Kysar Farms in North Dakota disappointed us on this year’s pheasant hunt

North Dakota the gangI’m sitting at the kitchen table in the lodge at Kysar Farms, gazing out a window to enjoy a stunning sunset over the distant mountain. There’s a lot to like about North Dakota.

But I’m sorry to report that, as presently managed, Kysar Farms isn’t one of them. This outfitter disappointed us. And we did let them know.

We did like the lodge building on the grounds of the farmhouse and barns. It is very nice, sleeps a dozen in one large room, and has a great kitchen with plenty of cooking implements. The lodge is decorated with beautiful art, from the carpets to the walls. One bathroom for 7 guys was a bit difficult, but we made it work.

While the lodge didn’t have WIFI, disappointing me, I could go over to the farmhouse and sit on the porch and get it, so I was able to keep up with messages and post stories of our hunt and trip.

But here’s what disappointed us. The Farm offers hunters 5 plots of land totaling 1162 acres. That’s not enough land to offer good pheasant hunting for a dozen hunters, or even for the 7 of us. After hunting a plot you really need to rest it for at least one day, and preferably two.

We could have done that, but Kysar also allows hunters who are not staying at their lodge to hunt their land. That really fouled us up. On Friday morning, our last full day of hunting, for example, we drove out to the 442 acre plot about 1 pm, only to find a party of 6 hunters just driving out. They had been hunting the plot since 6 am, and covered all of it. So we couldn’t hunt there.

Long story short, we got only 4 pheasants that day, because the plots had been too heavily hunted this week, driving the birds to other nearby farms. That was very disappointing.

In our five full days of hunting, Kysar had outside parties of hunters on one of their plots for four of those days. Two hunted the plot right around our lodge and the farm, and two hunted on our favorite, the 442 acre plot.

Also disappointing was the fact that we didn’t have a guide or dog. I didn’t come here with the guys last year, because I was in the cardiac unit at the hospital, but the farm manager guided them every day with his dog. You really need a dog to recover wounded birds. When we arrived on Sunday afternoon, the manager told us he wouldn’t be guiding the group this year. He left with his dog on Monday morning. So we had no dog. We didn’t need a guide, but we really needed a dog. We lost a lot of wounded birds.

As a group, we agreed that we would not be back to Kysar Farms. But we love North Dakota, really enjoy pheasant hunting here, and will be looking for a new outfitter for 2015.

We shared all of this with Kysar, including a suggestion that they plant food on their plots to keep the pheasants there. Because they aren’t doing that, their pheasants leave their plots for much of the day to eat in nearby wheat and corn fields, where we couldn’t hunt. Almost all private land in North Dakota is posted, and one very big outfitter has exclusive use of a lot of the land in that area.

We liked the people at Kysar, and perhaps they’ll take our concerns and suggestions to heart and make the appropriate changes. If they do, we would certainly consider hunting with Kysar Farms again.

And please don’t think we didn’t enjoy this trip, because we did, despite the disappointments.  The visit to Teddy Roosevelt National Park, the drive through Williston to see what the oil economy is doing to that part of the state, the beautiful landscape, the camaraderie, meals, and stories, and the chance to hunt wild birds, was lots of fun. We’ll definitely be back.

For me, Friday morning’s hunt was really good. I shot four times, missed one rooster, wounded and lost another, and killed two of the five birds we got that morning, one with a really tough right to left shot. I hated to stop hunting, but we had to be out of the lodge by 1 pm and were driving to Bismark for the overnight in order to catch a very early morning flight home.

And of course, it’s always good to get back home to Maine.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.