With exclusive hunting access to the entire ranch, there's no need to compete with other hunting parties or rise in the middle of the night to find a hunting spot - and no "skybusting" or crowding. Hunt when and where you want and how you want without worrying about someone getting your favorite spot -- you'll have the whole place to yourself. PSR hunters generally hunt waterfowl and cranes in the morning, ducks in the evening, and upland birds in the afternoon. Morning waterfowl hunts are most productive.
With over 500 acres of native prairie, 20+ lakes and sloughs and a mix of hay and wildlife food plots, the 870 acres of the ranch provide ideal nesting, migration and wintering habitat for both migratory and resident gamebirds. In all, 18 species of ducks (mallard, pintail, wood-duck, gadwall, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, cinnamon teal, wigeon, shoveler, lesser scaup, greater scaup, ringneck, redhead, canvasback, ruddy, bufflehead, scoter and goldeneye) have been documented on the ranch along with tundra swans, greater and lesser Canada geese, snow and whitefront geese, and dozens of other shorebirds and upland birds.
Most hunting is done in rubber knee or hip boots. Both waterfowl and upland bird hunting is available within a few minutes walking or driving distance from the bunkhouses. We recommend guests bring 4-wheel drive vehicles or ATVs to maximize hunting opportunities. Guests also have access to thousands of acres of public hunting land nearby. We DO NOT provide dogs, guiding or scouting service, however all guests are given maps and an orientation to the ranch property upon arrival.
"We have been coming to Prairie Smoke Ranch for 9 years. It has become a family tradition. It is a great place to relax and spend time with our family and hunting buddies alike. The cabins provide everything you need to have a great meal after hunting and some libations before retiring for the evening. You have the entire ranch to yourself, so picking your spot is easy and safe. From cabin door to your hide is only minutes each morning. Over the years we have taken mallards, gadwalls, widgeon, pintails, shovelers (oops), blue/green wing teal, canvasbacks, scaup, ringnecks, redheads, canada geese and cacklers. If you are looking for a great place to spend some time afield in a safe and comfortable location, Prairie Smoke Ranch will not disappoint." M. M. -- Minnesota
Three lessons for new North Dakota hunters (avoid some frustration with these tips learned over the years)
1) Have you seen those photos and videos of guys piling up North Dakota greenhead mallards on the prairie? They are almost always field hunting. Field hunting can be very productive but it requires hunters to scout each evening to find the fields the birds are using (usually harvested grain fields), obtain permission if necessary, then transport trailers, decoys and layout blinds out and set up before dawn the following morning. Spinning wing decoys are commonly used. At times these fields may be 10 or 20 miles away from your location. Geese and crane field hunters often use the same approach -- scouting, load up decoys and blinds, then set-up in pre-dawn.
When field hunting works it works very well and limits are not uncommon. When it doesn't work...well, it's a lot of work. Typically the birds will only use these fields for a day or two before moving on to a different field, which is why the evening scouting is so important. It is not unusual to find other parties trying to hunt the same fields, which can lead to some unfortunate pre-dawn conflict. Field hunters harvest primarily mallards, pintails and geese.
We've taken a different approach; we manage our ranch property for hunting over water with a goal of harvesting a wider variety of waterfowl. And you will never find another group of hunters has "beaten you" to your spot. Hunters at Prairie Smoke Ranch have harvested every species of waterfowl which use the Central Flyway (18 species and counting). If your goal is primarily mallards and geese, be prepared to field hunt off the property.
2) We have thousands of potholes around us -- so it takes a weather event (wind/snow) to move the birds around. Warm weather and bluebird skies means the birds sit tight -- they won't come to you so you have to go to them. We always have ducks in our area, but many times they will find a pothole off the beaten path...and just stay there unless disturbed. Subtle differences in water depth (and concentrations of freshwater shrimp) often dictate which sloughs birds will use and which they will avoid. Be ready to be mobile. Water conditions will change from year to year.
3) Waterfowl hunting is hard work! We've found the better shape you and your dog are in, the more successful your hunt will be. North Dakota is big, wide-open country -- and it's usually cold and windy to boot. All our birds are wild and prairie-tough -- so you will earn the birds you harvest.
Some other tips: Boats -- are generally not needed unless hunting big spreads on big water; Decoys -- just a few regular decoys and a spinning wing decoy will often be all you need over water; Upland Hunting -- we can't recommend upland bird hunting without a dog or two -- just too much country and cover; Public Land -- we have thousands of seldom-hunted acres of public land and PLOTS around us -- a little walking can get you onto a lot of birds.