In my opinion Gray Lodge is probably the most beautiful area to hunt in the state's refuge system, I hunted it a lot for several years but after the continual fights, harrasment and then getting shot by a 3rd party I moved on to other areas. I did have some great shoots and some good memories but the confrontations just made it not worth it for me. The last season I hunted it both the Eastside and westside were good depending on the weather.
twoducks couldn't have said it any better... I love the area, but the fights just aren't worth it. Last year was an exception for me at Gray Lodge as it was the only place I hunted that I didn't get into a confrontation (Sutter was the hell hole for me last year!). I've found spots that are away from the main pressure and the people seem to be much less combative over there. You may get less birds but at least your blood pressure will remain at an acceptable level.
I did my time at The Lodge last year. The season on the average was pretty good. Echoing the thoughts from above I too tried to find out of the way areas where the pressure was light. It works but you do sacrifice shooting opportunities. I also found that if I shot well in one area I had competition the next time out. Bringing a good attitude and walking boots helps. I had a great shoot on opening day.
I grew up hunting Gray Lodge, and it can produce birds. The area is beautiful, and so are its employees, but the disregard for safety is too much for me. With such a high quota, I'm amazed nobody has been killed. I now opt to hunt a new area, with fantastic results, and NO attitudes. I've been able to focus on the birds and not the other guys. I believe duck hunters are a dying breed, and several "fellow" hunters are contributing to its demise.
Got to agree that both GL's habitat and employees are great. GL also has a different parking lot crowd because of Trailer Town. I think that folks being more acquainted due to Trailer Town saves a lot more problems. It real doesn't matter which refuge you hunt, if you head out to the heavy pressure areas to hunt - you got to expect company.
Head out of lot 1, 2, or 13 and you're guaranteed to encounter a lot of hunters, and too many of them have a serious attitude. Burn a few days scouting, hunt other lots and areas, and you'll have a much more enjoyable and safer time. Still, it sucks to hear the guns rolling out of 1 or on the firing line and think "Maybe if I was over there..."
I hunt Gray Lodge a lot for ducks and pheasants. I have been going up the last few weekends scouting for deer and they have made some changes to the habitat especially out of ten, which is where I usually hunt. As far as dealing with the attitudes if somebody moves in on where I am, even though I am there first, I get up and move, it's not worth ruining a day in the field.
I have only been there once but I was really impressed. We were hunting pheasants and had a great hunt. That was a couple of years ago. I heard the pheasant hunt was off last year so if anybody hunted there I would appreciate a report. We are thinking about going again this year. I agree with you guys that it is a beautiful place and the Staff does a great job. Fubar
Yes the pheasant hatch was off last year but there was still birds to be had if you are willing to work and have good dogs. I would say the hatch is off this year as well. I am seeing 50-75 birds each trip with three dogs and we usually go 3-4 hours.