Ranch Photos in late February

Drove out to the ranch last Saturday to do some cleanup around the yard. Took photos on the way in and the way out. Here are a few of them. Click on them to read the captions.

 

 

Revisiting “A Sand County Almanac”

Read A Sand County Almanac for the first time about 32 years ago.

At that time I read it as a hunter, looking specifically for information that would be of value to me as a hunter. I shared the hunter’s lifestyle with Aldo Leopold and wanted to learn more about his philosophy.

I gleaned from the book what I wanted to find and that was it. For years I’ve considered re-reading the book and kept it on my book shelf. It is in very good condition, except for my recent dog ears.

img_6607 a sand county almanac

This time, I read this book as a conservationist and it had much more meaning. Now I have more in common with Aldo Leopold (especially at his age at the time he wrote the book) than I did 32 years ago.

Now I understand why his book was so full of meaning and why it is appropriately called a “classic of conservation” by many people.

Leopold’s views on wilderness, land use and recreation are expressed in great detail in the book. He was spot on.

I’m sure I’ll be reading it again, and again.

Highly recommended.

Gobbler Flock

After finishing my hike this morning, I pulled out of the parking lot and ran smack into a large flock of turkey’s. I pulled my binoculars out and examined the group. They were all gobblers and many of them were very old with long beards.

I had only my cell phone for picture taking so I did the best I could. Most of them are in this photo.

Gobbler flock cropped

I counted at least 24 gobblers in this flock.

Open Zone Tag Strategy

Drove for a couple hours today and had some time to ponder strategies for using the Open Zone Tag. My first effort took place yesterday and that was to identify specific hunts that I’d really like to do.

Hunts like Anderson Flat, Goodale buck hunt and Doyle muzzle-loader hunt are well known and the statistics show that they are productive.

But it is a bit intimidating to choose a hunt in a location where you have never been. Scouting will be necessary and these places are a few hours away from home.

I finally concluded that maybe I should focus on one unit – and hunt the area on all the seasons. For example, each of these hunts takes place in a specific hunting zone and they are open to hunting during archery, muzzle loader and rifle seasons. Therefore I could start hunting and scouting a unit during the August archery season and then return during the muzzle loader hunt and the rifle hunt.

By doing this, I’ll reduce the amount of time I’ll spend in unproductive locations.

There was a time when everybody could do this,¬† and it’s still possible to do it in the A, B and D zones to a limited extent. It will be like a trip back in time.

It’s a thrill to have this type of anticipation.

 

Connecting with Donald Trump Jr. at the WHCE and MDF Convention

“Why Donald Trump Jr.?” I thought to myself while preparing to leave for Utah and the 2016 WHCE at the Salt Palace. At the last minute I had learned that he was the keynote speaker on Saturday night.

“He must me a hunter,” was my next thought.

I was surprised, as it just didn’t seem likely that a New York business man and son of a presidential candidate would be a serious hunter or an individual who would fit in with the crowd at the Salt Palace. On the other hand, you can’t find a more conservative audience.

As he walked onto the stage, I was impressed with his appearance and body language. As he addressed the large crowd, I was also impressed with his direct approach, clear speak and well thought-out story.

But it was when he told us of his youth and how he was introduced to the outdoors that I connected. He told us about his grandfather and time spent in the woods during summers in Czechoslovakia. I then realized how much we had in common.

He said that his grandfather would often tell him to go to the woods and be back by dark. Those were the same words my own grandfather told my brother and I during our summers in the Lassen County woods during the nineteen sixties.

We fished for trout in Butt Creek and shot our BB guns at will. We waded through the marsh along the meadows and were in total control of our time.

By the time Donald Trump Jr. was finished with his story, I knew why he was in Utah and it made sense.

 

Today at the Ranch

Here’s a slideshow of today’s trip to the ranch.

Callippe butterfly on buckeye blossom.

Callippe butterfly on buckeye blossom.

Kildeer

Kildeer

Horned lark

Horned lark

Grinding rock and pestal.

Grinding rock and pestal.

Red dragonfly

Red dragonfly

Garter snake

Garter snake

This bobcat walked down the road in front of us.

This bobcat walked down the road in front of us.

Tule elk bull

Tule elk bull

Another bull

Another bull

Great blue heron.

Great blue heron.

Always lots to see going to, hanging out at or returning from the ranch.

Duck Season Half Over

Is the best yet to come? That’s hard to say.

I believe the first half of duck season is more predictable than the last half. On the other hand, the second half always has great potential for banner days, but it generally depends upon the weather.

From my view, the grasslands is some of the most reliable duck hunting in California. It doesn’t produce as many mallards as the Sacramento Valley, but it does have plenty of sprig. This year the sprig have been plentiful during the early season. In seven trips to the grasslands, I’ve bagged 25 ducks and 9 have been pintails. That’s over a three bird average and more than one pintail per hunt. That’s not bad.

On my delta hunts, of which there have been four, I’ve bagged four ducks of which two have been mallards, one a pintail and the other a wood duck. That’s a one bird average and less than one big duck per hunt. The delta has been disappointing, especially the shut out on opening day.

This greenhead came to my mallard call on a delta hunt.

This greenhead came to my mallard call on a delta hunt.

However, the remainder of the season lies ahead with some very good potential. Unfortunately, the stormy weather this year has not been all that helpful. Rain without wind is not necessarily good for duck hunting. On the other hand, ground saturated by rain can generate dense fog and fog can produce some very good hunting, especially if the fog is accompanied by cold temperatures.

We are set up for that to happen. It appears that pintails have abandoned the grasslands in search of new food sources. This could mean an influx of birds to the delta, a common occurrence as the season wears on and the ducks seek out better feed.

We've had pretty good luck on pintails at the grasslands this fall.

We’ve had pretty good luck on pintails at the grasslands this fall.

So the rest of the season lies before us and it could be excellent. Or, it could be a bust if the storms keep coming and produce huge areas of flooded ground where the ducks can avoid us. Time will tell.

I expect to hunt the delta more often during the second half of the season. Mallards, pintail and white-front geese are in the area. Now we need some good fortune in the way of wind, fog or freezing temps.