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Jim Niemiec's Blog

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Wednesday, November 01, 2017
Hunt options for fall upland game
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Field care of game birds for mounting

Upland game bird club winter planner
Upland game bird season is full-on with many good reports being sent into Western Outdoor News by readers who have been out hunting quail and chukar across the state. In addition to better than average hunting currently being available on nearby public land there are other bird hunting options that can ensure a good hunt on any given day.

PRIME UPLAND GAME BIRD HUNTING — The Lone Pine Pheasant Club offers up excellent upland game bird hunting over prime fields of mixed cover. Owner Sean Ponso is dedicated to providing the best pheasant and chukar hunting available. Pictured above are Ponso and WON hunting Editor Jim Niemiec and his yellow Lab Sierra after a successful morning of wing shooting in the field. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

Upland bird clubs have been popular with scatter gunners for decades offering up prime pheasant, chukar and a variety of quail and often allowing club members the option of hunting native quail, dove and turkey during their respective fall seasons. Over the years this WON hunting editor has enjoyed hunting on just about every upland game bird club, at least in the southern part of the state. There have also been a number of club hunts up in the Sacramento Valley and the San Joaquin Valley that have been very rewarding days spent afield with my labs, family and fellow hunting partners.

Bird hunting enthusiasts have lost one very popular hunting club this year when Sam Elder, long time owner of the Four Winds Pheasant Club, (310) 720-8773, ended years of offering very good wing shooting at his club located near Lakeview. WON contacted Elder to get his words on ending a long career with bird hunters, gun dogs and upland game birds.

“It was a very good time of my life. I enjoyed meeting old and new upland game bird hunters over the years. Watching young hunters grow into adults was something special about owning the Four Winds Pheasant Club. We hosted many great hunts on our property over the years and I am going to miss that a lot. While we are no longer offering day shoots or annual memberships, we will be hosting a couple of 100 to 150 bird hunts for groups of hunters that have been with this club for many years. I still have some openings for duck membership as we expanded our duck hunting ponds this past season,” said Elder.

Sean Ponso, owner of the Lone Pine Pheasant Hunting Club, (760) 876-4590, has his great club off to an excellent start with prime cover for upland game bird hunting. Ponso offers prime hunting over native cover below the high peaks of the High Sierra just a few minutes outside the western theme town of Lone Pine.

Western Outdoor News has spent many days over the years of hunting ringneck pheasant and chukar at the Lone Pine Pheasant Club and Ponso is a wonderful host. The club house is extremely comfortable and looks over the vast hunting fields that are back dropped by the Alabama Hills. Mixed native cover, stands of old cottonwood trees and thick rose brush offer up excellent cover for all upland game bird hunting on the property. Springs and ponds in the hunting fields are well used by good gun dogs working through thick cover. Having plenty of big hunting fields allows bird hunters a chance to spend hours in quest of released birds without feeling any pressure from other hunters.

In addition, providing great upland game bird hunting the hunt lodge is a very comfortable place to warm up and enjoy great food topped by homemade pheasant pot pie! There are dog kennels and harvested birds are cleaned and packaged to take home. For a very nominal fee hunters can exchange harvested pheasant for frozen pheasant pot pies before heading home. The Lone Pine Pheasant Club is only about a 3.5 hour drive from most anywhere in Southern California. For those looking to spend a couple days in Lone Pine hunting the pheasant club and native quail, chukar and ducks; the gun dog friendly Lone Pine Best Western Frontier Motel, (760) 876-5571, offers a warm comfortable room and one of the best complimentary breakfasts in the state.

Another very popular upland game bird hunting club is the High Desert Hunt Club, (661) 724-1218, which is owned and operated by the Tejon Ranch. This club has great native cover and one of the best hunt lodges in Southern California where hunters check in and get warm by the fireplace. This club does allow potential hunting guests a onetime visit as a non-member to get a feel for the club; with individual and corporate memberships available. Advance reservations are mandatory at this club and all hunters are required to shoot over a well trained hunting dog. For those who enjoy upland game bird hunting but do not have a gun dog, handlers and dogs are available upon request at an additional cost. All harvested birds are processed and packaged as part of the cost of the hunt and only lead free ammunition is allowed.

David Whiteside, owner of the Antelope Valley Sportsman’s Club, (661) 724-1291, has been hosting upland game bird hunters since the mid-sixties on his 2,000 acre ranch located in the high desert to the northwest of Lancaster. The club does offer day shooting by reservation only and yearly memberships are available. Members of the club are also allowed to hunt native California valley quail. Club facilities include an old hunt lodge, kennels and bird cleaning facilities.

WON spoke with Whiteside about the future of the Antelope Valley Sportsman’s Club and this is what he had to say, “This will likely be my last year as the club owner. All the property is up for sale, including everything that has made this a good shooting club for over a half a century. I am looking forward to retirement and all the years that I have spent with upland game bird hunters and great gun dogs has been a very rewarding venture.”

While not a really organized upland game bird club, Mendel’s California Pheasant Hunts, (626) 255-1422, does have good hunting fields available to hunt pheasant. The club hunts over mostly alfalfa fields near El Centro and there is always the chance of bagging a native cock pheasant in season. The total acreage hunted by Mendel is 2,500 acres of mixed cover and field sizes range from 40 – 80 acres. Hunter success is about 75 percent when birds are hunted with a good gun dog. In addition to the pheasant hunting down in Imperial Valley, Mendel offers chukar and quail hunts in Lucerne and Imperial Valley.

Unfortunately there hasn’t been an update reported on just when Raahauge’s Pheasant Club, (951) 738-9212, will start shooting birds this season. As soon as an opening date and hunt schedule is received by WON it will be passed on to readers and immediately posted on the Western Outdoor News web site.

Over the years this WON hunting editor has had the privilege of hunting at many fine upland game bird clubs that are no longer in business for a variety of reasons. The following is a list of those clubs which were part of the upland game bird heritage for this part of California: Robbie’s Gun Club, Las Flores, Carl Mills Hunting Club, Eagle Peak Hunting Club, 4 Season’s Hunting Club, Four Winds Pheasant Club, Raahauge’s Pheasant Club (old hunting fields), the Ramona Pheasant Club, Southern California Pheasant Club along with a number of clubs in Northern and Central California.

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