The Pheasant Capital of the World

– Dallis Joiner –

Last October, I accepted my offer to work for High Adventure Company. I was so excited to start my new job in January, once I officially separated from the military. John texted me that very same day and asked, “Hey bud, what are you doing next week?” I thought to myself, “Umm, working?” Instead, I responded with, “What do you need me to do?” The conversation eventually led to a short notice invitation to one of the most prestigious hunting operations in the continental United States: The Signature Lodge by Cheyenne Ridge Outfitters.

After a long travel day, our van pulled onto the property, and I was amazed by my surrounding’s natural beauty. The 40,000 square foot lodge was certainly impressive, but the views of the Missouri River were the highlight. After a quick tour of the property, I entered the lodge and was greeted by Mr. Finley, Sean Finley’s father, who asked me, “Dallis, can I get you something to drink?” I asked for bourbon and was told, “Well, we have 168 different kinds of bourbon and whiskey. Do you have a preference?” I couldn’t help but laugh. This was going to be quite the experience.

After a few drinks, it was time for Sean Finley’s “culinary experience”. We started with fresh seafood, followed that up with incredible grilled quail over a bed of crawfish etouffee and a side of homemade cornbread, plus a dessert that had me asking for seconds and thirds… I was in heaven. Afterwards, we spent the night drinking and sharing hunting stories around the outdoor firepit and South Dakota’s only ice bar in anticipation of what was to come in the morning.

As the sun rose over the lodge and Missouri River, I exited my private room to a lodge buzzing with excited guests and attentive staff. After I devoured my breakfast burrito, made in front of me with 11 different types of meat, I was ready to shoot some birds! As we walked through the lodge, we entered the locker room, complete with granite gun lockers, and were met by our guides. “Who’s ready for a fun day?! One of them exclaimed. We responded with a unanimous “we are!”.

We broke into our groups, loaded onto our buses with Beretta shotguns in hand, and were off! Upon reaching the areas we were going to hunt; the dogs were ecstatic and barking from their kennels knowing what was to come over the next few hours. After a safety briefing, we lined up and marched through rows of corns and milo, anticipating a beautiful ringneck pheasant emerging into the sky. “Rooster!!!” the guides would yell, followed by a barrage of shots as the pheasants dropped back to the earth to be met by a delighted Labrador Retriever, eager to take the bird to the guides. Now, I knew why people flocked from all over the world to South Dakota for this hunting experience.

As my trip came to an end, I reflected on the memories made, the gorgeous birds we had harvested, and the experiences that Sean Finley and High Adventure Company had expertly crafted. We were able to shoot more than 100 birds over the course of three hunts and I had gained 12 pounds, due to Sean’s incredible culinary experience. I had the time of my life and can’t wait for my next visit to The Signature Lodge!

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