Ok, the last two weeks I’ve written articles on “How to Camp on a Budget” but I know there’s a percentage of you out there that won’t even camp, much less on a budget! 

So, this week I’ll cater to you. After wrapping up the Professional Outdoor Media Assn. Convention in Tennessee I flew home, grabbed Katy and ran over to the Silvies Valley Ranch in Seneca, Oregon. 

If you like golf, you’ll love Silvies. They do something unique in that they use pack goats as caddies. I’m not a golfer so my description of their courses would not do them justice. I’m told that it’s in the top 20 golf courses in America. 

But if you want to golf and the rest of the family has no desire to golf don’t despair. They offer other activities. Here’s some of the activities that we did.

I took a 2-hour four-wheeler tour of the ranch. It’s always fun to 4-wheel but especially when someone is telling you the history of Silvies Valley from the days of the French trappers on up until present ties.

On the ranch there are still four log cabins from early homesteaders. 

We got to explore one. It was interesting to see how they had stuck cloth into the cracks between the logs, covered it with mud and then tacked on slats to hold the chink in.


I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the ranges were. They have pistol, rifle and black powder ranges. They air guns at the pistol and rifle ranges. Air guns have basically no recoil or report so they’re great for starting out new shooters.

A the pistol range one fun option was a .50 cal. which kicked like the Proverbial mule. They also had a lot of .22’s which Katy enjoyed shooting.

 We then dropped down to the Blackpowder range. I’ve hunted a lot with blackpowders but had never shot a flintlock. 

The igniting system is where they differ. When you pull the trigger, the hammer drops striking and igniting the powder on the flashpan. There is a slight delay between when you pull the trigger and the powder ignites the charge in the chamber. Even though I knew this and our instructor Tygh repeatedly warned me, I still couldn’t help moving before it shot.

I took some Powerbelt bullets which are made right here in little ole Nampa and are the finest blackpowder bullets on the market. 

I wish that we’d of had a couple of hours to shoot and compare their accuracy as compared to the balls we shot. 

To really compare you’d need two rifles because a round ball requires a different twist in the rifling as compared to a Powerbelt.

But out of all of the shooting that we did, the highlight was getting to shoot an original 45-70 blackpowder 1886 Winchester and a rolling block 45-70 blackpowder. Both shot actual blackpowder in brass. 

This is where our modern 45-70 got its name. It was a .45 cal. and used 70 gr. of blackpowder. One other fun gun was a Hatsun Blitz which is a CO2 airgun which can shoot full auto.

After the Louisiana Purchase the French trapped 200,000 beavers out of the valley which caused some ecological problems. 

The spring melt blew out the dams which in turn dried up the creeks for much of the year. 

Silvies has made some dams to mimic the beaver dams. Now the creeks flow year-round, willows are growing along the creeks which provides browse for the deer and elk. It’s hard to believe but what 15 years ago was dried up sage country is now lush drainages. The natural grasses have come back and by mid-June are halfway up to your thigh. I found this interesting.

Which brings up fishing. They have also have two stocked ponds but I mainly hit the creeks. I only had a couple of hours one afternoon to fish. 

It started raining right when I threw my first fly so it was impossible to read the river or fish effectively. As we left the ranch and headed North, I saw more creeks so I’ve got to go back and hit it again sometime (or they offer ice fishing on their lakes).     

They serve breakfast, lunch and a 6-course dinner but I’ve got to skip the description of the meals and talk about the bread. 

They served sourdough bread at every meal which was awesome so I took their Sourdough class. It was awesome. I was the only one in class so I bombarded the instructor Jeff Campbell with questions. 

He taught me the mechanics or maybe I should say the chemistry of sourdough. We enjoyed one of his 1-pound cinnamon rolls and had a good time. I could write an article on the sourdough class.

Well time doesn’t permit me to cover how nice it was to have our own hot tub right outside of our bedroom or the spa and massages which they offer (and we didn’t have time to hit). They also have mountain bikes and horseback riding but it wasn’t offered when we were there.

So, if your version of camping is in a Holiday Inn, why not elevate it to a new level and hit Silvies Resort and Retreats?

Tom Claycomb is a hunting enthusiast and writes a bi-monthly column for Winnemucca Publishing.