America’s Resort

If you’ve never been to the Greenbrier Resort it’s hard to explain what you are missing. The resort is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been but it is the service that sets this place apart. The level of personal attention at the Greenbrier is extrordinary and I highly recommend that you treat yourself to a weekend here at least once. Stay longer if you can.

Established in 1778, the Greenbrier has hosted 26 presidents, countless foreign dignitaries and many celebrities. So, you are probably asking yourself how on earth I managed to get in the door. Fair enough. The Greenbrier is home to one of the nation’s finest sporting clays courses and I had a chance to test it out thanks to Lynn Swann who provided me with a free round with expert instructor Curtis Kincaid. Mark Hayes and I spent a day walking through the British Shooting School-designed course, shooting at the various stations designed to test the skill of even the most experienced shotgunner. The results will be the subject of several upcoming articles.

For more info visit www.greenbrier.com

Chukar Hunting with Heaven’s Gate

Photographer Benny Gettinger hunting chukars in the foothills of the Seven Devils Range

 I had an opportunity to hunt wild birds in the foothills of the Seven Devils Range in Idaho with Andy and Karen Savage of Heaven’s Gate Outfitters during the opening week of Idaho’s bird season. The Seven Devils is a very rugged, beautiful series of mountains that rises up between the Salmon and Snake Rivers. Along on this trip were my buddy Benny Gettinger, Tom Loy of Tallgrass Gordon Setters and Andy from Heaven’s Gate. There is perhaps no place in America where you can hunt so many different species of wild birds (6) in a single day. The Devils, however, is never an easy hunt despite the fact that Andy and Karen drove us to the top of their ranch and allowed us to hunt down. Tom’s dogs Pete and Maggie did a wonderful job (as did Andy’s dog Niqua). But these are wild birds and despite the fact that the whole canyon literally echoes with bird calls all day long it takes a great deal of walking (and good shooting) to get your birds. At the end of the day the hunt was a success on every level. In about 2 days I should be able to walk again! Look for this hunt to appear in a series of upcoming articles over the next year. If you are serious about hunting the west I suggest you visit Andy and Karen’s site at www.hgoid.com. If you are a dog lover check out Tom’s Gordons at www.tallgrassgordonsetters.com.

Chevrolet Silverado HD

At the recent EPIC Game Fair in Atlanta I had an opportunity to test Chevrolet’s Silverado HD pickup with the 6.6 Duramax diesel and Allison transmission at the Foxhall Resort off-road course. The big Chevy impessed me immediately with its smooth transmission, comfortable ride and quietness. But the Silverado really got a chance to shine when I pulled off the paved road and flipped the truck into 4WD. The  sloppy, greasy Georgia clay was a challenge but the Silverado had no problems crawling up steep inclines and negotiating the awful ruts. The truck never strained as it went through the difficult terrain and the backup camera made turning simple. The Silverado proves it is possible for a capable HD truck built for hauling heavy loads to be comfortable and competent on the road and in the slop. If you are looking for a big truck for hunting, off-roading, toy hauling or any other hard job I recommend you check out Chevy’s impressive Silverado.

Moose, wolves, and one lost Swiss

Bitterroots at dawn

Our Idaho moose hunt was not short on excitement or game. We were just short one moose…

Don Wyatt drew one of the coveted moose tag for Idaho’s Unit 10A4, a vast, wild stretch of country in the middle of the nation’s largest wilderness. Ray Bloom and I signed on to help Don hunt this season though I only had a few days to hunt and we headed north of Lewiston past the town of Elk River and into the heart of the Bitterroot Range. It would not be long before we had our share of excitement. While climbing the dusty logging roads into the mountain range we were met by a logging truck going far too fast considering what we were driving on was only a road in the academic sense. I kept the window down (in an effort to hear the br-r-r-r of exhaust brakes as the trucks came tearing down the mountain) and held my breath on each curve. The options upon meeting a truck in these blind curves are to hit a basalt cliff, a semi , or to drop off an incline of perhaps a hundred feet. In addition, in 2001 Ray’s last truck was demolished when a truck came around one of these curves and hit him head on. Great.

Having reached the top without being run over by a Mack truck, we headed out into the wilderness. Our only company on the top of the range was a camp of elk hunters who had seen no elk but had moose in camp every night. We were not, as it turned out, the only moose hunters in the area. Just behind the elk hunting camp wolves had pulled down and killed a moose cow. Having abundant food, the wolves seemed to lose interest and ate only a bit of the moose before heading off to kill again. Each night the wolves would come to the edge of the hunters’ camp and would carry off camp materials. On one occasion the men rose at dawn and found the wolves lying at the edge of the forest watching them. So glad the powers that be decided to introduce these killers back into the northern Rockies.

At dusk on the second day we had no moose but there were two bull elk bugling at one another across the canyon. Soon a spike appeared in a clear cut just above us. As we were watching him a huge 6×6 bull appeared on the ridge abut 200 yards above and watched us until sundown. Where were our elk hunters now?

On the last day we drove down into the Grave Creek drainage, a very remote area in a huge tract of wilderness. Don had left and Ray and I spent the day catching trout. After lunch we began the hundred mile drive along logging roads back to town. To my astonishment we met a Kawasaki motorcycle on the trail with a very lost Swiss college student at the helm. Kevin, our lost Swiss, had landed in Missoula and was camping his way across the wilderness with a hand drawn map. He stopped us to ask if we could possibly help him find a road that was drawn on his map. The problem was that what his cartographer believed was a road was, in fact, a creek that led deep into America’s largest roadless wilderness. Short of dragging Kevin off the mountain (which would give the Land of the Free concept quite a black eye), all we could do was give him a knife and a bag of M&Ms. Poor Kevin had no way to boil water, a little bit of food and just enough gas to get to the closest thing resembling a town 80 miles away. In addition, getting there would require driving across logging roads and down past the last remnants of a band of machine-gun-in-the-woodpile extremist camps. We tried again and again to talk Kevin into coming down with us. No dice. Well, I wish you the best my Swiss friend.