For nearly three-quarters of a century, the Nelson family has farmed and ranched the countryside of north central South Dakota, near Gettysburg, South Dakota. In 1992, the Nelsons began hosting pheasant hunters, as they pioneered habitat management to enhance bird populations. Today Paul Nelson Farm is known worldwide for its extraordinary wingshooting hunts. Located in the heart of pheasant country, the 12,000-acre farm is sustainably managed to harvest both crops...and birds. Guests can choose between accommodations in the Main Lodge, the Buffalo Suites, or the resplendent King Lodge. With unforgettable menus, unrivaled hunting, and an uncommon passion for genial hospitality, the Paul Nelson Farm experience is one like no other.
Our hunting season runs from September 1 through March 31.
Our three-day hunting packages include all meals and beverages. The farm has a world-class sporting clays range for your use anytime. All ammo (2¾ or 3" shells) is provided, along with complimentary use of our 12-gauge shotguns. Your hunt package includes 5 pheasants per day (15 total), with option to shoot extra birds for an additional charge. Our state-of-the-art processing facility provides bird cleaning and packing services. Expert guide services and savvy bird dogs help ensure you’ll limit out. Your own hunting dogs are also welcome here, and will have their own cozy kennel accommodations.
At about two thousand feet above sea level, this is upland game country at its best. The countryside is gentle, rolling prairie, with fields and sky as far as the eye can see. Sometimes called prairie pothole country, the abundant wetlands and grasslands provide prime nesting habitat and brood-rearing support for pheasants, waterfowl, and other wildlife. You’ll walk across our cornfields, native grass rangeland, and millet/forage sorghum strips to flush out birds.
South Dakota has four very distinct weather seasons. Prepare for your trip here with frequent checks of the weather forecast (which is why it's front and center on our web site). While Fall surely showcases South Dakota at its climatic best, temps can still easily dip below freezing on some mornings, while ranging into much warmer conditions by afternoon. By late fall/early winter, we frequently have snow on the ground and single-digit temperatures. This is semi-arid country, with annual precipitation averaging around 19 inches. During summer, expect 15-16 hours of daylight, but by winter those hours are reduced to only about 9-10 daylight hours. Now you know why South Dakota has been pegged as the land of infinite variety!
A staff member will pick you and your group up from the airport in Gettysburg or Pierre. Within an hour, you’re at the farm. By 5:30, you’re checked in and enjoying a remarkable array of hors d’oeuvres. 7:30 is your first signature supper, and the realization has sunk in: you’re just hours away from that first hunt.
A new day is underway, though getting up at the crack-of-dawn is certainly not needed. Coffee and hot breakfast enhance your anticipation. At 10:00, buses are loaded (at PNF you hunt only with your own group of family and friends) and in minutes you are off in the field. For the next 3 hours, you’re taking crack shots as you flush out pheasants with your guide and dogs. By 1:00, it’s back to the lodge for lunch and some well-earned rest time. From 2:15 until 5:15, you’re back to hunting. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks begin nightly at 5:30, with dinner served at 7:30. You’re learning rapidly...that while hunting is what brought you here, the mouth-watering entrees and easy-going hospitality is what draws you back for more.
Days 3 & Day 4
You’ve settled into a relaxing rhythm by now. Breakfast. 10:00 a.m. hunt; 1:00 p.m. lunch; 2:15-5:15 afternoon hunt; 5:30 p.m. back to the lodge for drinks and dinner. By the afternoon of that final hunt, you can hardly believe your time at the farm is drawing to a close.
It’s time to pack your bags from a trip that has overwhelmingly exceeded your expectations. You talk with Paul and Erik about your next visit, which already seems too far away. And as you head away from this special place, you realize that the memories of that perfect shot and the cackling call of the rising rooster will be with you for a long, long time.
So much to do, so little time! Or just...unwind and reconnect with friends and family. Here’s a run-down of activities and special places across the farm. World-class sporting clays range; billiards; health center with steam and sauna; hot tub; walking/running trails; library; fly-fishing; relaxing in themed rooms including the African Room, Deadwood Saloon in King Lodge, and Poker & Cognac room in the Main Lodge; Joe Foss Conference Room; Theatre Room; table shuffleboard; and, state-of-the-art workout room. A few other touches include over a dozen large-screen HD TVs and a piano and a guitar for our musically inclined guests.
Take your pick among three styles of legendary lodging accommodations at the farm, according to the needs of your group. But whether you stay in the Main Lodge, the Buffalo Suites, or the King Lodge, you’ll be immersed in plush comfort that combines rustic elegance with upscale, upland hominess. Between the three venues, there are a total of 36 single rooms; all showcased with stunning furniture and décor choices. Across the farm, there are stunning prairie vistas right outside the doors, as well. A twilight walk or balcony stroll reveals a stunning show of celestial awe from the Dakota sky.
The 13 rooms and central common areas in the Main Lodge are rich in easy living and down-home decadence. Our 8 Buffalo Suites come with king-sized beds and furnishings that reflect our unique Dakota heritage. The majestic King Lodge has 15 rooms, including the new Presidential Suite. This exclusive retreat space provides a special ambiance for families or business groups looking to enhance camaraderie.
The dining at Paul Nelson Farm is country cuisine at its mouth-watering best. Every meal is five-star, with entrée choices that make even our most ardent hunters dream about that next dinner while out in the field. The food, always fresh, always homemade, is served buffet style in the main lodge dining room. Special dietary needs can be accommodated, just let us know. Choose from among our own table wines or bring your own vintage. We know you come for the hunt—but we take great pride in setting a fine table, with the genial atmosphere that comes from the sporting life and fine food afterwards.
The corner piece species of the Paul Nelson hunting experience are pheasants. Our bird populations continue to thrive and amaze those who’ve never seen the benchmark best of upland game country. But other hunting opportunities are also abundant, including our chukar and Hun populations, adding even greater sporting potential to our wingshooting-rich countryside.
Traveling by air, your firearm is required to be packed in a hardside locking gun case (we do have excellent loaner guns available, however). Know that South Dakota weather can change rapidly. So prepare for wet mornings and variable weather conditions with pants, coats, socks, and jackets that shed water. Layers are essential to hunting comfort, with our wide range of temperatures and wind speeds. Keep your feet and hands happy with broken-in footwear and the right glove weight. Naturally, safety is essential so protective eye wear is required, along with blaze orange clothing. Our Pro Shop carries some of these items and we have blaze caps and vests for guests, too. Pack casual clothing for your post-hunt attire. Bring a bathing suit for the spa but use our terry robe for afterwards. The rest of your packing should include those everyday essentials like phone, chargers, and other necessities that will enhance your stay at the farm.
Q. Can I bring my wife?
A. You will find…that she will love it here. With our plush bedding, king-size beds, and private baths that border on luxurious, couples feel very comfortable here. Most truly enjoy seeing the hunt that they’ve heard so much about, through the years. Cameras are a must-have, for capturing landscape shots or the extraordinary dog work. And frankly, what woman doesn’t like being served a wonderful meal that requires no cooking or cleaning on her end. Still not convinced yet? For those that don’t hunt, there’s hot tub time, great workout facilities and walking trails, bridge-playing opportunities, or just time well spent reading a book or watching a movie in the Theatre Room. We are actually welcoming more women here every year, with a growing number also taking shooting lessons and joining in the hunt.
Q. Can I bring my grandchild?
A. Absolutely! But he or she must be 12 to get a South Dakota license, and possess proof of having taken a hunter safety course. Grandpas, especially, have found there is no greater joy than sharing the sporting life tradition with grandsons AND granddaughters!
Q. How can you have a 97% repeat customer rate?
A. This is not just some phrase we pulled out of the air, but a genuine statistic. We have heard Paul Nelson Farm described as “magical” and have truly tried to create an amazing place for your family, friends, and business colleagues. Consistency might be our secret. Knowing that you have given us 4 days of your very busy life, we want everything—from your room, to the meals, to the hunt, to your packaged frozen birds—to be perfect. Our staff is also simply the best there is in the business, and shares our passion for putting that magic…in your stay.
Q. Will my business clients like coming here, even if they don’t hunt?
A. We have found that, hands down, businesses love us. We take the stress out of entertaining your customers. If they aren’t hunters, our shooting instructors are the best there are. They can get anyone comfortable with a firearm and eventually confident enough to join the group in the field for the hunt. It’s an amazing transition. Companies use us to entertain customers, as a retreat and team-building atmosphere for their own executives, and as an incentive for sales personnel to reach a certain goal. We truly help businesses…do business.