Two hunters step through a field of sorghum, making their way toward the tree line in the distance. Just where the wild grasses brush up against the tree trunks, there's a slight movement in the brush. It might be a hen-sized chukar partridge about to spring into the air on its short, barred wings. But if they're lucky, the hunters will spy the green crown, red wattles, and long tail of a plump prize pheasant.
These kinds of upland bird hunts draw people year-round to Deer Creek Hunt Club's more than 500 acres of woodlands, rolling hills, and wetlands. Well-trained gundogs?both flushing breeds and pointers?can accompany hunters on these expeditions, which are led by able, professional guides. Off the field, visitors can sharpen their skills in clay-shooting facilities with skeet and five-stand fields as well as a sporting-clays course with different sections for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The staff also leads private shooting lessons and hunters? safety courses.
After a day in the fields, guests can refresh at the clubhouse, where furniture built by local Amish craftsmen fills a rustic but comfortable dining room. Memberships grant frequent guests privileges such as access to the clubhouse?s upper level. Just a few miles inland from Lake Michigan, Deer Creek is located about 90 minutes from Chicago and about 30?40 minutes from South Bend.
Mudderland transmutes one of the Midwest's largest motocross tracks into a swampy test of endurance, challenging thrill-seekers across 3.5 miles of military-style obstacles. Unfurled across the site of a WWII munitions factory, the one-day, full-body assault sends participants running, climbing, and crawling through a lineup of natural barriers, including a 19-foot concrete wall that sprouted from a radioactive apple seed during the 1940s. As limbs splash through ponds, slither through tunnels, and flail wildly while soaring down monstrous slip and slides, spectators bask in the muddy melee from elevated bleachers and VIP viewing decks. Afterward, fresh water bursts from the course's showers to blast away dirt and reveal each participant's new layer of confidence.
Spring Creek Equestrian Center doesn't know if every kid really wants a pony, but kids who do can come here. At the center's camps and birthday parties, kids can learn to ride horses in a relaxed farm environment. The center's team also hosts horse shows that give participants a chance to strut their stuff for competition and offers horseback-riding lessons for students of all ages.
The Hesston Steam Museum honors a crucial juncture in industrial history?before the rise of the internal combustion engine but after the obsolescence of dragon-powered machinery. Steam powered the industrialized world through the 19th and early 20th centuries, from the railroads to the saw mills to the electric power plants. Hesston Steam Museum boasts examples of all of these, including three versions of steam trains: a full-size narrow gauge, a quarter-scale locomotive, and a tiny 1/8-scale that is still capable of carrying passengers across its miniature track.