Hunting andfishing destinations for the discriminating sportsmen
DELTA DUCKS Though his beloved Beaver Dam Lake hasn’t changed much, Nash Buckingham wouldhardly recognize Tunica County, Miss., today. The Memphis writer, whose booksestablished the Mississippi Delta as a wonderland for waterfowl and upland birdhunters, might be surprised to see that the vast cotton fields of his youthhave been replaced in some places by casinos and high-rise hotels.
Modern sojournerswho like to hunt and fish without forsaking all the niceties of civilizationwill appreciate the difference. On a recent trip to northern Mississippi, Ispent one evening in the Grand Casino Tunica Resort’s Murano’s Restaurantfeasting on the best steak dinner I’ve ever eaten, and the next morning Ienjoyed the finest duck hunt I’ve ever experienced. The afternoon, I went on amule-wagon quail hunt to rival any staged in Georgia plantation country.
The statelegalized casino gambling in 1990. Since then, northern Mississippi has beentransformed into a gambler’s mecca, but without sacrificing thhe Delta’shunting and fishing opportunities that Buckingham helped make famous.
“DeShootinest Gent’man,” would have enjoyed sharing a Beaver Dam blind withMike Boyd and his son Lamar as much as I did. Mike’s Lab Molly had a busymorning retrieving mallards, gadwalls and wigeon from the waters of theseven-mile-long cypress-studded slough.
The quail hunttook place at Fitch Farms near Holly Springs, about an hour’s drive fromTunica. There, visiting hunters can choose between walking over the rollinghills behind dogs and handlers or riding from point to point on anold-fashioned Southern quail hunt, complete with a dog wagon pulled by a teamof mules.
AVAILABLESPECIES: Various types of puddle ducks, snow geese, deer, turkeys and bobwhitequail.
BEST MONTHS: LateNovember through January for waterfowl, through February for quail; fall fordeer hunting; spring for wild turkeys.
ACCESS: Less thanan hour from Memphis International.
COST: A morningduck hunt with Beaver Dam Hunting Services costs $200 per gun, or a minimum of$600. Quail hunts at Fitch Farms range from $600 per person for a half-day huntto $975 per person for a full-day hunt, including overnight accommodations.Rooms at the two hotels of the Grand Casino’s Tunica Resort start at $69.
OTHER AMENITIES:Sporting clays and skeet facilities, gambling casinos near-by, TunicaRiverpark, situated on the Mississippi River near the resort.
CONTACT: BeaverDam Hunting Services, 662-363-6288; Fitch Farms, 662-252-8855, FitchFarms.com –Colin Moore
It’s a rareAlaska destination that offers the best of saltwater and freshwater fishing inone package. Justin and Ponch Marchbanks of Glacier Bay Country Inn offerfirst-class saltwater fishing aboard a comfortable boat in the protected baysof Icy Strait. Travel time to hot spots is less than 40 minutes, andseasickness is unheard of here. Best of all, I didn’t see another angler ondaily fly-outs via bush plane to remote streams and lakes filled with huskytrout, salmon and char.
I saw bears fishand whales breach as I caught fish after fish. Remote cabins with plushinteriors and four-course meals await you at the main lodge. Guests kick backon their cabin’s front porch and watch moose and bears in a nearby meadow. Attrip’s end, I wondered how I had missed this place in 30 years of travelthroughout Alaska, but I was glad it found me.
AVAILABLESPECIES: Halibut, lingcod, rockfish and king and silver salmon in salt water.Flyfishing for freshwater silver, sockeye, pink and chum salmon, steelhead,rainbow and cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden char.
BEST MONTHS: Maythrough mid-September.
ACCESS: AlaskaAirlines flies into Gustavus via Juneau and Seattle.
COST: Five-day,six-night package that includes fly-outs and saltwater fishing, $3,335.
OTHER AMENITIES:Whale watching, kayaking, hiking, beachcombing.
CONTACT:800-628-0912; glacierbay alaska.com. –Christopher Batin
For an offbeathunting adventure, it’s difficult to top a luxury varmint shoot. You simplydon’t hear “high class” and “ground squirrels” uttered in thesame sentence very often. But the people who run Paws Up Resort in southwesternMontana may change all that with a spring varmint shoot that includes enoughtrimmings to satisfy even the most finicky member of the spa set.
Granted, it felta little odd at first to have hot tubs, a 4,500-square-foot “cabin,”gourmet food and a superbly stocked wine cellar at our disposal after expendinghundreds of rounds of .17 March 2 and .204 Ruger, but the folks in my huntingparty-got used to it fast.
Paws Up islocated in the heart of the Blackfoot Valley, some of the most stunning countryin the Lower 48. The ranch itself covers about 37,000 acres and has severalmiles of the Big Blackfoot River flowing through it.
Paws Up conductsfall elk hunts on horseback in the nearby Bob Marshall Wilderness as well asflyfishing trips on regional rivers. If you want to experience a rifle elk huntduring the bugling season, this is one of your best bets.
AVAILABLESPECIES: Elk, mule deer, ground squirrels, trout.
BEST MONTHS:Spring for varmint shooting; summer and fall for fishing; late summer and fallfor big game.
ACCESS:Thirty-five minutes from Missoula airport.
COST: From $250 anight plus guide fee; flyfishing and two-to-one big-game hunting trips are$4,500 per person.
OTHER AMENITIES:Sporting clays, pheasant hunting, horseback riding, biking, hiking,ATV-ing.
CONTACT:800-473-0601; pawsupout fitters.com. –John Snow