BY JIM NIEMIEC
LEBEC – In just a couple of weeks, waterfowl and upland game bird gunning will come to an abrupt end (Jan. 31). But there are still options that are available here in the southern part of this state and down into Mexico.
While there are not as many upland game bird hunting clubs now in business as there were a decade ago, those that have survived drought conditions, wildfires and the most recent pandemic continue to offer up excellent bird hunting amid a wonderful outdoor experience. The High Desert Hunt Club (661-663-4276) — located on the southeastern edge of the vast Tejon Ranch — will continue to offer its members and their guests some great upland game bird hunting well into the month of March. With prime cover and a vintage hunt lodge, this hunting club offers bird hunters good gunning for prime ringneck pheasant, chukar and Tennessee red quail. This club consists of over 6,400 acres and has 35 hunting fields available with a mix of high sage and other native brush cover. The club is open to hunting Thursday through Monday and excellent lunches are an option for those spending a full day of hunting upland game birds.
There are also a couple of bird hunting clubs along the Central Coast and across the central valley that offer a mixture of released upland game bird hunts with updated information available online.
Now is not too early to think about booking a spring turkey hunt. This season should offer up excellent gobbler hunting based on a good carryover and the lack of hunting pressure this past season. WON hunted with Clint Miller of Miller Bros Expeditions (805-423-5487) during a successful fall turkey hunt. The home ranch, located just outside the rural town of Parkfield, is home to Rio Grande turkey, quail and hogs. During the short fall hunt we spotted no less than 20 toms and there were two groups of mixed hens, jennies and jakes that numbered close to 30 birds each. Most all guides and outfitters report good populations of toms on private ranches that are leased for hunting.
Mainland Mexico will continue to hunt waterfowl and dove until mid-March with the peak of the duck season coming about in early February when big puddle and diving ducks mix on the vast marshlands, wetlands and large lakes in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Sonora. The late season available to those hunting Mexico also will afford the opportunity to harvest the grand slam of teal, consisting of a bluewing, green wing and cinnamon species, all in the same day and there is some great wing shooting for the large Mexican duck and big flocks of great tasting pichiquilas. One of the oldest outfitters in Mexico is the Balderrama family, based out of Los Mochis, sinalopato.com, and this WON hunting writer has been hunting with the Balderrama’s for nearly half a century with excellent harvests.
In addition to bird hunting options, some of the best wild boar hunting of the year can take place during late winter and early spring months. With timely rains along the coastal range herds of pigs will be on the hunt for new food sources, consisting of tubers, newly emerging crops and other vegetation. Shorter hunting hours make the movement of hogs tighter during daylight hours and at this time of the year herd numbers can increase in size with a variety of boar, meat pigs and dry sows hogs out and about. During this period wild pigs don’t need to seek out watering holes and wallows as they did during the dry summer months. As the ground becomes wet from soaking rain, it’s easier to know where pigs will be based on rooting taking place on hillsides or under ancient oak trees.
Western Outdoor News checked in with Clayton Grant of Bitterwater Outfitters (805-610-4521) to find out about recent hog hunts on the more than 300,000 acres of prime hog hunting ranches he has under lease along the Central Coast.
“We have been having a very good season. There are lots of hogs around and hunters are having no problem in killing the hog of their choice. In addition of wild hog hunting, our hunts for a wide variety of exotics are providing some very fine hunting opportunities for new hunters and those looking to add another game species to their trophy room. We still have some open dates for those looking to hunt spring turkey,” said Grant.