Well after giving a well known operation plenty of opportunity to make things right, I am left with no other choice than to leave a negative review of a very poor business. Its a a shame bc this place has been talked up to the moon.
I can honestly say I have never been more disappointed on a hunting trip. I saved up my money and tried to do it right for my old man since this was his first duck hunt. What a waste.
here is a summary of what happened...
Arrived Wednesday night at the lodge in Missouri, and was told that the next day was going to be incredible! We would be hunting about an hour from the lodge in a dry corn field. This raised my eyebrows a bit since I wasn't expecting an hour drive to hunt, but no big deal. It is going to be EPIC the guides told us!
Day 1 hunt
Wake up around 7 have a light breakfast, coffee, talk with a few of the staff, kill time as the birds aren't flying real early we are told. We grab our lunches for the field which consist of a dry turkey sandwich, bag of lays, and bite size candy. Then head out around 11am to our corn field an hour away. We follow the guide in our truck and drive out to our hunting spot. The decoys and blinds were setup already and we proceed to get comfy. Well try and get comfy...after two hours of nothing flying we are getting a bit uncomfortable. The guides insist the birds should fly pretty soon. Four hours go by before we fire a shot. We work a single drake mallard and kill it. We see some flights of birds 30 minutes before dark but nothing works our field. Other groups experience a similar fate. You could cut the tension at dinner with a knife. People weren't happy. No group killed more than 4 ducks. Only two guides stop in to have a beer and reassure us tomorrow will be better. The head guide passes through on his way home, but doesn't spend anytime with guests.
We make the hour drive to hunt the Missouri River. A sandbar cuts out a ways into the main river channel. We will setup off this sandbar and sit on the ground halfway up on the bank shooting birds as they light into the decoys below. The river is moving quickly with large chunks of ice, so the dog must make quick work of picking up birds. We help the guides with breaking ice and putting out decoys as shooting light has come and gone. It's 33 degrees and cloudy. One group of birds works our spread early, but won't commit. Then the rain starts and continues throughout the day. This day our guides have a good personality and helps pass the time a bit. We aren't leaving until we kill birds. The river bank is getting increasingly uncomfortable though as we are just sitting on the ground and it's becoming very slick and muddy. The bank is very very steep so you can't really walk around to stretch. No lunch for us today. We grind it out and kill 1 teal and 2 mallards. Dark is quickly approaching and we head to the house. Or try to anyway...On the way out our truck almost slides off a levee and we have to push the truck a good ways in the mud before we decide to leave it for the night and pile in the guides truck for the hour ride home with 6 of us in the truck. Dinner is pasta and plain marinara sauce with salad. I woof it down since we don't roll in till almost 8pm. Have a few beers and go to bed. Before bed I ask one of the house staff if I can put my soaking wet clothes in the dryer. She snarls at me and says "I guess, as long as they aren't muddy". What a nice way to end a long miserable day.
Hunt a flooded corn field with an ice eater running. The guide on this day helps pull everyone's bags to the back of his tailgate. Then walks off and leaves us in the dark while we get our gear situated. We don't really know where we are walking in the dark, but we try and take after the guides headlight that flickers in the distance. It's a pretty easy walk to the blind though, so I can manage to figure it out. Things get a little nerve racking though, as we fall through some ice on the way to the blind. Luckily it's only a two foot drop into the water so we stay dry, and dad makes it ok. Would have been nice though for a guide to give my 60 year old dad a heads up. We get to the blind and the guide proceeds to shut his lid and text on his phone 90% of the time. We have one group of birds fly over. I give them a quick three note greeting and they continue on their way. These are the only birds seen until 10am when we call it. We don't fire a shot all morning. Head back to the lodge and pack up to go home at 11am. Most other groups have already headed out since they weren't seeing birds either. I ask if the head guide will be coming by to get the rest of our trips payment. The girl making sandwiches informs me that he isn't around, just to leave the check with her. Hmmm, seems to be pretty typical. He was around the lodge for all of 5 minutes the entire trip.
I called the head guide the morning we returned home, in order to give him a fair chance of making things right. I explained that the trip we looked forward to was a bust and fell short of what was promised. I explained you can't control the birds, but you can control a variety of other factors. He said he was sorry, the birds were just not cooperating, and that was about it. $1,950 per person for 5 birds out of 4 guys.
Overall, I give the place a C-
Ignore the shitty hunting and it still left a lot to be desired.
The food was average at best. We didn't even get a lunch on the second day, and the portions weren't much. The website claims to have meals catered by an award winning restaurant. They were not.
The lodge is decent, but not what I was expecting. 1tv downstairs, a card table, and a bar. You can't shoot trap or anything bc the refuge and some blinds are just behind the house.
We had to drive ourselves to our hunting locations. The truck fiasco was a mess and budget charged a $200 cleaning fee bc it was covered in mud.
The rooms are very plain. Basically two mattresses and a clothes rod. And our stuff was thrown on the floor the last day so the maid could make the beds before we checked out.
The staff was mostly pretty friendly. Our guide the second day was a super nice guy and did go back the last morning to take care of getting our truck out. But the head guy, never really came around . Sure as shit didn't apoligize for a bad hunt, nor try and meet us the last day to make sure everything was ok before we wrote him another check. My guess is he was busy updating his Facebook page with pictures of ducks he takes at completely different times than when he actually posts them. A little deceiving to be posting pictures of thousands of ducks, when you don't have a single one flying around your farm.
Sorry for the long read. I wanted to give a heads up to those considering "the trip of a lifetime." They apparently do hold a lot of birds at certain times. But they also have times where the hunt isn't worth a crap and they won't readily admit it. Their marketing would have you think they run ice eaters and have birds by the millions when it gets really cold. Not exactly true...far from it actually. For the money they charge it was a huge huge letdown.
We have been in talks with the head guide after I initially posted a negative review on another website back in December. He told us we aren't welcome back and he was sending us a full refund since we were so disappointed and telling people about it online. However he didn't keep his word, and continues to come up with a number of excuses as to why he isn't sending us our money back. So after many emails trying our best to settle the situation, we are left with no other option than to share a negative review.