This weekend, I took my wife Tricia on her first ever hunting trip
: a guided pheasant hunt on the Double Barrel Upland Bird Ranch just south of Spokane, Washington. I wanted to ensure that she started her hunting career off on a good note and took great care in selecting an outfitter for the hunt. Fortunately, we hit the jackpot with the Double Barrel Ranch and had a great time and a very successful hunt.
The Double Barrel Upland Bird Ranch has been around for over a decade and specializes in pheasant and chukar hunting. Additionally, they do offer guided turkey hunts, a fantastic sporting clays course, and dog training sessions. The ranch also has a beautiful lodge available for hunters to stay in during their hunt.
The lodge has beds for up to 10 people, a full kitchen and dining room, a living room with a fireplace, a full bathroom downstairs, and a half bathroom with laundry facilities upstairs. The owner of the ranch, Ron Olmstead, is quite the craftsman and hand built most of the beautiful wood furniture in the house, namely the beds and the dining room table. However, perhaps the most interesting part of the lodge is the impressive collection of taxidermy. There are some very impressive elk, moose, pronghorn, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, white tailed deer, mule deer, sheep, coyote, turkey, pheasant, duck, quail, and grouse mounts in the lodge.
Below is a short video tour I made of the lodge showing the accommodations as well as the impressive taxidermy.
I wish I had a trophy room that nice…
The Double Barrel Upland Bird Ranch is located about 17 miles south of Spokane and only about 2 miles from the Idaho border. Most of their land consists of open, rolling hills covered in grass with stands of forest and heavy cover interspersed. This makes for fantastic upland game habitat and they have a population of wild pheasant that lives in the hunting area in addition to the farm raised birds that they release before each hunt.
The hunting area does see fairly cold temperatures and receives reasonable amounts of snow fall during the winter. We were fortunate to have good weather for our hunt: winds were light, there was very little snow on the ground, and temperatures that morning hovered around 30° F. This made for a beautiful, frosty morning to be outdoors.
The Double Barrel Upland Bird Ranch offers both guided and non-guided bird hunts. Since we do not have our own dog and know next to nothing about pheasant hunting, my wife and I opted for a guided hunt. Our guide, Joe, brought two well trained dogs: a German Shorthaired Pointer named Pepper and a Brittany named Espy. After eating breakfast and getting acquainted with each other, Joe took us to the hunting area, which was only about a two mile drive from the lodge. He talked to us briefly about safety and about how the hunt would be conducted. After that, we began walking behind the dogs while they searched for bird scent in the knee high grass.
Conditions were cold, but great for hunting!
It did not take long for the dogs to find the first bird. After less than five minutes of hunting, the dogs pointed on a clump of grass which contained what would become my wife’s first pheasant
. For the next two hours we followed the dogs as they methodically searched the fields for hidden birds and Tricia and I alternated as the primary shooter. Once one of the dogs started pointing, one of us would slowly approach the dog from behind and begin searching the grass for the hidden bird. Most of the birds held pretty tightly and we had to closely approach them before they flew. However, we did have a few wily birds that ran several hundred yards before holding up in some thick cover.
The dogs did fantastic work. Espy was a very slow, methodical tracker, while Pepper was more energetic and wide ranging. Those two attributes complemented each other perfectly and in less than two hours of hunting, we found all 10 birds released for us plus one wild rooster and one holdover from a previous hunt.
Not a bad haul for a short morning hunt!
Below is a collection of a few video clips of Tricia and I that we took over the course of the hunt. The videos show the terrain we were hunting in pretty well and give a good impression of how the dogs worked.
I’ve hunted all over the world with many different guides, and Joe was the epitome of the perfect professional hunter. In addition to being exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable about pheasant hunting, he was also very patient and was willing to teach us to be better bird hunters. This is just the sort of attitude that I look for in a hunting guide and I can recommend him without hesitation to anyone planning on hunting pheasant in the future.
When all was said and done, my wife and I had a great time and a very successful hunt. At the end of the day, we walked away with some memories that we will treasure for the rest of our lives, not to mention enough pheasant meat to last us several months. The Double Barrel Upland Bird Ranch provided excellent accommodations and outstanding hunting that they can tailor to each individual hunter and their experience level. Without a doubt, I can recommend them for anyone looking for a fun and memorable upland bird hunt.