2023 Pheasant hunting in California, there is still time.
With all the big game seasons mostly closed in California except for Bear and Pigs it's that time to start looking at bird hunting, primarily upland hunting and today were talking about pheasants.
Now I don’t profess to be an expert on Big Game hunting, I’m just an average Joe just like most of you, but when it comes to hunting pheasants that’s a completely different story.
I got the gear, I got the guns, I got the spots and above all I got the dogs! Some of the best upland dogs you will ever see. They are Labrador Retrievers. Three of them are mother and daughter and son, “Sadie” the mother and “Gemma” the daughter, I also have “Trooper” who is Sadie’s son from the same litter as Gemma. He is Co-owned with another friend of mine. If that isn’t enough dogs for you, I also have “Eva” who is a Pointing Lab out of Marble Mountain Kennels who is just a rocket of a lab with an “On and Off switch” out in the field. If that’s not enough dogs for you, well maybe it’s “You” who needs the therapy, or maybe you need another dog, anyways we do a lot of bird hunting.
Now I’m not sure of my waterfowl count for last year because I really wasn’t counting ducks last year, but between my friends and my wife and I, we totaled up 67 pheasants last year all shot over my dogs. Now some of them were planters, and some of them wild and some of them we have no idea, but it is still a great count for last year considering we were hunting California.
The hardest part about pheasant hunting or any kind of bird hunting in California is finding a spot to hunt that actually has birds and that is legal to hunt. It seems like you can either find the birds, but they are on private closed land, or you have public land but no real population of birds. This is an issue I am having with Valley Quail hunting. The drought has really hurt the quail population, and it will take a few years for them to come back but until then we still want to take a few here and there.
There are still places to hunt pheasants but it's going to be tough. You’re going to have to travel and or maybe “Pay to Play”.
Pay to play is simple, you go to a private pheasant club, and you can buy a pheasant card and hunt planted birds, or you can find something like a Volunteer Fire Department that is having a two or three day pheasant hunt and pay their donation amount usually a couple hundred bucks to hunt for whatever time they have allotted.
In Northern California there is the Knights Landing Sportsmen’s Club. They are located just north of Woodland and it is my understanding your dollars go to support the local volunteer fire department but I am not positive.
The other is the Willows Pheasant Association located in Willows California.
I know for a fact that WPA still has memberships available for 2023 and they run about $150.00 for one person for the entire season and $50.00 extra for a spouse. This club is located in Willows California, but the hunting area is the rice fields outside Willows, and they plant a lot of birds, about 1500. So it's well worth the money. The last couple years have been kind of slow because so much of the rice fields weren’t planted making it tough to hunt but this year with the extra water the rice fields are back so it should be pretty good. The money from this hunt goes to support youth activities for the local church.
There are also some really good pheasant hunting Clubs that allow you to buy a Pheasant or Chukar Card or just go on day hunts and pay just a day hunting fee. There are four of these in Northern California.
One of the best is Clear Creek Sportsmen’s Club located outside Corning California near the Casino off Interstate 5. This club is the best for me because it's near my residence in Redding. They are kind of spendy, but they treat you very good, you will almost always come home with a limit. Unfortunately, he has a waiting list for memberships, but you can still do day hunts. The terrain is old guy friendly, there are lots of old guys there, like me, and it's a very safe area for dogs that are big runners like pointers and such.
Another place is Raahauge’s Hunting Club located near Dunnigan California just right at the intersection of I-5 and 505 split. It's a great club. They have lower prices than most places and you don’t need a reservation, just show up. But I would call first just to make sure of your prices and field availability.
Quail Point Hunt club is also just south of Dunnigan off of Interstate 505 in Esparto. This is a really good club and close to the bay area, so the price goes up. They are a good club, have nice fields and always have birds.
Most of these big pheasant operations charge about $110.00 to $150.00 for a day hunt, this usually includes 3 to 5 Pheasants. Now this sounds expensive but how much is a tank of gas that you’re going to burn driving around looking for pheasants.
And this is not something you would do every weekend, this is something you do to treat yourself or put some birds in your dog’s face, so they truly know what a pheasant smells’ like.
Now there is also some public land out there that holds birds but in California it's few and far between. Almost all your Wildlife Refuges in Northern California and some in the Central California area have wild populations of pheasants. This is something you’re just going to have to put the time in and do the research on foot. The best way to do this is to look at the booklet California Department of Fish and Wildlife puts out every year titled.
“2023-2024 California waterfowl and Upland Game, and Public Use of Department of Lands Regulations.”
Good Luck with your bird hunting and if you decide to contact one of these organizations and "Pay to Play" use my name and tell them that Ken from Norcalhunter.com sent you. It wont help you get a discount but it will help me get my name out, and thank you for following my silly hunting blogs.