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Posts Tagged ‘Sweet Home’

Good boy!

A little drizzle didn’t dampen my hopes on a recent visit to DK Wildlife Ranch near Sweet Home, Ore.  I’d learned about the place at last year’s Gun Dog Expo, we’d hit it off, and as a public service to my reader friends, I thought an inspection visit was in order. Might as well bring a shotgun and a couple dogs, huh?

The sheer canyon walls, tall timbers, and sylvan setting may have been unusual for an upland bird hunt. But once you get your head around that, it’s a challenging and deliciously different experience. A small streambed held the first ringneck, strutting along the bank until Buddy pinned him next to a brush pile. The big, brash rooster almost sneered at us before lighting out for parts unknown … or so he thought.

Splash! Bird down and soon delivered to hand by my seven-year-old wire, who barely slowed as he started hunting again … a “drive-by” retrieve!

Birds sheltered in the clumps of scotch broom, stream courses and thick web of down timber and grasses … you and your dog had better bring your “A” game to DK if you want to brag on the way home. One cagey ditch parrot skulked along the base of a ridge, once spotted he ducked into a blackberry patch. Smug, I sent year-old Manny downwind, expecting a staunch point. Instead, the pup dropped his nose to the ground and snuffled a couple hundred yards, finally producing that rooster in a cackle and boom. Yes, he was rewarded with a retrieve I let him savor for a couple minutes before asking for the bird as Manny stood by my side.

DK Wildlife hunts are full of surprises: pockets of level grassy cover, enough trees to challenge any shooter, and nice touches like sheltered benches along the way, and a lofty perch at the end of one field with a commanding view of the country. It’s a laid-back walk in the woods if you want. Pick up the pace, and your legs will feel it at the end of a day wrestling with the tall and tangled cover.

A miniature prairie in the Cascade foothills

A rustic A-framed shelter is where you start and end your hunt, crackling fire accompanying the storytelling and excuses for bad shooting. There’s a small clay target course for those who need a warm-up (and who doesn’t?), and no need to adjust your style or personality to someone else’s hunting … the place is all yours.

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