Looks Good for Ground Nesters

Been seeking some successful nesting signs for turkey, pheasant and quail. Here is some evidence.

Last week I ran into three hen turkeys at the ranch. looks like they had a couple of poults each. That’s pretty good success on our ranch where there are lots of predators.

DSC_0152[1] turkey flock

It’s not always easy to pick out the poults this time of year. Size varies, depending upon when the young hatched.

Driving to work on my trailer at Mayberry Saturday and Sunday, I bumped into a half-dozen pheasant broods. The seemed to have between four and six poults in each. Once again that looks pretty good to me.

DSC_0164[1] pheasant poults

Seems that the number of quail chicks is also very healthy. Maybe there will be some successful upland game bird hunting this fall.

Rain-Dampened Quail Opener

We had a big party set for the quail opener. Invited about eight of our quail-hunting buddies. Then came the forecast. Who wants to hunt quail in the rain?

The crew dwindled from eight to six and then to five. On Friday four of us made it out to the ranch in the rain. The roads became treacherous. Hunter number five was coming in after dark, but thought better of it.

Then there was four. We ate well  on pork steaks  and venison chili. Then we built a nice fire to warm us. Sometime during the night the rain let up and when we awoke, the sky was blue.

It was a good nesting year for upland birds last spring. Quail broods probably set some kind of record. Turkeys did very well. Over at the duck club pheasants are looking good as well.

Last year eight of us brought in three quail. I didn’t fire a shot, but we had high hopes for this year and we were justified. We had been watching many coveys all summer long and throughout the deer season.

After about a five hour hunt in strong winds, the four of us came back to camp with 31 quail, nearly eight apiece. Here’s a hero photo taken by Joe DiDonato about two o’clock on Saturday afternoon. Left t right – me, cousin Wes and brother Rob. We’ll be eating quail.

img_2320

It wasn’t long after this photo was taken that serious dark clouds appeared over the horizon. About 30 minutes after that, the rain was falling again. We scurried home over roads that had been saturated the night before, dry as a bone at 9 AM and on their way to becoming saturated again as we drove out about 5 PM.

As an aside, we did see six bucks while looking for quail. One of them was a nice buck and was probably the one I missed on opening day. A couple of them were spikes – the rest small forked horns.

One the way home, I spotted another buck just as I left our property and later we got a good look at a six-point tule elk. At one of the ponds a flock of about 20 mallards huddled out of the strong winds and it looked like they were all greenheads. Then we were back to the pavement.

Next week is the duck opener. The forecast is for 80 degrees and sunny. That will be fine with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunting Quail at Tehema Wildlife Area

In 1988, I spent quite a bit of time exploring. One of my biggest curiosities was turkey, but along the way I ran into quite a few valley quail. I’ve looked through my notes to see if I recorded my quail hunting at Tehema Wildlife Area off highway 36 just east of Red Bluff. I haven’t found my notes.

However, my recollection of one hunt is fairly clear. I remember arriving at TWA about midday and I had Tubbs, my super bird hunting hound dog, with me. I’m sure Tubbs would have preferred to hunt something with fur, but she learned that it was fowl that I wanted. On this day I parked near the top of a not-so-tall ridge with a lot of flat ground at the top.

It looked like a lot of other ridges at Tehema WA, so I believe it’s not important to tell you which one. Somebody (who was probably interested in quail) had created many brush piles on that ridge. As we walked, I didn’t hear or see any quail. Typical of California Quail, these birds there were very secretive and I had no idea what I was in for – until Tubbs’ tail began to wag as she approached one of those brush piles. Out shot a couple quail and I don’t recall if I hit either of them. What I do recall is hunting quail much longer than I had anticipated and bagging at least a few.

This was an idea quail-hunting locatin. The hiking was relatively level and the habitat was just right. I’m not sure if 1988 was a good quail year, but I was certain that this was an ideal quail hunting location.

Since that time I’ve hunted Tehema WA and also  Tehema Refuge 1G for Turkey. I’ve come close to bagging a turkey, but never succeeded. Had a very large black bear walk past me at Tehema 1G while I sat by a tree yelping for turkeys. The refuge has it all – even pigs. It doesn’t look like much, but don’t underestimate your chances here.

Here’s a link http://www.dfg.ca.gov/lands/wa/region1/tehama.htmlthree-rock-house-turkeys

Hunting Quail – Indian Valley Reservoir 1988

A couple months ago, I had a request from one of my readers to post information about places to hunt quail. I’ve been meaning to accomodate him, but haven’t had the time. Here’s one spot where I found quail plentiful in 1988. Maybe there will be some this year. It just depends. Here are my notes from that hunt.

Indian Valley Reservoir is north of highway 20, about half way between Clear Lake and I-5. I haven’t been there lately, but I bet it hasn’t changed all that much. If you know better, let me know.

valley-quail-2-cropped-and-resized

11-28-88 Indian Valley Reservoir.

I arrived about 8 AM in the morning. It was cold and windy. Tubbs (my dog at the time) and I headed over the dam around the lake’s west side. A good trail led us to brush country. Right away I spotted tracks of a large bear and also deer. We went about  a mile and then followed a couple of creeks. We came to patches of oaks surrounded by dense chaparral – mostly chemise. One interesting spot was oak grassland about 60-80 acres in size. I spotted a couple deer. For a while the best that Tubbs could do was a couple towhees, but eventually she found quail. We chased them around in the chemise and I managed to bag three with three shots. They held reasonably well in the chemise and my shots were pretty easy.

My main objective was to find turkey, so we searched for more oak grassland at the top of the ridge, but I only found more chemise. So, I decided to search for more quail.  After a while, I lost interest and decided to head back towards camp. Again I came across the large bear tracks in the muddy trail. I was convinced that these were not here when I passed by earlier. Tubbs jumped more quail, but I was convinced the bear was close and I wanted to get a look at him so I didn’t shoot.

I’d climbed quite high on the mountain and was moving along at a good clip when I heard a rush of wings overhead. The ruckus was coming from flock of about 100 cormorants heading for the reservoir. Bringing up the rear was a single and he had a golden eagle about three feet behind him in hot pursuit. Don’t know if he made it or not. I arrived back at camp about 5 PM and saw five more deer at the dam. Along the way I observed lots of tracks, mostly bob-cat and coyote – one track looked like it could have been made by a mountain lion.

Here’s a link http://www.publiclands.org/explore/site.php?search=YES&back=Search%20Results&id=7075