Livermore-Pleasanton Dinner to Auction Golden Ram Deer Hunt

The Golden Ram Sportsman’s club has generously donated a four-day blacktail deer hunt for auction at the Livermore-Pleasanton  MDF Chapter banquet, March 10, 2011.

The hunt is for two people and the hunt will take place on the Golden Ram Sportsmen Club’s Bar Z Ranch property near Covelo, which is leased by Golden Ram Sportsmen.

This hunt is an unguided, weekday only hunt. Designated camping area is included. Hunter must provide own tent or trailer. Call Golden Ram Sportsmen’s Club to make reservations in advance.

This hunt as been generously donated by Golden Ram Sportsmen. For more information about the Golden Ram Sportsman’s Club go to

For tickets contact Bob Holm, (925)447-2044.

Kennedy Meadows Pack Station adds Pack Trip to the Livermore-Pleasanton MDF Auction

A five-day drop-camp trip for two people will be offered at the Livermore Pleasanton Mule Deer Foundation banquet on March 10, 2011. Each person will be provided with a riding horse and pack mule along with a packer to load the animals  and guide them to camp.

On day one the packer will deliver the riders to their camp site and on day five he will return to pick them up.

Kennedy Meadows pack station is known for its excellent riding stock and experienced wranglers.

A drop-camp can be arranged in the immigrant Wilderness adjacent to Yosemite National Park or in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness along the Clark Fork of the Stanislaus River.

We’ve hunted with Kennedy Meadows several times and had great service. We’ve hunted deer in the Carson Iceberg Wilderness serveral times in the both archery and rifle deer seasons. These packers will get you where you want to go.

Here's a nice buck taken in the D6 deer zone.

If you’re interested in bear, you’ll probably find one.

I photographed this bruin during the D6 archery season a few years ago.

If fishing is your thing, then Kennedy Meadows pack station can take you to one many lakes with excellent fishing. And, the scenery is impressive.

Daughter Betsy and I spent a few days fishing out of Kennedy Meadows a few years ago.

 The fair market value of this trip is $920. For more information, send me an email. To order tickets, call Bob Holm at (925)447-2044.

A Tracking Lesson in the Mud

Rob and I were checking one of our ponds last Monday. As we prepared to leave, Rob stopped to look down at four tracks in the mud. The tracks were large, looking to be a buck, and that’s what caught his eye.

Because of the large track size, my guess would be that it was a buck that made the track. However, the actual size of the deer’s hoof can be distorted by mud. The soft medium allows more of the bottom of the hoof to make contact, enlarging the print.

We stood staring at the tracks and I couldn’t resist taking a photo.

This set of tracks had learning potential.

These four prints were made by the same deer and show a pattern.

(Click on the photo for a closer look.) 

Standing over the tracks, we had the advantage of knowing that the deer was heading towards a six-foot wide drainage from the pond. As the deer approached the drainage, it decided to leap over it. On the other side of the drainage was a steep hill – adding to the buck’s need for power. His jump would provide momentum to help him climb the slippery slope in front of him.

Try to imagine the buck stopping at the gap and then leaning forward as he shifted his weight to his front feet. As he dipped his front end down it accepted his body weight. Quickly his hind feet leave the ground and pass his front feet.

As the rear feet hit the ground, the pattern you see in the photo is complete. The four hooves simultaniously hit the ground for a split second.

He’s now coiled to spring forward – his back arched and his hind legs tensed. Quickly loading his hindquarters and uncoiling, his entire body weight shifted onto his hind feet, pressing down deeply in the mud as his front hooves leave the ground and stretch forward. 

In the track of his rear right hind foot print, you can see where the dew paws made a slight impression (dew paws don’t show in a walking track) – his hooves splayed out as they carried his body weight.

We studied the slope where the deer climbed the slope. Heavy rain had eliminated his trail, but the deep impressions left by the initiation of the leap remained.

There are also clues here about when the tracks were made.  The edges of the track are rounded and at one time they held water. The indication is that the track had been made during the latest rains, but before the end of the rains. By checking the recent weather patterns, one can make a fairly educated guess that the deer had passed by about last Friday, in rain and significantly before the skies cleared on Saturday.

Night Search for Salamanders

Nice boots.


Searched for California tiger salamanders in the middle of the night last weekend. Took my daughter Betsy along for company. Her question, “Does it make you nervous walking around in the dark at night?”

My answer, “No, except when I don’t know where I am.”

Darkness is a fun adventure when you’re in you comfort zone. The more time you spend out at night, the more you can enjoy the medium. And, you can find more critters in the dark.

We didn’t find the salamanders, but we found a couple western toads and a few California red-legged frogs. One pair was in amplexus, a scientist’s word for mating.

Toads will soon be laying eggs in the nearby ponds.


California red-legged frogs in amplexus.

The Harry Rowell Buck

Got this email message from Paul Cardoza regarding the post, “The Good Old Days.”

Rich, here’s the pic of me holding the buck I came across at the Sports show in Frisco, 1981. Stan Escover had the 9×12 photo that we compared Rowells buck with the buck one I’m holding in this pic. The picture that Stan had showed the same bucks, same place, but the buck in front of Harry, was rearranged showing the bucks huge rack a lot better than the print that you posted. To me anyway, the bucks in both pictures proved to be one and the same. Stan still may have that pic, I don’t know…  Paul

Here’s Paul’s photo:

Paul Cardoza holding the Harry Rowell buck's antlers in 1981.

In case you missed it, here’s the photo in the previous post.

Harry Rowell and hunting partner Johnny

Wonder where those great Nevada antlers went.

Two Bucks, Same Fate

Last spring I came across a nice buck while turkey hunting. Although his antlers were undeveloped, the size of the base of his antlers indicated that he’d be a shooter. I looked for him during the rifle season last summer and didn’t find him.

Rob found him a couple weeks ago.

These bucks had several things in common.

Unfortunately a lion found him first. (click to enlarge photo.)

It’s tough to grow bucks to a ripe old age when the lion density is high. And, that’s what ours is, very high. This buck must have met his demise about the start of the new year. His antlers had many things in common with the other set of antlers in the photo, which belonged to a different lion-killed buck. (See “The Lion and the Buck.”).

Both are larger than average for mature bucks on our property. Both are not quite at the point of being old – they’re maybe three and a half. Both have four points on at least one side and their dimensions are nearly identical. Both were killed by mountain lions. We would like to grow older bucks, but they just don’t live to a very old age in mountain lion country.

Mountain lions are fully protected in California, a status shared by only a few other species.

Meadow Larks Rebounding?

Spent the day at the ranch on Saturday. Sunny day. I kept disturbing flocks of birds, but they were mostly too far away to get a good look at them so I assumed they were horned larks which tend to bunch up along our ranch roads.

After setting up my spotting scope to look for deer or turkeys, a flock of meadow larks landed about 50 yards away. I realized that the flocks of birds I’d been seeing were all meadow larks. Now meadow larks are not rare, but large numbers of them are unusual these days. There was a time when meadow larks were about the most common bird in our grasslands.

Maybe their populations are rebounding. Today I eyed several while touring around the Altamont.

This meadow lark was laying low in the cool wind.

(Double click on the image to enlarge.)

When he flew, I made an attempt to catch him in flight. The result wasn’t too bad.

Meadow lark in flight. They tend to fly in surges like a swimmer doing the breast stroke - similar to the pattern of a blackbird.

It’s nice to see more meadow larks and especially nice to hear them calling.

Fifth Annual Western Hunting & Conservation Expo Raises Millions for Hunting and Conservation

February 7, 2011

Contact: Miles Moretti

Tel.: 1-888-375-DEER


(photos available)

 Fifth Annual Western Hunting & Conservation Expo Raises Millions for Hunting and Conservation

 SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – At the recently held Western Hunting & Conservation Exposition (WHCE), an estimated $5 million was raised to help protect and promote hunting and conservation. Organized by the Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) and Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife (SFW), and sponsored this year by Midway USA, the Expo took place Feb. 3-6, 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

For the past five years, the event has featured auctions, celebrities, exhibits, music and more. Each year it continues to grow in both numbers and renown.

Three nights of keynote addresses featured Sgt. First Class Greg Stube of the U.S. Army Special Forces; award-winning outdoor writer, wildlife photographer, wilderness guide and outfitter Jim Shockey; and outspoken hunter, musician and best-selling author Ted Nugent.

Ted Nugent was "on fire" Saturday night.

There were also a few surprise appearances by former American Idol contestant, passionate hunter, and “Goin’ Country” television host Kristy Lee Cook.

Christie Lee Cook demonstrated her singing and interest in hunting.

 The WHCE’s Master of Ceremonies was former President of the National Wild Turkey Federation Rob Keck. He was named as “One of Hunting’s 25 Most Influential Personalities of the 20th Century” by Peterson’s Hunting Magazine a few years ago and is highly respected in the conservation world. Other notable appearances were made by Midway USA’s Founder and CEO Larry Potterfield, as well as CJ Buck of Buck Knives. Elected officials who attended the Expo included Utah’s Senator Orrin Hatch (R) and Congressman Jim Matheson (D).

During Friday night’s Conservation Banquet, MDF President and CEO Miles Moretti presented the President’s Award to the Northern Badlands Chapter out of Bismark, N.D. Moretti said he chose this team of MDF volunteers because of the Chapter’s efforts with the M.U.L.E.Y. Youth Program and the habitat-based access initiative P.L.O.T.S. Program. The award was accepted by Chapter Chair Ryan Krapp.

On Saturday night, Larry Potterfield removed his signature gold NRA jacket and was presented with a new navy blue blazer sporting the Mule Deer Foundation logo. Moretti, along with MDF Chief Operating Officer Eric Tycksen, presented the jacket to Potterfield as a “Silver Benefactor” Award in recognition of the single largest ever donation to the Mule Deer Foundation from Larry and Brenda Potterfield’s MidwayUSA Foundation.

Larry Potterfield displayed the M.U.L.E.Y. Rifle for the Saturday night auction.

During the four-day Expo, the sale of almost 100 big-game tags raised millions of dollars for conservation. The 2011 Nevada Heritage Statewide Mule Deer tag sold for a record-breaking $80,000. The 2011 Arizona Special Mule Deer tag sold for $200,000, which was $23,000 more than it sold for last year. There were two first-time ever tags sold for hunts on Salt Lake’s Antelope Island. The Deer tag brought an amazing $265,000, and the Sheep tag sold for $50,000. Ninety percent of the proceeds from these two tags will go directly back to improve habitat on the Island.

By the time doors closed on Superbowl Sunday, some 30,000 people had passed through the halls of the Salt Palace for the fifth annual WHCE. Many came to apply for one or more of the 200 Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Premiere Big Game tags. Others came for the evening banquets and auctions. Still others came to enjoy the hundreds of exhibits and acres of taxidermy. All came to support wildlife and conservation. Don’t miss your chance to be part of next year’s event scheduled for Feb. 9-12, 2012.


About MDF (

The Mule Deer Foundation is a national non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with over 15,000 members. MDF’s mission is to ensure the conservation of mule deer, black-tailed deer and their habitat. MDF is dedicated to restoring, improving and protecting mule deer habitat (including land and easement acquisitions) resulting in self-sustaining, healthy, free ranging and huntable deer populations; encouraging and supporting responsible wildlife management with government agencies, private organizations and landowners; promoting public education and scientific research related to mule deer and wildlife management; supporting and encouraging responsible and ethical behavior and awareness of issues among those whose actions affect mule deer; and acknowledging regulated hunting as a viable component of mule deer and black-tailed deer conservation.

For information about the Mule Deer Foundation or to join please call 1-888-375-DEER (3337).

Holm Ranch Donates Youth Blacktail Hunt

Over the years, may youngsters have taken their first buck at the Holm Ranch.

For the umpteenth year in a row, the Holm Ranch has donated a youth blacktail deer buck hunt to the Livermore-Pleasanton Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation. The hunt will be included in the Live Auction at the Livermore-Pleasanton Banquet and Fundraiser on March 10, 2011.

Over the history of this donated hunt, the youth hunters have a 100% success rate on deer and have take a pig or two as well. This is a priceless opportunity.

Here’s how the donation will read: A one day, or second day if necessary, youth deer hunt (youth must be under 16 years of age and accompanied by a non-hunting adult) on the Holm Ranch in the Livermore Hills. The youth may also shoot a pig if they come across one in the course of deer hunting.

Last year, Emilee Selna bagged her first buck.

Emilee and her dad, Greg Selna - 2010.

Shooting Late Season Ducks and Geese

It’s presumptuous and risky handing out shooting tips. I’m not a particularly good shot, but I figure there’s somebody out there who can benefit from my experience, so here are some opinions that may help.

Especially with ducks, late season produces the toughest shots.

Last Wednesday, I joined my friend Tom Billingsley at Los Banos Wildlife Area for a refuge hunt – first of the year for me.

Tom had drawn a low number so we were third to choose a place to hunt. We took pond 1A near the closed zone. This pond allows the hunters to move around within the confines of the levees around the pond. In other words, you have your own protected zone.

In one sense this is good, but hunting near the closed zone also guarantees that you will have hunters next to you. Didn’t matter on this day as we had a good supply of targets once the fog thinned out.

I didn’t fire a shot until about 9 AM. Amazingly to me, the hunters in the next pond seemed to have fired almost a box of shells before I popped off my first. But, when I began to shoot, the ducks fell. I was mostly on target – had the feel of the lead.

Proud of our birds, Lola and I posed while Tom took our photo.

I’m not a great shot, but like most of us I have good days and bad  days. Wednesday was a good day. Some of the things that come to mind regarding refuge shooting on late season ducks.

1.) The birds do not often set their wings and slow down. They pass by at full speed and on the edge of range. Shots tend to be longer and leads longer. I was shooting very fast steel  – 1550 fps, yet most of my leads were in the three to five foot range.

2.) Preparing for the shot as the bird approaches is key. I shoot best when I can see the bird clearly for about 60 yards or more. Concentrating on the bird for a period of time before raising the shotgun helps me anticipate the lead, but it’s instinctive, not calculated.

3.) Foot position and balance is very important. I shoot best when my left foot is pointed at the bird (or slightly left of the bird) as it approaches.

4.) Stand up to shoot, but do it at the right time. Assuming the bird is coming straight at me, I would estimate that the right time to stand is when the bird is at approximately a 35- 45 degree angle (the pond being zero and straight up 90 degrees).

5.) Raise the gun smoothly, swing past the bird and pull the trigger when the lead feels right. I don’t follow the bird or look  at the barrel. If I do either of these, I will miss. (Point don’t aim.)

6.) Your first shot is your best shot, so make the most of it. But, if you miss, a second shot often brings the bird down as sometimes you figure something out with the miss. (Sometimes I make the mistake of aiming on the first shot, but seldom make that mistake on the second shot.)

7.) When selecting a place to hide, pick out cover that is tall enough to cover your body, but make sure your eyes are clear of obstructions. Obstructions will hinder your vision and your shooting, even if they are only partial. (A good face mask is important. It allows you to look directly at the bird without being detected.)

8.) Periodically pick up your shotgun to clear it of the tules or cattails that can interfere with your swing.

Geese are an entirely different topic. I hunted Webb Tract on Friday and killed four specs, but it was frustrating. With geese you need to follow the bird and swing way out in front. If you double your normal duck lead, you’ll be in the ball park for hitting them.

Geese look closer than they are and they fly faster than they look. Nothing can take the place of experience with this type of shooting.

Lola had a great time chasing down my geese which seemed to always be hit with my third shot.

Saturday was the season finale for me and we hunted Mayberry. My cousin Wes and I shot almost all our shells and came in at noon with a mixed bag of spoonies, widgeon, gadwall and one pintail.

We also missed a spec and some close-range pintail shots.

I didn’t shoot as well on Friday and Saturday. With the geese I struggled with getting the lead right and I was a little too jumpy with the ducks. About 9 AM a slight breeze came up and we put out the wind-wacker (spinning wing). The birds began to make more consistent passes and we shot a little better.

Wes and I were not picky about the ducks we shot and had plenty of action.

Although we didn’t hunt from the Final Approach duck boat, it was a valuable tool, allowing us to reach a hunting spot and carry the gear we needed. 

All in all it was a very good week.