Destination File 96 - Shenandoah Mountain Outfitters

Gary Collins

 

       The Shenandoah Valley was once renowned for its quail and on the western slope of the mountains for its grouse.  Memories can be embellished by time, but the true measure of how the upland bird hunting was, is measured by those that possessed those wonderful pointing breeds that are the subject of so many wildlife artistsÕ works.  The quail are long gone and due to cutting restrictions, the clear cuts that produced those glory years of grouse hunting have aged up to mature stands of timber.

       The owners of Shenandoah Mountain Outfitters are providing those that take advantage of their hunting preserve, a good look of what those years were like and the dogs that did that work.  Micah Huff and Patrick Rodgers have created a 200-plus acre habitat and experience that brings back those old memories.

       Located just a direct and short 20-minute drive west on route 250 from the I-64/I-81 interchange,  Shenandoah Mountain Outfitters offers a full range of hunting and fishing activities, and some of the most panoramic views for outings that can be found in Western Virginia. 

   On the route you will pass Elkhorn Lake and Braleys Pond entrance, which are stocked annually as a put and take trout fishery and hold a surprising healthy population of crappie and bluegills along with some decent largemouth bass.  Getting there will take you past the White Way Diner and the Buckhorn Tavern Inn, both of which have received favorable culinary reviews in the Washington Post.  Nearby Staunton is known for its revitalized downtown and many fine eating establishments and the Frontier Village is located just a mile from the interstate interchange.     

       The owners of the preserve are 3rd and 4th generation bird hunters and have between them over 50 years experience in the outdoor environment of Western Virginia and in training quality bird dogs.  They used that experience and heritage to produce a product for those looking for the old time experience. 

   The preserve showcases some of the most beautiful setters I have ever seen. Llewellyn setters have fantastic running gear that is in control; unlike some other pointing breeds. They hunt for the hunter, not for themselves. These genetically identified versions of the English setter wins you over with those soft brown eyes, but those eyes hide a burning desire to find game.  While there ask for Dixie; she will break your heart. 

The preserve itself is surrounded by National Forest and access to the grounds is limited to the access from Route 250.  The ground varies from steep open fields to food plotted hill tops to deep draws with grouse like cover that have food plot openings.  Four wheeler trails connect all the various type covers and provide the less than able hunter to access these different habitats. 

The pheasants and quail present themselves in a natural environment. The owners have not only planted food but have also made openings to allow sun in and in natureÕs own way has seeded the area with natural food. Teaberries along a full time spring and green briar thickets are only a few of the natural enhancements you will find on the preserve.

Shenandoah Mountain Outfitters offers a full range of around the year activities that go beyond the normal September to April preserve operating time and also allow the sportsman to overlap activities. 

  Some of the best native brook trout fishing is close by and guided trips are offered. The preserve is in prime spring turkey and fall deer country and those hunts are also offered; both guided and unguided.  Both owners are experienced dog trainers and field trailers and can provide training and assistance with your dog.

The preserve also has an Anglican chapel on the highest point that has a breath taking view of the headwaters that feed Elkhorn Lake.  This portion of the facility is open to those looking for a retreat, reunion or a wedding.  The entire area is a photographerÕs dream and a quiet place to visit to re-energize oneself from the hectic pace of todayÕs world.