Highland Hideaway: An Outstanding Bird-Hunter’s Destination
Anyone who considers an afternoon bird hunt or an extended stay at Highland Hideaway in Riverside, Iowa, should put aside their second thoughts and sign up for the excitement – if our experience is any guide, guests can expect fine wing-shooting behind seasoned bird dogs, challenging opportunities and warm hospitality in every aspect of their visit.
Our group of five hunters recently returned from a 3 ½ day hunt in mid-October, 2008, and the only downside was the prospect of departing. As enthusiastic bird hunters who have shared shot gunning experiences in our corner of Southeast Georgia and many fields abroad, we were excited when our partner, Steve Hartkemeyer of Jacksonville Beach, FL and a native of Cedar Rapids, made arrangements for our group of five to hunt pheasant and chukar near his hometown.
Ryan Giannini met us at the airport and led us to the property where Ron Rath welcomed us with the kind of hospitality that made us feel right at home. The spacious lodge can accommodate large groups and features all the amenities hunters appreciate, and Ron served up all the fine meals necessary to keep up our energy for challenging hunts, almost all rugged enough to test any hunter’s stamina. We teamed up with guide Wes Boothe, who brought his trio of Vizslas and added a German Shorthair to a lead us on our final day, and over the next four Iowa days we enjoyed some of the finest hunting we’ve had anywhere in the world.
Even though the preserve augments native pheasant populations on their extensive acreage, don’t make the mistake of believing the shots will be tame – these were challenging circumstances behind every opportunity, and more than a few birds proved too wily for our abilities. Wes’ dogs behaved like real ladies, locking on picture-perfect points while gracefully forgiving our frequent misses, and Steve’s exuberant Labrador Retriever, Maggie, was a natural hunter who backed the pointers and found more than her share of own birds, all with good humor. Like I said, we had magnificent hunting breeds behind us. Mr. Boothe, on the other hand, initially added his own excuses about our poor marksmanship to the conversation, but before long began to berate our shortcomings roundly, becoming more eloquent about our inabilities with shotgun and, as the days progressed, even raised questions about our character and manhood. We responded in kind, and developed a fine friendship with a man blessed with wonderful canine companions.
Upon departure, Ryan helped haul our group, gear, and a generous cooler of pheasant fillets to the airport, an easy, 40-minute drive to Cedar Rapids, where even TSA employees were familiar with hunters returning with firearms and so check-in procedures were a breeze. We’re all hoping to share another outing at Highland Hideaway in hilly southeastern Iowa next season, if not sooner. We could not recommend this destination more highly to any hunter who appreciates a generous portion of “fair-chase” bird hunting behind great pointing dogs with like-minded friends. Our stay was simply wonderful!
John Bell, Robbie Cheek, Steve Hartkemeyer, Mark Jicha, and Dan Smith
Southeast Georgia & North Florida