An Open Secret: Federal Select Outfitters

posted on April 3, 2023
MAIN Federal Logo

One of the perks of being an outdoor writer is getting sent on hunts all over the world. In my years, I have been to several above-average facilities, a handful of mediocre ones, one absolute nightmare, and one that was just so unbelievable that I had to dig deeper into how it was selected. The hunt in question was in conjunction with a long-range school being held at Paul Nelson Farm in Gettysburg, South Dakota. After rubbing elbows with Football legend Brett Favre and having a casual conversation with Governor Kristi Noem, who literally just stopped by because she was in the area, I turned to our host J.J. Reich and said, “Where the hell are we?” He smiled and replied, “This is a Federal Select outfitter; there’s only a handful in the country that we consider to be at this level.” The outfits that earn this title must hit an 11 in every possible rating criterion and satisfy their guests far beyond their expectations. After a fantastic week at the facility, I left on the quest to learn more about these places and see who was known for what. Here is what I found:

Paul Nelson Lodge

  1. Paul Nelson Farm–Gettysburg, SD

I had the pleasure of attending a long-range course and a Prairie dog hunt here in the spring of 2022. The course is taught by pro-shooter Josh Cluff of HS Precision, and pushed us out to distances up to and including one mile. After perfecting our DOPE, Paul Nelson Farm (PNF) had an on-site dog town to test our newfound knowledge, and we had the liberty of bouncing back and forth between it and the target range. Our evenings were spent fishing at their many lakes and kicking back around a fire or at one of their luxurious bars.

Highland Hills

  1. Highland Hills Ranch–The Dalles, OR

Highland Hills Ranch gets its name from the stunning resemblance it shares with the hunting grounds of Scotland. Hunters can expect to shoot over 300 birds a day, which is more than most DIYers will see in a lifetime. Each night is celebrated with gourmet food, rare spirits and fellowship that will last a lifetime. The 3,000+ acre spread allows for the opportunity to hunt pheasant, chukar, valley quail, and huns all on the same day. That’s surreal to those of us who might go a lifetime without seeing a single one of those birds back home.

Joshua Creek aerial

  1. Joshua Creek Ranch–Boerne, TX

They do things big in Texas and Joshua Creek is no different. Situated just 45 minutes from San Antonio, this preserve incorporates several miles of Joshua Creek and the Guadalupe River. Serving clients interested in upland, waterfowl, deer and turkey hunting makes them one of the most well-rounded outfitters on the tour. For those less interested in game-getting, Joshua Creek also offers a variety of activities such as sporting clays, fishing, kayaking, and just about any way imaginable to enjoy the outdoors.

Flint Oak Lodge Aerial

  1. Flint Oak–Falls River, KS

It’s not surprising to see a facility from Kansas make this list. I swear, whatever quarry you are after is always larger and more abundant in this state. This well-appointed resort offers a wide array of hunting opportunities ranging from upland birds to big game. Flint Oak spoils guests with chef-inspired meals and a world-class sports bar aptly named “the last shot.” The shooting sports are particularly important to the owners here, as ranges are set up to foster marksmanship skills in rifle, pistol, and shotgun through a variety of disciplines that include five-stand, trap, and skeet. There are also ranges and courses that can stretch your riles skills out to a full mile.

Waterfowl flying into susnet/sunrise

  1. Honey Brake–Jonestown, LA

Honey Brake is your quintessential bayou experience and offers its guests the duck hunt of a lifetime. 20,000 acres all but guarantee a spot directly in their flight path; all that’s left to do is press the trigger. When the feathers start to fall, you’ll be aided by champion gun dogs and handlers that take care of the messy business of retrieval. The only perceivable complication are the legendary deer hunts that Honey Brake hosts in the fall. This might make it difficult to decide which season to visit.

Stan Jones Logo and aerial of grounds

  1. Stan Jones Mallard Lodge–Alicia, AR

For Stan Jones to put his name on it, it must be something. After cultivating hundreds of acres of rice ground, he and his team of accomplished guides offer a duck hunting experience like no other. Fine meals and lodging are all part of the deal, and attendees can stay in a standard room, upgrade to a suite, or even enjoy the privacy of their own cabin. Guests have the typical activities available to them during their downtime; however, unique to Stan Jones’s lodge are opportunities for hatchet throwing and aqua golf.

Rio Piedra Plantation Lodge

  1. Rio Piedra Plantation–Camilla, GA

Rio Piedra offers quail hunting at its finest. Each day includes three decadent meals, a generous 12 bird-per-person privilege, five-star accommodations, and all the fun you can handle for just $1,390 per night. This puts it rather high up on our value rating, especially when you consider that it won the Sporting Classics lodge of the year award in 2009 and is the only 3-time recipient of the Orvis Wingshooting Lodge of the Year Award. If you don’t leave here with a bag of birds and a smile on your face, you might want to consider going vegan.

Interior of Southwind lodge

  1. Southwind Plantation–Attapulgus, GA

There is nothing like southern hospitality, and the folks at Southwind Plantation aren’t shy about it. This lodge boasts 6,100 managed acres that are home to bobwhite quail, deer, duck, turkey, and dove, all prime for the hunt. It’s also a terrific destination for anglers as they offer full and half-day fishing trips on their stocked ponds or nearby Lake Seminole. Evenings are spent in one of their 12 luxury lodges with bountiful amenities and amazing meals that end each night and start every morning.

Fowlco Lodge on a postcard

  1. FowlCo Outfitters–Garber, OK

In their five short years, FowlCo has made quite a name for itself. When you are good at what you do, it’s easy to become an instant legend and the folks at this outfit have proven it. Located in the Central Flyway in North-Central Oklahoma, FowlCo offers an ultra-modern lodge with an open kitchen for guests to watch their meals being crafted before their very eyes. Guests don’t have to go far in the morning, as ducks can be seen roosting just off the porch. If you are looking for a modern experience and a sure thing, FowlCo are your people.

Shooters shooting five stand over water at Prairie Wildlife

  1. Prairie Wildlife–West Point, MS

As the only Orvis-endorsed sporting estate in Mississippi, this team has a right to boast. They are big on the bond between hunter and canine and consider them to be the most important team member. Through the help and direction of award-winning guides and dog handlers, hunters can take a crack at bobwhite quail, dove, pheasant, whitetail deer, and even rabbit—the first lodge to mention small game. Aside from incredible hunts, Prairie Wildlife also offers a world-class shotgun shooting school to help newbies and pros down as many birds as possible.

For more information and to see who else makes the cut in 2023, visit


How To Hunt Silent Elk Lead
How To Hunt Silent Elk Lead

How to Hunt Silent Elk

To hunt elk that give you the silent treatment, you must focus on necessities they need all year: water, food and refuge from predators.

NRA to Celebrate “Wild Game Meat Donation Month” in November

This November, the NRA and its members will celebrate the first-ever “Wild Game Meat Donation Month” to encourage all hunters to donate extra venison or other game meat to help provide meals for those in need.

Longtime NRA Supporter Michael Fuljenz Honored With American Numismatic Association’s Highest Award

NRA Golden Ring of Freedom member Michael Fuljenz, is the 2023 recipient of the highest honor bestowed by the Congressionally-chartered American Numismatic Association.

Review: Marlin Model 336 Classic

A handsome lever-action chambered in .30-30 Winchester, the Marlin Model 336 Classic is smooth, precise, accurate and has a great wood-to-metal fit.

Head to Head: 6.5 PRC vs. .308 Winchester

We put two short-action gems up against one another: the .308 Winchester, a time-proven veteran with 70-plus years of hunting experience, and the 6.5 PRC, a relative newcomer that is quickly gaining favor in the hunting fields and target range.

Remington Issues Safety Recall on Several Lots of .300 Win. Mag. Ammo

Remington is recalling three lots of 300 Win. Mag. Core-Lokt Tipped ammunition. The affected boxes may contain incorrect propellant and use may result in firearm damage and/or personal injury.


Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.