Orvis has instituted a new endorsed program of hunting guides that specialize in the true wild bird experience. This day and age, true wild birds are not easy to find. Access to land that has wild birds can be difficult and for that reason the hunting lodge is now the preeminent form of guided upland hunting. But there are those out there who still want to walk farther and hunt harder for the opportunity to shoot birds that have never seen a pen.
Todd Agnew and his wife Christina operate out of the Midwest and depending on where they feel they can find the best hunting, that is where they take their clients. It could be Kansas or it could be South Dakota, it just depends on where they feel they can offer the best hunting.
“We only hunt wild birds in places where we know there are birds, but it is a bit more challenging as it should be, said Agnew. “This is not a typical lodge experience, but more of an old style hunting experience. We take care of all the arrangements, but depending on where we are hunting that can vary from a hunting lodge to a mobile home. We make sure the hunters are well-fed, sleep well, and are warm and dry, but for us it is about finding the best wild bird hunting.”
Todd and his wife Christina handle the entire operation themselves. Often they make arrangements with lodges to house and feed the clients, but when it come to the hunting, they are headed away from the row crops and the group hunts.
“The experience we are selling is ourselves, our dogs, and the wild birds. The shooting can be more challenging, the terrain can be a bit more challenging, but if a hunter is looking for an aesthetic experience, sunrises, sunsets, working dogs, and wild birds, we offer just that.”
Unquestionably there is a limited pool of hunters who are looking for this, but the type of hunters who are looking for this are looking for more than just shooting. They are looking for a hunting experience the way it was originally intended. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with a lodge experience, it’s just different and Todd and Christina specialize in finding the land, finding the birds, and offering this to those who desire it.
“We work only flushing dogs, springers and English cockers, and we do find birds. We had a recent hunt where over three days and four hunters we had 160 shots.”
From a volume standpoint that may seem small compared to what can be had at a lodge, but the difference is in the experience. I’ve done both and I’ve enjoyed both. I’ve hunted at lodges and had more shooting than I had a right to, and I’ve hunted sharptails in Montana and shot far less, but every flush and shot was memorable. There’s no right or wrong to it, it’s simply a matter of expectation and desire.
If hunting a bit longer and harder for the chance to shoot a bird bred on survival and instinct is what you desire, then Todd and Christina Agnew have an experience you might want to try.