Orvis Adventures offers a carefully curated network of worldwide outdoor destinations, high-quality outfitters, guides, lodges, schools, and local travel specialists with an emphasis on fly fishing and wingshooting.
Rex Kelley is a fourth generation Nebraskan who is indigenous to his beloved Sandhills Region of the state. He began his pursuit of the greater prairie chicken at the ripe old age of eleven. The year he turned thirteen, he embarked upon his guiding career by guiding friends, relatives, friends-of-friends…etc. However, he rapidly gained enough knowledge about these icons of wildness that he was soon able to consistently show grouse to his clients, no matter the time of year or current weather conditions. During his forty-plus years as a guide, Rex has enjoyed the pleasures and privileges of guiding guests from Canada, Hong Kong, Italy, and forty-eight states of our own great country. The guest register at the lodge includes the names of company executives, NFL team owners and outdoor celebrities such as: Dez Young (Hunting With Hank TV Show); Ben O. Williams (Pointing Dog Journal); Jerry Parkerson (Quail Unlimited); Larry Mueller (Outdoor Life); Bruce Scott and Marty Fischer (The Shotgun Journal TV Show);and Clair Kofoed (Shooting Sportsman).
Rex is one of the few and perhaps the only guide to focus his full attention on the prairie chicken rather than using this magnificent bird as an alternative to other hunting pursuits. Prairie chickens are the epitome of North American game birds, demanding and challenging for anyone who hunts them whether novice or veteran. Each and every bird harvested is truly an 'American Trophy'.
We expect the 2012 grouse season will open September 1st and run through January 31st, 2013. Pointing dogs furnish the most thrilling bird work during the first five weeks of the season. Conversely, if the sportsman or sportswoman is hunting with a trophy-class mount in mind, then we recommend the last sixty days of the season. Throughout the season, most of the prairie birds are harvested in daylight’s middle hours. Therefore, there is no good reason to get started at daybreak. Rex and Deb encourage their guests to relax, eat a fine breakfast and generally make this an outing to remember.
We divide the hunting year into three segments because as the season progresses the hunting picture changes quite a lot. We describe the segments with the following
Early season—is usually the first five weeks after the opening. This segment is the optimum time for pursuing both prairie chicken and sharp-tailed grouse behind hard charging but deliberate pointing dogs. Additionally, our hunters often encounter flights of common snipe (excellent test of the gunner’s shooting skills) as well as mourning dove in abundance.
Mid season—typically starts around October 20th and runs through November 1st. During this segment, we encounter both grouse species transitioning from their fall habitat to their normal wintering grounds. Our pointing dogs may or may not be used during this segment.
Late season—starts around the first of November and lasts through the end of the season in late January. Successful hunting in this period is a tactical affair and is recommended for the gunner who is seriously looking for a bird to mount as a trophy. This segment is the most challenging hunt of the entire season and the person who collects his trophy can truly know that it was earned under difficult hunting conditions and he/she will have a fine story to share with fireside friends in the future.
Experience has taught us that we seem to attract sportsmen who genuinely appreciate nature in its purest form and who highly respect the game birds that they pursue. Successfully taking a fine prairie chicken specimen late in the season from the Sandhills of Nebraska could very well be the ultimate upland hunting experience on the planet today.