A-Zone Opener

We had a very good time on the opener and we bagged two bucks while doing it. We also ended up with a bonus pig, a nice-sized boar – weighing in at about 250 pounds.

Here are some success photos.

Son-in-law Brett got his buck Saturday morning

IMG_7034 Brett's buck

We spotted Brett’s buck about 8:00 AM on Saturday morning. From about 430 yards, Brett watched for a while before deciding that he was the right deer. Seeing there was a good path to about 200 yards, Brett decided to go for it while the buck remained bedded.

The 200-yard shot hit the buck in the heart. His reflexes carried him in a 20 yard circle before he fell. Turns out their were four other bucks with him.

The cocktail-hour boar met it’s demise about an hour before sunset on Saturday night. It ran into some steep country where it almost was lost, but the crew finally located him in a crevice about 100 yards from where he was shot.

Due to darkness, there we no photos taken at the sight of the kill, but here he is hanging in camp.

IMG_7041 butchering the boar after dark

Joe’s buck was even further in the rough. He arrived in camp in pieces. Here’s a shot of his head and antlers. A nice 3×3 with eye guards.

IMG_7036 Joe DiDonato's buck

My fused ankle held up well. I stayed away from slopes, but managed to get around pretty well.

 

 

Rattler and Ground Squirrel

Every once in a while a rattle snake happens to appear and attract the attention of one or more ground squirrels. The snakes prey on the ground squirrels, but the adult squirrels also fight back. It is common knowledge (meaning that it is unverified by me) that adult squirrels have an immunity to the rattle snake venom.

Here is a video taken last Friday while we were sighting in our rifles up at the ranch.

Ankle Fusion Progress

If you read my blog periodically, you’re probably aware of the fact that I had my right ankle fused on June 3. The ordeal that followed has been a challenge for Linda and I. During the first six weeks following surgery, I was essentially helpless and had to rely on her for most of my needs.

I can probably never do enough to repay her nor can I convince her that I understand what she has done for me. That’s they way it is sometimes under extreme conditions.

On July 15, the surgeon X-Rayed the ankle and declared that new bone had replaced 80 percent of the joint. Instead of a joint, I now have a solid bone connection between my leg bone and the ankle. The is an additional joint below the ankle that still provide opportunity for some bending.

With the good news, I was granted permission by my surgeon to begin walking on the boot which doubles as a sort of improved cast. Here it is.

boot IMG_6968

The boot straps tight around the leg and ankle. It is designed to hold your foot in place while allowing enough use of the foot to facilitate healing.

I’ve now been walking on the foot for almost two weeks. At first I used a cane for added balance. Currently, I’m only using the cane at times when I’ve walked on the foot quite a bit and it begins to get sore.

No pain. Sometimes soreness, but that is part of the healing process. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be out of the boot on August 26. The bone growth should be 100% at that time. In time for Labor Day weekend.

I’ve noticed a loss of muscle in my right leg which is to be expected. As I’m walking now, the muscles are coming  back slowly, but noticeably. Not sure where the improvement will end as without movement in my ankle, there will be something lost.

I’m on track for fishing in September and hunting in October/November.

 

 

 

Overwhelmed by Opportunity

Overwhelmed. That’s what I am. Overwhelmed by hunting opportunity.

A good friend invited me to hunt with him on his ranch in the B1 Zone during the late season blacktail hunt November 9-24. My Open Zone tag allows me to hunt that unit, so I can’t say no to that. I’d love to kill a 4×4 blacktail. Maybe this will be the year.

IMG_6967 biggest blacktail cropped

My biggest blacktail. Yes this guy was entered in the local Native Sons of the Golden West Buck Contest ( BBC). You can see that I never removed the entry band. He finished a distant seventh or something like that, but he is still the largest blacktail buck I’ve ever seen while hunting the A Zone. 

The notice for the Livermore Native Sons Big Buck Contest arrived in the mail last week. Pricing system has changed. With an Open Zone tag I need to pay a $35 entry fee for each Zone I want to be entered in. Well we know I’ll enter in A and B1, that’s already decided.

Of course I have to hunt in X2, it’s my favorite unit. The Devil’s Garden has many opportunities to kill a buck, there’s archery in August – the bucks will be in the timber of the northeastern portion of the unit. I killed a buck there in August of 2017. It was a small 4×4 and the hunt was possibly the most exciting hunt of my life. I’m sure I posted the story.

IMG_3601-1 Rich's 2017 buck

This is my 2017 Zone X-2 archery buck. Got drawn with four preference points. My largest Archery buck finished in second place in the “All California” category. 

Here are some shots showing deer and other wildlife that are prevalent in the Garden.

 

And, I must be prepared to hunt in Zone X-6B. X-6B holds some of the states largest mule deer bucks. And, it’s so close to Reno that I might be able to once again spend a few nights with my buddy Jerry and commute to Doyle. The muzzleloader hunt centered around Doyle takes place during the rut. That hunt will surely cost me a $35 entry fee. It’s a bargain.

A place I haven’t hunted is X-6A, but I’m planning to hunt that unit this year because it’s only a 40 minute drive from our family vacation home at Lake Almanor. I know there are some big bucks there and the area east of Susanville called Bass Hill has some of the worlds most massive growth of bitter brush. It would be a mistake not to enter into X-6A. I’d hate to bag a dandy and have it sit on the side lines.

I’m motivated to attempt to add a nice California mule deer to my modest collection of mule deer mounts. The best opportunity to do that is probably Zone D-6. I can hunt there during the rut and if the snow flies early, bucks will migrate out of Yosemite.  D-6? Another $35. What the heck. Can’t enter the game without covering all the bases. Last season a friend of mine killed an awesome buck in that unit.

It would be nice to bag one of each of the subspecies of mule deer in California. So far I have killed a California mule deer, Inyo mule deer, Rocky Mountain mule deer and Columbian Blacktail. There are three others, the desert mule deer, the burro mule deer and the southern mule deer, but the fact that they’re way down south means I’ll probably never to after any of those guys.

The Round Valley hunt in Zone X-9A has been on my list for a long time, but unless something changes, I’ll once again not make it there for the hunt. The silver lining is that I’ll save $35 and a long drive to the Eastern Sierras.

Sent a check for $175.  It goes to a good cause and we have a very active Livermore Chapter with some very dedicated volunteers and participating members

Dreaming of the Big One

It’s been 32 days since my ankle surgery and if all goes well, I’ll be up and about in a couple weeks. Have to see what the Doc says on July 15.

Therefore I’ve decided that it’s time to start dreaming. I’m going to start by reviewing the successes of the last few years.

In 2016, I purchased an OZ tag and hunted primarily in Devil’s garden – M9. No success there, but I did manage to kill a buck during the Doyle muzzleloader hunt, M3.

IMG_3106 2016 Doyle buck

This 2016 M3 buck is my favorite California buck. He has lots of mass and huge eye guards.

Here are some other photos from recent years.

 

 

Doesn’t hurt to dream. That’s half the fun. I’ll probably revisit these places and add a couple more in 2019.

Update On Ankle Surgery

 

castIMG_6934

Sitting in my recliner with foot up. New cast.

Ankle now fused. Done arthroscopically. Minimum surgical intrusion.

If all goes as planned, I’ll be able to put weight on it in four more weeks – about July 15th.

Hardly any pain, but some misery is involved. Taking a pill occasionally. Hard on my  wife as she’s the caregiver and you’re pretty useless when on crutches.

Should be good for hunting with my Open Zone tag. And, I think my brother and I will purchase a pontoon boat which will make fishing a big easier during the final month of my recovery.

The fused ankle should allow me to hunt ducks this winter without a limp.