June 12, 2020

California Big Game Drawing 2020, The California Deer Tag Dilemma,

Its that time of the year when normal people are planning their vacations and scheduling boat rentals and cushy campgrounds where they water ski by day and sip margaritas by night. Where the smell of tanning lotions, bud light and hotdogs burning on the grill weaken the strongest of diets.

But for those of us with the deer hunting fever, every year we tend to obsess over the looming date of June 2nd. For those of you who don’t know what the hoopla over June 2nd is about, it’s the last day you can apply for the controlled hunt drawing for California’s Deer, Elk and Antelope.

The dilemma I usually have is three fold. What tag do I want to draw? What tag is the best tag? What tags conflict with my schedule for hunting other zones or other states and then the reality of what tags I can realistically draw with the points I have, or in my case “don’t have”, and with those points or lack thereof, where is the most realistic chanc...

January 24, 2020

 (Gemma with her warpaint on)

Waterfowl Update January 23, 2020

Waterfowl season for 2019-2020 season has been super slow. Most people I have talked to have reported low bird numbers during the earlier part of the season. The good news is that the bird population in the norther part of the Sacramento valley have significantly increased with a couple of recent storms.

This year I have hunted, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge four times, Delevan National Wildlife Area one time, and Gray Lodge Wildlife Area two times.

Sacramento and Delevan were slow, very slow but on all the days I hunted there was no weather to speak of other than clouds.

On both the days I hunted Gray Lodge the hunting was actually pretty good on both days and when I hunted it on January 22, 2020 it was excellent. Both hunts were just short afternoon hunts as I wasn’t able to hunt the mornings. There weren’t too many geese flying at Gray Lodge on either day but man there were a lot of ducks. Mostly Wigeon, Gadwall and Ri...

January 22, 2020

Do you have a question about hunting in California that you would like answered? Feel free to ask. Simply click on the contact me link on the main page or email me at ken@norcalhunter.com I will answer all your questions. And if you have a personal question that you may be too embarrassed to ask due to inexperience, don't worry. I will answer you personally not on this blog and I will never mention your name online without your permission.

Q:  Why don't you have a Forum or other Thread where we can ask questions of other members?

A:  Because I don't want any to receive bad information. So much of what I read on these Forums and Threads is just bad information or negative comments and insults to other people. I want people to be able to ask a question with being made fun of, insulted or given bad advice.

Q: I am a new hunter and want to hunt deer and pigs in northern California. What type of rifle do you suggest and what caliber? Do I need a scope? Please keep in mind I am on a budget?

A: T...

October 11, 2019

Today we are so overwhelmed with technology that we tend to not practice some of the skills that all hunters should possess as hunters and outdoorsmen. Global Positioning System (GPS) both hand held and dash mounted have taken over the outdoor industry and I would never tell you to leave your GPS at home anymore than I would tell you to leave your toilet paper at home because you know if you do that it will be the day you really need it. Most people can read a map and look at a compass but can they really read a map, and can they really use a compass? Do they know a depression from a valley or a spur from a ridge? Can they name the five basic colors of a map and know what they actually mean? Do they know grid north from true north and magnetic north? Can they measure the distance of a winding road or trail on a map? How about this very important skill, can they pick up their compass and shoot two or three azimuths and then determine within about 20 feet where they are on your map? Most...

September 16, 2019

Hunting Upland birds in California such as dove, quail, pheasants, and chukar can be a difficult task, especially if you are attempting to hunt them on public land. In this blog I will be addressing locations and tactics for hunting on public land and some private land that may help you locate these birds and be a successful hunter. You would be surprised at the amount of huntable land within driving distance of where ever you may live in California. To tell the truth until I became a bird hunting addict I didn’t know either, but over the years I have found some wonderful places to hunt that I will share with you.

Norcal Hunter Upland Bird Hunting in California

Its that time. Time to start planning the best year of upland bird hunting that anyone could ever have in California. You can approach this in several ways, you can tell yourself that Upland Bird hunting California sucks and there is no reason to go. I hear this all the time and I call B.S. on that! Going hunting is like going to...

September 16, 2019

Dove Hunting


Dove season opens September 1st, 2019 and goes through September 15th, 2019. You can shoot 15 doves a day (read your regulations before you go out). Of which only 10 can be white winged doves. There is no limit on spotted doves, ringed turtle doves and Eurasian doves, but before you decide to go over your 15-bird limit make sure you study some photos online of the various doves, so you don’t accidentally get a ticket for going over your limit.

Dove season in California is a split season. You have the early season in September and then season opens again on November 10, 2019 and goes to December 24, 2019. There are several varietie...

September 16, 2019

Pheasant in California

The truth is in California there are two types of areas to hunt Pheasants. The first area is public lands the second is private property. The good news is there are plenty of pheasants to hunt if your willing to travel. But I will admit, the old days of pheasant hunting in California have somewhat dried up. There are fewer birds and they are harder to locate.

Your  First Option, Public Land

If you are looking for public land for pheasants, you can find them on several of the wildlife areas. Sacramento National Wildlife Area, Delevan and Gray lodge and Shasta Valley all have plenty of Birds they are Type A and Type B Wildlife Areas. And for the first week of pheasant season you can hunt them almost every day. But unfortunately, you still have to fork out some money. During the 2019 season a day pass for a wildlife area was about $22.00 a day or you could buy a Season pass for about $168.00 a year. The season pass is actually a good deal because its good all year for...

September 16, 2019

Band-tailed Pigeon

We talked about hunting grouse and pigeon at the same time so let’s talk about identification of Band-tailed Pigeons. There are several varieties of pigeons flying around California most of them are just feral pigeons not wild Band-tailed pigeons. Band-tails are easy to identify once you see one up close or in the wild (the mountains not the city park). Band-tails are a blue/gray color and have a distinct ring around their neck. They also have a very distinct band on the end of their tails and for that reason they have earned the name Band-tailed Pigeon. They are much larger than a dove and live in the wild only occasionally roosting in a town for the night as they pass through on their migration.

Band-tails eat berries, acorns seeds and other nuts and grain. You will not find them in your city park eating bread and taking handouts. These birds are very skittish and shy and keep their distance from humans. They are very fun to hunt and taste very good. They are all dar...

September 16, 2019

Sooty or Blue Grouse and Ruffed Grouse

The first upland bird season to come upon us is Archery Season for Sooty or Blue Grouse and Ruffed Grouse season. I know many people who have hunted California for years and never even seen a ruffed grouse. They are hard to find but once you find them they are consistent about staying in the same areas and habitat year after year, so if you find them there one year you can usually find them there again the next year and so on.

During the 2018 season in California, Sooty or Blue Grouse and Ruffed Grouse (Not Sage Grouse) Archery Season opens on August 18, 2018 to September 7, 2018. And shotgun season opens September 8, 2018 to October 8, 2018. You can only shoot two a day (read the regulations before you go out).

These grouse are very seclusive any other time of the year, but they are very active during the early archery season, primarily the first week of the season. These birds are mostly in the forested areas of Northern California near the “wet sp...

September 16, 2019

Sage Grouse 

If you’re a Sage Grouse Hunter or aspiring to be a SGH California is a tough place to start, considering California Department of Fish and Wildlife has kept their sage grouse season closed for at least the last two years. And in the past when it has been open it has been nearly impossible to get a permit to hunt sage grouse. Both California and Oregon along with most western states require a person to apply for and then draw a sage grouse permit. But in California out CDFW waits until midway through August to decide if they are going to have a sage grouse hunt. This is done after they have gathered all their information from grouse counts and other gathered information. Then after they announce that they are going to conduct the drawing and when the deadline and then wait for you to put in for the hunt. Then after the deadline they announce that they are canceling sage grouse season due to low grouse numbers or wildfires in the grouse habitat. The truth is CDFW has been try...

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