Bird hunting preserves have become increasingly common in today’s modern world. Much of the natural habitat that provided shelter for upland bird populations has been taken over by farming or for urban expansion, causing drastic decreases in wild bird populations across the country. Many hunters are now faced with a decision; either give up bird hunting or hunt on a preserve. And while many hunters focus only on the negative aspects of preserve hunting, the truth is that many preserves offer action that’s very close to chasing wild birds.
Commercial hunting preserves are licensed by the individual state in which they operate, and generally offer very lengthy seasons and liberal bag limits. These extended seasons allow hunters a great opportunity to get in the field both before as well as after traditional seasons have ended. So while many hunters are sitting at home on a cold February morning, thinking about next year, there are plenty of sportsman enjoying a day in the field with their dog, friends, and family.
Some preserves, such as Coon Creek Hunt Club in Garden Prairie, IL strive to provide hunting experiences that are as close to the real thing as possible. By providing excellent habitat, practicing “wild” releases, and tailoring the hunt to each person’s individual skill set and desired hunting condition, Coon Creek Hunt Club is able to make each experience as enjoyable as possible.
While the focus of most preserves still remains on the hunt itself, many clubs offer additional ammenities such as a furnished clubhouse, pro shop, sporting clays, ground outings, and much more. These extra opportunities provide hunters the ability to spend an even greater amount of time in the field each fall, and offer a unique and entertaining way to introduce both children and non-hunters to the excitement of shooting and bird hunting.
Todd Graf, owner of Coon Creek Hunt Club, says that the key to an enjoyable experience is not just the hunt itself, but rather the details surrounding the entire day. “When a members comes to Coon Creek Hunt Club, we try to make sure that they are taken care of the way they want from start to finish. This means that if an experienced hunter on a tight schedule wants to hunt fast and hard and leave in time to make it to dinner with his wife, we can accomdate him. And if someone is brining a youngster our and wants to shoot some sporting clays before their hunt, and have a field that’s easy to walk and easy to find birds, we can help them as well.”
So while many hunters still look down upon hunting preserves, there is no doubting they are gaining in popularity and here to stay. With the decline in the number of hunters and hunting opportunities across the country, preserves are an excellent way to ensure hunting opportunities will be here for people to enjoy for many years to come.