Duck hunting has been slow at best, so I decided to treat Piper to a pheasant hunt. If given the choice I’m sure Piper would prefer to be a upland specialist but time and opportunity dictate that she spends most of her time sitting quietly next to me in the marsh in pursuit of waterfowl. I’m certain she understands the difference because when we exit the truck on a waterfowl hunt, she is mostly all business; and, in contrast, when we get ready for an upland bird hunt she is almost like a little puppy again, bouncing up and down and spinning with joy. Our visit to Luckiamute Valley this past weekend proved my theory to be correct: Piper does in fact recognize the difference and her enthusiasm for the hunt matched mine as we left the field at the end of the hunt. I had found a jewel of a preserve close to Portland!
I had been wanting to visit Chuck and Kendall Cates, owners/partners of Luckiamute Valley Pheasants, for some time but just hadn’t gotten around to it until this past weekend. With an open day, a rarity these days with all the kids’ activities, I loaded Piper up and we were headed south to Monmouth, Oregon. Having heard great things about Luckiamute and their fast flying pheasants, my expectations for the hunt were sky high and Luckiamute did not disappoint! As many of you know, the knock on hunting preserves typically centers around the birds. Either they hold too tight, fly slow or in some cases don’t fly at all. Well, I can tell from my personal experience that Luckiamute does not suffer from any of these shortfalls. Their pheasants were fast fliers and ran like hell, making for some very challenging dog work. There were times when Piper would pick up scent and 3 – 5 minutes would pass as she zeroed in on the running bird before she could finally force a flush. Once airborne these birds were true athletes bursting from the cover and flying strong until they were either on the ground or out of harm’s way. Piper and I were very impressed.
Luckiamute also offers three separate blocks of ground to hunt making it nice for multiple groups or a change of scenery on your return visits. Piper and I hunted parts of zone 1 and 2 and both were perfectly suited to a flushing spaniel with great river-bottom ground and long narrow food plot strips that held plenty of birds. Both of these zones are best suited for two hunters and a dog but can be worked effectively by a single hunter. We did have a few wily birds scoot out the backside of the cover that a second hunter could have easily taken advantage of.
Lastly, Luckiamute also offers a comfortable barn area where you and your dog can hang out between the morning and afternoon hunts. Unlike many preserves, when you book a slot at Luckiamute you have booked it for the entire day. If you make quick work of the 5 bird per person limit that’s great; but if you are like Piper and I, you’ll want to spend some time in the field putting a few birds in your vest and then return for a snack and some refreshments. Hot coffee and cider are always available throughout the day so we enjoyed a short break for lunch and warmed ourselves next to the wood stove.
So, if you need to get out from time to time to stretch your legs and treat your dog to some upland work close to the Portland area, do yourself a favor and book a hunt with Chuck and Kendall. You won’t regret it.