Archery Pig Hunt

Had a chance to hunt pigs for a day so I hopped into my truck and buzzed down I-5 to Highway 41 and turned west to Jack’s Ranch Cafe. That’s where I met up with my guide for the day.

The temperature was perfect, hovering around 101 degrees all afternoon while I shot my bow and prepared to spend the night on the mountain hoping to have a dumb pig walk up to me in the morning.

 

 

Sure enough, as I stood next to my pickup truck and waited for enough light to see, four pigs appeared in the cut barley to the north of me. But they were not dumb. They fed around a bit, about 200 yards away and didn’t stick around long. Once it was light enough to see they lined out and headed for safer territory.

By 8:00 AM with the temperature heading back towards 100, I departed for home. This was the shortest pig hunt ever. Did see about 25 pigs, but they were all leaving.

The photos show the landscape along with few pigs I drove past on the side of the road, a green gopher snake (bull snake) and a (killed by others) boar that was hanging in camp on the way out.

It was a bit of an adventure seeing country I’d not seen before and sleeping in the back of my truck on top of the mountain.

Symbiosis

While in South Africa, Linda and I observed oxpeckers eating ticks off the back of and also from inside the ear of a rhino. That is a form of symbiosis.

On occasions I’ve seen magpies and starlings feed off the back or heads of deer and cattle. Yesterday I came upon two starlings each standing on the head of a cow.

Here is a photo of the two cows, each with a starling on their head. It’s difficult to see the starling on the head of the all-black cow, but look close, you’ll see it. The beak stands out.

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Not sure if they were after flies or ticks, but there were plenty of flies. When a symbiotic relationship benefits both parties, it is called mutualism. Had to look that up.

 

 

Shady Jakes

Caught these young tom turkeys resting in the shade of a blue oak alongside the road.

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In summer, young male turkeys band together with other males their age. Gobblers tend to avoid the yearlings, but sometimes the jakes hang out near the older birds or follow them around.

After taking this photo, I stepped on the gas a little too hard and my tires spun, causing the flock to sound off together proving that turkeys do gobble in summer.

Finding a Deer Hunt You Can Afford

Got an email from a reader of my blog. He expressed a sincere desire to find a way to hunt deer with his son. He was vague about his means and may have had more resources that he let on, but because he was vague, I decided to respond with a range of options and the letter back to him formed a basis for this post.

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You’ll have a better chance for big bucks if you can hunt during the rut.

After some editing, this is what I told him:

There is no easy solution to your problem. It isn’t hard to get a chance to hunt mule deer and it’s not too difficult to get a shot at a legal buck. But, even that is not a slam-dunk these days.

Budget has a big impact upon one’s chances. With a budget of $500-$1000 per person, you’re pretty much limited to a California hunt with a good chance of being drawn for a good chance at a mule deer buck within three or four years if you retain preference points. Or, if you’re lucky you might get drawn in Nevada which uses a weighted lottery system and you may get drawn on any given year. If you go the Nevada route,  the price will go up somewhat.

My buck where he fell

Here;s a buck I took on a do-it yourself California hunt in X12. Unless you’re lucky, it takes about four years to draw in this unit.

Idaho has a first-come first-served basis for many of its mule deer hunts and it also has enough deer to give you a reasonable chance of success. The cost of a do-it yourself hunt in Idaho would probably be $1000-2,000 per person, mainly because out-of-state tag prices are higher and travel is costly. If you camp out you reduce your cost, but for late season hunting it can get almost unbearably cold.

Oregon  and Utah may be places where you can obtain a tag and hunt for a price similar to Idaho. Travel will vary depending upon the cost of gasoline, and once again non-resident tags aren’t cheap – maybe talking $1,000-2000 for travel and tags.

If your budget is in the $4,000-$10,000 per hunter range, you may be able to find a landowner tag and camp out in Nevada, but you need to be resourceful to find a tag for sale. Landowner tags are in demand. Contact Nevada Department of F&G for a list of landowners who have tags.

IMG_0028 Rich with buck angle view cropped and resized

Killed this buck on top of a knob in the Cortez Mountains of Nevada. The landowner tag cost $4,000, but that was about ten years ago.

Guided hunts in Montana and Wyoming tend to be less costly, but tags and travel will get you into the $5000-$7000 range.

For a really good guided hunt, you will probably have to spend between $6,000-$10,000 per hunter plus the cost of travel and tags – maybe $1500 added on. Colorado and New Mexico are places to consider.

On any hunt there is a chance you’ll come home empty-handed. I’ve hunted with guides for mule deer three times in Montana, once each in Nevada (muzzleloader) and South Dakota (archery) and twice in Canada. (Once each in British Columbia and Alberta AB.) I killed a nice buck in Montana and had chances on the other two Montana hunts. (Passed on one buck and missed the other.)  Although I didn’t have a chance at a buck on the guided Nevada hunt, I did kill a buck each time I purchased landowner tags. Never got a shot at a mule deer in BC and missed a great buck on an Alberta archery hunt.

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I really like this Bob Marshall Wilderness buck killed three years ago. The total cost of the hunt including travel was about $7,000. It was a true wilderness hunt.

The greatest hunt of all was last year when I purchased a California Open Zone tag in an auction. The price was $10,500. I spent another $1500 on travel and scouting. In the end I killed a buck near Doyle on November 19th. It is clearly the biggest buck I’ve taken.

IMG_3106 Doyle buck 2017

This is clearly my best buck. Killed it last November in California during a muzzle loader rut hunt. It was also my most expensive hunt when you add in the cost of the Open Zone tag.

So there’s the picture from my view. Most of my life I’ve hunted cheap, but often. Now that I have more resources, I spend the amount of money I need to spend in order to make sure I hunt in good deer country, but money is no guarantee.

If you’re willing to part with the money, I’d suggest the option of a Nevada landowner tag program. It requires some leg work or you may want to call it sweat equity.

I bought a deer hunt in Alberta for next November (2017). The hunt is very popular. I had to put a deposit down three years in advance. The total cost of the hunt is $13,000 and that doesn’t include travel to Calgary (Call it another $1,000).  Last time I was there I saw some of the biggest mule deer bucks ever. Hope they survived the 2016/17 winter.

Note: I didn’t bear down hard while coming up with these numbers so they are meant to be just a ballpark estimate. Be resourceful and you may do better than my numbers. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have friends who own a ranch.

Salmon Try

Thought Monday might be a good day to catch a salmon, so my friend, Captain Bob, and I headed to the south buoy to see what we could find.

Nobody there so we asked on the radio where everybody was. The response was “head south on 210 and you’ll find the fishermen.”

We did and we did, but we couldn’t catch a fish – not even a hit-and-run.

However I did snap a few photos of some of the whales that we circling us most of the day. That’s all I’ve got.

There were quite a few birds around as well. This gull was a pretty boy.

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We also noticed that the area we fished was loaded with sea-birds eating something on the surface of the water. Maybe krill (small fish) – possibly the same thing the whales were after.

The trip back got a bit rough, which made things a bit more interesting. All and all it was a good day. From the reports we got, our experience was consistent with the norm, but a few nice salmon were caught.

 

Sturgeon Success

After three tries this spring, I finally hooked onto a nice sturgeon. My fishing buddy Bob, who has already landed a couple slot fish, took this video. The fish is obviously large and prehistoric looking. Even if we could have taken him home, I don’t think we would have got him into the boat. Just not properly prepared.

Later on Bob hooked a sturgeon that was just about a carbon copy of mine.

It was a good day. We also brought home a couple keeper stripers.