Duck Openers

IMG_7454 Sunrise 10-19-19 blind four

2019 opened with a glorious sunrise.

October is a great month for hunters. Coastal deer season is over, but late season and out-of- state hunts are looming. The weather is changing and the days are growing short, but the highlight of October for me so far this year was yesterday and  the opening day of the 2019 duck season.

Back in the glory days of Mayberry Farms, opening day was always full straps of mallards.

opening-day-06.jpg

Brother Rob, myself and Fred Hilke on opening day 2006.

Those days ended when the seasonal marsh was replaced by permanent marsh.

In 2009, I was concerned about river otters: 2009 https://hunterlandowner.wordpress.com/2009/10/

In 2010 the Giants were in the World Series: 2010 https://hunterlandowner.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/opening-day-ducks-and-baseball/

Opening day 2011 was a winner and brought back memories of the “good old days” : 2011 https://hunterlandowner.wordpress.com/2011/10/

In 2014 I joined the Kerry Duck Club in the Grasslands to fill the void. My disappointment with Mayberry was mitigated by grasslands teal.

2014 https://hunterlandowner.wordpress.com/2014/10/

Last year provided good action as I covered the hunt in detail.

2018 https://hunterlandowner.wordpress.com/2018/10/

2019 was a success in many ways. The Friday night dinner was perfect and the mood of the club members was optimistic and lively.

On Saturday morning we were greeted with more ducks than I can recall for a grasslands opener. I was lucky to have my son-in-law Brett with me. Lola made it to another year of duck hunting, a little slower, but able.

Brett and I both had our hits and misses. We each had six ducks by about 9 o’clock – mostly green-wing teal. Then we decided to wait for a shot at pintail. Brett connected right away and got to watch me miss.

I missed three drake pintails in a row, each time emptying my shotgun. Finally I figured that I needed a bigger lead. The “teal” lead did not work for the faster-flying pintails. On the next bird I “aimed to miss” and the bird dropped with one shot. I was disappointed to see that I’d shot a hen – something I try hard not to do. You would think that it was be just about impossible to shoot a hen.

However, I did. And, we were done.

When we signed out, we found that everybody to that point had reported limits.

Planning Your California Muzzleloader Deer Hunt

On October 26th, many California muzzleloader hunts open. Make sure you are properly prepared.

One of the main issues with muzzleloader hunting is the amount of paraphernalia it takes to operate. The best way to get past this obstacle is to practice several times before going afield.

However, California laws regarding toxic shot are throwing a new wrinkle into the program. For several years, muzzleloader bullets have had the appearance of being made of copper. In fact, I was one who thought I was shooting lead-free bullets until recently.

Now I’ve found out that the so-called “Copper” bullets I’ve been shooting for over two years are actually only copper coated. To complicate things, I’ve not found any bullets that call themselves “lead free.” However, Barnes does make an all-copper 45 Cal. bullet that fits into a 50 Cal. sabot and it meets the California standards as far as I can tell.

Check them out. Here’s a photo of the POWERBELT so-called “Copper” bullets on the left and the BARNES bullets with sabots on the right.

IMG_7421 bullets

The POWERBELT “Copper” Bullets on the left call themselves “copper” bullets, but as near as I can tell they have lead in them. The BARNES bullets on the right are described as pure copper. They are 45 caliber with a 50 caliber sabot.

I shot the Barnes bullets and they were accurate in my Bonecrusher model 50 caliber muzzleloader. The sabots are a very tight fit and it takes a bit or work to get the bullet down the barrel. Make your first shot count and carry a bullet starter. If you have only a long ramrod, you may never get your firearm loaded.

Round Valley – Returning to a Place I’ve Never Been Before

How do you return to a place where you’ve never been?

No. If you’ve never been there, you can’t return. But you can go to a place which you’ve interacted with many times over a long period of time. It’s possible to feel like you’ve been there even though you haven’t even been close.

That’s the way it is with me and Round Valley, located just a few miles west of Bishop, California. That’s south of Crowley Reservoir and in the northwest corner of the Owen’s Valley.

Here’s a link to a map of the hunting area:  https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=83619&inline

The reason I feel like I’ve been there is  based upon my activities of more than 20 years ago while I was editor of the Mule Deer Foundation magazine, Mule Deer – more recently known as MDF Magazine.

We published an article about deer management in Round Valley and another about monitoring mountain lions. The author of those stories was Becky Pierce who still works for California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

So, now, for the first time ever I’m going to Round Valley. The next step will be figuring out the best way to hunt. Looks like the weather is going to be pretty mild between now and November 10th, which means it may be hard to locate the biggest bucks. But I’ll be trying.

I’ve been doing some research and it looks like my best chance will be to catch a buck heading south out of the Mammoth Lakes area. The deer tend to come out of the west and follow the edge of the mountains down towards Bishop.

We’ll find out soon if they’re going to cooperate and if I’m going to find the right one.

Wild Boar to Pork Sausage

This is what the boar looked like on the ground. The first step in processing had begun.

IMG_7291 boar

Here he is after the first cut.

After the first cut came removal of other prime meats from the pig. After cleaning, transportation, storing in my fridge for a week and trimming, I was ready to mix with some no-so-lean store-bought pork to get ready for grinding. I think the percentage fat  was between 10 to 15% fat.

But before grinding, I had to look through my storage closet to see what I had in the way of seasoning choices. I don’t mix my own seasonings, I just go to Bass Pro and purchase High Mountain Seasonings. I had plenty on hand. I picked an Italian breakfast sausage and a Polish. Ended up making half each. Mostly followed the directions.

In the end I had about 50 individual sausages each of the two types of sausage and wrapped them in packages of four. That made 12 packages of each flavor. The Italian came out spicy and a bit salty. The Polish came out just right. It will all get eaten.

Next time I’ll probably pass up the shot and go to Costco. If I shoot a deer, I’ll probably have Lockeford Meat and Sausage Services process the meat. They do a great job on bratwurst. I’d ask them to add a little extra pork fat.

On the other hand, it’s nice to process your own meat once in a while. Gives you an appreciation for food and connects the hunt to the table.