Yes, when we went to Iowa, the birds were wild and we hunted them as we used
to many years ago, but thatís a very long way to travel. To top it off, their
corn was still standing the November we were there, due to prolonged periods of
rain. Did you ever hunt pheasants in land surrounded by endless acres of
standing, muddy cornfields? That can be a real trial!
The birds we hunted in Pennsylvania were planted, farm raised pheasants. We
had success in finding them, but the area was limited, and one day it poured.
Thatís the day I backed into an electric fence, an event leaving something to
be desired, even though I was happily bending over to receive a bird from my
English cocker, Tatty.
On The Road Again
This year, we did a little research and got a little bit smarter. Instead of
fighting miserable traffic going south and endless roads going west, we headed
north and east to Shepody Game Preserve in nearby New Brunswick.
My husband and I and two of our dogs left Tenants Harbor early on a crisp
September morning, full of anticipation and apprehension. What were we headed
for this time?
We murmured appropriate Oops and Aaahs as we crossed the bridge at Belfast
and gazed down to see the masts of the remaining sailboats, emerging through the
early morning mist.
On to Bangor, then to Route 9 where we felt we owned the road since it was a
Sunday and no logging trucks were on the road. I must admit, however, we did see
a bus loaded with leaf peepers.
We crossed the border at Calais into St. Stephen, New Brunswick, making sure
we registered our shotguns with American customs before entering Canada. That
can save the traveler potential problems on the return trip.
Since we had never been in this part of the world, we played tourist in St.
John for a short time and were lucky enough to catch the reversing falls at
slack tide when boats can pass through. Whoever arranged that, ďThank you.Ē
It was 341 miles from our doorstep to the hunting lodge at Shepody, one of
the most relaxing trips we have ever taken. The scenery was gorgeous all the way
and the sight of the Bay of Fundy as we emerged from the Fundy National Park was
Shepody Pheasant Preserve is located 17 miles from Fundy National Park.
During our days of hunting there, I never ceased to be taken by its
ever-changing natural beauty. Rolling hills, farmland, Shepody Mountain and the
Bay of Fundy all could be consumed in a glance. I would have liked to do more
sightseeing but was so busy hunting pheasants it didnít happen. Maybe next
Claude and Lynn Dixson are the owners and gracious hosts of over 400 acres of
excellent cover for pheasants. Patrons at Shepody may bring their own dogs but
it is unnecessary since dogs and guides are included in their reasonable price
structure. The Dixsonís are flexible and accommodating to the needs of their
Daily hunts are managed in such a way that each hunting party has itís own
area. We felt comfortable hunting in our own private zone, not only for the
safety but also for the aesthetics of a natural hunt.
Claude has created ideal habitat for pheasant. He has incorporated his
extensive background in farming to provide an environment that is not contrived
nor does it suffer any wear from tramping feet. Steep, rolling hills and heavy
brush can test the best of dogs and the legs of the hearty hunter. There are
also broad fields of grain and endless edges along logging roads that furnish
easier walking. Old or young hunter, pointer or flushing dog, the right cover is
there. We hunted all five of the available zones at Shepody during our three
very full days, but we didnít begin to see it all.
Plenty of Birds
My 2-year-old, field-bred English cocker and my husbandís 3-year-old German
shorthair pointer have had limited experience finding a lot of birds. For the
most part, we are like everyone else with dogs; we do a lot of looking.
Sometimes, we are lucky maybe even skillful enough to have the dog do his job
and we do ours, but it takes a long time to train a dog properly with that kind
of limited experience.
At Shepody, we took turns working the dogs since one is a pointer and one a
flusher. We feel they got three years of experience in three short but full
days. It was a marvelous training opportunity. The birds were there; we did not
feel pressured to shoot at everyone. Our prime goal was to give the dogs their
due when they did their job correctly. It worked. Both dogs hunted close to the
gun because they saw thatís where the fun was. Their retrieving and marking
skills showed obvious improvement. They figured out the rules of the game, and
it became a lot more clear what was expected of them.
When my husband shot a double over Ike (his Shorthair) and both birds were
delivered with promptness and style, we felt like Ike had really proven himself
He had pointed, marked and retrieved to hand, so proud and so happy to please.
It was a sight to see. He knew what to do and was almost showing off.
For those dog owners with young or inexperienced animals, Shepody has an
accomplished dog handler in residence who can serve as guide. Darrin knows the
lay of the land and he knows dogs. He can be of great assistance to the
In addition to the great hunting, we were fed almost sinfully, everything
fresh from the Dixson farm. The atmosphere at Shepody was informal and guests
spent pleasurable relaxed time around the dining room table or in the lodge
living room, discussing dogs, hunting, cooking, politics, whatever. Claude and
Lynn were frequently around to join in the discussions.
The price is right at Shepody, the best we have found, and if a nonhunting
guest accompanies a hunter, the Dixsons are accommodating. As mentioned
previously, trained gun dogs and guides are available as is gun dog training.
The season runs from September to May, and the hunting is unlimited for the day
hunter or for those who stay at the lodge.
Seven thousand pheasants are currently being raised at the preserve. Claude
puts out birds each morning in the zones where he has assigned hunters. We saw a
lot of birds; we heard a lot more; there are many that have been left by other
hunters. With good dog work and a good eye (Uh Oh), a guest at Shepody will get
what they pay for and a lot more. It was a great vacation for us and our dogs. I
really wanted to go back last Wednesday when I missed the only grouse I saw all
© Barbara Haupt
used with permission