Trip Journal: Wings in the White Out

Sr. Associate Editor John Taranto, along with two members of the Outdoor Life sales team, traveled to the Crow Indian Reservation south of Billings, Mont., to hunt all sorts of birds in an early-December deep freeze.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

When you get off Interstate 90 in Hardin, Mont., you better know damn well where you're going, especially on a cold and snowy December night when the temperatures are in the single digits. It's a black expanse and there aren't a whole lot of signs or rest stops where you can stop to ask for directions

Luckily Greg Gatto, Outdoor Life's Eastern Sales Manager, did know where he was going. He, Regional Sales Manager Courtney Olson and I arrived at Forrester's Bighorn River Resort (http://www.forrestersbighorn.com) just in time for a dinner of roast pork loin, fried eggplant, polenta and broccoli last night. Greg Chevalier of Chevalier Advertising and Steve Hoffa of Blackhawk Products Group joined us. Mike Baker of Cannon Safes was delayed en route, but he spent the night in Billings and arrived at the lodge in time for breakfast this morning.

Nasty weather left a thick blanket of snow on the ranch, making it tough to walk in pursuit of pheasant, chukar and partridge.

Lest you think we traveled all this way just to eat, I'll say that after eggs, potatoes and bacon, we bundled up for a day of upland hunting in snow to our knees and winds that swept over the mountains and made tears freeze to our cheeks. But it's hard to get too cold when you're walking behind hardworking Brittneys and Weimeraners that are putting up pheasants, chukar and Hungarian partridge every few steps. We pushed along thick draws in the middle of pastures and around small brushy bowls on the sides of mountains until we couldn't walk any more. Greg Gatto and I finished just three small birds short of our limit, but it certainly wasn't for a lack of seeing them. We were just a bit rusty swinging the gun.

After lunch, a few of us jumped in the trucks and headed back to the lodge to catch the afternoon flight of ducks and geese on the Bighorn.

Forrester's is located right on the banks of the river and just downstream from the Yellowtail dam. The constant flow of water keeps the river open year-round for several miles below the dam and when all the other ponds and rivers in the area freeze up, it seems that every bird in the Central Flyway desends on that short stretch of the Bighorn. Courtney, Greg and I had more ducks and geese to shoot at in those couple hours than I've seen in an entire season. Unfortunately, without a dog, we had to retrieve the birds ourselves, so we had to be selective with our shooting. Regardless, it was a great ending to an amazing day. There's talk of a poker game after dinner.

Tomorrow we float the Bighorn for more waterfowl gunning and a bit of flyfishing. The browns are spawning right now (we saw dozens rise while we sat on the bank pass shooting ducks this afternoon). Should be unforgettable.

Forrester's Bighorn River Resort
800-665-3799, forrestersbighorn.com