After three or four weekends of hard and unsuccessful turkey hunting in Central Oregon, Cheryl and I decided to engage Fins & Feather's Guide Service to get us into some late season Thunder Chickens. We signed up for a 1-day hunt over the Memorial Day weekend with Head Guide and Owner Craig "Gus" Augustynovich. We drove about 3.5 hours to the recently constructed Fins & Feather's Lodge in Roseburg, OR. The lodging was incredibly comfortable and had one of the most impressive collections of taxidermy that I had seen. We ate dinner, got our gear ready to go and went to bed early after Gus casually mentioned that he wanted to be on the road at 3:30am.
3:00am came quickly and after some coffee, we were able to sleep-stumble into the truck by 3:30am. Gus has been hunting the Roseburg area for turkey, deer and elk for over 30 years and has access to what seemed like every piece of land in the area. Although the land we were hunting was mostly private, these properties were vast and we would soon find out that tricking a mature tom into the range of a shotgun would not be easy. We drove about 45 minutes to the first ranch and set up our first stand in a tree line overlooking a meadow. We didn't make a call until the sun was about to rise and we could hear birds starting to come down from the roost. Across the bowl about 200 yards away in a group of trees, a gobbler started sounding off. We began making hen calls and getting responses from him and another gobbler about 500 yards away directly to our right. We converse for a while with both birds until the one from the right comes into view and is standing right between us and the other gobbler. Instead of coming towards us for some potential love making, he turns and runs into the trees to get into it with the other gobbler. They stop talking to us despite our best efforts so we decide to change stands.
We set up and leave a few more inactive stands and at his point, it's about noon. It's 80-85 degrees and we're in full camo. We've been up and hunting for about 9 hours now. Gus is working his ass off to put birds in front of us but they're uncooperative. We're hot, sweaty, wet from sitting in damp grass, thirsty, tired, hungry and a little disheartened that we haven't had a shot at a bird despite talking to them all morning. Ken's Sidewalk Cafe was the perfect place for a break. Between the three of us, we had buffalo burgers, elk burgers, hand cut fries, milkshakes and the biggest sodas they had. After refueling, we head towards the next stand.
The hunt might be over, but the journey was not. We still have an hour drive back to the lodge and another 3.5 hour drive home to Central Oregon. After 13 full hours of hunting, the drive home sounds exhausting, but the adrenaline from our hunt is keeping morale high. We hustle back to the lodge, take care of our birds, shower off a thick layer of sweat, dirt and poison oak and we head home after a long, hot, hard and extremely satisfying day. My bird had the longer beard but hers had the longer spurs. We'll call it a draw.
Thank you to Fins and Feather's Guide Service for their hospitality and use of their incredible lodge and a huge thank you to Craig "Gus" Augustynovich for working so hard to make sure we were successful. He went above and beyond what should reasonably be expected from a guide. Gus' number is 541-974-6567. Through F&F Guide Service, he guides Columbia Blacktail and Whitetail, Sturgeon, Salmon and of course, the Rio Grande Turkey.
***UPDATE as of 4/25/19 - Sunday 5/5 is full and there are 4 spots available for Saturday 4/4***
I’ve booked 2 days of the finest varmint shooting Oregon has to offer for the first annual Oregon Outfitters Sage Rat Hunt with our friends at Diamond A Guides.
Diamond A Guides operate out of Crane, OR which is about 20-30 minutes southeast of Burns. We meet, stay and eat at Crystal Crane Hot Springs (address below). Nikki feeds us 3 hot meals a day and we hit the fields between meals with our guides.
I’ve been going on this hunt for the past few years and I look forward to it every spring. The fields are overrun with Belding’s Ground Squirrels AKA Sage Rats. Last year, we planted the platform trailer in one spot and did not move the entire day. From that spot, 6 shooters including myself were entertained for over 8 hours. I personally shot over 700 rounds of .22 and 17HMR that day which resulted in 500-600 dead sage rats. I mainly shoot a bolt action 17HMR rifle but I also usually take a 10/22 type rifle, a 22LR handgun for close shots and an AR-15 chambered in 22 Nosler. I normally shoot less than 30 centerfire rounds as there will be tons of action in the 50-100 yard range.
Oregon Outfitters' involvement on the trip is only to round up enough shooters to fill a platform or two. In addition, if you are in need or firearms for the trip, we'd be happy to assist you with your purchase. Diamond A Guides will be providing all of our food, lodging and guiding for the weekend. Depending on number of people attending, we may have 2 elevated trailers which will be stationed in different fields. Shooting groups can shift around each day depending on guest preference.
1 or 2 full days of varmint shooting on an elevated shooting platform
Dog-Gone-Good shooting bags
1 night lodging (if hunting 2 days)
3 hearty, home cooked meals per day
Access to Crane Hot Springs
Crystal Crane Hot Springs 59315 OR-78 Burns, OR 97720
May 4-5, 2019.
The Hot Springs/Diamond A Guide HQ is about a 2.5 hour drive from Bend, OR.
I plan to drive up on Saturday morning leaving Bend at about 530am. Breakfast is served at 8am.
We'll drive home late afternoon - Leaving Crane around 6-7pm at the latest.
What to bring for shooting:
Rimfire rifles and handguns (22LR, 22 Mag, 17HMR, etc.)
Small bore centerfire rifles (.223, 22-250, 22 Nosler, etc.)
Multiple magazines for each firearm
750-1000 rounds of ammunition per day of shooting
Suppressors for any of the above firearms (optional)
Eye and ear protection
Closed toe shoes
Firearm cleaning kit
What to bring for camp (if hunting 2 days):
Sleeping bag and pillow
$515.00 for a 2-day hunt, 1 night lodging and 6 meals
$315.00 for a 1 day hunt (Saturday ONLY) and 3 meals
It is customary to tip your guide $20/day as they work hard to get us on rats and often help loading mags so we can stay shooting.
Call Diamond A Guides to pay via CC – (541) 573-6080 or bring a check to the shoot. Mention “Oregon Outfitters May 4-5 Sage Rat Platform Shoot” and whether you're going for both days or for a single day.
CONFIRM ATTENDANCE WITH RYAN AFTER PAYMENT IS MADE.
Ryan Johnson, Oregon Outfitters - Call or text at (541) 977-9707 or email firstname.lastname@example.org