Decoy Day

Many hands make light work. That is no better demonstrated than on decoy day at the Kerry Club, which is located in the North Grasslands adjacent to the Volta State Wildlife Area. With about 20 blinds that need decoys, it is necessary for the members to contribute a day of their time to paint, replace line on about 2500 decoys, kill the black widows, clean the inside of the blinds, add new “brush” to the outside, remove peeling paint, add a coat of new paint and grease the stems on the rotating stools.

Decoy day is also the day when members participate in a random draw for their place in the blind rotation. The rotation assures that each member gets a fair share of the best blinds. On good days all the blinds shoot well, but on slow days a good blind pays off as there are a few blinds that almost always shoot well.

On opening day members shoot at the blind they decoy, after that the rotation is in effect.

Each blind has a traditional pattern for decoy placement based upon location in the blind relative to the prevailing winds and also relative to its position in the pond.

Our blind is located on the southeast corner of a large pond. Because the prevailing winds are out of the northwest, we need to have about half our decoys on the southeast side of the blind to attempt to get the birds to swing around the blind and come back in from the southeast. On days when the wind blows out of the south, the blind usually shoots best, but on opening day their are usually enough ducks no matter where the wind comes from.

Decoy lines must be 1/8 of an inch in diameter and of the proper material. The weights must be at least eight ounces to assure the decoys do not float away (in powerful storms, some do anyway).

Tom and I choose to keep the ducks in groups of like species. About half of our decoys are teal, maybe a third are pintails and the rest are a mix.

We have one shoveler decoy that floated in from another blind and a half-dozen mallard.

You can see from the photos that the Kerry Club is managed for wide-open water. The bag is mostly teal, with pintail, shovelers and a few divers mixed in.

August Coming to a Close

IMG_7060 sunrise at Almanor cropped

Spent last week at Lake Almanor. The fishing was rough, but there was some promise.

My friend Bob Smallman and I searched for fish at Almanor without success. We did find some fish on our fishfinder, but only one hit during the entire effort and we didn’t hook him.

IMG_7001 New P-Boat

Here’s Rob with the new boat at it sat behind the Bass Pro store in San Jose.

I’ve recently invested in a pair of downriggers, so now I need to learn how to operate them. Looks like YouTube time. Linda and I cruised the lake in our new boat – quite fun, but it is definitely a lot of work managing it and getting it ready for action.

IMG_7071 Linda cruising Almanor

Linda enjoyed the comfort of the boat which can seat eight people.

While at Almanor, Rob was in Alaska fishing for Coho salmon. I’m sure he’ll have some photos that he’ll share.

My neighbor at Almanor drew a X6A archery deer tag and came home with a whopper.

Tomorrow I’m meeting with my doctor and I hope I’ll come home with a good  understanding of what to expect with my ankle as it continues to heal. Right now I’m walking fine, but not setting any land speed records. His input will help me plan my deer hunting. The Open-Zone tag will play a big role in my hunt as the extra weeks before the seasons close should allow me to hunt in a near-normal fashion.

If all goes as planned, on Tuesday we’ll be heading back to Almanor. I know where some fish live. Now I need to find out how to get to them.

In the meantime I spent a couple hours today messing with decoys as duck season is approaching. Here are a few of the birds in the project.

Yesterday I cleaned out the freezer and smoked the salmon remaining from last season.

img_7082-smoked-salmon.jpg

These were Silvers from last September’s trip to AK. Still in very good shape.

That’s about it for August, unless I get into some fish this week. Most of the Labor Day Weekend will be occupied by watching the grandkids as they explore the outdoors around the lake.

Nice to be on my feet again.

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

Mock Turkey Hunt

Turkeys were spread out in smaller groups yesterday – a good sign if you’re a turkey hunter. With the big flocks divided up, it’s a lot easier to find a callable bird.

For me, it was not a hunt. But, I couldn’t resist bringing my box call. I stopped above camp and made a few calls. Nothing.

When I reached camp, I again pulled out the box. One set of yelps and a gobbler answered from the property to the west. I moved to a controlling position overlooking where the gobble had come from and sat down.

Then I yelped again. The gobbler answered immediately. He wasn’t far away. I waited. He gobbled on his own twice. He was coming.

After a period of minutes, I yelped and he answered. Now closer. I scratched the box softly a couple times. He didn’t answer, so I waited to see him.

He appeared at about 50 yards and walked up hill directly towards me. He came to 30, then 20. I had my camera up, but since I was nearly laying down, grasses twigs were preventing me from getting a good focus.

Finally at ten yards, I got a pretty good focus and snapped a decent photo.

DSC_0962 wanna fight

Mr. Ugly and a serious fighter, this bird looked like he’d been to war.

Then, because he couldn’t get through the fence next to me, he turned and walked down the hill about 40 yards to a better pathway. There I got some good photos as he strutted and wondered where the calling hen had gone.

His harem of four hens followed about 30 yards behind him.

DSC_0995 member of the harem

At this point there wasn’t much left to do, except wait for him to leave so I could begin doing the chores I was there for. After I while he continued on this way looking for the mystery hen.

Apparently the four hens that followed him didn’t need his services any more on this day. Not sure why they were hanging out with him.

 

Conversation in the Vineyard.. schedule

This is the schedule of events for the Conservation in the Vineyards program as they stand on Tuesday February 26, 2019.

National Endowment Logo 3

May 2:  6:00 PM to 9:00 PM Arrivals

There will be a reception and hosted cocktail party at the Vineyard Inn. The hospitality room is on the ground floor. Just ask. It won’t be hard to find.

Friday May 3: Various tours as follows.

Breakfast will be ready at 7 AM for the early starters.

8:00 AM – 12 PM. Trophy Room Tour The first van will depart between eight and 8:30 and it will take nearly an hour to arrive at Rich Pierce’s trophy room in Clayton. Box lunch will be provided. Return by noon. (Limited to 20 people)

38 inch mule deer cropped and resized

This 38 1/2 in wide buck is one of the larger bucks in Rich’s collection, maybe not the largest.

9:00 AM – 2:00 PM  Friday Ohlone Conservation Bank. Rob Fletcher will load his truck up with four guests and take them on a tour of the Ohlone Preserve Conservation Bank. This is a great time of year to view butterflies and wildflowers. (Limited to four guests)

11:00 AM Friday: Holm Ranch. Load up and travel to the Holm Ranch where former Livermore Chapter Chair Bob Holm will show you some of the best blacktail habitat in the East Bay Area. He’ll also provide a group of 8 people with a barbecue lunch. (Limited to 8 guests)

Emilee and (dad) Greg Selna Deer

Greg and Emilee Selna with a Holm- Ranch buck killed on a donated youth hunt.

11:00 AM until 4:00 PM Friday. Wine tasting at Livermore Valley wineries. Passes and transportation will be provided.

1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Friday Tour a ranch and wind farm with owner Janice Marciel. Come learn about Wildlife Barriers in the Altamont Hills – wind turbines, freeways and aqueducts. The Altamont Hills are home to many threatened and endangered species.

Friday and Saturday Tour Leader Janice Marciel

Janice Marciel will lead a tour of her ranch and wind farm.

Friday Evening 5:00 PM until 9:00 PM McGrail Vineyards

Social gathering at McGrail Vineyards. Hosted McGrail wine, heavy appetizers and a sausage table with some of your favorite venison – deer and elk.

This is a great opportunity to spend time one-on-one with MDF leaders, biologists, and land managers while trying out Livermore wines. Enjoy the fabulous view of the surrounding East Bay hills.

Saturday May 4. Open Space Tour 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM and load up the 4X4 pickups at 8 AM. This will be a caravan into Southeast Alameda County. The tour will be guided by many local experts and MDF supporters.

Here are some of the things you’ll be looking for:

 

 

 

The tour will cover three different management regimes. Although these open space lands may look the same, the underlying management goals are significantly different.

1.  The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission manages watershed lands throughout the Bay Area. Read about it.  SF PUC San Antonio Reservoir

The mission of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is to provide their customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that is inclusive of environmental and community interests, and that sustains the resources entrusted to their care.

Tour Leader Clayton Koopmann BIO Clayton third person short version with photo

2. East Bay Regional Park District East Bay Parks Stewardship

More information

Bio Doug Bell Bell_BioV2_2019 one pg

3. Fletcher Conservation Lands FCL web site

What is a private conservation bank?

About Rob Fletcher  Rob Fletcher Manager, FCLands

Joe DiDonato biologist Joe DiDonato bio

Saturday Evening 6:00 PM to 10 PM at Poppy Ridge Golf Course

Poppy Ridge 2014

Sit down and enjoy the views. Choose from four meal options. Hosted bar.

Hear what MDF leaders have to say about the state of MDF, the Endowment Fund, major MDF projects and the future. We will ask for your financial support.

Side by side flyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Conversation In the Vineyards

A new event is coming to town. First time ever. It’s brought to you by The Mule Deer Foundation in support of the MDF National Endowment Fund (MDF NEF). The fund provides a perpetual funding source for MDF mule deer conservation.

The event, A Conversation in the Vineyards, will take place over a three-day period. May 2, 2019 is arrival day. Out of town guests will be hosted at the Best Western Hotel, Vineyard Inn on South Front Road starting at 6:00 PM with a welcome cocktail offering.

Friday will be a tour and wine tasting day. Tours will be half day and will include a trip to Morgan Territory and a very special trophy room, an Altamont wind turbine farm tour, a barbecue and ranch tour out Mines Road and a wildflower/butterfly tour in the southern Alameda County hills.

Of course there will be wine tasting at Livermore Valley wineries.

At 5:00 PM Friday evening, the guests will share their experiences while eating and drinking wine at the McGrail’s Vineyard and Winery on Greenville Road.

On Saturday there will be a major all-day tour of San Francisco PUC watershed lands, East Bay Regional Park District land and also the Fletcher Ranch conservation lands. This tour will run from 8:30 AM until 3:00 PM.

Of course there will also be wine tasting at Livermore Valley wineries.

The Saturday evening event will be a full-scale dinner and hosted bar at Poppy Ridge Golf Course where once again the guests can share their experiences from the tours and also learn about how to support the MDF NEF.

For room reservations call Best Western Vineyard in at (925)456-4522 and mention The Mule Deer Foundation room block.

Here is a link to a flyer that lists the prices:

Side by side flyer