Heritage 1865 Pheasant Hunting Lodge
I had the opportunity to go out to Promise City, Iowa for a 2 day pheasant hunt with my father-in-law Don and our friend Bucky. I had never been on a pheasant hunt before so I was really excited for this trip. We made it to the lodge on Friday and got settled in with our Guide Travis and his chef, Tim (yeah this isn't your average hunt camp). We were treated like royalty from the moment we walked in until the morning we left.
When I asked Don if I could marry Hunter, we were fishing for striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. We went on January 1st of 2016 and that was our first out of state fishing/hunting trip together. It has since become a yearly tradition. Last year we went duck hunting in Alabama with some buddies and had a blast. This year we had the opportunity to get in on a pheasant hunt and it did not disappoint.
Travis Ewing and his wife Abby founded Heritage 1865 in 2015. The lodge, residing in the rolling hills of Iowa, is set in front of an 8 acre pond stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and catfish. From the moment you turn onto the driveway, you know you are in for a great time. This lodge is nothing short of spectacular with its 40' high ceiling, barn wood and rustic tin paneling, wood burning fireplace and mounts of animals killed off of the surrounding land. There is a fully stocked bar, a kitchen where chefs Tim and Tammy prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for guests and four bedrooms that sleep two people in each. We had the lodge to ourselves which allowed us to have a relaxing weekend full of laughs, fellowship and a few glasses of Bird Dog Whiskey (okay maybe more than just a few but who was counting). We are a pretty laid back group and we invited Travis and Tim to eat with us, hang out and just chat. We got to know them pretty well and bonded over our love for the outdoors and hunting.
I didn't really know what to expect when we went out to hunt. Man was I in for a treat. We hunted the morning and afternoon on the first day and started in strips of Milo fields. Travis has trained 8 dogs into excellent bird hunters and they did their job perfectly. We were able to work with 5 different dogs and started with his pride and joy Chief (a 2 year old German Shorthaired Pointer) and his oldest dog Spot (a 10 year old English Pointer). He let the dogs out of their box in the bed of his truck and it was game on. These dogs were fired up and ready to work. We started working our way through the top of the field and within 30 seconds Chief was on point and I shot my first wild pheasant. I had a huge grin on my face and knew that I was in for 2 days of pure fun. I enjoy hunting because I am able to provide meat for myself and spend time with people I care about in the great outdoors. Sometimes you have to get out, turn your phone off and spend some time walking around outside to recharge yourself and this trip did just that. We walked strip after strip of Milo shooting birds left and right. Don, Bucky and I each shot our fair share of birds and we even got to shoot a few Quail (which are really fast and not the easiest moving target to shoot). We moved onto a CRP field and watched the dogs work back and forth trailing the scent of the birds. They would find one, point to where they were without moving and wait for us to close in to get in a good shooting position.
After the morning hunt we went back to the lodge where Tim had an amazing lunch prepared. We ate some food, rested for a bit and then went back out to hunt the afternoon. We went to another field and Travis brought along some other dogs. For this hunt we had Dozer (another English pointer) and Zoey (a 6 month old GSP) who is just now learning the ropes. Travis made sure we were okay with the puppy joining us and we happily obliged. She worked hard running up and down the strips of Milo and every once in a while found a bird giving us the opportunity to once again shoot one of these beautiful animals. After a few miles of walking we went back to the lodge to shower, eat dinner and chill for the night.
We woke up the next morning to a winter wonderland. We got 2 inches of snow over night and the scenery was beautiful. The lake was surrounded by powder and we knew that we were in for an awesome hunt. We geared up and headed out to the field with Diesel (another GSP). Walking those fields of Milo in the snow while following Diesel's lead was so serene. The dampened sound of the air, crunching of the snow under our feet and thunderous flapping of pheasant wings is an experience I will never forget. I was at such peace and felt a natural high from the scenery. These are the moments I live for and I relished in every moment. We finished off the morning hunt and decided that we would head off to the deer woods and go shed hunting after grabbing a quick bite to eat. We spent a few hours combing the woods collecting deer antlers that they had recently shed. Don and I broke off of the group and wandered the woods enjoying each others company.
We already have another trip planned for the fall and I can't wait to go back. Life is really about the moments like these where you get to spend quality time with people you care about doing something that you love. Some of my greatest memories are from the countless trips I've taken with my family and friends over the course of my life. When someone asks you to join along on a trip, always lean towards yes and do everything you can to make it happen because I can almost guarantee you won't regret it. I find the most joy in my life when I am adventuring and there aren't many times that I come back from a trip and don't feel recharged and more motivated.
Travis and Abby are currently working on building a wedding venue on the property. It will be called Emerald Hill Events and they plan to have the doors open December 1st, 2018. This amazing venue will have a capacity of 500 people and it sits just behind the lodge overlooking their 10 acre lake. If you are looking for a destination wedding venue with all the amenities you would need and easy going owners, look no further. Travis and Abby will be sure to help you plan your perfect day. They made our stay more fun and memorable than I could have imagined. The hospitality that they displayed was second to none and I can't wait to join them in the fall for another hunt.