Anderson: Hunt clubs help sustain wild-bird hunters -- and vice versa

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 21, 2013 - 11:03 PM
hide

Thickets of willows are among the many landscape features at Wild Wings Hunt Club near Pine City, Minn., that seek to imitate coverts encountered while wild bird hunting.

Photo: Dennis Anderson,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

It could have been a late-season pheasant hunt in any of the usual haunts: Stevens County out west or — to the southwest — Lyon, Pipestone or Jackson counties. These are some of Minnesota’s traditional ringneck hot spots, places where pheasant hunters have hiked for generations, hoping to find roosters that will hold tight enough even now in December to offer a shot.

 

Instead I was in Pine County, a little over an hour north of the Twin Cities. This was Tuesday, and out ahead of me, tumbling through more than a foot of snow, were two Labradors, Mick and Allie, both turning themselves inside out to find birds.

What made this outing different from more traditional hunts was my knowledge that somewhere in the 80 acres we tromped, pheasants lurked.

Welcome to hunting on one of Minnesota’s 63 commercially licensed shooting preserves, in this case Wings North, under the cheerful management of Chad Hughes, 38.

“We opened in September 1998,’’ Hughes said. “There was a lot of interest at the time among hunters for a club that offered the amenities private clubs offered — a bar and restaurant, for instance — with more reasonable annual membership fees. Or no annual membership requirements at all.’’

The son of Jeff Hughes, longtime manager of Wild Wings of Oneka, the fabled hunt club near Hugo, just north of St. Paul, he grew up in the shooting preserve business.

When Wings North opened, well-known metro shooting preserves such as the Horse and Hunt Club in Prior Lake and Marsh Lake in Victoria were full or nearly full, with waiting lists of people and corporations wanting memberships.

In the years since, many state shooting preserves have had their ups and downs.

In 2001, for example, the DNR licensed 41 commercial shooting preserves. By 2006, that number had grown to 82, only to fall to 70 in 2009.

“Right now there are 63,’’ said Mike Tenney, who oversees preserve licensing for the DNR.

• • •

Minnesota commercial shooting preserves are required by the DNR to release at least 1,000 birds a year, whether pheasants, chukar partridge or quail.

Private shooting preserves, by contrast, are allowed to release no more than 300 birds.

Some commercial clubs purchase adult birds for release, managing their inventory carefully, week by week. Others, like Gold Meadows Hunting Preserve near Richmond, Minn., 18 miles west of St. Cloud, raise pheasants from day-old chicks.

“We’re known for big pheasants,’’ said Joe Doubek, the second-generation operator of Gold Meadows. “Our pheasants begin as eggs laid in Pennsylvania. They’re hatched in Wisconsin. Then we get them as day-old chicks — about 15,000 of them — and raise them ourselves.’’

Though dismissed by some purists as “canned hunts,’’ shooting preserves have long been popular in Minnesota, in large part because the state has thousands of uplanders who want to continue hunting after the state’s fall wild-bird seasons end.

  • related content

  • Scavenger hunt shows off Minnesota in winter

    Saturday December 21, 2013

    Participate in a scavenger hunt called “Checkpoint MN,” featuring 10 locations marked by signs around the state, and you could receive prizes from snow bikes to getaway packages.

  • Looking for winter adventure? Check out these four state parks

    Friday December 20, 2013

    Early snow and cold have made this December the best start to the winter recreation season in years.

  • Chad Hughes, co-owner and manager of Wings North Hunt Club shown behind bar in Santa hat, said his club draws clients from Duluth as well as the Twin Cities and central Minnesota.

  • Birds released and harvested were tallied on a board at Wings North Hunt Club near Pine City.

  • Wild or not? A rooster pheasant showed off his splendid feathered coat. The bird is one of thousands released each year at state hunt clubs.

  • In pursuit of a bird burrowed deep in a snow- and ice-covered marsh, Allie, a yellow Labrador, dug in, following her nose.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Detroit 6:00 PM
Washington
Atlanta 6:30 PM
Miami
Toronto 6:30 PM
New York
Memphis 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Brooklyn 7:30 PM
Dallas
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Utah
San Antonio 8:00 PM
Phoenix
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Florida 5
Detroit 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Carolina 5 3rd Prd
NY Islanders 2
New Jersey 1 3rd Prd
Columbus 0
Arizona 0 2nd Prd 9:39
Boston 3
Toronto 6:00 PM
Montreal
NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Colorado
St. Louis 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Ottawa 9:00 PM
San Jose
Kennesaw St 75 FINAL
Lipscomb 94
Navy 57 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 47
Bucknell 71 FINAL
American Univ 69
NC State 63 FINAL
Boston College 79
East Carolina 71 FINAL
UCF 66
Georgia Tech 63 FINAL
Clemson 70
Lehigh 55 FINAL
Colgate 61
Louisville 81 FINAL
Florida State 59
Missouri 44 FINAL
Georgia 68
Army 64 FINAL
Lafayette 74
Michigan 56 FINAL
Maryland 66
Georgetown 70 FINAL
St Johns 81
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
La Salle 56
Western Carolina 67 FINAL
Citadel 54
Nebraska Omaha 87 FINAL
IUPUI 80
Maine 56 FINAL
New Hampshire 65
Samford 80 FINAL
Va Military 69
Presbyterian 53 FINAL
Winthrop 80
Utah State 74 FINAL
Air Force 60
Vermont 73 FINAL
Albany 79
UMBC 69 FINAL
Binghamton 76
Indiana State 60 FINAL
Bradley 52
Butler 67 FINAL
DePaul 53
Illinois State 69 FINAL
Evansville 67
Wright State 46 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 61
Fla Gulf Coast 67 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Ole Miss 63 FINAL
LSU 73
North Carolina 73 FINAL
Miami-Florida 64
Wagner 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 74
TCU 60 FINAL
Oklahoma 67
Delaware 65 FINAL
Towson 60
Cincinnati 63 FINAL
Tulane 47
Dayton 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 55
Northern Iowa 60 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Drexel 80 FINAL
William & Mary 66
Oakland 63 FINAL
Green Bay 83
Villanova 78 FINAL
Xavier 66
Campbell 65 FINAL
Longwood 70
Sarah Lawrence 55 FINAL
NJIT 90
Middle Tennessee 95 FINAL
UAB 100
UNC-Asheville 95 FINAL
Liberty 77
Southern Utah 71 FINAL
North Dakota 65
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Chicago State 65
ULM 43 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Bowling Green 62 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 57
Long Island 73 FINAL
Sacred Heart 84
West Virginia 66 FINAL
Baylor 78
Holy Cross 77 FINAL
Boston Univ 70
MD-Eastern Shore 69 FINAL
Delaware State 65
Wofford 62 FINAL
Furman 60
Montana State 73 FINAL
Idaho 80
Hofstra 73 FINAL
James Madison 82
Iowa State 69 FINAL
Kansas State 70
Arkansas 67 FINAL
Kentucky 84
Missouri State 51 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 65
Fordham 74 FINAL
Massachusetts 82
Nicholls 78 FINAL
McNeese State 83
East Tenn St 64 FINAL
Mercer 69
Coppin State 88 FINAL
Morgan State 77
San Diego 78 FINAL
Portland 66
Gardner-Webb 62 FINAL
Radford 72
St Francis-PA 70 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Duquesne 75 FINAL
St Bonaventure 92
Creighton 66 FINAL
Seton Hall 67
Oklahoma State 62 FINAL
Texas Tech 63
Alabama 66 FINAL
Vanderbilt 73
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
Virginia 69
Bethune-Cookman 49 FINAL
NC Central 72
St Francis-NY 51 FINAL
Bryant 61
Drake 57 FINAL
Southern Ill 63
High Point 80 2nd OT 0:50
Char Southern 80
Central Conn St 66 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 73
Eastern Mich 72 FINAL
Western Mich 80
Texas 50 2nd Half 7:55
Kansas 48
Chattanooga 53 2nd Half 6:19
UNC Greensboro 48
SE Louisiana 50 2nd Half 11:42
Central Arkansas 43
South Dakota St 59 2nd Half 3:45
South Dakota 71
Montana 73 2nd Half 4:15
Eastern Wash 69
Georgia State 55 2nd Half 11:12
Troy 33
Old Dominion 27 2nd Half 20:00
North Texas 33
Arkansas State 26 2nd Half 17:25
Texas State 42
Texas Southern 0 1st Half 20:00
Alabama State 0
Tennessee St 28 2nd Half
Belmont 50
Princeton 39 1st Half 2:24
Brown 29
Dartmouth 26 2nd Half
Cornell 14
Tennessee 22 1st Half 3:02
Florida 34
Jacksonville St 31 2nd Half
Morehead State 41
San Jose St 24 1st Half 3:48
Nevada 25
Florida A&M 15 1st Half 6:00
NC A&T 23
Iowa 25 1st Half 2:12
Penn State 29
Loyola Marymount 29 1st Half 2:23
Pepperdine 24
Miss State 31 2nd Half
South Carolina 39
Savannah State 12 1st Half 8:30
SC State 0
Miss Valley St 5 1st Half 11:57
Jackson State 23
Alcorn State 5:30 PM
Southern U
Prairie View 6:00 PM
Alabama A&M
Harvard 6:00 PM
Columbia
George Washington 6:00 PM
Davidson
Syracuse 6:00 PM
Duke
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Eastern Ky
UNC-Wilmington 6:00 PM
Elon
Stony Brook 6:00 PM
Hartford
Hampton 6:00 PM
Howard
Northwestern 6:00 PM
Illinois
Western Ill 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Kent State
Incarnate Word 6:00 PM
Lamar
Cal State Fullerton 6:00 PM
Long Beach State
TX-San Antonio 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Marshall
Richmond 6:00 PM
Saint Josephs
George Mason 6:00 PM
Saint Louis
Austin Peay 6:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Murray State 6:00 PM
UT Martin
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
Penn 6:00 PM
Yale
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Stetson 6:00 PM
North Florida
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Grand Canyon 6:05 PM
UMKC
Abilene Christian 6:15 PM
New Orleans
Northeastern 7:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
Tulsa 7:00 PM
Memphis
Wyoming 7:00 PM
UNLV
Central Mich 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Denver 7:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Charlotte 7:00 PM
Rice
Boise State 7:00 PM
San Diego St
St Marys-CA 7:00 PM
Santa Clara
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
Sam Houston St 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
New Mexico St 0 Postponed
TX-Pan American 0
FIU 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Stephen F Austin 7:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Ga Southern 7:15 PM
Louisiana
Ark-Little Rock 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Grambling St 7:30 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Auburn 7:30 PM
Texas A&M
Arizona 8:00 PM
Utah
Northern Ariz 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
UC Davis 0 1st Half
Cal Poly 0
New Mexico 9:00 PM
Fresno State
BYU 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Pacific 9:00 PM
San Francisco
Idaho State 9:00 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 9:05 PM
Portland State
UC Riverside 9:30 PM
CS-Northridge
Washington 9:30 PM
USC
CS-Bakersfield 9:30 PM
Seattle
UC Irvine 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Michigan 60 FINAL
Illinois 72
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
Kennesaw St 75
North Florida 45 FINAL
Stetson 77
Samford 65 FINAL
Mercer 70
Liberty 64 FINAL
Campbell 57
North Texas 48 FINAL
Old Dominion 70
St Francis-NY 62 FINAL
Bryant 52
St Francis-PA 58 FINAL
Robert Morris 73
Long Island 71 FINAL
Sacred Heart 78
Sam Houston St 52 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 60
Kent State 59 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 66
ULM 61 FINAL
Appalachian St 80
Boston U 62 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Nicholls 73 FINAL
McNeese State 68
Akron 80 FINAL
Buffalo 87
Ball State 50 FINAL
Western Mich 51
MD-Eastern Shore 68 FINAL
Delaware State 61
Northern Ill 52 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 60
Bowling Green 47 FINAL
Ohio U 67
Central Michigan 53 FINAL
Toledo 62
Coppin State 55 FINAL
Morgan State 73
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC Central 33
Central Conn St 77 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 56
Memphis 24 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 87
Georgia Tech 67 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
East Carolina 69 FINAL
Temple 79
Fairfield 72 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Niagara 53 FINAL
Iona 81
Marist 65 FINAL
Rider 56
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Purdue 56
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
USC Upstate 60
East Tenn St 42 FINAL
(18) Chattanooga 64
Furman 70 FINAL
Wofford 53
Longwood 58 FINAL
Charleston Southern 51
UNC-Asheville 87 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 53
Winthrop 60 FINAL
Presbyterian 53
Western Ill 75 FINAL
South Dakota 78
Detroit 78 FINAL
Valparaiso 57
Cleveland State 69 FINAL
Milwaukee 76
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 88
Lafayette 41 FINAL
Army 57
Arkansas State 74 FINAL
Texas State 83
IUPUI 53 FINAL
South Dakota St 82
Tennessee St 70 FINAL
Belmont 53
Eastern Illinois 55 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Jacksonville St 83 FINAL
Morehead St 78
Kansas State 47 FINAL
TCU 67
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
SMU 46
SE Louisiana 57 FINAL
Central Arkansas 73
Denver 40 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 53
Tulane 52 FINAL
Tulsa 54
IUPU-Ft Wayne 56 FINAL
Oral Roberts 84
Air Force 50 FINAL
Utah State 84
San Diego State 58 FINAL
Boise State 62
Fresno State 60 FINAL
New Mexico 63
Florida A&M 42 FINAL
NC A&T 78
Gonzaga 73 FINAL
BYU 66
South Florida 99 FINAL
UCF 71
UCLA 61 FINAL
Washington 74
(3) Baylor 71 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Tenn Tech 84 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 71
UMKC 42 FINAL
Grand Canyon 56
Seattle 61 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 73
Texas Southern 64 FINAL
Alabama State 52
Santa Clara 71 FINAL
St Marys-CA 74
UNLV 68 FINAL
Wyoming 99
Savannah State 55 FINAL
SC State 52
Alcorn State 3:00 PM
Southern U
Miss Valley St 54 FINAL
Jackson State 58
Bucknell 55 FINAL
American Univ 65
Radford 63 FINAL
High Point 83
Eastern Washington 59 FINAL
Montana 69
Idaho 62 FINAL
Montana State 71
Weber State 56 FINAL
Idaho State 63
Green Bay 73 FINAL
Youngstown St 27
Oakland 54 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 64
Austin Peay 72 FINAL
SE Missouri St 67
Wagner 65 FINAL
Mount St Marys 68
Portland 65 2nd Half 0:50
San Diego 71
Nevada 61 2nd Half 4:42
San Jose St 70
Stephen F Austin 69 FINAL
Houston Baptist 57
Incarnate Word 64 FINAL
Lamar 81
Abilene Christian 48 2nd Half 2:02
New Orleans 69
Pepperdine 55 2nd Half 1:28
Loyola Marymount 71
San Francisco 91 FINAL
Pacific 79
Prairie View 70 2nd Half 3:11
Alabama A&M 63
Hampton 103 2nd Half 3:40
Howard 48
Chicago State 53 FINAL
Utah Valley U 68
Cal Poly 68 2nd Half 1:44
Cal-Irvine 77
UC Santa Barbara 55 2nd Half 0:07
UC Davis 49
Marshall 65 2nd Half 3:00
Florida Atlantic 77
Portland State 77 FINAL
Sacramento St 123
Western Ky 37 2nd Half
FIU 18
UAB 29 1st Half 10:00
Middle Tennessee 15
Georgia Southern 16 1st Half 1:24
Louisiana 24
Grambling 28 2nd Half
Ark-Pine Bluff 30
Ark-Little Rock 29 2nd Half
TX-Arlington 21
Cornell 19 2nd Half
Dartmouth 28
Columbia 45 2nd Half
Harvard 43
Brown 30 2nd Half
(14) Princeton 35
USC 29 1st Half 3:46
Washington St 28
(24) California 5:00 PM
(7) Oregon State
Yale 6:00 PM
Penn
Murray State 6:00 PM
UT Martin
Loyola-Maryland 6:00 PM
Navy
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
(21) Fla Gulf Coast
Long Beach St 6:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Rice 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Colgate 6:30 PM
Lehigh
CS-Northridge 7:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Kansas 7:00 PM
Oklahoma
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Northern Colorado 9:00 PM
Northern Ariz
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close