2003 Deer Hunting Journal-

Well, this is year three for my online hunting journals. If you're reading this, thanks. For my part, I'm sure enjoying putting it all together... almost as much as I'm enjoying the hunts that make it up.

I suppose the original intent, to collect data and identify trends (such as weather patterns and moon phases) has kind of gone by the wayside. Most of the time, the weather during the CA deer seasons is pretty much identical anyway.

This season promises to be a busy one for hunting. First and foremost, I managed to draw an X3-A tag for California. That'll put me in some prime mule deer habitat. I've been working with a friend on a 7000 acre ranch in that zone, and that's where we'll be hunting. That hunt begins on October 4.

The X zone hunt overlaps another major hunt, a Colorado elk trip that begins on October 11. I'm planning to leave directly from the X zone hunt to make the Colorado trip. That means I need to score early in X zone, in order to have time to drive to CO without marathon driving.

Finally, I chose an Archery Only tag for my second CA deer tag. This gives me access to the A zone, B zone, and all D zones, both during archery and rifle season. Essentially this means I could potentially hunt from July 16 through the first week of November.

As a surprise, I also got the opportunity to go to South Carolina for the deer opener to bowhunt deer and hogs at the Bostick Plantation.

So here goes!

July 17 Archery Opening Weekend-A-zone

I didn't think I'd be making this trip. The A-zone archery season opened yesterday, but we're working on the yard. This kept me busy all day Saturday, but I was able to slip off today. This trip is mostly just a sanity check, to get out in the woods and out of the city for a little while.

Sunday, 7/17

0245 - I'm up and out early, since I am facing a two hour drive to the hunting area. I love summertime, but these long days mean the sun comes up at ungodly early hours. Everything is packed in the truck, so it's mostly a matter of running downstairs, pouring coffee in the thermos, and hitting the highway.

0445 - There's one other truck at the gate, but I see that my headlights just woke him up. I grab my stuff, get dressed, and head for the hill. Already, the sky is starting to lighten! I would have liked to be in place already. Oh well.

0515 - As I top the first main rise, the sun is already pink in the eastern sky. I wanted to be sitting quietly near a bedding area before now, since the ground is like rice krispies. It is impossible to move quietly. I picked up a pair of gaiters to help keep the burrs and hitch-hikers out of my socks, but they're very noisy on the grasses and limbs.

0600 - I reached the bedding area and sat for a while, but now it's getting warm. There are very few fresh tracks... nowhere near as many as there were during turkey season. I decide to sit a while longer, and head down to a seep where I hope to spot either deer or hogs.

0700 - Nothing moving, so it's time to go down to the seep. As I move along the trail, I have to work hard just to find any fresh tracks. All of the hog sign is old, but there are a couple of small deer tracks. Probably that doe and fawn I kept seeing during the turkey season.

0730 - The seep is dry as a bone! That explains why the hogs are all gone. But the deer usually hang around anyway. I decide to take a stand for a while, just to look and listen.

As I'm sitting here, I hear a strange noise. It's repeated a few moments later, and I finally realize that I'm hearing an elk bugling! Now that's a first! I glass the distant ridge, where it seems to be coming from, but I can't find the animals. I never knew there were any elk in this area. Maybe some private rancher has brought some in? Hard to say. But it's pretty cool to listen to.

0830 - It's already hot! I can hear the turkeys gobbling down in the canyon. The elk is still bugling sporadically. I have doubts that anything is going to be moving much longer, so instead of sitting here sweating, I pick up and start working my way over to the oak meadows. Maybe something is browsing in the shade. I can scout through here on the way back to the trailhead.

1000 - Back at the truck. The heat kept me moving. Any game has long since bedded down, and my patience is short. I decide to drive home over the Clear Creek/New Idria trail and just enjoy the day in the back country.

My next hunt will be on July 26-27, at Camp Roberts Army National Guard base. Hopefully, that one will be more productive!

Next Hunt


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Copyright 2003 WPL