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2 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 | | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


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Sportsman Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 11 • Issue 1 PUBLISHER James R. Baker GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak EXECUTIVE EDITOR Andy Walgamott EDITOR Chris Cocoles CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Brittany Boddington LEAD WRITER Tim E. Hovey CONTRIBUTORS Scott Haugen, Tiffany Haugen, Todd Kline, Nancy Rodriguez, Bill Schaefer, Mike Stevens SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Mamie Griffin, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold DESIGNERS Kayla Mehring, Jake Weipert PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Kelly Baker DIGITAL STRATEGIST Jon Hines ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Katie Aumann INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER Lois Sanborn ADVERTISING INQUIRIES CORRESPONDENCE Email Twitter @CalSportsMan ON THE COVER A group of 21 strong women gathered together in September for “Fish Like A Girl,” which was put on by the Golden Gate Salmon Association. Among the anglers participating were correspondent Nancy Rodriguez (right) and her niece Audrey. (NANCY RODRIGUEZ) MEDIA INC PUBLISHING GROUP CALIFORNIA OFFICE 4517 District Blvd. • Bakersfield, CA 93313 (661) 381-7533 WASHINGTON OFFICE P.O. Box 24365 • Seattle, WA 98124-0365 14240 Interurban Ave. S., Suite 190 Tukwila, WA 98168 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437 •

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Tim Hovey’s longtime background in hunting means he’s always eager to introduce the younger generation and other newbies to the outdoors. One of the easiest ways he’s found to put them on game is hunting doves, and with second season about a month away, now is the perfect time to consider getting an aspiring hunter into the sport. (TIM E. HOVEY)




The foothills. The valley floor. The coast. For California deer hunters, just finding blacktails is one of the most challenging parts of the hunt. Yet for our Field to Fire columnist Scott Haugen, these deer are among his favorite big game to hunt in all of North America. Find out where these deer congregate in the Cascades, bottomlands and coastal hills, then try Tiffany Haugen’s recipe for a delicious stuffed venison burger.


ANGLIN’ GALS SLAM KINGS Cat Kaiser, fundraising and events coordinator for the Golden Gate Salmon Association, wanted to bring together fellow women for an event she called “Fish Like a Girl.” So when 20 “anglerettes” boarded the aptly named Salty Lady in Sausalito for a day of Bay Area salmon fishing, our correspondent Nancy Rodriguez tagged along to chronicle – and fish – a fantastic event.

AWESOME AUTUMN IN THE SIERRA As we shed a tear for the end of the summer, savvy Sierra anglers are keeping the party going as long as possible, at least until the trout fishing season officially ends on Nov. 15. Between now and then, fisheries such as Crowley Lake, Rush Creek, Bridgeport Reservoir and others will provide plenty of opportunities to score a fall brown or ‘bow. Mike Stevens has the details.


ARIZONA ELK ASPIRATIONS Brittany Boddington’s big game pursuits usually involve a rifle, but her fiancé Brad, a diehard archery hunter, convinced our She Hunts columnist to try for elk in northern Arizona with her old bow. It wasn’t an easy transition for Boddington, and her almost weeklong hunt seemed doomed at times. Find out if all the near misses and frustration paid off in the end.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE 19 52 87 89 105 115

Shore fishing Slovenia’s Lake Bled Holiday Gift Guide SoCal bay sand bass Fall topwater largemouth action Predator hunt put on hold to help injured motorcyclist Turkey hunting with your dog

DEPARTMENTS 15 31 35 45 49 51 81

The Editor’s Note Protecting Wild California: Fundraising for salmon Outdoor calendar Adventures of Todd Kline Reader photos Photo contest winners Rig of the Month

Read California Sportsman on your desktop or mobile device. Go to California Sportsman is published monthly by Media Index Publishing Group, 14240 Interurban Avenue South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Send address changes to California Sportsman, PO Box 24365, Seattle, WA 98124. Annual subscriptions are $29.95 (12 issues), 2-year subscription are $39.95 (24 issues). Send check or money order to Media Index Publishing Group, or call (206) 382-9220 with VISA or M/C. Back issues are available at Media Index Publishing Group offices at the cost of $5 plus shipping. Display Advertising. Call Media Index Publishing Group for a current rate card. Discounts for frequency advertising. All submitted materials become the property of Media Index Publishing Group and will not be returned. Copyright © 2018 Media Index Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be copied by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher. Printed in U.S.A. 10 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 | | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


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n college I wrote about sports for my school newspaper. My first beat was the men’s water polo team, but all of us who covered a sport also had the opportunity to write columns. I was a bit intimidated by that, as I wasn’t sure if I could measure up to my sports journalism idols who had the gift of making their words sing. Still, I gave it a shot, and one cub reporter column that I thought about as the calendar turned to October was proclaiming my love for the 10th month of the year. I made the connection, of course, to sports, and cited how exciting October can be if you’re fan of football (really amping up at the college and NFL levels) and baseball (hello, World Series!), not to mention the start of the pro hockey and basketball seasons. Just as October is awesome for sports fan, it’s incredible for California sportsmen, and we are here to serve you. Check out our fishing stories from Nancy Rodriguez (king salmon), Bill Schaefer (topwater largemouth and saltwater sand bass) and Mike Stevens (Eastern Sierra fall trout). It goes without saying that California’s hot temperatures are finally starting to cool down, providing excellent weather to get out and wet a line, either in the Bay Area, Southern California or the Sierra. And if you hunt, look no further than Scott Haugen’s tips for finding blacktails – seasons are now open throughout the state – and Tim Hovey’s report on introducing youths to hunting via upland birds. Besides upcoming quail and chukar seasons, waterfowl hunters can finally break out their decoys, get their blinds set up and get the retrievers fired up to chase downed birds. The Northeast Zone opener is Oct. 6 and Oct. 19 or 20 is the first day for ducks and geese in most other zones. Almost 30 years (yikes) after cutting my teeth as a college journalist, I’m just as excited about what’s on the sports calendar this month. But I sure hope to get outside and take advantage of the Golden State’s plethora of opportunities. Whether you prefer catching a fish or bagging a bird or buck, happy October! –Chris Cocoles

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By Chris Cocoles

LAKE BLED, Slovenia—Truth be told: I wasn’t sure if I was going to get in a fishing day or not while visiting here in late summer to celebrate my birthday. Sure, we were staying in Lake Bled, a Tahoe-esque alpine resort ringed by the spectacular Julian Alps, a short drive from the borders of Austria (to the north), Italy (west) and Croatia (south). All my pre-trip research said Slovenia – once the far north border of Yugoslavia and now an independent member of the European Union after a 1990s civil war tore apart what spawned seven nations – had a fishing-centric culture.

Slovenia’s spectacular Lake Bled is similar to our Tahoe, an alpine lake featuring fishing for both big and small specimens, like the tiny roach the editor caught during his trip. (CHRIS COCOLES) | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


FISHING Yet I was having too much fun doing various activities with my travel partners, my sister Charlene and brother-in-law Alan. We’d spent the previous few days island-hopping along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast; drinking local wine and beer; rafting down the mostly flat but gorgeous Sava Dolinka River once we crossed the border into Slovenia; and even cashing in a few extra Euros from the blackjack tables at the lakeside casino in Bled that capped off my birthday celebration.

Time was running short, as we would soon be headed to Slovenia’s sliver of a coastline in Piran, a Venetian-style port town, before heading to Venice to catch our flight home. So fishing – I was in touch with a couple of river guides via email before heading to Europe – would be a great if I did it but OK if it didn’t pan out. But that was before I met Blaz, whose smartphone photo piqued my attention and got the angler in me a bit fired up to wet a line. Blaz navigates his pletna – a traditional wooden boat – back and forth across Lake Bled to its iconic island that tourists regularly visit. Its church, located 99 steps above the shore, is a popular destination for Slovene weddings. As we waited for his boat to fill with passengers, Blaz called up his Facebook page and showed me a photo of a Lake Bled catfish. “Forty-two pounds,” he said to my astonishment. I replied I’d been thinking about fishing but wanted to do something simple. “You can rent gear from the fishing shop (down the street),” he said. “Hvala,” I replied, one of the few Slovenian/Slavic words I knew from previous trips to this corner of Europe, to Blaz after he got a good workout rowing us back from our island visit. So the next morning we decided to at least walk down from our rental house and maybe I’d have a chance at a similar Lake Bled monster fish.

Blaz paddles a traditional pletna wooden boat that takes visitors to an island across Lake Bled, which itself is popular with anglers for carp (upper right), lake trout, catfish and perch. (CHRIS COCOLES/FAUNA FLY FISHING SLOVENIA) 20 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

WHAT I LOVE MOST about Slovenia – I actually loved it all and plan to go back someday – are its people. I found Slovenes to be warm, friendly and easy to communicate with since many speak very good English. (In my European travels I’ve discovered that Americans like me just aren’t bilingual enough; shame on us). Like Blaz, Matej, the manager at Bled’s Fauna Fly Fishing Slovenia shop (, made a quick impression on me as we talked fishing in the store. | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


FISHING I asked about renting gear and he reached over to grab a spinning rod and a little tackle box. Within minutes I was giving Matej – he pronounced it Matthew and said it was spelled the Slovenian way – a few Euros for a one-day fishing license and gear rental. I asked about bait and he plopped a can of corn on the table, throwing it in for free. “Just put a piece on the hook and throw it out; adjust the (split shot) on the leader if you want to get it deeper,” he said. “You might get lucky and get a big carp.” I looked at the rod and its 8-pound test and told him, “I hope if I do I don’t break the rod.” Matej smiled, showed me a map of spots on the lake where I couldn’t fish and sent me on my way. Of course, being the klutz I’m known to be I managed to stab my right thumb with the small hook when I grabbed the rod in the wrong place. Matej played doctor and got me a bandage after we stopped the bleeding. “Is the hook stuck in you?” Matej asked with a laugh. “I think it’s out,” I said. “You think or you know?” he said before we did eventually find it on the floor as my day as a Slovenian fisherman started with a whimper. Matej rerigged a hook onto the end of the leader and this time I carefully got the rod out of the store. “Here’s my chance to catch a big fish thousands of miles from home,” I thought, recalling my conversation with Blaz the day before as I headed down the lakefront. I would find out that the size of the fish isn’t as important as the experience.

Vila Bled was once the private retreat for controversial then Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito, who was such a diehard hunter he had big game planted around his hideaway for easy kills. (CHRIS COCOLES) 22 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

MY BROTHER-IN-LAW didn’t feel like fishing that day, but Alan and Charlene did end up being my lucky charms after the first place that I decided looked like a good spot was anything but. After about 25 minutes of watching my bobber hardly move after a few short casts, they started walking back toward our house but

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quickly came back, claiming to have found what looked like a better spot to cast from and seeing a lot more smaller fish in Bled’s crystal-clear waters. I wasn’t about to ignore their suggestion, so I reeled in and walked Matej is the manager of the fly shop, has worked there since 1989 and regularly fly fishes Slovenia’s rivers for landlocked salmon and trout. (CHRIS COCOLES)

Roach, related to minnows and chubs, are plentiful throughout the crystal-clear waters at this alpine lake surrounded by the Julian Alps. (CHRIS COCOLES)

about 200 feet down the shoreline. And sure enough I saw a lot of fish a couple feet out in the shallows and was certain that a big one was lurking within casting distance. I adjusted the rig to get my line a little further out and managed to cast out beyond where the little guys were swimming. It was hardest to keep the corn on my hook, as frequently it flew off during my cast or was gobbled in the water. Alan and Charlene took a walk and said they’d be back to check on me in about an hour or so. I told them I wasn’t expecting any miracles, but as I settled in I wasn’t complaining about the setting either. It was as scenic a spot as I’ve fished from. Looking west I saw the island Blaz had taken us too. Directly across the lake about 425 feet up a hill stood Bled Castle, Slovenia’s oldest and dating back to the early 11th century. (It was constructed on the orders of German king Henry II and given to Bishop Al-

24 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

buin of Brixen when the region was known as the province of Carniola.) So yeah, it was a pretty epic view, even if I wasn’t going to catch a fish. But then it happened. I saw my bobber slowly begin to disappear from the surface, but I knew with my small hook I didn’t dare rear back on the rod too hard. So I slowly reeled. I knew pretty quickly that this wasn’t the trophy fish Blaz showed me, but I really didn’t care, to be honest. It was sufficient that I was reeling in a fish on the other side of the world in a country I could see myself living in. Now I just had to figure out what I had caught. I thought maybe it was a small carp, but its silver body and red-tipped fins clued me in that it was something I’d likely never heard of. I quickly snapped a couple photos of a fish that was probably all of a whopping 8 inches long, then released it back into Bled. I’d achieved my goal and realized that the mas- | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


The big carp that I was hoping would attack my corn never showed up, but in a setting like Lake Bled, catching and releasing a few small fish was still memorable. (CHARLENE KING)

sive carp Matej was hoping to fight probably wasn’t meant to be, but I kept trying. Carp love to bite corn, so I waited and waited with the slight hope that something bigger would chomp my bait. But I remembered days spent at Clear Lake watching massive carp roam the shallows while ignoring my offerings. I figured the bigger fish here would be as hesitant to play. As I’d reel in the bait bandits were alive and well, so I kept carefully sticking another piece of corn onto the hook. My bobber continually would sink toward the bottom, and the cycle would repeat itself over the next hour. Most often as I reeled in there was nothing but an empty hook at the other end, though I did manage to reel in an even smaller mystery fish before my family members returned. 26 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

I fished for about another 20 minutes after they arrived, and caught and released one last 6-inch consolation prize, snapped a few more pics and then packed up the tackle box I’d rented before we walked back to the house and continued our sightseeing later that day. Our trip was winding down, and while getting back to the coast and that beautiful blue water of the Adriatic Sea was tempting, I was so looking forward to returning the next morning to drop off my gear, chat with my new buddy Matej and figure out just what I’d caught.

WHEN WE WERE ON our pletna boat ride, I looked over to the south shore of Lake Bled and spotted a massive building partially hidden in the trees that looked familiar from the research | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


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I’d done about the area. Vila Bled is now a high-end hotel, but it was once the private retreat of Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslavia’s controversial president from 1953 to 1980 (he died that year at 87 after he was literally declared president for life). Tito’s complicated legacy includes leading a socialist government that managed to shun the Soviets and keep itself together through the Communist era. During much of the time Tito spent in Lake Bled he hunted. He was so obsessed with hunting, Blaz told me, he ordered big game be strategically placed in the forest near his compound for easy kills. These days, as Slovenia joins Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, etc., as independent nations after the bloody post-Tito breakup of Yugoslavia, outdoor adventure is part of Slovenes’ way of life. When I stopped by Matej’s store, I learned he’s been fly fishing the nearby rivers for landlocked trout and Danube salmon and even a species of grayling, all of which frequent pristine rivers and streams throughout the country. Local diehard anglers like Matej mostly stick to rivers. “Bled is more like our playground,” he said, while adding that carp, lake trout, catfish and perch are still popular fishing targets on the lake, particularly in spring. When I showed Matej photos of my mystery fish, he quickly identified them as roach, which are ubiquitous throughout Central and Eastern Europe, and are in the same family as chubs, dace and other minnows. We chatted a few more minutes and he showed me around the store before I had to leave to catch our shuttle to the coast. I’ll always remember interacting with Matej and Blaz, who both inspired me to give fishing a try in a country I fell in love with. CS Editor’s note: Follow Fauna Fly Fishing at facebook.comFauna-Fly-Fishing-Slovenia495786087276192 and subscribe om YouTube (Fly Fishing Slovenia FaunaBled). Email: | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


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t’s been a difficult road for Chinook and coho salmon in recent years. Case in point: Anglers on the American, Sacramento and Feather Rivers are only able to keep one Chinook this season, as the bag limit was reduced from its usual two.

King anglers are limited to just one fish this season on three northern Central Valley rivers, frustrating local guides. Thankfully, the Golden Gate Salmon Association continues to raise funds for salmon conservation during a difficult time for fish stocks. (MSJ GUIDE SERVICE) | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


“It killed my business,” says Manny Saldana of MSJ Guide Service in Yuba City (530-301-7455; “Lots of my clients didn’t want to pay for one fish. It definitely affected me and (California Department of Fish and Wildlife will) not overturn it. We’re stuck with one fish. I’ve had a few trips where my clients have been done in 30 minutes.” It’s been a tough few years. In September the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared the 2015 to 2017 West Coast commercial salmon seasons a failure, setting the stage for disaster relief for the industry. Life goes on, as the ocean salmon fishing was hot in the summer and guides like Saldana say even with the one-fish limit he and his colleagues are catching Chinook this fall and hope to still fill boats with customers who want to cook up a salmon dinner. Credit organizations like the San Francisco-based Golden Gate Salmon Association, which are doing what they can to fundraise. The GGSA ( will host its Sonoma fundraising dinner at Ramekins Culinary Institute on Nov. 9 and will be toating the work of a local water agency’s general manager. “We’re honoring Grant Davis because of the great job he’s done of managing Sonoma County’s water resources while protecting salmon and the local watersheds they rely on,” GGSA president John McManus said in a press release. “We’re also looking forward to coming together to raise money for GGSA’s long-term goal of rebuilding the salmon runs that support coastal communities up and down the coast, including Sonoma County’s.” Given the woes local guides like Saldana have endured, you take any good news when you can. CS

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OUTDOOR CALENDAR OCTOBER 6 6 6 6-7 13 13 20 20

Northeastern Zone waterfowl season opens River Rotter Salmon Derby, Walnut Grove; (916) 203-7202 Most X Zone deer seasons open Big Bear Lake Troutfest Derby; Deer season openers in most D Zones Norcal Trout Challenge, Pardee Lake; Duck and geese season opens in most California zones Quail season opens in Zone Q1 and Q3

20 Statewide chukar season opens 26-28 Morrison’s Bonus Derby Weekend, Convict Lake;

NOVEMBER 3 3 3 9

Scaup season opens in most state zones Dungeness crab season opens (tentative) Falconry sage grouse season opens Last day of Ambush at the Lake derby, Convict Lake;

Note: For a complete list of bass fishing tournaments, go to For more details on hunting zones and regulations, check out

9 10 10 10 10 10 11 14

Golden Gate Salmon Association fundraising dinner, Sonoma; Fall wild turkey season opens Statewide pheasant season opens Stanislaus River Salmon Festival opens, Knights Ferry; facebook .com/SRSFest Second dove season opens La Panza anterless elk season opens Fort Liggett anterless elk season opens Anterless elk season opens in Northeastern California

Waterfowl hunting gets cranking up this month with season openers on Oct. 6 and Oct. 20. (DAVE FELIZ/CDFW) | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman





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e’re not ashamed to ad admit it: Todd Kline has the kind of life we wish forwe could experience. Kline’s a for mer professional surfer, a successful co-angler on the FLW Tour and a Southern California bass guide, plus he gets to travel the world as a commentator for the World Surf League’s telecasts. Todd has agreed to give us a peek at what he’s up to each month. For more on Todd or to book a guided fishing trip with him, check out, and you can follow him on Instagram at @toddokrine. –The Editor

s e r u t n e v d A

In September, the FLW Costa Series made a stop on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This is the day one launch. The dude in the blue Ranger (left) is my friend and teammate for Okuma, Kevin Gross. He is a former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher. (TODD KLINE) I had a good practice outing with some solid fish caught and located. This was one of those bass. (TODD KLINE)

I have not fished for bass anywhere else where I’ve seen boats like this. The Delta is unique in so many ways. (TODD KLINE)

One morning during the tournament I could hear turkeys from my campsite, so I walked around the corner and found this flock in a field. (TODD KLINE) | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


I went to Japan this month to commentate for the ISA World Surfing Games. Surfers from 42 nations competed in the contest. This is a great shot of team Senegal. (TODD KLINE) I caught this Delta donkey on an IMA Little Stik early one morning. (TODD KLINE)

Great restaurant view near my hotel in Japan. The fish prints are an art form known as gyotaku. (TODD KLINE)

This is my Delta camping crew; we were headed around the corner from the campsite to go eat at the Rusty Porthole on Bethel Island. (TODD KLINE)

46 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |



It’s a glorious sunrise, viewed in fast forward thanks to the power of your 250 ProXS. It’s a glorious sunrise, viewed fast the forward thanks toyour the power of your 250 ProXS. dlorious in fast sunrise, forward viewed It’s thanks a glorious in to fast the power sunrise, forward ofviewed thanks yourneed 250 to in to ProXS. the fast power forward thanks your 250 tofish ProXS. theare power 250 ProXS. Because you get thereofin while stillof eating breakfast. It’s a glorious sunrise, viewed in fast forward thanks to the power of your 250 ProXS. Because you need to get there while the fish are still eating breakfast. se e while you need the fish to get are Because there still eating while you need the breakfast. fish to get arethere still eating while the breakfast. fish are still eating breakfast. Because need to get there while the fish stilldealer, eating today. breakfast. Learn more you at or visit yourare local Learn more or visit yourtoday. local dealer, today. more ator visit your Learn local more dealer, ator visit today. your at local dealer, or visit today. your local dealer, Learn more at or visit your local dealer, today.

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The Ling brothers had some great bass fishing experiences in Northern California. Here’s 14-yearold Mitchell with a nice Lake Berryessa largie ... (MARC LING)

Chico-area resident Bryan Galea is having an epic late summer and early fall on the Feather River for Chinook. “Lots of fish around up here in NorCal,” he tells us. (BRYAN GALEA)

... And this is Matthew, 17, who landed a Clear Lake lunker. “We catch and release everything,” says Marc Ling, Mitchell’s and Matthew’s dad. (MARC LING)

Friend of the editor Dan Hinde of Belmont (far left) and daughter Lily, 10, had a great day of rockfishing off the San Mateo County coast. Joining Dan and Lily were friends Peter Tong, Emily Tong, Julian Francis and Michael Tong. (DAN HINDE)

For your shot at winning great fishing and hunting products from Yo-Zuri and Browning, send your full-resolution, original images with all the pertinent details – who’s in the pic and their hometown; when and where they were; what they caught their fish on/weapon they used to bag the game; and any other details you’d like to reveal (the more, the merrier!) – to or California Sportsman, 14240 Interurban Ave S, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. By sending us photos, you affirm you have the right to distribute them for use in our print and Internet publications. | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


50 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |




Kristy Gray is the winner of our monthly Yo-Zuri Photo Contest. The pic she sent of herself and 14-month-old daughter Ashlynn – “who loves to fish” – with a Columbia River sockeye wins her gear from the company that makes some of the world’s best fishing lures and lines!

Jesse Cochell is our monthly Browning Photo Contest winner, thanks to this shot of son Trenton and his 2017 western Oregon blacktail, a deer the lad let walk the weekend before due to no ethical shot opportunity but made good the following one despite rain and buck fever. It wins him a Browning hat!

For your shot at winning Browning and Yo-Zuri products, send your photos and pertinent (who, what, when, where) details to ccocoles@, or to California Sportsman, PO Box 24365, Seattle, WA 98124-0365. By sending us photos, you affirm you have the right to distribute them for our print or internet publications. | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


Holiday Gift Guide MCOMIE’S CUSTOM LURES This holiday season give your fisherman the fishing lures that catch more fish! McOmie’s Custom Lures brings new and exciting design patterns with innovative vibrant color combinations to fishermen. Our goal in making lures is for you to have a successful and memorable fishing experience. Try these incredible lures the next time you go fishing! WWW.MCOMIESCUSTOMLURES.COM

RAPTORAZOR Raptorazor’s innovative design offers a faster and cleaner way to process game. The hook design on the Big Game Skinner cuts clean and fast, saving you time in the field. The T-grip handle offers complete control and eliminates hand fatigue. Raptorazor makes field dressing easy! WWW.RAPTORAZOR.COM

BRADLEY SMOKER Add a little intelligence to your culinary war chest this year. The Bradley Smart smoker is capable of monitoring your food’s temperature and notifying you when things are done, or needing attention. WWW.BRADLEYSMOKER.COM ANCHOR CADDIE If you have a boat, you have an anchor and rope. Now all you need is an Anchor Rope Bag. Anchor Caddie has the solution. WWW.ANCHOR-CADDIE.COM

BLACKHAWK PARAMOTORS USA Meet the safest, most affordable aircraft in the world! No pilot license required. Learn to fly in five to seven days. Your next great adventure awaits from BlackHawk Paramotors USA! BLACKHAWKPARAMOTOR.COM

MAN GEAR ALASKA CHEST HOLSTERS Let us help you be the person who gives the perfect gift. Our chest holsters wear in a comfortable position, allowing free range of movement, clear of other outdoor gear. In extreme elements there is no need for oiling after being soaked. It’s the perfect balance between flexibility and ruggedness. Handcrafted in over 32 models and in three color options. WWW.MANGEARALASKA.COM

FANCY PANTS HOLSTERS No two women are built the same, so our holsters are made to be not only comfortable but versatile, stylish and adaptable to a variety of body shapes, firearms and lifestyles. All our holsters are handmade in America, and we offer lots of custom options. WWW.FPHOLSTERS.COM

ELLIS CANVAS TENTS The Shackleton Tent comes in a 14x4, 11x11, and 8x8. You will be surprised to see how simple this tent is, only relying on three poles. The carefully designed shape allows it to stretch out to a spacious tensioned structure. It does need to spiked in eight directions, so you will need good staking points and then you are good to go. WWW.ELLISCANVASTENTS.COM

SHALLOW GLASS LURES High-strength premium fishing lures, with a lifetime warranty. Handmade in Truckee, California. Fresh- and saltwater lures. Trout, kokanee, salmon, dorado, tuna, wahoo. WWW.SHALLOWGLASSLURES.COM

HUBER CONCEPTS Two models: Traditional Staged-Break (Rc-60 alum body), Exponent (melanite steel body). Same internal structure, same mathematics. WWW.HUBERCONCEPTS.COM

52 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

GHOST SCREAM HOT SAUCE The perfect gift or stocking stuffer for that lover of spice and flavor! Ghost Scream offers four products and a gift pack to heat up any recipe. Try the original Hot Sauce, Chili Garlic Paste, Chili Garlic Jam or Vindaloo Curry Hot Sauce. WWW.GHOSTSCREAM.COM

WERKZ Carry your pistol and light in a Werkz M6 holster. Modular accessories can turn the M6 into an OWB holster in minutes. In stock for quick shipment. WWW.WERKZ.COM

TOPPER EZ LIFT Raise and lower your topper with a push of a button for large loads. Attach the Camper Package to turn your truck into a popup camper. Limits lifted! WWW.TOPPEREZLIFT.COM

NC ORDNANCE Reproduction Stag-Like grips! Over 2,200 finest quality reproduction grips and buttplates for sale. S10 Colt 1911 .45 Gov’t Model Auto and Clones. StagLike grips are made of the best quality urethane available. Will not shrink or chip. $50.00 plus $5.00 postage (20-page list: $5.00). NC Ordnance Inc. PO Box 3254, Wilson, NC 27895; (252) 237-2440. Satisfaction guaranteed. WWW.GUNGRIP.COM

ANTIGRAVITY BATTERIES Consumer Reports rated #1 jump starter. Extra power when you need it. Don’t be left stranded! WWW.SHOP.ANTIGRAVITYBATTERIES.COM

CALDERA KAYAK We have more than 20 years experience guiding on Mono Lake and Lake Crowley. We offer an immense amount of knowledge about the local and natural history of the region, including details on the diverse geology and wildlife in the area. Caldera Kayaks tours are ideal for people who enjoy the outdoors and would like an enriching, educational experience in the places they visit. WWW.CALDERAKAYAK.COM Spiral Wrap Trolling Rod VANCE’S TACKLE rods are designed specifically for trolling. Starting on top, each guide rotates a small amount so that the tip guide is facing down. This prevents torque, line rub, and hooking the last guide upon downrigger release. Built from highly parabolic E-glass, they’re the perfect rods for downrigger fishing! WWW.VANCESTACKLE.COM

GIBSON DUCK BLIND COVERS Why don’t ducks fly directly over you? They can see you from above! Stay completely hidden with Gibson Duck Blind Covers. Portable or permanent, for duck, goose or boat blinds. WWW.GIBSONDUCKBLINDCOVERSINC.COM

PACIFIC CHARTER SERVICES offers year-round six-pack ocean fishing trips out of Charleston, Oregon. Gift certificates are available at WWW.PACIFICCHARTERSERVICES.COM or call 541-378-3040 PARDI DUCK CALLS Next-generation calls! Three-D artwork wrapped around a rugged aluminum mallard call. Assortment of colors and designs. Threaded assembly. No-hassle tuning. Superior sound. Wiseguy Hard Case and Shotgun Shell Display Case available. A must-have for the collector. Professional, repeatable performance in the field. Engineered for everyone! Next-generation calls! Acrylic Speck calls. Assortment of colors and designs. Threaded assembly. No-hassle tuning. Superior sound. Wiseguy Hard Case available. A must-have for the collector. Profes Professional, repeatable performance in the field. Engineered for everyone! WWW.PARDIDUCKCALLS.COM

ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK RANCH Make those Christmas dreams come true with the perfect gift – an all-inclusive three-day trophy elk hunt on our private ranch in southeast Idaho near Jackson, Wyoming, and Yellowstone National Park. Nonhunting guests stay free! Hunts are 100 percent guaranteed and don’t require out-of-state license or tags. WWW.ROCKYMOUNTAINELKRANCH.COM | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


Holiday Gift Guide


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ABOUT US At Fancy Pants Holsters we specialize in comfortable, versatile, and stylish concealed carry holsters for women of all shapes and sizes. Our holsters are customizable and completely handmade in America.

Holiday Gift Guide THRESHER BOATS The Thresher 22 is built to accommodate the offshore/inshore and inland fisherman. The Thresher 22 comes loaded with standard features to get you on the water and on the fish without breaking the bank! THRESHERBOATS.COM

CMP STEEL TARGETS introduces the Reactive Vitals Series of AR500 Steel Targets. These targets feature distinctive animal shapes with a reactive flapper in the vitals location. Hit the vitals and it will flip up and close automatically, ready for the next shot! Sight in for hunting or just have fun hitting these exciting steel shooting targets. These targets are available in the shapes of deer, coyote, wild boar, bobcat, bear and many other animals. The AR500 steel targets are rated for pistol at 15 yards or rifle at 100 yards minimum. See WWW.CUSTOMMETALPROD.COM for complete details.

MOUNTAIN MAN OUTFITTERS Mountain Man Outfitters offers world-class hunts for mule deer, pronghorn antelope, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain lion, predators, waterfowl, upland game, ground squirrels and crows. NEVADAOUTFITTER.COM

EXQUISITE KNIVES offers the finest custom knives on the planet. From hunters to combat knives to kitchen knives, we at exquisiteknives can fulfill all of your needs. Proprietor Dave Ellis is also California’s first ABS mastersmith and knows not only what makes a great knife but also has extensive knowledge of heat-treating and finishing of most edged tools. WWW.EXQUISITEKNIVES.COM CEDROS KAYAK FISHING Angler: Cristhian Munoz. Location: Cedros Island, Baja California. Fish: California yellowtail. Caught: July 17, 2018 while fishing boiling fish under a bird flock and a massive bait ball of sardine. Weight: 34 pounds. Lure: Kicker Jigs surface iron. CEDROSKAYAKFISHING.COM

LEELOCK The LeeLock Magnum Skeg drastically improves performance and straight-line travel of bow-mounted electric trolling motors. The use of bow-mounted, electric trolling motors for salmon, walleye, kokanee or any other species is a game changer. Not only does this skeg improve performance, it makes bow-mounted electric trolling motors much more efficient. Your batteries will run longer on a charge. The LeeLock Magnum Skeg can be a vital part of your trolling motor system! This oversized Skeg is made of anodized 5052 aluminum. The size is 9 inches high by 11 inches wide and it’s 3/16 inch thick. It comes with stainless-steel hose clamps. The anodization keeps the aluminum from corroding in fresh- and saltwater. The LeeLock Magnum Skeg is available to fit most Minn Kota and Motorguide motors. The Magnum Skeg comes with clear PVC-coated hose clamps. Call 360-380-1864 or write INFOLEELOCK.COM if you have any questions about fit.

ACUTE ANGLING The ultimate holiday gift and a bucket list dream at the same time! Acute Angling is the Amazon’s premier provider of fishing trips for peacock bass and exotic species. We go where others can’t (or won’t) to provide a one-of-a-kind Amazon wilderness adventure – the kind of extreme fishing experience that is fast disappearing from our planet. WWW.ACUTEANGLING.COM

PRO CALIBER INDIAN MOTORCYCLE Give that special someone the ultimate two-wheel gift this year. Check out the entire line-up of Indian Motorcycles at Pro Caliber Indian Motorcycle. 360-944-3400 WWW.PROCALIBERINDIANMOTORCYCLE.COM MASTERBUILT With Masterbuilt’s MES 130B Digital Electric Smoker, simply plug the smoker in, set the digital controls, and it does the work. Visit MASTERBUILT.COM for retailers and more information.

56 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

BUCK-TRUCK The Buck-Truck pack is the only convertible pack and game cart combination product. We are committed to innovation in game retrieval solutions for your hunts and offer the best game retrieval short of owning a horse. BUCK-TRUCK.COM

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We are running 2 duck blinds this season. A 6 man blind on 100-acres in the heart of Richvale and a 4 man blind located just west of the famous Butte Sink which is a great producer of ducks and geese. Lots of mallards were taken out of that blind last season. ($250 a person) Also, we target snows and specks with dry field goose hunts. 8 hunters a day max and 6 hunters minimum. Groups of 6 will get the whole field to them selfs. If you haven't experienced a good goose hunt by laying in 1000+ decoys and geese landing right in front of you, give me and my team a call and we will get you on the birds. ($300 a person)


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58 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |





’ve been fortunate to hunt all the deer subspecies in North America and believe the toughest trophy-class deer to consistently attain is the Columbia blacktail. These deer are my favorite big game animals to hunt in North America. I’ve pursued them in every habitat they call home. One of the biggest keys to success I’ve found in my more than 40 years of hunting Columbia blacktails is understanding the habitats in which they live, plus how they behave within those specific habitats. Here’s a look at three of the most common habitats occupied by blacktails in California.

FOOTHILLS The blacktails that live from about the 1,500-foot elevation mark down to the fringes of valley floors are what I call foothill blacktails. To me, these are the ultimate of all blacktails, as they exhibit behaviors that encompass all other blacktails, including those living higher in the

Columbia blacktails live in varied California habitats, including the Coast Range, where this big buck was found. (SCOTT HAUGEN) | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman






ue to the low fat content of venison, burgers can be a little tricky. Adding a bit of ground beef or ground pork helps with that, as does mixing an egg with the ground meat before shaping into burgers. But if you want to keep those patties 100 percent game meat, stuffing them is the trick. Stuffing these burgers with bacon and blue cheese infuses flavor from the inside out and keeps meat juicy on the inside. If you aren’t sure how long to cook the burgers, keep a cooking thermometer handy and take them off the heat at 145 to 150 degrees. This recipe yields four large burgers. BURGERS 2 pounds ground venison Six slices thick cut bacon 4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese Seasoning salt Four burger buns

How can you make your venison burgers a little juicier? Author Tiffany Haugen says stuffing each patty with yummy bacon and blue cheese would be a good start. (TIFFANY HAUGEN)

SPECIAL SAUCE AND TOPPINGS 3 tablespoons mayonnaise 2 tablespoons ketchup 1 tablespoon yellow mustard Lettuce Sliced tomato Sliced onion Dill pickle

both sides of stuffed burgers with seasoning salt right before cooking. Grill (see note below) or pan-fry burgers until they reach desired doneness. Butter buns and toast on the grill/pan if desired. Serve with special sauce, bacon and desired toppings. Note: When grilling 100 percent venison burgers, use a grill mat to keep patties intact.

In a large skillet, fry bacon until crisp and then chop two of the slices into bacon bits. Cut the other four slices in half. Set aside. In a small bowl, crumble blue cheese. Divide ground venison into eight equal portions. Keep meat loose, as you don’t want to pack it down or the burger will be tough. Use a burger press to fill burgers with blue cheese and bacon bits. If you don’t have a burger press, gently form 8 patties. Place an equal amount of cheese and bacon in the middle of four patties. Put remaining patties on top of the four patties and pinch edges down to seal in cheese and bacon. Sprinkle

Editor’s note: For signed copies of Tiffany’s popular Cooking Big Game book, send a check for $20 to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489, or visit Say you saw it here in California Sportsman and receive a FREE big game field dressing DVD, a $20 value! Follow Tiffany on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and watch for her on the online series Cook With Cabela’s and The Sporting Chef TV show.

60 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 | | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


NORCAL pearance of a small-scale migration. These excursion bucks spend a good deal of time cruising benches and hillsides at the same elevation, moving horizontally. Hunting foothill blacktails requires the most comprehensive hunting approach of all blacktail subgroups for the simple fact they occupy such a wide range of habitat. Hunters need to know the behavior of these deer during the time they intend to hunt them, and prepare accordingly. Blacktails living on the valley floor are homebodies, but very challenging to hunt. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

Cascades, on the valley floor, along the coast, and in open, high country. These deer live in a varied habitat, which makes hunting them difficult. Foothill blacktails are primarily homebodies. Generally speaking, they are born, live and die within a small radius, often 1 to 2 square

miles. While many does appear to have a smaller home range than the bucks, it’s the pockets of does that motivate the bucks to cover ground during the pre-rut and rut. This means that in mid-October many bucks go on the move looking for does, which can give a false ap-

62 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

VALLEY FLOOR Where foothill bucks leave off, valley floor blacktails, which are yearround homebodies, pick up. Bucks will go into hiding soon after shedding their velvet and may not be seen, other than in the rut or during periods of antler growth in the summer. Big bucks in these areas can live and die in a very small core area, without ever being seen by humans.


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There are some big blacktails roaming California, and understanding their behavior within the varied habitats they occupy is key to consistent success. Author Scott Haugen scored on this benchleg blacktail during California’s general rifle season. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

64 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

I consider valley floor bucks to be those that live in lowland drainages adjacent to surrounding hills or mountains, often on private land. The hills or mountains they call home may be near the Cascades, Coast Range or smaller formations between the two. Valley floor deer lead easy lives compared to other subtypes. They have a year-round food supply, access to agricultural lands and low predation. Physically speaking, hunting lowland bucks is the easiest of all in the blacktail world. Though there may be some timbered hills to contend with, for the most part the land is flat or gently sloping. This doesn’t mean the hunting is simple, for the brush in the lowlands – poison oak, willows or a tangled mess of vegetation – can make hunting these deer very challenging, and frustrating. I also think some of these lowland bucks are among the smartest | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


NORCAL of all blacktails for the simple reason they are tuned in to human activity. Because they are born in the area where they live their whole life, they know when you’re leaving for work; when the school bus makes its rounds; when you’re on a tractor, quad or out for a stroll. They also know when it’s hunting season. They hear, see, and smell you, every day. Hunting lowland bucks is tough due to the simple fact it’s nearly impossible to penetrate their thick habitat without spooking them. This is why hunting the edges of meadows early in the morning and at last light make for the most common approaches. Setting up treestands and ground blinds are also a good bet, as is calling and rattling from about October 15 on.

COASTAL BLACKTAILS Moving west through the valleys and

into the hills, we encounter coastal blacktails, which live amid the rugged, dense forests of the Coast Range and are nonmigratory. They can be found from the summits of the mountains all the way down to the beach. Many hunters consider these to be the toughest of all blacktails to hunt. As if the rugged, brush-choked terrain of the Coast Range isn’t enough to overcome, hunters have to deal with a very secretive deer that is used to getting pressured by hunters. The result is one of the toughest hunts in North America, both physically and mentally. Coastal blacktails can have a small home range, but they will travel based on their needs and interests. Food is abundant in the Coast Range, as is water, so a big buck’s primary focus is to stay alive and breed when the time comes. This means their daily movements can be very minimal and very deliberate. Considering they don’t have to go far for food

and water, they can survive in a very small core area. However, deer will drop in elevation when their food sources dry up, and bucks will cover a lot ground in the pre-rut and rut. I think the blacktail rut kicks off sooner in the Coast Range than any other habitat, which is why as early as Oct. 10 using scents, rattling and calling can be good. The best hunters I’ve spent time with in the woods are those who cut their teeth hunting blacktails. By studying these elusive deer and understanding how they behave within a specific habitat – and understand why – you’ll be on the way to consistently filling more blacktail tags. CS Editor’s note: For signed copies of Scott Haugen's best-selling Trophy Blacktails: The Science Of The Hunt book, send a check for $20 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489. This and other how-to books can be ordered at


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68 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |


QUEENS OF KINGS A happy group of “anglerettes” gathered to fish for king salmon out of Sausalito as part of a Golden Gate Salmon Association-led outing called “Fish Like A Girl.” (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)



blanket of dense fog and a dark sky loomed over Sausalito’s harbor on the morning of our all-female adventure. Twenty-one salmon rods were rigged and strategically placed in their rod holders from bow to stern of our charter boat. As the lights in the bay twinkled about, freshly brewed coffee, baitfish and salty air permeated my nose, and I thought to myself that these are the smells that memories are made of. I looked around the deck of the boat and saw 20 like-minded female anglers all bundled up in jackets, hats and boots ready to greet the day. As we sipped our coffee and tried to shake our Dramamine grogginess, we

The aptly named Salty Lady hosted the outing and is a longtime staple in the Bay Area’s fleet. (NANCY RODRIGUEZ) | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman



Heading out through the iconic Golden Gate Bridge is just a part of the experience. (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)

introduced ourselves and organized our gear. I smiled as I listened to quiet conversations and laughter taking place around the boat. While the boat was pulling out of the harbor, I gazed up at the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge – breaking through the morning fog in all its glory, towering so grand above us. The steady hum of the boat’s motor was hypnotic as it rumbled along quietly along while we made our way to the first fishing spot. We carefully dropped our baited

rigs into the deep blue waters while tiny wakes formed behind our lines as we trolled along in the calm seas. Our baitfish and flashers danced in the dark of the Pacific, all trying to entice a hungry king. Our group intently watched their rod tips as the cool moist air chilled our faces and kept us bundled up while we soaked up the beauty that surrounded us. The calmness of the sea, the mild rocking of the boat and the peaceful lapping of the water had me in a blissful state.



have to admit, I didn’t know much about the Golden Gate Salmon Association before the trip. I looked up GGSA’s website ( and was instantly impressed. If you are an angler or hunter in California (or any state for that matter), you know how important conservation is, which is exactly what this organization is all about. GGSA is a coalition of salmon advocates who work hard to protect our salmon and the industry that is so important to our home state. As noted on the organization’s website, their mission is to “protect and restore California’s largest salmon-producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley rivers that feed both the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable commercial, recreational and cultural resource. Salmon recovery is our passion.” If you are an angler who would like to learn more about this association, please visit their website. They have valuable information about our salmon industry, articles, current salmon news, fundraising events, fishing trips, memberships and donations, and so much more. NR

70 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

And then I saw it – the unmistakable tap of my line – I yelled, “Fish on!” and it was as if the ball had just dropped on a New Year’s celebration and 20 bottles of champagne had been popped all at the same time! The first legal king salmon came over the rail and you would have thought the girls had been friends forever. Hoots and hollers, high-fives and smiles were in every corner of the boat as we all whooped it up together. And so began one of the best all-female adventures I have ever been blessed to be a part of.

WHEN I WAS FIRST notified about the Golden Gate Salmon Association’s first-ever “Fish Like A Girl” all women’s salmon fishing trip, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. I reached out to my 18-year-old niece Audrey to see if she was interested as well and her response was the same as mine. While anxiously waiting for the day of the charter to arrive, I made contact with Cat Kaiser, who not only is GGSA’s fundraising and events coordinator, but one heck of an angler (or “anglerette,” as we like to call it!). I was thrilled to be in contact with her and so looked forward to meeting another diehard female angler in California. She was so helpful with my | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman



Fish on and fish in the net makes it all worthwhile. (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)

travel plans and any needs or questions I had before our trip. When I first met her it was as if we were long lost friends; I knew she was someone that I wanted to both be around and definitely fish with! The salmon charter boat we were aboard, the Sausalito-based Salty Lady, was perfectly named for our fishing party. Jared Davis was our incredible, hard-working captain with two enthusiastic and beyond fun deckhands Tommy Watson and Jimmy McNair. Capt. Jared acquired the 56-foot fishing boat from the estate of a salmon fishing icon named Roger Thomas at the beginning of this year. Jared originally was a hired operator on the Salty Lady and worked with Thomas for close to 20 years. Thomas was the president of the Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association and the chair of the board of directors with the Golden Gate Salmon Association. Sadly, he passed away last December. When Jared spoke to me about Thomas, it was with complete admiration and an obvious deep friendship. It was apparent that his heart was still heavy for his and the industry’s loss, but I know he will do a great job taking care of the Salty Lady and her guests. Jared certainly took great care of us and made sure we were safe, having fun and catching fish!

Author Nancy Rodriguez was thrilled to bring along her niece Audrey, who caught her first salmon. (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)

Also aboard our vessel was Mike Aughney, who helped out the ladies onboard immensely. Mike is the owner and editor of, a GGSA executive board member volunteer and a seriously knowledgeable and passionate salmon advocate. We had a great conversation and I learned a lot about the salmon industry from my time spent with him. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to hang out with for the day.

AS THE HOURS AND miles drifted by, my throat became hoarse and my hand sore. These feelings weren’t brought on by the cold or a strained tendon; it was from hooting and hollering and endless high-fives from salmon after salmon being brought onto the boat! These women certainly could fish!

72 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

The 21 women on our boat (including me) were from all over California. And the coolest part was that some had never caught a salmon, and a few had hardly wet a line before this day. Talk about excitement! Cat and GGSA seriously spoiled us with breakfast, lunch, drinks and even chocolate! We all received GGSA hats and shirts and some of us were even lucky enough to leave with dinner: freshly caught salmon. The fishing gear was well maintained and the boat was in tiptop shape – spotless and it even had two heads. With each “Fish on!” yelled from bow to stern, the ladies’ excitement grew and grew. We were blessed by several whale sightings and not so blessed when one very clever sea lion decided he

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Poor Jess, who brought up a salmon, only to have a hungry sea lion stake a claim on the salmon as a tasty meal. (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)

Natalie shows off a limit of kings as the Salty Lady skipper Capt. Jared Davis looks on (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)

When you’re fishing it’s supposed to be fun, even reeling in shakers released to grow and be caught another day. Hence event organizer Cat Kaiser’s smile. (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)

Naz was thrilled to bring home dinner. (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)

74 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

Eileen landed her first salmon on the trip, which brought together an eclectic mix of veteran anglers and newbies. (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)



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BAY AREA needed one of the anglerettes’ salmon for lunch! We all had a laugh and raised our fists when Jessy pulled up nothing but a salmon head on the end of her line while the sea lion gulped down its tasty meal.

IT’S HARD TO EXPLAIN how much support was felt on this boat. I have been around men who will say “Nice catch” or “Good job,” but there is no comparison to the support and encouragement women give to each other. As we all started to get to know one another, the cheering grew louder. We even cheered on neighboring boats that we would see fighting a fish. How fun is that? As the sun started to break through the coastal fog, Capt. Jared held strong in his desire to put his ladies on some fish and make this one of the best day’s on the water they’ve ever had. The ladies ended up bringing home 16 fish, with many smaller salmon (future dinners) caught and

Rodriguez (right) and Golden Gate Salmon Association fundraising and events coordinator Cat Kaiser show off their salmon swag. (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)

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“The first legal king salmon came over the rail and you would have thought we girls had been friends forever,” Rodriguez writes. “Hoots and hollers, high-fives and smiles were in every corner of the boat as we all whooped it up together. And so began one of the best all-female adventures I have ever been blessed to be a part of.” (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)

released, as well as a few kings lost. My niece even landed a silver, which was admired and quickly returned to the sea. The crew of the Salty Lady went above and beyond any of my

expectations and I would be thrilled to go out on the boat again. I will forever have fond memories of the GGSA salmon fishing trip. I made new friendships and met some

amazing people on our adventure together. It was my first trip with 20 other like-minded women who all share the same passion and hope there are many more to come. Cat Kaiser and GGSA put on a fantastic event. They truly are the people working so tirelessly to ensure the fact that future generations will have an opportunity to fish for the mighty Chinook salmon in our golden state. If you’d like to learn more about California’s salmon industry and fishing for these beautiful fish, I hope you look into joining GGSA and keep an eye out for future fishing trips. Who knows? Maybe on the next trip we will be fishing together, because I guarantee I will be there! CS Editor’s note: Nancy Rodriguez lives in Cool (El Dorado County) with her husband Joe. She is on the field staff for Prois Hunting Apparel and a brand rep for Rockstarlette Outdoors and enjoys inspiring women to get outdoors.

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82 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |




he general trout season comes to an end in the Eastern Sierra on November 15, but the best fishing could very well be between now and then. This is especially true for brown trout hunters, but all trout species tend to perk up with the arrival of shorter days and cooler temps. Even without a “miracle winter” situation like the one the region experienced a couple years ago, conditions, including creek flows and water temps in lakes, look to be excellent this fall. Fishing reports out of the area shared the common thread of bigger fish as early as late August right through September. That’s not only the result of wily browns and their autumn activation, but also from holdover stockers instinctively going on the chew with winter approaching, plus stocking programs dumping in bigger hatchery fish. This includes broodstock rainbows, which semi-se-

Sierra “brown baggers” are ready for the fall, when brown trout are active in lakes and streams. (RACHEL VON FLECK) | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


SIERRA Big rainbows will also be on the prowl, as Rachel Von Fleck can attest, until the season officially closes on Nov. 15. (RACHEL VON FLECK)

cretly happens each fall. Eastern Sierra fall anglers should concentrate on the following areas and techniques: At Crowley Lake, water levels are healthy and cooler water temperatures are already clearing up the algae blooms of late summer. Beware of special regs from here on out, including a two-fish daily limit of trout over 18 inches and rules requiring only barbless artificial lures or flies. Rush Creek is a popular spot for “brown baggers” looking for trophies. Those guys also like to target the lake that feeds Rush, and the big one it spills into. Specifically, this means the outlet end of Silver Lake and the inlet area of Grant Lake. Bass-sized jerkbaits from Rapala, Yo-Zuri and the like on heavier 6- or 8-pound test should be employed when fishing this area. Up in Bridgeport, Twin Lakes and Bridgeport Reservoir are also boast-

ing healthy water levels, and along with the big, wild browns that both of those lakes have historically kicked out, they are also benefiting from the new Bridgeport Fish Enhancement Foundation. This group dumped bigger rainbows into the lakes all over the Bridgeport area all summer. In those lakes, trolling minnow-imitating baits or bigger spoons “top-line” or on leadcore is the name of the game, and seasoned brown trout anglers like to do so in the nastiest weather possible.

OTHER OPTIONS Beyond those areas, fishing will be in fall mode in every creek and lake from Bishop to Bridgeport. Wherever a fall angler fishes, he or she can expect to see a better ratio of browns to rainbows coming in compared to in the summer months, all-day bites and a general increase in aggression from all species. CS

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an Diego’s shallow bays and inshore waters – away from howling winds and winter surf – will start kicking out some really nice saltwater sand bass this time of year. The larger sand bass always seem to be caught in the first few weeks of the season. Depending on water temperatures, late October, November and December seems to be the prime time. Sand bass are caught, for the most part, in the main channel of the bays. It’s easy to find; the Coast Guard has been kind enough to mark it for you with red and green buoys. This deeper water is where you will find most of the schooled-up bass. They do roam the shallows as well, looking for clams, crabs and other crustaceans, so don’t forget the more shallow clam and weedbeds.

PICKING PLASTICS The most popular way to catch sand bass is with different plastic lures. Grubs, swimbaits, twin-tailed Scampi-type lures, and even crawfish-shaped plastics will all get a bite. Grubs by Yamamoto, Big Hammer, YUM, and Reebs Lures in sizes of 3 to 8 inches will score you big bass. Big bait for big fish isn’t always the norm. It often takes a smaller finesse bait just to get them to bite. I use a Daiwa Inshore rod with a BG spinning reel filled with 8- or 10-pound Maxima

Joel King with a nice San Diego Bay sand bass taken on the wind-and-grind method. The fish devoured a Big Hammer swimbait. (BILL SCHAEFER)

Ultragreen for this style of fishing. Swimbaits also come in different sizes and shapes. Big Hammer, MC Swimbaits, LK Lures and Western Plastics are just a few of the leaders in swimbait development. Olive brownbait, golden brownbait, sardine and chartreuse are among popular colors for the swimbaits. Remember to experiment with size.

GO BIGGER But if you are catching a lot of fish, go up in size to weed out the smaller ones, since you may catch that fish of a lifetime! A larger round-type reel works in this situation. I use a Daiwa Millionaire with a nice strong trig-

ger stick loaded with Maxima 12- to 15-pound Ultragreen momo. The most popular way to fish the swimbaits is the “wind-and-grind” method. This technique is to let about half your spool of line out behind the boat, then retrieve it in a steady wind. When the fish eats your bait, you will feel heaviness on your line. You then wind as fast as you can; this stretches the line, making contact with the fish. It will get heavier and heavier feeling as you wind; then set the hook! This technique of letting so much line out behind the boat is to help keep your bait on the bottom longer. Jigheads will vary from a ½ to 1½ ounces. CS | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman



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SOCAL A small popper, like this Daiwa TD Zero, can be deadly along the shore or on breaking fish as topwater bass fishing gets productive in the fall. (BILL SCHAEFER)



his time of year, freshwater bass fishing can get very exciting. All anglers love to see a hungry largemouth take their topwater lure. Whether it’s a slurp off the surface or a fish cartwheeling through the air, you can’t beat it. With unusually warm weather and warmer lake temperatures, this action just may last towards winter. No matter the level of angler, no one loves anything more than a topwater strike.

Many Southern California lake managers will let you launch right at first or gray light. These low-light conditions should send you to the closest bank, where larger bass are on the prowl and feel much safer in the dark shallows. I like to throw a noisy lure like a Booya buzzbait if the conditions are right with a small ripple on the water. If it’s glassy, I go to the Zara Spook or one of my other favorite glidebaits. I want to present a big meal for a big bass. Sometimes I go unrewarded, but

sometimes I’ll score a giant. As the sun rises and the baitfish slide out into deeper waters, you can chase the breakers. The breaking bass are most often in such a frenzy that they will eat just about anything.

COAXING A STRIKE I also have to mention that these fish can be just as finicky about what they attack. We have all thrown into a million boiling fish and not been bit and wondered how it’s possible that our lure made it through all those | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


Fishing buzzbaits during early morning hours can be productive at any Southland lake this time of year. (BILL SCHAEFER)

hungry bass. A lot of the time bass will injure baitfish and leave them swimming, stunned or dead on the surface. Try to match the hatch, as they say, and choose a bait about the same size. There are so many choices when chasing the breaking fish. You can go a little lighter than normal with your line because you’ll be fighting them in open water. The lighter line lets you cast small baits farther too. I like to use Daiwa or Maxima braid in 20-pound breaking strength, which is about the diameter of 2-pound line. You should be able to land anything on this.

OTHER LURE OPTIONS One of my favorite hard baits to throw is the Daiwa TD Zero Popper. My favorite plastic to throw is a 1-ounce darthead jig with a small Kalin saltand-pepper grub. Throw it beyond the breaking fish, let it sink a tad and race it back to the boat. It looks like a shad swimming for its life and will anger the most finicky of bass, which causes the fish to attack. This plastic can be deadly in the shallows as well. CS 90 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

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92 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |


Dylan Dozal (far left) and Carly and Tanner Matilla went on their first hunt ever with author Tim Hovey and his daughter Alyssa (second from left). As the smiles reflected, it was a great hunting debut for the trio. (TIM E. HOVEY)



any of my hunting friends are around my age and have been hunting for quite some time. Since we all have kids, it seemed only natural that when they got old enough, we’d begin to teach them how to hunt. Over the last decade, our kids have not only grown up together but have also become regular participants on our hunting trips. We were able to train them safely, gauge their interest and then move on from there. While it seems obvious to train your kids in activities that you may

also enjoy, this action is far more delicate when it comes to outdoor activities like hunting. Unlike regular sports, where children can be exposed to the activity through school or friends, safely entering into the hunting guild requires guidance by experienced individuals. Recruiting new hunters into the activity usually requires experienced hunters willing to share their time and knowledge of hunting. I believe there is nothing more important for the future of hunting than recruiting new hunters into the fold. For my friends, and me it was easy to bring our kids along and teach them the specifics. However, if you’re

a hunter, I believe it’s even more important to offer up your time and experience to those who have an interest in getting started, even if they’re not related to you.

START THEM OUT WITH DOVE HUNTING Despite their blistering speed and their almost supernatural avoidance maneuvers, I think dove hunting is an excellent way to introduce new hunters to the sport. If you set up in the right area, shot opportunities will be abundant. And there aren’t too many forms of hunting that incorporate a chair. Some of the early hunting trips with | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


HUNTING my daughters were opening-day dove hunts. Not only were birds abundant during the early flights, but the carefully arranged set-up allowed me to make sure my new hunters were safe and would only take shots I allowed. It gave them frequent examples of safe shots to take, as well as situations where shots should be held for safety. Setting out decoys in specific formations can bring birds in closer, slowing them down quite a bit for new hunters. I’ve used this technique dozens of times to help put birds in the bag of beginners. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to help several new hunters get started. Thinking back now, it really didn’t take much effort on my part to bring them along. Sometimes all it takes is to have a casual conversation about hunting.

JOHN I met my friend John Mattila over a decade ago. His daughter Carly was

in the same grade as my daughter Alyssa and they’ve known each other since second grade. Consequently, we’d bump into each other at school functions and for several years we’d take the kids out during Halloween together. It was during one of these neighborhood hikes to collect candy when John found out I hunted. John had mentioned that he had hunted when he was younger, but had fallen out of the activity because he didn’t have anyone to go with. I felt like I had to change that. I told John what I tell everyone who expresses an interest in hunting: take the safety course and get a hunting license. This takes effort, of course, and I feel if you’re truly interested in getting started, moving through this process will prove it. With his new California license in hand, I took John out on the dove opener several years ago and he had a great time. Soon he was mentioning that his son and daughter had start-

At a holiday party, Matt Harrison struck up a conversation with Hovey about hunting, and it led to an early-season dove hunt in September. (TIM E. HOVEY)

94 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

Another rookie, Cooper Davis, celebrates with his first dove on his first hunt. (TIM E. HOVEY)

ed showing an interest in hunting, and before I knew it Carly and John’s son Tanner were also regular fixtures during the early-morning dove hunts. I had turned a casual conversation about hunting years earlier into three new hunters.

MATT Matt Harrison and his family were new to the area and attended the local gym where my wife coaches. During our annual gym Christmas party, Matt began to study the hunting photos I have in the hallway. If you’ve never been to my house, you’ll know that I hunt within seconds of entering. Matt and I started talking and he mentioned that he was interested in hunting but had no idea where to start. I told him what was required to get his license and asked him to get hold of me when he had it. A month later he texted me that he had his safety card and would wait until the new hunting year started before purchasing his license. For the next six months, Matt and I stayed in contact. I even steered him through the tangled California rules of purchasing his first shotgun. With | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


HUNTING the sun peaking over the horizon on 2017’s opening day of dove season. both Matt and John were sitting at the edge of a field anxiously waiting for birds to fly. Matt finished the day with only two birds, but he couldn’t stop talking about how much fun he had. He commented on the doves’ speed and the difficulty in hitting them. That didn’t dampen his enthusiasm one bit. Before we got home, Matt was asking when we could go out again. He doesn’t get out as much as he’d like, but when I think of him, I think of how a chance conversation at a Christmas party produced a brand new hunter.


Dylan and Alyssa ready for action. (TIM E. HOVEY)


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Dylan Dozal has the distinction of being my daughter Alyssa’s first serious boyfriend. Our first meeting took place in my living room, where I was getting ready for a hunting trip. Surrounded by gear, which included a few firearms, I welcomed Dylan to our home.

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HUNTING Hovey’s daughters Alyssa and Jessica, who have been hunting with their dad for some time now, were happy to hunt with first-timer Carly (middle) in September. (TIM E. HOVEY)

John Mattila and his daughter Carly can now share a love of hunting. “Training the next generation to enjoy the outdoors is truly the only way our heritage will live on,” Hovey writes. (TIM E. HOVEY)

98 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

Over the following months, it became clear to me that Dylan was a respectable young man who treated my daughter like a queen. Hardworking, polite and willing to just sit and talk to me about work and life, Dylan has become a welcomed part of our family. Last year, Dylan showed some interest in hunting. He came along as an observer during our opening-day dove hunt. Over the course of the morning flight, I could tell he was hooked. On the drive home, he searched the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website on his phone for a schedule of hunter’s safety classes. Dylan came with us for the 2018 dove opener, brand new hunting license in one hand and a shotgun of mine in the other. We made the pilgrimage to our favorite spot with John, Tanner and Carly. We arrived at the area with sunrise still an hour away. We got everything set up and anxiously waited for the birds to fly.





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This year the birds were scattered and the numbers low. Shots were infrequent and at times long. When all was said and done, Dylan had killed his first bird and so had Carly. As we always do, we gathered everyone up for our traditional hunting photo, our birds proudly placed out front. I took several photos in different combinations, but what I really wanted was one of all the new hunters. We placed the kids in a line and took a few photos. After that, we cleaned up our area, leaving only footprints, and headed to IHOP for breakfast.


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When I got home, I downloaded the photos to my computer. When I came to the one of the new hunters, the first thing I noticed was that the smiles told of a good time. I then realized that with chance meetings and a little encouragement, three new hunters had been shown the path. I had always known that I was going to train my daughters to hunt, but seeing Dylan, Tanner and Carly there smiling with the look of success made me smile. The next generation, I thought. If you hunt regularly and feel comfortable passing on what you know, please share your knowledge with anyone, young or old, who may be interested. Thinking back on the last several years of dove hunting, I’m grateful that I was able to take so many new hunters out. I’m even more pleased that many of those have been young hunters wanting to experience the outside world. Training the next generation to enjoy the outdoors is truly the only way our heritage will live on. We need to show interested youth there is life beyond the sidewalk and explain to them why the outside world is such a powerful influence in our lives. I have noticed that if the interest is there, a little advice on direction and some encouragement go a long way in getting individuals started. It’s time to train the next generations. CS | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


102 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

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A coyote hunt in the remote Southern California desert took an unexpected turn when the hunters discovered a motorcyclist with a badly broken leg. (TIM E. HOVEY)



pending as much time as I do outside, I’ve come across my fair share of unusual interactions and finds. I’ve stumbled on a marijuana bust, where I wasn’t quite sure who the good guys and the bad guys were. During one hike, I bumped into a naked guy mining in a creek bed. As he was wearing only an unbuttoned shirt and hiking boots, I gave him a wide berth. Traveling a steep mountain road, I came around a sharp corner and noticed a small compact car on its roof. After further investigation, I realized the accident had just

occurred and that the driver was still in the car. Fortunately, he was not seriously injured, and after extracting him from the wreck I gave him a ride down the mountain to his home. Whether it’s unique animal interactions or bizarre human encounters, I’m always prepared for something out of the ordinary when I head outdoors. A recent coyote hunt would once again shift our original plans from hunting to an impromptu rescue.

MY DAUGHTER ALYSSA’S BOYFRIEND Dylan Dozal had recently become interested in hunting. We guided him through the safety course and he picked up his license immediately afterwards. With

a few weeks left in 2017, I decided to take them both out for a predator-calling trip. Since Dylan was a hunting rookie, I thought we’d keep the day light by doing some target practice and exploring some new areas. If we had time and things went well, we’d maybe make a few predator stands. We headed out before light and drove to an area I had hunted before. During the drive I let Dylan know that, above all, today we wanted to be safe. I told him that he would be firing firearms in a controlled setting during target practice to get him used to the rifles. I also mentioned that he might just be an observer during coy- | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


HUNTING ote calling stands until he got used to how we do things. He completely agreed and seemed excited to try something new. I drove up to a canyon where I knew we could set up some targets and safely shoot some firearms. We spent the next hour guiding Dylan through the different calibers and how to aim properly. I was impressed with his attention to safety and his willingness to listen to instruction.

We cleaned up the area and drove a few miles up the road. I wanted to try calling in some new territory I had discovered on a previous trip. At the first spot, we quietly got out and hiked a short distance to the edge of a canyon. With the sun at our backs and the wind in our faces, the area seemed perfect. To give him an idea of how we do things, Dylan would be an observer on this stand and wouldn’t be armed.

Dylan sat on the left, Alyssa was in the middle and I sat to the right. We got set up and I started calling. Within minutes, I spotted a coyote at the top of the ridge in front us, running towards the call as fast as he could. I asked Alyssa in a whisper if she saw him. She did and she moved her set-up a little to intercept the running coyote. Already an experience predator hunter, I wanted her to take the first shot. As the coyote rounded a juniper tree, he stopped looking our way. I whispered to Alyssa to take him and she squeezed the trigger on her .204. After a clean miss, the coyote took off, but not fast enough. I took a running shot, slowing him down and with a quick follow-up shot, Alyssa put the coyote down for good. Soon our day would take a much different turn.

BACK AT THE TRUCK, we took some photos and decided to continue calling at another spot deeper into the wilderness. We loaded up and made our way back out to the main dirt road. When we crested the last ridge, I noticed a group of vehicles down on the road. As we got closer I could see that there were about a dozen touring The desert terrain certainly was prime coyote country and a good spot for rookie hunter Dylan Dozal to get some experience. (TIM E. HOVEY)

106 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 | | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman



With no cell service, author Tim Hovey’s truck was a much-needed transport to get the injured rider back to the main road, where they were met by a relative. (TIM E. HOVEY)

motorcycles parked on both sides of the narrow dirt track. The riders appeared to be gathered in one area. Convinced that they were just taking a break, I slowly moved through the bikes. But when we got closer, I noticed one of the riders was on the ground motionless. We got out and saw the rider was

conscious and alert. The same could not be said for his leg. From where I was standing, it clearly looked broken. The boot was twisted at a sickening angle, but thankfully the rider had decided to leave his boot on. The injured rider said he had hit a soft patch on the road and flipped over the handlebars, landing awk-

108 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

wardly on his leg. Since the riders around him did not have much in their first-aid kits to deal with his injury, I told Alyssa to grab some ice from the cooler and I grabbed our kit out of the truck. Combining efforts, we splinted the injured leg with a soft splint and loaded up the rider on Ibuprofen. Alyssa gently placed the bag of ice on his leg, the rider smiled and held it in place. With the injury immobilized, the only other decision to be made was transport. We had zero cell coverage and the bikers had no way to transport the injured man, so I offered up the use of my truck to drive him the 20 miles to the main road. At first he declined, as he didn’t want to mess up our day. But I saw that there was absolutely no other option. I insisted and we started moving things out of the bed of the truck. Another rider rode in from the | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


HUNTING main drag and said he had gotten a hold of the injured man’s daughter and she would pick him up. She would also bring a friend who could ride her dad’s bike home. It appeared that all we had to do was transport him back to the road. We moved most of our gear into the back seat and carefully loaded the injured rider into the bed. After he was settled, I apologized beforehand for the bumpy ride he was about to experience on the drive out. He just smiled and said that he really appreciated our help. It took us close to 30 minutes to get to the road. I did my best to keep the ride comfortable, but in reality, no matter how careful I was, it was bumpy and probably painful. The other riders escorted us out. I parked near an abandoned gas station and we helped the man scoot out of the bed. He again thanked us, and with the help of his buddies he Being good Samaritans for an injured man in need might have been significant, but it was a productive hunt for not just Alyssa Hovey, who scored a coyote, but her boyfriend and aspiring hunter Dylan. (TIM E. HOVEY)

110 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 | | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman



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limped to a small pullout to wait for his ride.

ALYSSA, DYLAN AND I redistributed our gear into the bed of the truck and drove back into the canyons. The day was getting warmer, but I still felt we had a time for a few more stands. We drove to a couple of my old standby spots, but with the warming day, the animals just weren’t moving. After a few more empty stands, we decided to call it and head home. I was glad we were able to show Dylan how we hunt and give him a little experience behind the trigger during target practice. Alyssa, of course, was super proud that she was able to connect on the coyote with an amazing running shot. I could tell Dylan enjoyed the new activity and on the way back he was asking all the right questions on how to prepare for the next time. When I head to the outdoors, I’m confident in my abilities. I live by this old quote by Clint Eastwood in the role of “Dirty Harry” Callahan: “A man’s got to know his limitations!” For me this means I enjoy myself, but I stay within my physical abilities. Part of that is being prepared. I always have a first-aid kit on board and an escape plan in place. I always tell my family where I’ll be and if for some reason that plan changes, I always let them know. My preparation will always extend to those I encounter that need help. When we encountered the bikers, they seemed confused on what to do. They were 20 miles from cell coverage and help. They did not have a safe way to transport their buddy or the proper gear to treat even a minimal injury. However, when decisions had to be made, they made them quickly and clearly. Combining efforts, we safely got an injured rider out of the backcountry. On the drive back, Alyssa summed up the day perfectly. “Just another adventure for the Hoveys!” I couldn’t agree more. CS


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hile spring gobblers get most of the attention when it comes to hunting these grand birds, it’s autumn when dog owners should get excited. Many states such as California, Oregon and Idaho allow dogs to be used when hunting turkeys in the fall, and this can be done multiple ways. If you have a pup you’re looking to get on as many hunts as possible this fall, there’s nothing better to teach them the ways of the pursuit than heading out for Rios and Merriam’s.

BIG BIRDS, TURKEYS also carry a lot of scent. This scent not only comes from the birds themselves but their tracks. If you’ve never seen a gun dog track a turkey, you’re missing out, for the amount of scent the big birds leave on the ground with each step seems to be an olfactory overload for dogs. The big, heavily scented tracks are easy for a pup or older pooch to follow, for a long way, and there’s no better bird I’ve found to quickly capture the interest of a dog and get it tracking. Turkeys also tend to hang out in big flocks this time of year, meaning there’s even more scent being dispersed. Compare a band of 50 turkeys to a covey of quail, or a single rooster pheasant, and it’s easy to see why the species provides a good opportunity

Most Western states allow the use of dogs when hunting fall turkeys. Here, author Scott Haugen’s pudelpointer Echo brings in a hen – also legal to hunt in most states in the fall – that she flushed then retrieved. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

for teaching a dog how to hunt.

THERE ARE MULTIPLE ways I like hunting fall turkeys with my pudelpointers, but when they were both pups, I focused on tracking. By getting the pups on a track, working into the wind, they built upon the already innate instincts of following a bird by smelling where it walked. The bigger the flocks walking through an area, the better. Sometimes, however, a lone tom could be tracked, and that was often better, as it still laid down a lot of scent, and helped the dogs focus on one bird rather than get distracted by a couple dozen. When tracked, turkeys will either

run, take wing or hold tight, like quail. When the big birds hunker down, your pup will go on point, as with any other birds. This is good to reinforce their holding a point, and your working into shooting position.

AS THE PUP matures, you’ll be able to take your fall turkey hunting to another level. I often use my dogs, now adults, to intentionally flush a flock of turkeys, breaking them up in all directions. First, wait for the flock to feed uphill, hopefully beneath some trees or some type of heavy cover. Next, have the dog mark the flock, then send it on its way, as fast as it will run. This | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


HUNTING goes against what many upland hunters are used to, as you don’t normally want the dogs to chase and flush birds, but turkeys are different, and your dog will realize this the more it hunts. Turkeys have a hard time flying uphill, so when the dog approaches them, they’ll often take cover in nearby brush or hop into the trees directly overhead. This is when the dog will stop and either hold point on the ground or in the trees. If the flock breaks up, you can find a bird to shoot that the dog is pointing, or call your dog back, sit at the base of a fat tree, and 15 minutes later start calling the flock back together using assembly calls, like the kee-kee. As the flock reunites in front of you, keep your dog motionless by restraining its urge to chase the birds. You’ll be amazed at how well a disciplined dog can achieve this.

ONCE A TURKEY is down, the pup might even be able to retrieve it. Hen turkeys can be shot in most states in the fall season. Hens are easier for dogs to retrieve, and they are also excellent eating. I like skinning hens we take in the fall and mounting them for decoys to be used in the spring; the versatile meat can be cooked many ways. Big toms can be a little more of a mouthful for dogs to retrieve, but can be done as the dog matures, as long as the tom isn’t too big. If you head shoot a turkey, let it get the flopping out of the way before sending a dog in to retrieve it. Often a flopping turkey breaks a wing or leg, and the hollow bones are extremely sharp.

Turkeys are big and carry a lot of scent, making them the perfect bird to hunt in the fall with your dog. Haugen’s dog Kona tracked this big tom then held it on point amid a briar patch. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

This fall, consider getting your pup on a turkey hunt. The amount of scent these big birds emit makes them the perfect bird to teach pups how to use the wind and track. Once your pup gets the hang of it, you’ll be looking forward to fall turkey season more than the spring hunts, and so

will your dog. CS Editor’s note: Signed copies of Scott’s Haugen’s best-selling Western Turkey Hunting: Strategies For All Levels can be ordered at Follow Scott on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


Fall turkey hunting can be one of the best experiences for your gun dog. Be sure and save the wings from your turkey to use in training. Hens can be skinned for use as decoys in spring. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

116 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

California’s fall turkey season runs from Nov. 10 through Dec. 9. Hunting with dogs is allowed, and hunters may take toms, hens and jakes. The daily limit is one and fall season limit is two. CS



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Author Brittany Boddington doesn’t bowhunt often, and though she was dogged on this northern Arizona elk hunt, it would turn out to be a difficult week. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)



’m new to archery hunting and started taking it more seriously when I met my now fiancé Brad. He’s always been more of a bowman than rifle hunter; I was the opposite. I had a bow and I have taken a couple deer a few years back, but I never practiced after that. I started shooting again with him and got a bit more serious in hopes of taking up bowhunting as a new challenge since there are so many opportunities to hunt in my new home state of Arizona. I tried for a javelina, but when I got close I was so cold that I couldn’t

pull my bow, which was discouraging. I tried for a mule deer too, though I could never close the deal because I got caught by does every time. I was getting pretty discouraged until I found out that both Brad and I were drawn for archery elk. We were drawn in a great unit as well! Then it was crunch time. We needed to get my bow tuned from years of neglect. So we went to Arizona Archery Club, where Daniel helped us get ready for the hunt. It turns out my draw length was set about 3 inches too short. By extending my draw length he made it a lot more comfortable for me to shoot, as well as gave my arrows

some more power. I noticed that after the adjustment I was able to stay at full draw longer with less effort. It seemed that I could hold the tension of the bow in my upper back now instead of my arms. Along with this major adjustment we switched out my quiver, rest and sight. One of the most difficult things about getting a shot off when bowhunting has been getting the distance on my rangefinder and then drawing and firing without being seen. Brad found out that the new Garmin bow sights with the rangefinder built in are legal in Arizona, so he put one on each of our bows to help | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


The trip north from Boddington’s Phoenix-area home took her to a totally different landscape and climate. It was a perfect habitat for bulls. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

fix that problem. They have a button that you attach to the grip and you can range on the animal right before you shoot or set fixed pins to use. It is a fabulous invention, though it does take some getting used to.

THE ELK HUNT SNEAKED up on us, as most of my trips tend to do. We wanted to do so much more preparation

Early in the hunt, a waterhole doubled as a “pool party” for a bunch of elk. But by the time the hunting party had spotted the animals frolicking, it was past shooting light. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

and practice than we got to, but we felt like we had a decent chance with the set-up that we had and the groups we were shooting. We drove the RV up to the northern part of Arizona, a land of beautiful pines and rolling hills. It’s remarkably cooler up there than in the Valley of the Sun. The area just looks like perfect elk habitat.

120 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |

We signed up for help with Prescottbased Vaquero Outfitters. Brad has known them for a long time and was excited to hunt with them again. My guide would be JW, who grew up with the owner and has hunted that area his whole life. We knew it had been a dry year but the area we were hunting was known for big bulls, so we still had | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


The end of another fruitless day had the hunters questioning whether they would ever get a shot at a bull. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

hope. The first evening hunt we saw nothing, heard no bugles and started to worry, so at last light we went to check a water hole to see if there was any activity there. Sure enough, there was a fullblown elk pool party going on. They were bugling and wallowing in the water and having a blast. Unfortunately it was past shooting light, so we just sneaked in, watched and listened until it was too dark to see and headed back out. We had one extremely close encounter with a small bull while we sat, but again it was too dark to think of doing any shooting. That would be our last close encounter for days. Things started to get a bit worrisome. It was day five when I started to think I would be going home empty-handed. We hiked everyday; we heard bulls everyday. We even saw bulls most days but nothing big. We saw a lot of young bulls and raghorns but nothing really exciting. Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t looking for anything too crazy huge – just something decent and mature. But it was proving to be a struggle. Brad was seeing big bulls everyday but was on a quest for a huge one. It seemed like luck was against us.

THE MORNING OF DAY six I got my first chance to shoot what I think was a monster bull. But I panicked and moved at the wrong moment in an effort to draw my bow. The elk busted me and took off. The shot would have been at 10 yards. I was devastated and disappointed with myself. We had found a pocket of bugling elk, though, so we stayed at it and I got my second chance a few hours later. This time I drew back but my Garmin sight ranged and told me that at 66 yards, the bull was out of my reach. The bull ran and took with it all my hope of success. The evening of day 6 was more eventful. I finally let an arrow fly. Not that I hit anything. A gorgeous 380-plus-inch bull came in as guide 122 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 | | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


JW cow called and walked up right across a little dry streambed. I pulled my bow up extra slow, drew back and ranged. Forty yards. I let the arrow fly and nothing happened. The bull looked at me funny and ran. JW ranged and it was 20 yards. I must have accidentally ranged the tree behind the bull; making matters worse I locked my eye on the red dot sight in the Garmin and didn’t look through my peep sight. The arrow sailed off into the distance – never to be found – and I went back to camp feeling like a failure. I told myself that perhaps bowhunting just wasn’t for me. I only had the morning hunt left the next day and then we had to get back home.

I WENT OUT THE NEXT morning with the weight of the world on my shoulders and feeling like I had taken on an impossible task. This time the first spot we checked had bugles and before we could get out of the truck there were elk in the road. I perked up and thought for sure I would get a chance to try one more time. We chased bugles all morning but couldn’t get into shooting position on anything. A couple small bulls almost got close enough but then spooked at the last second. Just when we were about to give up we heard from Brad and his guide Casey that they had spotted a bull

After completely missing another elk the day before, the author made her 48-yard shot count, arrowing the “wide and old and magnificent” bull in the shoulder. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

that was about to bed down not too far from where we were. We raced over there and sneaked into the valley where the bull was. They gave us landmarks to look for and we slowly worked our way in. The elk was bedded by the time we got there. It was nice – wide and mature – and though not a monster, perfect for my first archery elk. We moved in as close as we could When Boddington’s boyfriend and his guide spotted a bull, they alerted Brittany to it. By the time she arrived the elk was taking a nap (middle, between second clump of trees) and the waiting game for it to rise and present a shot began. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON) 124 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 |



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with the limited cover around and I wedged myself into shrubbery so I could stay standing and not be seen. We ranged the sleeping bull at 43 yards, which is on the far side for me but doable. We waited patiently as the sun moved and the bull eventually got hot because he lost his shade. He started to stir and I heard JW whisper, “Go time.” I slowly eased out of the bush and extended my bow. The elk got a leg under him and I drew back. It was premature but I wasn’t going to have the same problem as the day before. I waited at full draw for what seemed like forever as the bull slowly got up. He took two long strides forward and away from us but I didn’t dare rerange him. He stopped for a moment at 48 yards and I let the arrow fly. I aimed for right behind the shoulder, and as the elk ran away I saw the arrow sticking out in the right general area of where I had aimed. I wanted to chase him but knew it was best to leave him for a bit and make sure the arrow had some time to do the damage I was hoping for. We gave him two hours and went in to where we had last seen the bull. The blood was minimal and I thought for sure he was gone forever, but after a long and painstaking job of tracking the bull we found him only 200 yards from where I shot. He must have died quickly because he was already stiff when we found him in the shade under a tree. He was wide and old and magnificent. I hit him right on the shoulder, where the arrow penetrated and had broken off inside. The damage it did was impressive but the shot was pure luck. Next time I need a lot more practice. CS Editor’s note: For more information on Arizona elk hunting with Vaquero Outfitters, email Los Angeles native Brittany Boddington is a Phoenix-based hunter, journalist and adventurer. For more, check out and 126 California Sportsman OCTOBER 2018 | | OCTOBER 2018 California Sportsman


Calsports Oct 2018  
Calsports Oct 2018