COLORADO ALPINE TROUT
Hamilton and Kathy Duncan’s Sheephorn Ranch is the ideal place for a group of up to 10 people to spend a week in absolute seclusion. The 3,500-acre retreat sits on the side of a mountain outside of Kremmling, Colo., about two hours west of Denver, and offers alpine flyfishing at its best.
When you secure a week’s stay at Sheephorn, it’s just you and your party. This means you’ll prepare your own food and otherwise take care of yourselves during your stay, but the autonomy and complete isolation you’ll experience make any “work” seem inconsequential: It’s as if the mountain has become your temporary kingdom.
There are several lakes and streams on the property to ply for stocked brook, rainbow, cutthroat and cutbow trout. An average day on the water yields 30 to 40 fish per rod, with some of the rainbows and cutbows coming in between 5 and 8 pounds.
If you do decide to leave the ranch, there’s plenty to do within a short drive. The Vail area and its attractions and Hot Sulphur Mineral Springs and Spa are just 45 minutes away. A launch to the Colorado River, which you can float and fish with local guide Jeff Ehlert, is just two miles down the road from the ranch.
The ranch-style guest house itself is a living museum of Western culture and collectibles, including antique guns, old Western tack and several trophy racks from a number of species. There are six bedrooms, five bathrooms and one huge stone fireplace in the cozy wood-paneled main room.
AVAILABLE SPECIES: Brook, rainbow, cutthroat and cutbow trout.
BEST MONTHS: Late spring and summer, from May through September.
ACCESS: It’s a two-hour drive through the heart of the Rockies from Denver.
COST: A week at Sheephorn Ranch for up to six guests costs $1,500; $150 per guest thereafter, with a maximum of 10 guests. Three days and two nights for up to four is $500; $150 per guest thereafter. You supply the meals.
OTHER AMENITIES: Four-wheelers, hiking trails and wildlife watching.
CONTACT: Sheephorn Ranch (970-653-4275; in winter 772-234-5203); Jeff Ehlert (970-531-9998; grandfly fishing.com). –John Taranto
MEXICO’S BEST DOVES
After a morning of fast and furious white-winged dove shooting, it’s a fine experience to stretch out under a thatched palm roof for a siesta with a tender shoulder and a full belly. Then return to the field in the afternoon to burn through another case of shells. At Rancho Ala Blanca, a newly established hunting paradise near the town of Abasolo in Tamaulipas, Mexico, such indulgence is not only possible, it’s expected.
Among Mexican wing-shooting lodges, Rancho Ala Blanca ranks at the top of the list in quality. It’s also a little pricier than the rest, but the exquisite lodging and service, delicious food and top-notch hunts make it well worth the money.
From mid-August through October, dove shooters take stands in a variety of settings. Some are traditional crop-field shoots, but even more exciting are the hunts near watering holes, when doves suddenly swarm over openings in the mesquite and cactus.
At other times of the year, hunters can opt for hunting quail, ducks or turkeys. And Lake Guerrero is just a short drive from the ranch. Here guests can pitch to trophy largemouth bass in flooded mesquite. Rancho Ala Blanca keeps a tackle locker and bass boats on site.
AVAILABLE SPECIES: Doves, quail, ducks, turkeys and largemouth bass.
BEST MONTHS: August through October for doves.
ACCESS: An easy drive via courtesy van from Harlingen Airport in Harlingen, Tex.
COST: White-winged dove packages start at $2,200 for a three-day hunt.
OTHER AMENITIES: Saltwater swimming pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, bird-watching with the Soto la Marina River and the Sierra Madre in the distance. Mexican culture and shopping in nearby Victoria.
CONTACT: 866-694-0454, ranchoala blanca.com. –Will Brantley