Few businesses can say the coronavirus pandemic has helped bring new customers to the door but that seems to be the case for Hays Lodge at Fullerton, N.D.
"Lots of groups came because they couldn't get into Canada," said Anne Jordahl, owner of the lodge. "Instead they had their hunt at Hays Lodge."
Down the road, Virginia Schumacher, owner of Prairie Pothole Lodge, said travel restrictions, like the closer at the U.S.-Canada border, increased the number of people looking for a hunting destination.
"We were booked full with return customers," she said. "We got a lot of phone calls. It definitely made some people consider North Dakota for their hunting."
The two lodges are located in rural Dickey County near the town of Fullerton, with Hays Lodge about 7 miles north and Prairie Pothole about 7 miles southeast. Both offer hunters lodging and other amenities.
At Hays Lodge, rooms come complete with sheets and towels and there are grills and a kitchen available for those who want to prepare their own meals while on the hunt. Other amenities include a game cleaning station, washers and dryers and free wireless internet access.
"We are set up as a restaurant and bar but not open to the public," Jordahl said. "We do offer services for hunters and do some special events."
The Hays Lodge's motto is "Where the pavement ends, the hunt begins."
"Hunters that do homework before they get here do better," Jordahl said. "They also need to have the proper licenses before they get here."
Residents are required to have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and a small game license or the combination of those two licenses. Nonresidents need the fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate, general game and habitat license and a nonresident small game license. The nonresident small game license is good for 14 days or the hunter can choose two 7-day periods.
Licenses are available online at www.gf.nd.gov.
While the features of the lodge and service are impressive, it is the hunting and fishing that are important.
"We had a pretty good year even with COVID," Schumacher said. "Everyone tested before they came and we had no instances of COVID all year."
Hays Lodge offers guided and unguided hunts for waterfowl, pheasant and, on a limited scale, archery hunts for deer. Hunters have access to about 3,000 acres of the Jordahl family farm and some additional hunting leases on neighboring farms.
This places hunters in the midst of the Prairie Pothole Region known for pheasant and waterfowl hunting, and the normal fall hunts and special spring goose hunting seasons. This year, Jordahl said the pheasant hunting was particularly good.
The Prairie Pothole Region is known for the local ducks and geese it produces but also is along the central flyway which, according to North Dakota Tourism, is "virtual waterfowl superhighway" from Canada to the Gulf Coast. It becomes an ideal place for waterfowl hunters to practice their sport.
Tentative opening dates for the 2021 North Dakota hunting seasons are Oct. 2, 2021, for the regular waterfowl hunting season and Oct. 9 for pheasant hunting.
The local guides available are familiar with the Dickey County area. The Jordahl family farmed in the area before purchasing the lodge about 11 years ago. The hunting lodge operation goes back about 20 years under its previous owner.
"We lived and farmed in the area," Jordahl said. "We've met a lot of great people there over the years."
More information is available at www.HaysLodge.com and at www.PrairiePotholeLodge.com.