Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Zone A deer numbers point to good early season
|Archery season for Zone A kicked off this past week under good conditions despite a week of rather hot temps, but nimrods can look ahead to a pretty good coastal season when rifle season opens on Aug.11 for zone 110 in the south and 160 to the north.
Western Outdoor News checked in with Todd Tognazzini, who has been a Department and Fish and Game warden working the San Luis Obispo and southern Monterey counties for the past 30 years.
"What I am seeing is a very good carryover of young bucks from the good production of fawns back in 2010 and again in 2011. All that rain these coastal ranges got during that period made for excellent habitat and a very high survival rate for fawns. Right now bucks are just starting to shed their velvet and I would expect that by the time rifle season opens in early August, most of the bucks will be hard horned animals," stated Tognazzini.
Tognazzini went on to report, "The buck harvest should be good this summer and into September both on public land and private ranches. The gene pool for this area indicates that the bulk of the bucks shot will be forkies, 2X3's or basket 3X3's. This region does not see a lot of monster multi-horned bucks shot either on private ranches or public land in the Las Padres National Forest. I would say that the biggest spread I have seen would be in the 25-inch class."
As to conditions afield Tognazzini had the following to say, "This area enjoyed a very mild June and it's just now starting to warm up, but even in early July the day time temps rarely top 95 degrees. There has been a steady wind come up in the afternoons and this has been making for comfortable hunting conditions. There appears to be ample forage for deer and those 3 rains that this part of California enjoyed back in April have really helped the habitat. This part of California only received about 65 percent of the normal rainfall, but I still think that the deer population is strong based on all the bucks that have matured over the past 2.5 years."
According to this veteran game warden he expects this deer hunting season to be on par with last year and that hunter success will be about the same. Based on information obtained by the Department of Fish and Game the total deer harvest (reported) for zone A south was 1171 deer killed, of which 70 percent were forked horns and for zone A north the total was 944 bucks of which 61.5 percent were forkies. As to big bucks shot and reported, those sporting four or more points was less than 1 percent of the total harvest.
WON also checked in with Clayton Grant, master guide with Bitterwater Outfitters to get his take on the upcoming rifle hunting season.
"We did not put a lot of hunting pressure on the deer on our owned and leased hunting ranches this past year, which hopefully will make this year a productive one. We are already seeing some dandy bucks still in velvet on a couple of our properties. Based on what we are seeing while out hog hunting and working our cattle there are going to be some excellent opportunities to shoot a big rack come September. Springs are still running a little and most all the stock tanks have water, and there appears to be lots of native brush and forage to sustain the herds in this coastal region through the summer and into the early fall months when the acorns start to drop."
A very high fire alert is in place for most all of Southern California and up into the central valley, but no total closures have been reported yet. There is a lot of dry brush on public land in the Las Padres National Forest that offers a high potential for wild fires. For those heading up into the Los Padres NF to hunt zone A, a phone call to the national forest office in Goleta at (805) 968-6640 might be a good idea to find out about conditions in the forest, road access, open fires and possible closures.
ZONE A BUCK — Zone A bucks will often make mid-day trips to stock tanks for a drink of water during the hot days of the early season. This buck is typical of the forked horn deer that are harvested in the Las Padres National Forest and ranches that offer hunting. The photo was taken on the Roger Miller Ranch in Parkfield. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC