Enjoy Guided Pheasant Hunting at The Wilderness Reserve

When it comes to bird hunting, the dog can make all the difference. Here at The Wilderness Reserve, we strive to make the hunting experience fully accessible to all, and that includes guided pheasant hunting for those who don’t have their own fully trained gun dogs. This is why we are pleased to have a professional guide and gun dog trainer, Walt Noa, on the Wilderness Team.

Professional Pheasant Hunting Guide

Walt brings years of bird hunting and outdoors experience to the Wilderness Team. He has been guiding preserve hunts for over 30 years, and loves the unique challenge that each game bird provides. In addition to guiding pheasant hunts at The Wilderness Reserve, Walt operates the Black Duck Hunting Preserve in Rapid River, Michigan.

The Rapid River preserve offers bird, deer and bear hunts, and is home to the U.P. Bird Hunters Association, with over 50 members. The group takes a fun approach to bird hunting and holds monthly meetings to fine tune both knowledge and skills. The Black Duck Hunting Preserve also hosts the Double Gun Classic, a side-by-side shotgun 3 day tournament held in August.

Although Walt is a knowledgeable guide, his passion is the outdoorsman’s best friend – their gun dogs. He trains roughly 40 dogs per year at the preserve, and although this makes for a crazy schedule, he loves every minute of it!

Successful Gun Dog Trainer

Gun Dog TrainerTo hear Walt speak about gun dog training, and debate the personalities of dogs, is truly inspiring. One can tell right away that he knows what he is talking about and strives for an even deeper understanding of the animals’ nature. “Every dog is different, I still learn more and more every day”, he explains.

Walt became involved with the training of gun dogs when he got his first dog, when he was a deputy sheriff in Lower Michigan. He describes the experience with that hindsight vision, saying “the dog turned out good in spite of me.” When Walt moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 1998, he began mentoring under an experienced trainer and was soon helping friends with their dogs before taking the step to operating his own dog training business.

The key to developing bird hunting skills in any breed of dog lays with the proper training, and that is what Walt offers. His approach is centered more on rewards than correction, with an understanding that really good training takes time and baby steps. He also strongly recommends one-on-one training with both the dog and the owner for the best results.

Guided Pheasant Hunting at The Wilderness Reserve

Pheasant Hunting | The Wilderness ReserveWalt explains that guided pheasant hunting at The Wilderness Reserve can suit hunters of all different levels, as well as their dogs. The reserve setting is a great way to try out a relatively inexperienced bird dog, and build their skills. Love pheasant hunting but don’t have your own gun dog? The Wilderness Reserve can happily accommodate you with a guide/dog pheasant hunting package.

This challenging sport is also ideal for groups, whether you are planning a corporate retreat or a weekend getaway with friends or family. In addition, The Wilderness has shooting courses that are both good practice and fun. Plan your next visit to The Wilderness Reserve for guided pheasant hunting this pheasant hunting season, September through December!

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The Challenges and Rewards of Late Season Elk Hunting

Hunting elk, even in the best of weather and conditions, can be challenging and often leaves the hunter unsuccessful. Elk seem to have a magical ability to avoid the eager hunter on public land, which can be frustrating after investing all that time and money in the effort. Late season elk hunting is no different, but brings its own set of challenges and rewards, whether on public land or a hunting preserve like The Wilderness Reserve.

Understanding Elk Behavior in Late Fall & Early Winter

Elk Grazing Late WinterThe key to a successful harvest, no matter the game you seek or the time of the year, rests on the ability to understand and predict animal behavior. This can take years to grasp, but there’s no better time than the present to start giving it a shot and fine-tuning your elk intuition. So what are the majestic bulls up to at this time of year?

Typically, the snow is beginning to push the elk downhill from higher elevations, where the snow has buried the food. As they browse on fir needles and paw for patches of hidden grass, they turn a lighter color of brown or gray as their coat of hair thickens in response to the cold. Elk are also gathering together in the large herds they will remain in through the winter.

As with all Northwoods wildlife, elk are busy in the fall bulking themselves up for the winter season. The bulls don’t shed their antlers until later in the winter or early spring, so they still need to take in those extra calories to maintain that weight. Knowing where the elk are foraging for food can be the key to successful late season elk hunts.

The Challenges of Late Season Elk Hunting

There are naturally a different set of challenges to hunting elk during the late season. Many elk hunters rely on elk calls for the hunt, and this isn’t an effective tool post rut. Physically, the hunt is harder because the hunter faces wading through deep snow and withstanding cold temperatures for long periods of time. Predicting where the big bull will be is only part of the trial.

The physical requirements of a late season hunt aren’t to be underestimated. Elk can walk for a dozen or more miles a day, covering great distances for food. This means that the hunter must be prepared to hike through deep snow, or be smart enough to accurately predict where the bull will be at what time of day. As with anything, though, a bigger challenge means a bigger reward!

The Rewards of Late Season Elk Hunting

If you are hunting public land, the late season means that there are less hunters in the woods. The elk are less likely to be disturbed in their daily movements by the presence of humans. As the big bulls are often successful in eluding early season hunters, you have to chance to harvest a real trophy!

The forest itself at this time of year is a breathtaking reward. With nothing but trees and nature surrounding you, the peacefulness of the forest is magnified by the covering of the snow. Sounds are muffled more, and nature’s beauty is only enhanced. And the white coating allows hunters an easier view, making the coloring of a bull stand out that much more. If you brave the late season hunt and beat the challenges, the sense of accomplishment when you succeed will be that much greater!

Tips for Late Season Elk Hunts

How to master the challenges of late season hunting? Be flexible and adapt! Although elk calls aren’t as effective, this is a great time of year to employ tracking techniques. Whereas a forest floor covered in fallen leaves and debris can easily hide tracks, as well as make quiet movement impossible, a covering of snow makes an elk’s path stand out clearly.

Watch for tracks that have sharp edges and no debris in them as these are indicators of freshness. Look for the path between feeding and sleeping spots. Watch for fresh rubs on the trees, as these are typically in the middle of the bulls daily range and it’s unlikely the path has changed significantly yet. Also check clearings for droppings and signs of freshly eaten vegetation.

Bulls tend to be at slightly higher grounds than the cows, so adjust up after spotting a cow herd. You are more likely to find them on south facing hills than the north side. These areas tend to be warmer with less snow, and thus more food. Most importantly, try to think like the bull because interpreting his behavior accurately can save you from miles of hiking without even a glimpse of your trophy. And when you succeed with a late season elk hunt, pat yourself on the back because not all hunters are dedicated enough and brave enough to attempt this challenge! Once you’ve got your trophy elk, check out this blog on Cooking Elk Meat for a Tasty Meal!

Guided Elk Hunts at The Wilderness Reserve

Seasonal Elk BehaviorElk hunting packages at The Wilderness Reserve are available from September through Christmas, with late season hunts offering a unique experience for hunters of all abilities. Spotting a proud bull through the snow-tipped branches of the forest is a thrill, and harvesting your trophy is the memory of a lifetime! And nothing is as cozy as returning to a secluded Northwoods cabin to spend the evening recounting the day’s adventure in front of a roaring fireplace! Experience the wonders of elk hunting for yourself on 5,500 acres of quality managed habitat at The Wilderness Reserve! 

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Pheasant Hunting – Companionship in Nature

Pheasant hunting can be the experience of a lifetime, one filled with companionship, challenge and rewards. Spending hours with nothing but the sounds of nature and the crisp autumn air, one can feel the vast touch of the wild in your heart and soul. And then the excitement of a bird hooting and the sudden rustling as a pheasant leaps up through the brush to take flight!

The Challenge of Pheasant Hunting

Outdoorsman crave the challenge of the hunt, and every hunter has his/her favorite game to chase. None are quite as fulfilling as hunting the quick footed, clever pheasant. It takes perseverance and patience to capture this prize!

The first challenge lays in the physical demands of pheasant hunting. Unlike hunting whitetail deer, bird hunting requires the hunter to search for his prey, stalking as silently as possible. You can’t wait for the pheasants to come to you. You must seek them out through the fields and marshes, relying on the keen smelling of your hunting dog. This could mean a long day hiking through the woods, and it’s helpful to make sure you are in shape and up for the day before heading out.

Additionally, where you find the pheasants can vary based on the time of day or the season. The best times are either early in the day, or the late afternoon, when the pheasants are busy feeding. The late morning and early afternoon will see them hiding under denser cover, more difficult to spot. And when the time does come to take a shot, it can be hard to get an accurate shot, as the tail makes up half of the pheasant’s body length. Practicing with clay shooting can help prepare you for the accuracy necessary to score your birds.

Pheasants are described as one of the smartest game birds, capable of eluding their natural predators and hunters that aren’t quick enough with their shot. When sensing danger, the pheasant quickly darts out of his hiding spot, dashing across the forest floor or leaping into quick flight. No matter how prepared you might be, this can be a startling flush, and even experienced hunters can easily miss the shot in all the excitement. But the challenges of pheasant hunting make the rewards that much better!

The Companionship of Pheasant Hunting

Pheasant hunting is traditionally a team sport. Hunters usually see a better success rate when hitting the woods in groups of three or more. Hunting as a team will flush out more birds, and allow for cover on multiple sides of a likely brush patch for more chances at a good shop. Spending the day in the woods with your best hunting buddies gives a unique sense of companionship, working together for a common goal while appreciating the wilderness around you.

This is also a great game to introduce young hunters to the joys of the sport. Trying to get a youngster interested while sitting patiently all day in a deer blind can often have the opposite effect. But pheasant hunting is very hands-on, and the excitement level is sure to capture a new hunter’s attention and make them a life-long lover of pheasant hunting. And nothing creates a deeper bond between a parent, or grandparent, and a child than a day in the wilderness!

Last is the unique companionship enforced between man and animal when pheasant hunting with a good hunting dog. Your hunting dog is the biggest asset you have out in the forest. Hunting pheasants together deepens the connection between you and your dog. Hunting dogs in the Northwoods truly are your best friend!

Northwoods Pheasant Hunting at The Wilderness Reserve

Pheasant Hunting | The Wilderness ReserveThe Wilderness Reserve provides 5500 acres of prime pheasant hunting land. Plan a group hunt with your best hunting buddies or a corporate retreat hunt with your team. Feel free to bring along your favorite hunting dog, or take advantage of our dog/handler pheasant hunting packages. Enjoy the companionship and challenge of pheasant hunting while immersing yourself in nature with an exciting bird hunting experience at The Wilderness Reserve!

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