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Destination Spotlight: Ravenwood Lodge in Topeka, Kansas

Ravenwood Main Lodge

Ravenwood Lodge is a place where hunters can have it all. Located on the eastern edge of the Kansas Flint Hills, Ravenwood offers hunters a spectacular mix on great hunting grounds – hard-flying European driven pheasant hunts, private guided field hunts or plantation hunts. From wily bobwhites and big cock roosters to prairie chickens, turkey and deer, as well as sporting clays, lodging and great food, Ravenwood might just be a sportsman’s best shot at a great time.

Black’s Wing & Clay Waterfowl sat down with Ravenwood’s owner, Ken Corbet, to find out a little more about his lodge.

Black’s Wing & Clay Waterfowl: How did your lodge get its start?

Ravenwood Lodge: I came from a very avid hunting and shooting outdoor family with a background in conservation. After visiting and enjoying some of the finest hunting and shooting facilities in the country as a customer, I realized that I could bring that enjoyment to others. We started in 1985 with hunting the regular fall seasons. In 1990 we added the licensed extended season that let us hunt game birds from September 1 thru March 31, and put in one of the first Sporting Clay courses in Kansas. In 1995 we open up our 150-year-old Mission Creek Lodge to hunters and guests. The Clubhouse Lodge came next in 1998 so both shooters and hunters could relax and tell “true” stories. Then in 2002 we opened our Bunkhouse Lodge, which can accommodate up to 100 for private parties and business functions and up to 10 for overnight stays.

BWCW: Describe the various amenities of your operation.

RL: Ravenwood Lodge is convenient, private and open year-round. The facilities offer everything from our 150-year-old Bed & Breakfast to our Bunkhouse and meeting rooms – Ravenwood makes you feel at home if you are a party of one or 100.We offer world-class lodging, sporting clays, and hunting. We’ve been featured on “Curt Gowdy's Outdoor World”, “Pull – America’s Top Gun Clubs”, “Field & Stream TV”, and this year received Wingshooting USA’s Preferred Lodges endorsement as well as the National Shooting Sports Foundation 5 Star facility recognition.

BWCW: What is appealing about your location?

RL: Ravenwood is place where you can have it all. Bordering the rugged Flint Hills of Eastern Kansas just off I-70, hunters can hunt native grass in big pastures as well as a mix of wooded draws and fence rows, while turkeys go to roost in 100-year-old oak trees. Our sporting clays course is half in timber and shade in the summer while also offering shots over open fields of native grass. We are one hour from Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop, and only minutes to an indoor pistol range and great fishing.

BWCW: How many employees do you have, and what roles do they play in your business?

RL: We have about 20 employees depending on the size of the event. We remind our employees to always think of themselves as the customer. Whether enjoying a big Kansas steak, breaking a clay target, bustin’ a Rooster or just wanting a nice quite place to spend the night. After 27 years of making memories we have a lot of the same customers come back every year.

BWCW: When and how did you get involved in hunting/shooting and this business?

RL: I remember going with my dad as soon as I could walk and keep up. By 7 years old my dad got me a .22 rifle and an old hand-me-down .410 single shot. I was hooked and have enjoyed hunting and shooting for over 50 years. In high school all the guys hunted before school and after football practice. Yes, we all had guns in our cars and trucks at school. I would read all the outdoor magazines about hunting when I was young and still try to keep up on gear and guns. So when I was about 30 it was as though a light came on.....I said to myself, “If I am going to work seven days a week, why not do something that makes people happy and something I am passionate about”. It’s worked for going on 27 years.

BWCW: What are some specific keys to your success?

RL: I have three rules that guide my interaction with customers. Rule #1: Don’t forget who the customer is. Rule #2: Nothing happens until a sale is made (just think about it). Rule #3: Don't push the customer to buy something.
I like to talk to a real person, and I try to be that person seven days a week. The more my customers tell me, the better I can make their visit...neither of us like surprises. I also try to remember that in life that there is a big difference between threading a needle and kicking a field goal. But the end result is the same – you are getting something to go where it needs to go to make a sale.

BWCW: How do you work at growing your customer base?

RL: Listen, watch, and ask yourself these questions: Who were your customers when you started? Who are they now? Where are you going to find your customers for the future? So here it is. The kids are your future. Their moms and dads were your customers before they got so busy raising a family, and now grandparents have the time and money to enjoy life. They can buy new guns, shoot more, and take their grandkids with them. I listen to people of different ages every day and the same rule applies: You are only guaranteed NOW so enjoy it. Some of your customers will never see the light BUT those who do will be your best and most devoted customers. We do youth in the outdoors day once a year. We host events for couples, ladies and kids, and we try to make everyone feel special.

BWCW: Any hard lessons that have made you’re lodge a better operation?

RL: Make your customers aware of the weather, and always go through a checklist to make sure their stay at Ravenwood is enjoyable.

BWCW: Describe one or two highlights during Ravenwood Lodge’s history.

RL: Being in the business going on 27 years it is always a highlight to have national TV shows being made at your facility. Over the years, “Curt Gowdy’s Outdoor World”, “Pull – America’s Top Gun Clubs”, “Field & Stream TV”, and “Wingshooting USA” have filmed here. Our business sells better on TV, especially if you have never seen someone shoot sporting clays or watch some great bird dogs work. We have also hosted National Jeep and Chevy sporting clays shoots, and have hosted a Ladies and Couples shoot for 20 years. Lastly, we have been recognized by the National Shooting Sports Foundation as a 5-star facility, as well as selected for Scott Linden's "PREFERRED LODGE" program. We have hosted hunters from Russia, Australia, Singapore and Japan and almost every U.S. state.

PS. I tell everyone, “If you think the hunting and shooting are great, you should have heard all the true stories!”

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