When researching the hunting lodges for Great Hunting Lodges of North America, Castle Valley Outdoors piqued my interest. Here, great wingshooting is accompanied by the staggering scenic beauty of southeastern Utah. Massive rock buttes and bluffs surround the valley, and while great wingshooting is reward enough, when coupled with these surroundings Castle Valley is an incomparable experience.
A 16,000 acre working cattle ranch, Castle Valley devotes about 4,000 acres of its best bottom land to no-limit bird hunting, and this year they added four extensive new fields to the mix. The other day, I talked to Travis Wright of Castle Valley, and he told me there have been other recent and popular improvements to Castle Valley.
“We completely redesigned and restocked the trout pond just a few steps away from the lodge. Now between the morning and afternoon hunts, hunters can spend a couple of hours fishing,” said Wright. “We added a new main locker room this year for the convenience of the hunters. Once the hunt is over, they can leave all their gear there and come over to the lodge for cocktails. Interestingly enough, it has turned into quite the social gathering spot and the guests seem to enjoy sitting in there after the hunt, smoking a few cigars, and telling a few stories.”
Also new this year is a continental pheasant shoot where pheasants are released from a hidden release point and fly over the shooting line where the hunters are placed for some classic European-style pass shooting. This changes the game considerably, as the birds are flying high and fast at the point of shot instead of flushing up and away in the traditional field hunt.
Castle Valley is quite well known in hunting circles for the quality of their German shorthair pointers. In fact, Gun Dog Magazine recognized the lodge as having the best guides and dogs in the country. For the lover of great dog work, this lodge is well worth the trip and with no-limit hunting, not only does a hunter get a lot of shooting, but is privy to point after point from great dogs. For most bird-hunters, that in itself is worth the price of admission.
Their hunting goes though March 31 and there are openings left in January and February and a few in March. During the January and February months, the snow-covered mountains can offer spectacular surroundings, which according to Wright can be so beautiful as to be somewhat distracting.
For those who relish their privacy, one of the great benefits of Castle Valley is the accommodation offering 11 single rooms with king-size beds. The lodge can handle 15 hunters and one of the newer traditions is the nightly bonfire and the chance to do a bit of stargazing. While great wingshooting and Utah don’t normally come up in the same conversation, Castle Valley is a remarkable exception and an experience for bird hunter’s looking for something prolific and a bit unique