OUTFITTER REVIEW ON:
Part 1:THE HUNT
Pheasants On The Minnesota Prairie
By Dan Johnson
|ROOSTER! Our Guide Stephen yelled as the last pheasant of the day started to fly before being quickly dropped back into the cattails. This ended a fantastic day of pheasant hunting in western Minnesota. Growing up in central South Dakota, I’ve been very fortunate to hunt areas with huge numbers of pheasants and have always known the upland bird hunting in Minnesota to be extremely tough. Routinely having to search all day, walking miles on end to find a single rooster. Wow, were those reports wrong. Our hunt with outfitter Stephen Pridal of Ringneck Range near Canby Minnesota was one of the best days of pheasant hunting I have ever had!|
|Arriving the night before the hunt, I was able to take advantage of the lodging accommodations at the Canby Inn & Suites where Stephen recommends that all of his hunters stay when going on a multiple day hunt. With the comfortable and spacious room- including a good breakfast in the morning, complimentary from the hotel, it was time to hunt!|
Stephen starts each day by picking up his hunters at the hotel at 7:30am sharp. I arrived in the lobby a few minutes early and met the two other hunters that would be going along for the day. Pete & Marc, both Southwest Airline Captains who were on a three day hunt with Stephen starting the day before I arrived. The two men had nothing but good things to say about how their first day of hunting with Stephen had gone. “Stephen works extremely hard to put you on the birds and doesn’t stop,” both of them told me. Which was repeated throughout the day and I definitely agree with from my first had experience.
When Stephen arrived we loaded everything into the truck and we ready to start the hunt! Clients also have the option to shoot a complimentary round of sporting clays, before hitting the field if you would like. However, we wanted to get the hunt started as soon as possible. So with a short drive out of town we arrived at the first location of the day made up of cattails, creek beds, tall trees and grass. Almost immediately after we starting walking we could see pheasants getting up in front of us about 200 yards away, and never had the chance to take a shot at a bird here.
Now it was time to go get the dogs and head to Congers Slough to chase more birds. The local pond was surrounded by cattails and crop land which no doubt held a few roosters. While we were starting our drive through the cattails and make our way around the pond we could see large conveys of pheasants getting up about 100 yards in front of us and landing farther down the shoreline. Bringing the dogs along proved to be a huge asset as they started flushing hens right next to us as we walked. The anticipation was building hoping for the first chance at a rooster when we approached the location where the big coveys had been bedding down. Everyone was ready and the dogs were working hard to find the birds. ROOSTER! Stephen yelled as a pheasant jumped in the air just a few feet after we reached the bedding area! The bird quickly headed over the water with the wind at his back, never flinching as we took multiple shots trying bring him down.
We reloaded our guns and started moving forward as the dogs worked to find the remaining birds. As we turned the corner around the pond our second rooster in only a matter of minutes cackled and tried to make his escape across the water as well. This time however, Marc knocked him down into the cattails with one shot, the first rooster of the day was in the bag! Now we just had to find him. With two dogs, and four men trying to find the rooster you would think it would be an easy task. Not the case here, it took us fifteen minutes to find the bird, which the wind had blown out of the cattails and into the edge of the field as he was coming down. How that happened and we all missed it was a mystery. But it is one of those things that you can’t explain when hunting, and you thoroughly enjoy when it baffles you.
First Two Roosters
Of The Day!
When we found the pheasant everyone was extremely excited and eager to find more. Continuing to where we had seen the pheasants land early. We flushed five hens along the way before another rooster got up and was quickly dropped by a group of shots close to the shore line. Sphinx, one of the labs, we were hunting with retrieved the bird and dropped it at my feet. With only a few yards to go we walked out the remaining hunting ground and headed back to the truck with our two roosters!
After a quick stop at the next hunting spot Stephen refers to as ‘Grandma’s 80.’ Which was a corn field that had a dried up damn in the southern end with tall grass and cattails. We didn’t have any shot opportunities here but saw a few birds getting up as we parked the truck and continued to do so as we made our way down through the grass.
|While we made a quick commute to the last hunting spot before lunch Pete, Marc and I discussed how impressed we were with how many birds that we had seen so far. Stephen assured us that the next location would have some good opportunities to bag a couple more birds. |
This time we were going to start hunting going through tall trees, small hills, creek beds, then lastly going through some tall CRP grass. Stephen was right, we found the birds again hanging out the cattails behind the trees and also in the grass. After letting both of the roosters get away that we flushed coming out of the cattails, we finally were able to shoot straight on a rooster that got up in the CRP. This location and others throughout the day were exciting to walk through not just to see pheasants but also other wildlife which added to a great day of being in the field.
Stephen provided lunch which consisted of an assortment of sandwich meats, chips, and fruit, while enjoying the day in a comfortable three seasons porch. This is always one of my favorite times of the day where we get to sit around telling stories from the hunt and other adventures that we have been on.It turned out that Marc had been hunting his whole life around the world and was helping Pete take up the sport with this hunting trip. Along with both of their experiences from being airline captains, Marc’s stories about hunting, and Pete’s enjoyment to continue hunting in the future. Lunch passed quickly and it was time to get back out in the field!
|Our next location took us to a huge area that included tall grass, food plots, big trees, creek beds, and farm ground. Pete, Stephen, and I set out to walk around a big hill coming up on the west side of the food plots with the intention of pushing the birds toward Marc. As we were just coming over the top of the hill we heard Marc shoot twice. After waiting for him appear, hopefully with a rooster at his feet. We started pushing the food plots to the east with no birds appearing. When we met Marc he informed us that he had knocked down a rooster and couldn’t find it. So we took up the search again for the downed bird but unfortunately this time we were unable to find the pheasant in the trees.|
While walking through the impressive hunting grounds that Stephen had brought us to, we continued to see wildlife around as the dogs ran from one side of the creek to the other crashing through the water an ice. Of course there were pheasants in abundance here too, a great place to increase our take for the day! With a few missed shots and birds out of range we definitely had our chances too. As we walked in the tall grass following along the edge of the trees a rooster jumped up and made his climb to get over the trees and out of range as quickly as he could. But with a good shot through the trees Pete knocked him down and bagged is first rooster! We continued to walk through the rest of hunting area but did not get another bird.
Hunting CRP grass close to the food plots we had hunted an hour before was what we thought would be our last area to hunt for the day. We saw more pheasants and missed the roosters that gave us the chance to take a shot. Resulting in no birds taken on this stretch of ground, which proved to be another quality spot that Stephen knew where the birds would be.
With just about twenty minutes left of day light Pete, Marc & I assumed that we were done hunting until Stephen said quickly, “Lets back in the truck, there is still enough time to go hunt one more place be for dark!” Heading for the corn food plot we had hunted in the morning, this proved one more time what Pete & Marc had said about Stephen before our hunt today. “He works extremely hard to put you on the birds and doesn’t stop.” When we arrived at the food plot we set up the same way with Pete and Marc blocking while Stephen and I pushed the birds toward them.
With high hopes we started walking through the trees and corn again. When we reached the end of the corn there were no shots, but Pete was waving us to come his way. He though that he had heard rustling in the cattails behind him so we started walking the edge again. In only a minute Stephen yelled ROOSTER! As the last rooster of the day started to fly before he fell back into the cattails as the sun was just going down. What a great way to end a fantastic hunt with Ringneck Range.
|It is was evident from our first hunting location this morning that Stephen has an extensive knowledge of the areas he hunts, knowing where the birds are likely to be and where to position hunters for good shots. He also showed that he will do whatever he can to find pheasants no matter what. It was clear to see that Stephen focuses on making the hunt as enjoyable as he can for each of his hunters. He has a very easy going fun attitude and is great to visit with throughout the day. It was my pleasure to be able to spend the day hunting with Ringneck Range and would highly recommend them for your next Minnesota pheasant hunt!|
Part 2: THE REVIEW
|OUTFITTER KNOWLEDGE / PERSONALITY: ||Score||5 / 5 |
|Growing up around the Canby and Tauton area, Stephen has an incredible amout of knowledge of the hunting grounds. He knows where the birds are going to be located at a certain spot and which direction they will more than likely try to fly. Stephen is very personable and focused on his hunters having a great time.|
|QUALITY OF |
|Score||5 / 5|
|Stephen has a nice comfortable truck with plenty of space to move around in. Along with two good hunting dogs that made a big difference for us during our trip. As well as hunting ground that is very low impact and low stress to hunt pheasants.|
|Score||5 / 5|
|Throughout our entire hunt we saw an abundant amount birds at every hunting location. During the hunt we had plenty of shot opportunities that would have given us our limit and then some. Including quite a few birds that got up to far out of range.|
|QUALITY OF MEALS |
3 / 5
With many good lodging accomodations and restaurants available very close in proximity to the hunting grounds, there is no problem having a comfortable stay and getting a good meal. During a full days hunt with Stephen he does provide a good lunch. Ours consisted of cold meat sandwiches, chips, and fruit.
HUNT PACKAGES AND
|Score||5 / 5|
|On Stephen's pheasant hunts he has a daily rate of $165 for groups of 5 hunters or less per gun. There is a $15 dollar discount for groups of 6 or more hunters. As well as $15 off for a mulitple day hunt. Anyone under 18 on day of hunt will receive $15 Discount as well. |
50% Deposit Required Within 10 Days To Reserve Date. Minimum Of 2 Hunters - You Will Only Hunt With Your Group
|OVERALL QUALITY |
OF THE TRIP:
|Score||5 / 5 |
|Overall the quality of the entire trip was terrific. Beginning with comfortable lodging, good food, and a successful hunt, it was a great experience. Stephen works very hard and has a wealth of knowledge that can give you a great hunt each day. Working with a good guide who is fun to be around improves the quality of any hunt, and Stephen does a fantastic job!|
|Overall Ringneck Range Scored 28 Out Of 30 Giving Them An "A" Rating. We Would Not Hesitate To Refer Them For Their Fantastic Minnesota Pheasant Hunts!|
|28 / 30|
| more photos from the hunt...|
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