Highland Hills Ranch is a sensuous indulgence for upland hunters.
The contours of Oregon’s high-desert rolling hills summon womanly curves shamelessly gorgeous beneath sun-infused blue. After a day of stalking valley quail, chukars, pheasants and huns over dogs, Chef Keith Potter seduces you with a perfume of homemade bakery and dinners fragrant of Western, Latin and Pacific Rim influences as the provincial pinot noirs comfort body and soul. Come dessert, you’re spent and benevolent. The vaulted log great room is aglow with amber lamplight. You plop into a supple leather couch for single malts, bourbon and camaraderie, savoring the warmth of a stone hearth blaze.
On an Indian summer afternoon, the mule-drawn wagon swayed in a slow lullaby here in the cradle of the South as we followed guides on horseback in pursuit of the next quail covey to hunt.
The high-desert expanse of Highland Hills Ranch served as our proving grounds for evaluating the forthcoming 20-gauge version of Beretta’s 486 Parallelo side by side.
“Late season birds are tougher to kill because of their thicker feathers and heavier layers of fat and down.” How many times have you heard that? I’m sorry, but it’s not true.
As fall wears on into winter, wild waterfowl and upland birds have progressively LESS access to food. This is due principally to snow cover. So fat layers and muscles of wild game birds do not get thicker or heavier as fall hunting seasons transcend into winter.
If you’re a right-handed shooter who stands 5-feet, 9 inches, weighs about 165 pounds, has a 33-inch sleeve length and wears a size 40 regular suit coat, you probably think you don’t need to worry much about “gun fit” or even consider ever needing a custom gun fitting.
My Dad, who enjoyed hunting and shooting sports all of his life, passed away on June 5, 2013 at age 95. Franklin Lee Marten was living on the farm in the same house where he was born. He was still shooting skeet and hunting doves by his grandson’s pond the year before he died. When I was a little kid, my dad had a 16-gauge Stevens hammer gun. I remember handling it, but Dad sold it to his good friend and hunting buddy, Harry Moore, in 1949 or 1950 before I was old enough to shoot it.
Wingshooting has been my lifelong passion and the motivation that has resulted in my occupation which runs the whole gambit of wingshooting worldwide. I have worked for several of the top gunmakers in England and Europe as shooting instructor, gun fitter, gunmaker and sporting agent (outfitter).
They looked out of place in the rack – that pair of side-by-side shotgun barrels there amidst those belonging to single-barreled pumps and autoloaders, a bolt-action rifle or two, and a few “black guns” that I couldn’t identify.
One of shotgunning’s most underutilized live resources is the pest pigeon population. Generally pest pigeon shooting here in the USA has little resemblance to the woodpigeon shooting that is so popular in the British Isles. In England woodpigeons are usually decoyed, and you hire a guide who has the birds scouted, the land owner’s permission to hunt, and all the equipment so that clients can enjoy great sport.
We showed up on time. Oh dark-30. Parked our car on a pull-off area on a mountain road in Kebler Pass, located in the Crested Butte area. The twins stepped out of their vehicle next to us – dressed in camo, do-rags and running shoes. The reflective tape on their shoes gleamed in the pre-dawn and I thought, “I’m in trouble here.” My hunting boots already felt heavy.
When I developed the “Hunting With Hank” television series starring my Llewellin Setter Hank, for what was then The Outdoor Life Network, I had confidence that the series would find an audience. But, the amazing success of Hank’s show actually caught me off guard. Along with its popularity, came requests from viewers all across the country to explain how I trained Hank for the work they saw him performing on our upland bird hunts that spanned the country.
I was stunned. Pleasantly stunned. Roberto Ferrata uncased his new titanium Fabbri 12 gauge shotgun and handed it to me. “I want you to use my gun today.” I received the magnificent firearm and held it as gently as if it were a newborn baby. Bringing it to my shoulder, I noted with conflicting emotions and thoughts that it fitted perfectly.
While more than 100 acres of winter wheat blanketed the spring soil not ten yards forward of our position we felt strangely closed in, but it was nice, even intimate. Nothing means more to a young son sitting in the darkness than knowing he’s next to his dad; I can say the same for sitting next to him. We sat, whispered and giggled for nearly an hour before I noticed a silver hue raining down through the treetops over our shoulders. It was just enough to expose the haunting glow of layered fog as it began to roll back its stranglehold on dew-laden wheat. As minutes ticked away so did darkness. The silver hues succumbed to radiant shades of amber and gold as frigid temperatures dropped several more degrees. My son Jacob said I looked like a bull with “smoke” surging from my nostrils.
Here in Colorado Springs, a bright and unseasonably warm February afternoon boasted clear skies and no wind — perfect for a clays-shooting session with USA Shooting team members, skeet whiz Amber English and her trap colleagues Dakotah Richardson and Collin Wietfeldt. We also caught up with team trap shooter Kelsey Zauhar.
Perazzi’s MXS Sporting 12 gauge lets you tap into a long vein of Olympic trap and skeet victories at the same price of mass-produced shotguns from manufacturers with competitive aspirations and also-ran engineering.
"Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door" is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Necessity is the mother of invention" is a phrase that was to become a metaphor about the power of innovation.
While the Cordoba region of Argentina has long been recognized as the high-volume dove-shooting hotspot, Cordoba isn’t the only area of South America that is plagued with a massive dove population. In the late 1990s Uruguay became a much sought after dove-gunning goal for many. After the turn of this century Bolivia became yet another dove shooting paradise – though most of the USA’s shotgunners have not heard much about the Bolivian shooting yet.
There’s nothing like a little controversy to stir things up – reading here about opinions on Winchester’s vaunted Model 21 side by side – along with opinions about a possible up-and-comer in the used gun realm – Browning’s BSS (acronym for Browning Side by Side). The Winchester Model 21 has a long standing favorable reputation among many shotgunners, but especially among those who favor Winchesters of all types, maybe even more especially among Winchester collectors.
On a brilliant autumn afternoon, a helicopter packed with oil men from Texas and Mexico touched down on a grassy field at Joshua Creek Ranch. With rotors revolving overhead, they filed out toward an idling SUV and three minutes later the contingent occupied a table on the limestone patio in the shade of a magnificent 400-year-old oak tree, the rush of the Guadalupe River rising from below, enjoying a hearty lunch and talking business.