What to Expect on an Upland Bird Preserve Hunt
Top Flight, headquartered in Columbus, Texas, offers upland bird shooting in a classic prairie and savannah setting at Spread Oaks Ranch. Top Flight runs upland hunts from about the end of September until the end of March, their schedule dictated by weather and their bird inventory.
To help in your planning, it typically takes an hour of prep and transportation time before each hunt. Figure on four to five hours for eight hunters to cycle through a hunt with a little over 100 birds. If you choose just to employ a single guide, your party of eight will hunt in two groups of up to four. If it’s a morning hunt, we usually break for lunch between shooting parties.
The upland decisions you need to consider and communicate are: 1) the number of upland guides you need for the hunt, and 2) the number of birds you want to shoot.
Number of Guides: Top Flight hunts groups of three to four hunters at a time. For larger groups, they can run a concurrent hunt with two guides at a time, or back-to-back hunts with only one guide. Guides bring all the birds, as well as flushing and pointing dogs.
Volume of Birds: The upland bird choices are pheasant, chukar, and/or quail. We have arranged hunts for as few as 50 upland birds to as many as 200. Our repeat guests tell us they favor pheasant and chukar over quail. Traditionally Top Flight puts out only a portion of the total bird count (usually about half) at one time so they can rest dogs periodically.
Costs: Top Flight’s charges $1,000 per guide for a four-hour morning or afternoon upland hunt at the ranch. If it’s a midday hunt the cost is $1,200 because they have eliminated their availability for two hunts that day. Their fee schedule for game birds is $17 per pheasant, $12 per chukar, and $8 per quail. Spread Oaks Ranch provides your transportation, ammunition, cleaned birds iced and in coolers for an additional 15% charge that we add to the Top Flight invoice, and a 15% gratuity is added for the Top Flight guide or guides.
Guns and Ammo. We provide over-and-under 12-gauge shotguns for those who do not want to transport their own, as well as 12-gauge and 20-gauge 2 ¾-inch shells. If you are using another gauge, or prefer other shot types (i.e., bismuth, tungsten, etc.) you will need to bring your own ammunition. We also provide water, shooting vests, orange caps, hearing protection, sunscreen, and bug spray.
After the Hunt: We can pick the breasts of chukar but pheasants we have to skin them. We do not pick whole birds.
WHAT TO EXPECT