My local pheasant shooting establishment in Arizona was forced to close it’s doors after several
years of hard work building a fine facility when the landowner decided to sell it as more Yahoo
Cowboy 10 acre ranchettes. About as useful as another Golf Course in Phoenix!

Oklahoma, not that good!

I ventured a little further afield with a trip to Oklahoma but in all honesty many of these
commercial shoots just don’t get it and leave me a little cold. Trips to the Dakotas were also
ruled out as there is a daily bag limit is 2 or 3 which doesn’t make for much of a day if you are
used to left and rights on a regular basis.

What’s to do ? after a lot of searching through shooting  magazines I find “The Flying B” and
they send me a video and the brochure. In with the Video, and after the views of the ranch,
accommodation, dogs and some shooting clips up pops a spokesperson in the shape of
“Stormin Norman” of Gulf War fame……. well as the General was my overall boss during the
conflict ……if it’s good enogh for Norm, it’s good enough for me!

As Good as it Looks!

I book a 3 day shoot and make the flight arrangements which involve a trip to Seattle and then
a puddle jumper across to Lewiston in Idaho where I will be picked up and transported to the
ranch. Despite all the nonsense of airport security the transportation of guns couldn’t be easier.
Arrive at airport, check in and declare the guns. They then give you a RED label on which you
declare the guns are empty and then put the red label inside the gun case and lock it? Now I
would have thought the label should go on the OUTSIDE, but apparently we don’t want to draw
attention to the fact that it is a gun case!!………. don’t argue…… just do it.

Arrive at Seattle and venture outside for a smoke and watch all the friendly Police towing all the
cars away, these boys mean what they say about “no parking or waiting on the airport drives”.
Back to the puddle jumper and 1 hour later I’m in Lewiston and transport is there to meet me
and after a pleasant drive through Idaho I’m at the ranch in time for lunch. Wow! what a
fantastic lodge, roaring fire, every ammenity, superb decor, a shop, and the gun room at about
5 degrees over ambient to dry out wet guns without warping precious stocks.

1800 and hors d’oeurves are served as the bar fills up and there is much talk of the shooting to
come and many introductions. A generally affluent society and so they should be as this is costing
a $1000 a day, but as is true with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

1900, and “Gentlemen, dinner is served” and we proceed to the dining room to experience a
gastronomic feast, accompanied by some first class wines. An evening of heavy drinking following
my Doctor’s advice and so to bed.

Gorgeous room and a fantastic shower, that was adjustable, and had the force of a fire hydrant!

Breakfast to order in another dining room and then ready for action at 0830. My guide today is
the wife of the estate manager and she normally trains the dogs which number between 70-90
and are pointers or german short hairs. Of course English shooting is normally “driven” with
labradors and springer spaniels in attendance being controlled by the “picker-uppers” and the
only unruly dogs being in with the beaters. I had never previously worked with “good” pointers
so I was a little unsure of what to expect. Off we go on a purpose built shooting vehicle with 4
dog crates on the back, inside seating for 5 or outside seating for 5 as well. We are on an area
which is called “Lower Flats” and we no sooner unload and just watch these loopy dogs tear off
in all directions at incredible speed. Our pair are racing about all over the place and then suddenly
stop! I’m told where to go and we close in on the dogs who are stock still. The guide gives the
command and a dog flushes the bird which I can now shoot. A second breaks cover but stays low
so I raise my gun and let it go. Molly gives me a strange look and says nothing. During the course
of the morning she tells me I can shoot hen pheasants as I had been letting them go without
even mounting the gun. By lunchtime I’ve shot about 30 with a mix of Pheasants, Partridge or
Hungarians as they call them and some fast moving Chukkars which were quite testing.

Cindy on point with the custom Shooting Truck in the background

A great light lunch and about 2 hours to unwind before we are off again to a different area for
even more fun. Back to the lodge around 4 and after gun cleaning it’s cocktail time and lots of
shooting stories as the other teams come in. 6 o’clock and “nibblies” and then another superb
meal and wines to round off a near perfect day.

The Brown one is on Point, the Black one is honoring

After 2 more days of this and a bird count around 180 its time to go home but now of course I
have been truly spoilt and I will be back for more.

The next time I went it was not quite the same as I join the “Sporting Gun” fraternity which I’m
afraid was not the safest shoot I have ever been on! Zero Etiquette perhaps best explains it, or
after the “third bit of blatant poaching” let me explain something to you! After 2 of the 3 days I
tell them I do not wish to shoot with these people as they are “king dangerous! In the UK they
would have been sent home on the first morning. I have had birds “poached” which were clearly
my birds, I have seen birds shot on the ground in front of dogs on point, low shots taken over
dogs, had to duck on several occasions as swinging guns came my way and even had some clown
shoot over my shoulder nearly deafening me in the process. Moral, don’t shoot with people you
don’t know, stay clear of anyone using an “auto” as you never know how many he has in it…..
and finally enquire what choke they are using as anyone using full and full is to be avoided like
the plague.

I team up with my new guide, Jim, and have a superb and safe last day. Jim and I get on
exceedingly well and I request Jim on all my subsequent visits to the ranch.

Now watch this!

Lawman goes on Point

Flushed on command and another “perfect” shot

Nice retrieve

Walking in to the Point

My Guide and Great Friend Jim

One of the Finest Gun Dogs EVER……..  “BRUSH”        R.I.P.  Dam , I loved that Dog!

It just has to be the best there is in the USA.

Tony Down

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