Bill Urseth peered at the blackened remains of his Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club clubhouse and restaurant, a crumbling hole in the ground littered with charred debris.
“There’s nothing left,” he said.
The rustic amber log building with stone fireplaces, brimming with elk, deer and other wildlife mounts and antler chandeliers, is only a memory now after a New Year’s Eve fire destroyed the club’s headquarters.
“We’re going to rebuild,” said Urseth, 64, of Prior Lake, co-owner of the business — a well-known Minnesota destination for shooters, hunters, dog trainers and horse aficionados. Besides five sporting-clay target-shooting courses, the club in rural Prior Lake offers hunting for pheasants, waterfowl, turkey and other game birds, and also has rifle and pistol shooting ranges.
“We shoot about 40,000 pheasants a year,” Urseth said.
The club also has horse boarding, training and riding lessons and hunting-dog breeding, training and a kennel.
About 1,000 members belong to the club, but it also drew the public to the restaurant — Triggers Saloon and Super Club — for a meal, wedding or conservation fundraisers. Youth hunts on the club’s 600 wooded acres and firearms safety training classes also are routinely held. The sporting-clay courses also are open to the public.
The clubhouse-restaurant was the focal point and gathering place.
“A lot of memories were in that building, but the good news is no one was hurt,” said co-owner Randy Travalia, 61, of Minnetonka. “The heart and soul of the business remains the outdoors — the sporting clay range and hunting fields are unaffected.”
Officials haven’t determined the cause of the fire, which was reported around 6:20 a.m. Tuesday. The 8,500-square-foot two-story building had a sprinkler system, but fire was raging when firefighters arrived. The loss is estimated at $2 million to $3 million. About 30 restaurant employees are out of work until a new one is built, Urseth said.
“We hope to have the new clubhouse up and operating by June 1,” Urseth said.
It will include a banquet facility, restaurant and bar as well as a check-in area for hunters and shooters.
“It’s tragic, but also very exciting,” he said.
He and Travalia said they gave no thought to shuttering the business and selling the valuable rolling, wooded acreage.
“It’s something we love doing,” Urseth said.
The club temporarily will operate out of a nearby smaller lodge not affected by the fire.
“We’re not going to miss a beat,” Urseth said. More than 150 shooters were expected Saturday and Sunday at the Minnesota State Pheasant Championship event.
Elk, deer and more