As well as around 1.5 million acres of public hunting acres, Kansas is home to some of the America’s most successful outfitters. Here’s a look at what we call our Diamond Dozen. They’re 12 of the best for everything from tiny teal to huge-antlered whitetail bucks.
Gene Pearcy’s outfitting business has been putting guests of great whitetails for 25 years. His archery hunts during the November rut are especially productive and popular. Rifle and muzzleloader hunts are also available.
Pearcy gives “can’t pass that up” discounts for youth hunters and has high success rates on deer and spring turkey. Hunters stay at his comfortable lodge. Meals are extreme, in a good way.
Odds of drawing permits for his area are very high. The drawing is in April.
A remodeled old grade school serves as a fine new hunting lodge smack dab in the middle nearly 100,000 acres of public hunting land in central Kansas. Within an hour are such legendary spots as Cheyenne Bottoms, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and many tracts of Kansas famed Walk-In Hunting Areas. Pheasant and quail populations are usually good. Waterfowl hunting can be solid throughout the season.
Luke Laha, the lodge co-owner, also guides high success hunts on pheasants just a few miles away. Rates are affordable enough hunters can do one or two days guided, then strike out on their own.
The lodge is extra-comfortable, spacious, very dog friendly and open all year. Meals are home-cooked and great.
Every aspect of Hooray Ranch is in a class of its own. Clouds of ducks and geese come and go on hundreds of acres of wetlands managed just for them. Guides and dogs are honestly some of the best in the state. Throw in pheasants, wild turkeys and high-scoring whitetails and Hooray Ranch may be one of the most complete outfitting operations around.
And, oh, the accommodations! Seeing the opulent lodge is worth the trip. The meals are a step or twelve above what most hunters get on the road. The things they serve on plates could absolutely bring envy from a fine big city chef.
Migrating ducks and geese often cover thousands of miles to get to Kansas. Cole McKinney and rest of the staff at F5 Outfitters drive far more to locate fields and wetlands where hunting for those birds is best.
McKinney’s network of scouts, the key to his success, start in the warmth of September’s teal season and don’t stop until the last of the snow geese migrations in March. Based in south-central Kansas, most fields or wetlands are within an hour. Hunts take place at rivers, lakes and in rich grain fields. F5 has the gear to put out as spread of hundreds of decoys for white-fronted and snow geese. They also specialize in hunts for giant Canada geese that look as large as B52s as they l land in the decoys.
Quality pheasant hunts are also available.
For over 30 years, Jeff Rader and his crew have catered to blue collar sportsmen. Lodging isn’t fancy, but it’s warm, clean and safe. Guided hunts aren’t in highly manicured properties, and from new SUVs, but their hunts for pheasant, wild turkey and whitetails are successful and affordable compared to many.
The lodge is also used by scores of hunters hunting on their own in the area. A few minutes away is Glen Elder Reservoir, which some years has some of the best mallard shooting in Kansas. Rader Lodge is also within an easy drive of many state-owned areas and dozens of scattered Walk-In Hunting areas. Pheasant hunting is usually good in the area. Quail populations the last few seasons have been some of the highest in decades.
Pheasant hunting for wild birds on hundreds of acres managed for pheasants, and pheasant hunters. The Wyrick family nurse the lush grasslands and food plots to provide ideal nesting, feeding and hiding cover for the long-tailed birds. This area of central Kansas is known for some of the most consistent pheasant populations. All groups are guided by the same people who manage the habitat, on lands they’ve hunted most of their lives. Hunters can bring their own dogs. The Wyrick fleet of German shorthairs is impressive.
Never more than one group at a time is allowed in the rural lodge or on the hunting grounds. Both are rested between groups to not overhunt the area. A limited number of deer hunts are offered and some great whitetails have been taken. Quail, waterfowl and released pheasant hunts can also be arranged.
The term “world-class” is blatantly over-used in the hunting industry. But it’s not in the case of Flint Oak. For nearly 40 years this spread of over 5,000 acres has been rated as one of the top very, very few in the nation. Birding hunting is their big thing, with European-style shoots, duck hunts and field hunts for upland birds over super-stylish gundogs.
The bird hunts are on controlled shooting areas, so seasons and bag limits dwarf those of regular Kansas hunting lands. A select few wild turkey and trophy whitetail hunts are offered.
But hunting is only part of the draw. Flint Oak’s sporting clays course has hosted national-level competitions. The lodge is breathtaking, and the rooms as posh as you’d find in a five-star hotel in the big city. Meals are spectacular, and utilize meats like duck, pheasant, elk and buffalo.
Flint Oak is a private club when it comes to hunting, though non-members are allowed one good hunt to sample the wares. The lodge, restaurant, sports bar and target fields are open to all.
One of Kansas’ top “one stop” hunting destinations is within about an hour of the Kansas City. Ravenwood is known for excellent pheasant hunting on vast fields where the population are supplemented. Bobwhite quail and chukar are popular, too. Pheasants can be hunted with the hunter’s dogs, with a guide and an experienced Ravenwood bird dog or gunned European style as they fly fast and high overhead.
Hunts for wild turkey and trophy whitetail deer are offered on about 2,000 acres of rolling timbered habitat. Hunts for waterfowl and greater prairie chicken are sometimes accommodated in limited numbers.
Ravenwood also holds a true five-star sporting clays range and a wide variety of lodging options that range from a perfect private retreat for a parent and child to broader venues for family or business gatherings.
OK, so maybe these cabins aren’t exactly roughing it, but sometimes it’s ok to be comfortable on a hunting or fishing trip. Acorns Resort sits on the shore of Milford Reservoir, the largest lake in Kansas. Milford can offer good duck and goose hunting on public water, as can Tuttle Creek Reservoir, only a half-hour to the east.
For those who go through the proper, and easy, channels, 100,000-plus acre Fort Riley is minutes away and can offer great public hunting. As well as waterfowl, the area is known for huge whitetails and hard-gobbling wild turkeys. Some years quail hunting is pretty good, too. Milford can produce good fall and winter fishing for a fun “cast and blast” trip.
Cabins come with nice kitchens. There’s great bar and grill overlooking the lake for Happy Hour or evening meals.
You don’t have a continuing run of 17 years as a Cabela’s Outdoor Adventure Wingshooting Destination without being something special. So it is at Ringneck Ranch, in the stunning rolling Smoky Hills of north-central Kansas.
The Houghton family settled and have ranched in this same location since the days of the Cheyenne and buffalo. Commercial pheasant hunting has been a prime use of their lands the past 35 years. The operation is spread over 5,000 acres, much of which allows them to supplement the native population for expanded limits and seasons. Greater prairie chicken hunts can also be arranged.
The lodging is great and the meals even better and have accurately been described as “country gourmet.” The only thing better is the hospitality. Many clients have been coming for more than a decade. Most credit the “family feeling” as much as the great gunning and meals.
Imagine the prettiest places in the Ozark, and you have the 600 acres Bitter Creek Rose Lodge offers for deer and wild turkey hunting. There are huge rock outcroppings, gin-clear streams and stands of ancient oaks. The lodge sits on the banks of a stunning eight-acre lake that produces big bass and crappie much of the year.
Those who book the proper hunts can hunt the Bitter Creek Rose Lodge grounds. Any guest can make short drives to hunt public areas in southeast Kansas and areas in nearby Oklahoma. Kansas’ Elk City Reservoir, a few miles north of the lodge, is known for great late-season hunting for mallard ducks.
This place is far from “roughing it,” but for groups is a fraction of what nice hotels would be. No cell service, so your office can’t bother you. There is a landline and wifi so you can contact friends and brag about a huge buck or limit of ducks.
A lodge that has it all for hunters. There are maintained target ranges for archers and rifle hunters to check their sights, covered dog kennels with spacious runs and a great place to clean and store game. The main lodge is roomy, comfortable and comes with a full kitchen and spacious bedrooms. There’s a fire pit in back where up to eight guests can reminisce about one day while planning the next.
The facility is six miles east of Pratt. That’s a good location for easy access to good public areas for waterfowl, upland birds and deer. Guided hunts for wild quail and pheasants can be arranged.