Shooting preserves are important
In this new world of COVID-19, social distancing, and masks, shooting preserves can play an important role in getting new hunters afield in a safe and responsible manner. Whether it is the next generation of junior hunters or older adults who are new to upland bird hunting, chasing pheasants or chukars on a preserve is the perfect way to get started. If you have a dog that is in training, there is not a better way to work man’s best friend if bird hunting is in his or her future.
“There are a lot of benefits to a shooting preserve and we have a tendency to get a bad rap sometimes,” says Ric Siegmann, owner of Cambria Game Farm (716-628-2174) in Niagara County. “We do things a little bit different here. I concern myself with putting out a quality hunt. It’s not easy by any means, but we have good birds here.”
Siegmann raises all his own birds (over 5,000 pheasants), so he knows what he has in the way of top-notch product. His operation has more than 350 acres that he has access to. He also believes that having that acreage broken up into 15 to 20 acre lots helps to provide a more satisfying hunt for the customers.
“It’s been my experience that most people want to hunt about 2 hours when they are here.”
Because it is a shooting preserve, you do not need a New York State hunting license. However, Siegmann does require anyone who hunts on the property to pass a Hunter Education Program course first through the state.
The easiest way to take advantage of the operation is to purchase a season package with a minimum of 24 birds. Both pheasants and chukars are offered and once you do that it is 20 percent off the standard pricing. Both dogs and guns are available should you need to use them, including several youth model shotguns for the junior hunters who might be just starting out.
“It’s a great way to introduce new hunters to pheasant hunting or hunting in general,” insists Siegmann. “It is more of a controlled hunt, too, so I believe it is safer. Unlike some public lands where they stock birds in the fall, you have the field exclusively to your group here. There aren’t multiple parties pursuing the same birds that were stocked that week.”
Of course, it is not like the heyday that many of us grew up in back in the 1960s and ‘70s. It was a different era, a time we will never go back to. “You need to have the right mind set when you come here,” says Siegmann. “You have to treat this as an overall experience that you can share with family and friends. If you have your own dogs, it is a great way to work and train them. Do not think about the costs or how many birds you took home at the end of the day. In the end, it’s the memories that you make and the experiences you build from.”
“I like hunting there because it is convenient,” said John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda. “We can hunt mornings or afternoons and Siegmann is always looking out for the hunter. If you schedule a hunt and the weather does not look good, he will call you to try and reschedule. He wants you to have a successful hunt all the way around.”
Yes, shooting preserves offer sportsmen and women an opportunity to enjoy upland bird hunting for over 7 months (from September to the end of March), but Siegmann will start to close his pheasant operation by the end of February. “The quality of the hunt will start to diminish,” said Siegmann, “and hunters will gravitate to chukars.”
Cambria Game Farm is located at 4460 Upper Mountain Road in Cambria. You can also email him at CambriaGameFarm@gmail.com if you have any question.