For Devil’s Garden (M9) (A27) Hunters

Having hunted the M9 hunt twice, I have a general feel for this hunt. I’ve not killed a buck on the M9 trips, but I’ve seen and photographed a bunch of deer. Maybe I  should have shot at one or two of them, but I chose not to.

Here’s an update for 2019. Looks like the weather is going to be warm and clear during at least the first half of the season, which closes on November 10. It appears to me that the deer leave the northeastern portion of the X2 zone about this time of the year. However, it is unclear to me if the larger bucks wait and migrate as the heavier winter storms hit.

I’ve not found the largest X2 bucks in the areas with the most does on my two hunts. I know there are larger bucks because I’ve seen them during summer trips to the area northeast of Crowder Flat.

During the 2017 early archery season, I saw numerous bucks larger that I’ve found during the M9 hunt. And, the general rifle hunt pressures those big bucks so they stick to heavy cover.

Therefore, I’d suggest that a trophy hunter (I mean looking for something like a 26+ inch buck with all the goodies), should hunt the area inside the M9 boundary just west of Crowder Flat to intercept the largest bucks if and when they move. That’s just a suggestion and I wouldn’t spend my entire hunt working that angle.

IMG_3106 2016 Doyle buck

This 2016 M3 buck is by far my biggest California buck. I’d call a buck like him a genuine shooter buck. But, some people would pass him up. He’s 28 inches wide and 18 inches tall.

If you’re willing to go home empty handed because you didn’t find that trophy, I’d not hunt where the does are because that’s where most of the hunters will be. There’s plenty of habitat in the northern half of the M9 zone where the big bucks can stay safe and if you hunt them you won’t be seeing a lot of deer, but you may find a loner buck that fulfills your dream.

If you’re not a trophy hunter or you’ve never killed a 4×4 mule deer, but you’d like to be successful on a nice buck (something like a 20-22 inch 4×4), I’d hunt the area with the most does. That would be the southern end of the M9 zone in timbered areas between Mowitz Road and Deer Hill. And, that doesn’t mean you can’t kill a monster in that area.

That southern area is where I’ve seen the largest concentration of deer, including many medium sized bucks. Here are some of them:

Just my opinion, but it is based upon experience

Photos From the Deck

On this trip to Almanor, I decided to bring my camera and take some pictures of the wildlife around our deck. Here is some wild and some not so wild.

sea gulls waiting

Sea gulls on the lake seemed to be waiting for something.

DSC_0003ground squirrel watching

This ground squirrel was alert.

DSC_0002 boaters boating

Of course boaters were boating.

DSC_0008 steller jay waiting

Like the sea gulls this Steller Jay seemed to be waiting.

DSC_0033 nuthatch pecking

This nuthatch was upside down.

DSC_0006 black bird huntng bugs

Black birds were hunting bugs.

IMG_7096 Rich watching his running shoes

As a breeze freshened, I walked down towards the water and sat while admiring the lake and my running shoes.

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.

 

 

Photo of the Day

Took a few photos today and some of them were interesting.

 

The wildflower gets honorable mention even though the lighting wasn’t perfect. The finch I like because his head is on fire and the snake is both “threatened” and hard to find.

Snake best in my opinion.

Just Another Day at the Ranch Continued

(Continuing from my previous post, “Just Another Day at the Ranch”)

I stood looking at the mother ground squirrel wondering what it was doing. As I watched I realized that my camera was in the truck about 50 feet away. Would I be able to grab it and return before the squirrel departed. So far it had stood quite still unable to determine what to do.

I walked to the truck and grabbed the camera. When I returned to the squirrel, it had not moved. Apparently it couldn’t make up its mind about how to proceed. I looked at the squirrel again and the baby squirrel wiggled in the mother squirrels mouth. Now I was certain that the mother squirrel meant no harm to its baby. Occasionally the mother would put its front foot up and push the baby back into its mouth. I realized that it was likely moving the baby squirrel from one site to another.

I began to take photos of the squirrel as it moved slowly around me. It was heading towards the creek and also towards my daughter, grand son and son-in-law. I took several photos.

The squirrel passed within a few feet of the others and they got a close up view of what was going on. The squirrel disappeared into a pile of boulders and later came back out retracing its steps and probably returning for another baby to transport.

Why would it do this? The only thing that makes sense is that something like a gopher snake had invaded its nest and the mother squirrel was rescuing as many young squirrels as possible.

Seeing the hairless and sightless baby exposed to the elements was a rare occurrence.

 

Just Another Day at the Ranch

Took the family to the ranch today. Cold and Windy. Not the kind of day that you want when looking for critters.

My grandson is wild about anything that’s alive. Everything is new and exciting. As he and his father wandered up the creek from where we parked, I began a slow walk up another draw. A ground squirrel appeared and if there had been anything else around to watch, I probably would have paid it no attention. But, I did look and it appeared that there was something in its mouth, so I raised my field glasses and looked.

This is what I saw.

ground squirrel mother DSC_0998[1]

Very compelling and one of the best subjects I’ve ever seen.