The casino sign said “all you can eat buffet,” but the banquet didn’t end there. Clear Creek Sports Club near Corning, California, offers its own unlimited menu of bird hunting options. For decades I’d been driving past the sere rolling hills for which the casino is named, tempted to stop and explore the undulating terrain, explore the grasslands that looked virtually unchanged since the land was granted to some Mexican bureaucrat by the king of Spain hundreds of years ago for meritorious service.
This was my chance.
Brad Henman was kind enough to tolerate my dogs instead of the polished shorthairs he favors. That is testament to the hospitable treatment you’ll receive at Clear Creek. He’s a second generation outfitter who has hand-crafted a hunter’s treasure-trove of gullies, open fields, creekbeds, grasslands, CRP, and water features that will delight – and vex – anyone who loves the pursuit of ringneck pheasants … and doesn’t mind being humbled on occasion.
Some rough footage from the hunt:
Unaccompanied by his uncle Buddy, six-month-old Manny was tentative in the first field … hunting close and moving cautiously, until his first whiff of pheasant, when the light came on and stayed bright the rest of the day. A few prancing steps and his first point was steady and classic: right leg tucked tight to his chest, tail as high as any pointer’s, just shorter.
A close shot was followed by sheer instinct: Manny was carrying the bird toward me before he realized it was time to play keepaway. He had more important tasks at paw anyhow. Another bird was somewhere upwind, tempting this puppy and his awakening nose. Unlike all those compulsive gamblers just up the road, we ended up winners, feasting on scenery, camaraderie and colorful, hard-flying birds.