I just got off the phone with Dennis McNabb of Highland Hills Ranch, a western wingshooting lodge located in the high desert region of eastern Oregon. Their particular location plays a big part in their success.
“We only get about 10 inches of rain a year,” said Dennis, “but the location is a big plus for bird hunters as our February and March weather is no different from our October and November weather. We’re really not that high in elevation either and we have good water resources here. Contrary to popular belief we don’t get buried in snow and our hunting seasons have generally great weather throughout the fall and winter months.”
Highland Hills offers great wild bird shooting for pheasant, chukar, huns, and valley quail. “This has been great year for recruitment,’ said Dennis. We’ve had two hatches as I’m seeing birds out there that are just now maturing and coloring up. The wild bird numbers are excellent.”
Good water, mild winters, and lack of snow cover allows the wild birds to thrive, thus the extraordinary hunting. But perhaps the best part of Highland Hills is the driven shoots—true English-style driven shoots complete with drivers, beaters, picker uppers, traditional dress, bagpipes, and even tea and crumpets between drives. One of their English clients said it was as good as anything he had ever experienced back home.
The shoot consists of one day of instruction with Chris Batha, an internationally recognized shooting instructor who teaches the finer points of shooting high-flying birds. Then there are two days of driven shoots, with three drives per day, 300 plus birds per drive and nine shooters per drive. That’s 1800 plus birds over two days Day four is traditional walk-up shooting for all four species.
There are four sessions this year and they are mostly sold out, but there are a few spots left on the December 4-9 shoot. This is one of the finest shooting experiences this side of the Atlantic and if the English style driven shoot is something you’ve wanted to do, Highland Hills is the place to go.
Add to that the quality of the magnificent new lodge and the setting, this has to be one of the best wingshooting lodges in the country. While most people wouldn’t think of eastern Oregon as a wingshooting destination, the fact is, the weather, topography, habitat and this particular ranch operation all combine to make Highland Hills Ranch a remarkable experience.