craigwenzel

If you have been hunting at the Horseshoe K Ranch for a number of years, chances are you have met Craig Wenzel on one of your hunts. Craig has been guiding at the ranch for 21 years and says he enjoys it more all the time.

“We were hunting with pickup trucks and eating in the garage when I first came to the Horseshoe K Ranch,” he said.  “Watching the ranch, and the hunting evolve into today’s experience has been a source of enjoyment. I’ve been proud to have played whatever small part in making the Horseshoe K Ranch hunting operation what it is today.”

Craig always likes to interact with the hunters and has made many friends at the ranch. “One time I kiddingly remarked on somebody’s unique hunting hat, and he turned out to be the Governor of Georgia (Sonny Purdue)!” he joked.

Sharing his knowledge of a lifetime of pheasant hunting with the hunters on the ranch ranks high on Craig’s list. There is nothing quite like watching a young hunter bag his first bird and the expression on his face when one of the dogs brings it back in!”  “Yes, there are times when a guide needs to point out an unsafe practice with one of the hunters,” he said, “but keeping everyone in the group safe is the number one goal of any good guide.”

Longtime regulars at the ranch love to talk about the many good dogs that have frequented the fields of theHorseshoe K Ranch. “Old “Duke”, the ranch’s first yellow Labrador hunting dog was about worn out when I came out here.  But everybody liked and respected the old guy as they stepped over and around him.”

Dogs have always been a part of Craig’s enjoyment of guiding and hunting at the ranch. “My first dog, a black Labrador named “Pete” spent his later years retrieving hundreds of HKR birds,” he said. “The next dog, “Gunner” is still the topic of many conversations even years after his passing.”

Craig started taking his son, Matt on guiding trips when he was about 12 years old, and today Matt is one of the four regular guides at the ranch.  “Working on a regular basis with guides like Matt Wenzel, head guide Shane Namanny and Josh Hardman is an honor that few can experience.” he said.

“The rest of the staff, sisters Jen Namanny and Jill Braun, and all of the ladies on the staff that keep the ranch clean and the hunters well-fed should be commended for their hard work during the season.

“I congratulate Jen and Shane on their purchase of the Horseshoe K Ranch hunting operation and know, from the experience of working with them in the past, that the ranch will continue to provide the hunting and lodging experience that clients have come to expect and appreciate for many years.”

mattwenzel

Matt Wenzel has been guiding at the HSK for 10 yrs. He and his wife, Amber have two kids, Layne (7) and Londyn (4). The dogs which he has done most of his guiding with at the ranch over the years are Trey (10 and semi-retired), the late Pete and the late Drake (2013 age 4).
“I have two newcomers Turbo (2) and Ruger (2) that I will be working alongside of for the next few years,” he said. “By the looks of some early training it is going to be good! ”
Matt has enjoyed many highlights over the past 10 yrs. “Getting the chance to guide alongside three of South Dakota’s finest guides and one of them being my father is a big highlight!” Matt said.
“When you drive up to a lodge to pick up your group and to meet for the first time, little do you know you will be making friends with the group and looking forward to seeing them in the coming years.”
” Guiding to me is about showing each group of hunters the Horseshoe K Ranch experience “a slice of heaven in the Dakota’s”.
Getting to the end of a food plot and having a big flush of birds and watching and listening to the hunters talk about how they LOVE coming to the HSK. At that point you know you have done your job! Guiding at the Ranch is not all about the birds, it’s about everyone on the ranch staying safe and enjoying a chance to shoot, or shoot at a pheasant.”
“The chance to see a father, grandfather witness their son, grandson or daughter get there very first South Dakota Ring-Neck Pheasant is something you just have to witness (priceless). A father and son getting to spend time out in the fields and watch as memories are made. These are some of the reasons I CHOOSE to guide for the Horseshoe K. Times like these make it priceless for me. ”
Watching my dogs work and listening to the hunters talk about them and ask to take pictures with the dogs and the guides. I could go on and on about the Ranch, but some things are better when you experience them.
For those of you who have experienced the Horseshoe K, thanks for letting us get the chance to meet you and show you a good time. For the ones who stumbled onto this website we hope to see you next season.

Stay Safe and Hunt’em up

Matt Wenzel

joshhardman

The newest guide on the ranch is the only one that does not have a lifetime of pheasant hunting experience. Josh Hardman joined the staff in 2011 and had never shot a bird up to that date.

Growing up in the state of Michigan, outdoor activities leaned toward fishing and deer hunting. But Josh hit the ground running on his first day at the ranch and hasn’t slowed down since.

The only full-time guide employed by  the ranch, he remains on the Horseshoe K Ranch in the off-season as he tends to dogs, does maintenance work and anything else that needs to be done.

“Seeing the camaraderie among the hunters, watching the different personalities is very enjoyable to me,” Josh said. “What we do sometimes could be considered repetitious, but  every day we go out it  is always new.”

Josh and his wife Sheri, a superintendent of schools, have two daughters, Landri and Berklie.

A former high school and collegiate wrestler, Josh has coached the sport at South Dakota State University (Brookings, SD) and Dakota Wesleyan University (Mitchell, SD). He also has worked with high school wrestling teams and runs a club team.

When asked about his favorite Horseshoe K Ranch hunting dogs he chooses two legendary ones, black Labradors named Gable and Cosmo. Another favorite pastime during the guiding season is “hanging out at the guide shack” where the bird cleaning is done.  The building is not only frequented by the guides, but hunters are welcome to come out and visit.

What about bagging that first pheasant?  That didn’t take long. As a matter of fact Josh says he is now in charge of teaching the other guides how to shoot pheasants!

shanenamanny

The other full-time guide and co-owner of the Horseshoe K Ranch hunting operation came to the ranch in 1997. By 1998 Shane Namanny had married Jennifer (Grohs), the daughter of the original hunting operation owners.

Once his day in the field is complete, you might see Shane grilling steaks, serving appetizers beside the outdoor fire pits next to the lodge, or working on a bus. Shane built nearly all of the lodges on the ranch, including the popular main lodge in 1999.

Shane began managing the hunting portion of the business in 2006 and he and Jennifer purchased the business from her mother, Joanne, in 2013.