Open Zone Tag in Retrospect

Here are some questions you may have about the Open Zone Tag. Of course I am biased, as I’ve coveted this tag for years.

Question #1. How much did your Open Zone (OZ) tag cost?

A: $10,500. When considering price, the purchaser may want to take into consideration the fact that most of the tag cost is a donation. It is a donation because the proceeds go to the CDFW for project funding.

Since I have a lifetime deer tag, I will write off the entire cost of the tag as a donation. I’d recommend you run this by your accountant before you spend the money.

Question #2. Where did you purchase your OZ tag?

A: Santa Rosa Chapter of MDF Banquet.

Question #3. Did the OZ tag live up to expectations?

A: Yes. For a trophy hunter, having the opportunity to hunt in Zones that have a significantly high rate of success on big bucks is always expensive. An added bonus is that, unlike a lot of week-long trophy hunts, an OZ tag holder has the entire season to work with. However for some people, hunting any legal buck gives them as much excitement. If that is the case, the OZ tag is worth little more than any general season tag.

If there is a great tag that you’d like to draw, having an OZ tag solves the problem. After spending half a lifetime wishing, I decided to take things into my own hands.

Question #4. Is there a down side to holding an OZ tag?

Yes. It’s difficult to quit hunting. It was especially painful for my wife who wanted me to stay home. For that reason, I tried to be judicious in the number of days I hunted.

Question #5. Of the zones you hunted, which was your favorite?

The Devil’s Garden hunt (M9).

Question #6. Did you hire a guide?

Not exactly, but I did pay almost $1,000 for information such as maps and other written material. When friends helped me I tried to cover their expenses, like gas money or lunch.

Question #7. Who helped you?

Several friends provided assistance. Rick Bullock was especially helpful regarding the Devil’s Garden hunt.He spent of day of his valuable time showing me around. He drove me around for an afternoon and morning. We counted 199 deer during that period. After that, he traveled to Colorado and bagged a 29 inch typical.

Susanville MDF Chapter Chair, Pete Holmen allowed me to stay in his spare bedroom for several nights and drove me to some of his favorite hunting areas. Pete’s girlfriend, Tara, provided amazing hopitality.

Local guide, John Simpson, provided access to some places where I wouldn’t have been able to hunt and he also had an impressive ability to spot deer.

My long-time friend and former MDF Director, Jerry Lowery drove over from Reno to help find the buck. He was also invaluable in taking care of my buck after it was down.

These four hunters are on the short list of the most knowledgable people on earth when it comes to mule deer hunting in California and Nevada. They also have great credentials. I’ve seen them.

Question #8. What size buck were you looking for?

The buck I shot was exactly what I was looking for. If he had been larger, I would have shot him anyway. He’s (by far) the largest buck I’ve killed.

Question #9. Will you purchase an OZ tag again?

A: I’m not totally in control, and I cannot guarantee that I’ll be able to afford one again. However, now that I’ve done it once, I can’t help but believe that there is another OZ tag in my future. In the meantime, I also enjoy hunting forked horn bucks and maybe I’ll stumble on another great buck. Killing a great buck is not impossible, but it is very difficult.

The process also enlightened me about some hunts that are underrated and achievable in the general draw, but you’ve got to have at least a few preference points – or be extremely lucky.

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.


Auction Items at Livermore MDF Banquet 3-6-15

MDF Livermore will be loaded with hunts and trips again this year. Here is a laundry list.

1.) 8-day pack in mule deer hunt in Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness with Montana Safaris. Donated by Montana Safaris.

Hunting with Montana Safaris 2014

Hunting with Montana Safaris 2014

2.) Fishing and golf on the Fall River with Rob Lawson of Rob Lawson’s adventures.

3.) Unguided deer hunt for Sitka Blacktails with Kodiak Charters on Kodiak Island.

Here's a Sitka Blacktail taken on Kodiak Isand unguided.

Here’s a Sitka Blacktail taken on Kodiak Island unguided.

4.) Seven -day hunt in Africa with Thormahlen & Cochran Safaris in South Africa or Namibia.

5.) Youth blacktail hunt near Livermore donated by the Holm Ranch.

Holm Ranch buck taken by a previous high bidder in Livermore.

Holm Ranch buck taken by a previous high bidder in Livermore.

6.) Five-day drop camp for two hunters or fishermen in the Emigrant Wilderness donated by Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.

7.) A four-rod, three day, two night one boat fishing trip on Lake Margaret near Burney, CA. Donated by Wilderness Unlimited.

8.) Baja Mexico Vacation: 6 nights/7days in a two bedroom Villa at Cerritos Surf Colony Resort. Donated by Cerritos Beach Resorts.

MDF Livermore-Pleasanton Banquet 3-6-15

Here’s a link to our three-page banquet notice. It includes a sign-up form. flyer page 1

More info: flyer page 2

And a page for sign up. Should be enough instructions here to get it done, but if you need more info, call committee members, Ryan Heal or Randy Morrison.   flyer page 3


Phone numbers for Randy and Ryan are on page 1 of the flyer.muledeerlogo 021

Africa in 2014 or 2015?

MDF Livermore-Pleasanton will have a trip to Africa in the Live Auction this Friday night, March 14.

Thormahlen & Cochran Safaris, with camps in South Africa and Namibia has donated a seven-day hunt which includes $1,000 credit towards trophy fees.

Go to and read about them.

Do your homework before the dinner, or you’ll have a hard time making a decision.

Here are the hunt donation forms for South Africa and Namibia: Donations SCI SA Nam13

Trophy fees are listed on their web site.

Many MDF members have purchased their first African trip at MDF banquets – I did.

Blue wildebeast are one favorite plains game animal in South Africa and Namibia.

Blue wildebeast are one favorite plains game animal in South Africa and Namibia.

Here’s a flyer. Order your tickets now. Times running out. Click on the link below for banquet info.

Flyer front page      2014 flyer pg 2      2014 ticket order form

Hog Hunts for Auction March 14 at the Livermore MDF Banquet

Red Bank Outfitters is donating a pig hunt to MDF for the Livermore-Pleasanton banquet. The hunt is a one-day hunt for one hunter. Red Bank offers several types of hunts including spot and stalk or with hounds.

In addition, a local rancher, has donated a hunt for two hunters on his large cattle ranch. He says there are plenty of hogs.

Maybe you can find one this big!

Maybe you can find one this big!

Here is the information for the banquet, just click on the link. Flyer front page 

2014 flyer pg 2   

2014 ticket order form

More Hunts and Trips for the March 14 Livermore – Pleasanton MDF Banquet.

Packer Fernando resizedKennedy Meadows Pack Station is once again donating a drop camp for two hunters or fishermen in the Immigrant Wilderness near Sonora Pass.

Wilderness Unlimited is donating a fishing trip for four people, for three days and two nights of camping – including a boat with access to a private lake.

Matt Fly FishThe Holm Ranch is again donating a youth deer hunt on their Livermore ranch where they have a 100% success rate.

Bob and family have a 100% record on this annual buck hunt.

Bob and family have a 100% record on this annual buck hunt.

The date of the event is March 14 so there no time left for procrastination. Here’s a flyer with information about how to get your tickets. Just click on the link.

2014 ticket order form