice.