When I got a call this morning from my buddy Mike that he had snow in his backyard, Kaiser and I had to go check it out. Yes that is snow in the OC. It's too bad Mike is recovering from surgery otherwise we would have done a snow run up Santiago Peak.
The hiking with a gun series continues but in this case I at least managed to take home a little meat. After driving around looking for a few huntable fields we stumbled upon a few dove roosting on a tree. I put a sneak on them and ended up idiotically flock shooting them as they flushed. Singles and pairs would sporadically come in. Miss after miss I finally connected with one. We would drive around about without any success. We never did see any pheasants. I did speak with a pair of hunters that did see a rooster earlier in the day but before legal shooting time. As it sucked I chose to head home and bypass the last day. That's it for pheasants for this year.
Another Hunter But Seeking A Different Kind Of Game
This is the last chance to try and get ourselves some pheasants and doves before the season closes. My intention was on the way here to try and intercept the covey of quail Chul and I flushed while hunting turkey last spring but with the entrance loaded with trucks I decided to bypass that and head straight to the farmlands. But before that we had stay in cell phone range to receive an important call so we headed for a restaurant for a Persian lunch.
We arrived at the farmlands with a few hours to roam a few fields, no pheasants were flushed nor seen. I managed to flush a dove in a ditch, took a shot and it landed in the nearby field so we gave chase only to have it flush again with me missing him with both shots. Other than that it was a lot of hiking with a gun. It was time to head into town for some Thai food and call it a day.
Saturday afternoon I got a call from Jeff telling me how shitting the hunting was at the club. Shocking, considering how much weather we have gotten. Jeff theorized even with the rain, it's been a warm rain and it's not pushing the birds. Despite the poor outing and with his wife away for the weekend, Jeff asked if I wanted to join him for a hunt today. Without hesitation I agreed with the hopes of getting the bad taste out of my mouth from the past Owens trip.
Sunday hunts are late affairs for Jeff, so I met him around 10:30am. Again we had the club to ourselves and Jeff expected the ducks to tucked away in the back ponds. So as we approached our blind we would flush the birds but the plan would be for us not take a shot and would set up and wait for them to return. After switching blinds, it would be hours before we would see any shootable bird. The first bird was a lone drake gadwall that came over us, I shot first and missed with both barrels before Jeff nailed him blinding himself in the process. Last night he sprayed his gun with WD40 as it jammed on him Saturday. When he shot the oil sprayed all over his face. After cleaning himself and flushing his eyes he was fine. More time would pass before we finally had a drake mallard come within range but we both missed it. Not long after an eclipse drake spoonie came within range and I took it. Wounded, the duck was on the move, Kaiser and I gave chase. Kaiser dove into the reeds to dig him out. We got some flights but none were within range.
We headed north into higher elevation in search of a better outing than the previous day. While we did see more birds, they were all located in ponds that were wide open. Several ponds held 20 Canada geese, another 30 mallards, and another with a mix of divers and puddle ducks. Stalking them for a shot proved difficult. Desperation lead us to flush the birds out of the ponds, and while they circled back, without any calls or dekes, we skybusted them like idiots. Normally I wouldn't do this but I figured that since there were no other hunters around it really did no harm other than our wallets and pride. Later in the day we moved south and managed to pass shoot a few ducks at last light but of course I couldn't hit shit. The trip was a bust but that's how it goes sometimes. It was nice to see some winter weather for a change.
Day two wasn't much better than the last. My usual spots all proved to be duds. After visiting Dave to say hi, he gave us some venison meat that he harvested this year. Since he bagged three in so many states, I think he had plenty to spare. We took off to check some nearby areas.
After we finished lunch, some serious winds hit the valley and so changing to fly fishing was not an option. It took me forever to find the pond I met Bob two years ago. It was mostly loaded with coots but did hold a few ruddies and three hen ringnecks. I dropped the old man off at one edge of the pond and drove to the other end hoping to flush the birds toward him. When I got to the side the two hens already took flight. They were borderline too far but I took the shot anyways, missing with both barrels. It did though turn the birds toward dad and he managed one shot at them but missed as well.
I drove back to pick up dad and we moved to a smaller nearby pond. There we found some more hens, I wasn't too sure what they were but I believe they were gadwalls. I told dad to head over to an opening of the reeds and see if he could get a shot from there while I swept over toward the edge. When I made it there I stepped into the tules and felt the ground slowly give in. I was sinking to my knees and while I tried to get out I sank even more. By this time I heard dad take his two shots. I managed to drag myself out of there by pulling myself with the tules but not before a rush of water entered my waders. When I got out dad told me he nicked one and the direction of the flight of the birds and it looked like they may have flown to the pond we were just hunting. So we drove back, while glassing the area I noticed a fair sized covey of quail on the far side running along the bank. We made our way to them and after switching our bismuth and tungsten rounds for lead, we began our search for them. I managed to take a jackrabbit in our search. We eventually saw the covey of thirty flush wild afar. We gave chase and managed to get them to rise but we missed our shots. They flushed into a mass of impenetrable tules and we gave up before we ran out of legal shooting time. Last night we asked the nice Indian owners of the motel we stayed at if the Indian restaurant was any good. They said it wasn't bad for the area and it was worth a visit so that's what he did.
Weather is predicted to reach us by the end of the week and with that in mind we decided to hit the river in attempt to jump a few waterfowl. We had only little more than two hours to work with and while we attempted some old and new areas none could be found. While heading back to the SUV we did flush a few quail and with No.5 Bismuth I took a few shots at them. I managed to nail one but even after a gallant attempt to retrieve it we ran out of light before surrendering him to the wild. The setting sun forced us to town for a French meal where we met a nice couple from Turlock who managed a nice 3x3 Buck earlier today. Tomorrow we try again.