Filling the in-between-season urge
For those of us craving some hunting time in between seasons, there is a cure: hunting exotics on Clover Creek Ranch.
A taxidermist I know told me about this little-known ranch, outside Ashwood. Clover Creek was recently purchased by Shon Webb of Washougal, Wash.
The former owner had raised exotics on this property for the last 20 years; Shon has built upon that. After e-mailing Shon a couple of times I thought I would give it a try - for the need of a story of course.
I convinced my brothe-in-law Luke to come along, also. He has hunted his whole life, but with a bow. I thought this would be a great chance to try to harvest something with his new rifle. When we arrived we were both pleasantly surprised at the facilities. While not five-star, it was definitely an above-average hunting camp.
The amenities included a bed, shower, refrigerator and a microwave. Who needs more? Outside the cabin, Shon has built a giant fire ring. The perfect place to relax in the evening and re-tell hunting stories. There is also a wonderful set-up for taking care of your trophies, including a walk-in cooler for the meat.
We set out early the next day to experience the hunting. First priority was to find Luke a sheep. After hours of riding and hiking we had only seen a couple watusi. According to the map we had yet to cover even half the ranch. We continued to hunt each draw until we found a Catalina goat that had a really nice set of horns and a jet black coat. Catalina goats are also hunted in New Zealand and Hawaii. As they ran off, Luke thought he might like to try for the goat.
We spent the next hour on two different stalks on the side of a canyon only to have the animal shake us off its tail.
I had to admit this was harder than I had expectated. Just like deer hunting, the animals are few and far between.
We finally glassed a small group of mixed sheep under some scrub junipers. There were corsicans, a merino, a black Hawaiian and a few painted desert. We were unsure if we wanted to try for any of these, but thought they warranted a second look. Two hours later, and lots of walking in the 95-degree heat, we had only seen a quick glimpse of the group through the trees.
Once again the sheep outsmarted us and disappeared in the trees.
We finally headed up top to a place known as the sheep shack. Wouldn't you know it, there were four sheep there.
As they moved into the trees Luke made a very nice shot on a painted desert ram.
After the obligatory photos we headed for camp. On the way back I spotted a beautiful ram with more than a full curl and proceeded to waste valuable time trying to get a shot, the whole time being led up the side of a steep draw, only to lose him near the top.
After all it was now the hottest part of the day and Luke's ram needed to be taken care of. After that chore, we decided to have some dinner and wait for the cooler hours of late evening before going out again.
Towards dark we caught up with the small group of sheep again. After having an angry yak run off most of them, I took a very respectable full curl merino.
Over all Luke and I had a great time. It was nice to get out and hunt in between seasons here in Oregon. Clover Creek Ranch offers hunting for exotic animals that are available in Texas, Hawaii and New Zealand.
Of the three I have only experienced the hunting in Texas; and to me it was very comparable, only less expensive and closer to home.
I would highly recommend a trip over there, especially if you have a younger hunter who could benefit from more hunting opportunities.
It was a great weekend getaway, and it is less than a tank of gas from home.