Accurate Fishing Products


Jim Niemiec's Blog

WON News Column
by Jim Niemic

Passionate about the sporting life, Jim Niemiec has spent his life enjoying the outdoors, hunting and fishing around the world and as a writer he’s just as passionate about  informing the public of opportunities. 

Niemiec has searched out the best destinations and reports conditions accurately, but he has also  dedicated countless hours to conservation groups (national and international) in hopes of “preserving our rights and opportunities to hunt for future generations.”
Why hunters should join SCI – Orange County
There are a number of very good hunting, fishing and conservation-orientated chapters across the state. Perhaps the largest group is represented by Ducks Unlimited, followed by the CWA, NWTF, Pheasants Forever, Quail Unlimited, Mule Deer Foundation and California Deer, just to mention a few of the more active chapters. Based on this WON hunting editor’s association with all of these groups over the years, I would have to say the most active group of hunters in Southern California are members of Safari Club International’s Orange County chapter.

boddingtonguestBODDINGTON GUEST OF SCI – OC — Outdoor journalist Craig Boddington spent an evening with the Orange County chapter of SCI. After signing books, with Audie and Daisy Kurth looking on, who attended the dinner meeting with their dad SCI life-member Don Kurth, this big game hunter talked about hunting around the world. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

The Orange County chapter is very active in conservation programs, youth education, shooting and hunting venues, contributions to outdoor events and its members take a very active part in big game hunting and upland game bird hunting. WON was the guest of the OC chapter this past week at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim, and the chapter invited outdoor journalist Craig Boddington to speak on hunting around the world, and he was followed by Cliff McDonald, President and Project Coordinator of Water For Wildlife, who spoke about conservation projects in the Mojave Desert and the upcoming Youth Quail Hunt set for the first weekend in October.

This monthly gathering of hunters and sportsmen offers a great evening to exchange hunting stories, talk about hunting destinations around the world, enjoy dinner and then top off the evening with a raffle for a firearm and a number of hunting accessories.

Bill Waddle, President of the Orange County Chapter and also owner of the 6-pack sportfisher Options, offered the following information on what it means to become a member of a SCI chapter and take an active part in annual shooting, hunting and conservation events.

“Although I have yet to hunt Africa, I have been the president of the Orange County chapter of SCI three times. There is an important lesson here in that SCI is not an elitist group of international hunters. SCI represents varmint hunters in California, whitetail deer hunters in Wisconsin and squirrel hunters in Pennsylvania. We all have to stick together and be united under a strong organization that represents our interests and protecting the right to hunt here in the United States and worldwide. Does that mean that you shouldn’t also be a member of Ducks Unlimited or the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation? Of course not, but the lobby power of SCI and the NRA have real strength in the political arena. Everyone is welcome to come to one of our monthly meetings on the third Thursday of the month and enjoy a night of sharing the evening with fellow hunters, listen to our guest speaker and participate in the nightly raffle,” voiced Waddle.

Waddle then went to state, “On a local level, SCI Orange County is instrumental in funding important programs like Water For Wildlife, which maintains drinker/guzzlers for wildlife throughout the Mojave Desert. The Orange County chapter also supports Youth Safari Day and the Mojave Youth Quail Hunt, which are hugely important in getting kids involved in hunting and the outdoors in general.”

Boddington held the interest of the group, as he presented detailed information on big game hunts around the world. His talk was about logistics, problems, costs and the importance of being in good shape when hunting. He covered many animals from the largest sheep of the Himalayans to blacktail bucks along the Central Coast of California.

McDonald spoke to the group about the projects completed in the High Desert and plans for next year.

“This is the 15th year that Water For Wildlife has headed out to the vast Mojave Desert to work on guzzlers and other antiquated water sources. So far volunteers have completed work on 188 guzzlers. To repair, each guzzler costs about $600 to $1,000,  plus the 100- to 130-man hours to complete the job. For just 2019, there were 80 volunteers showing up for work projects and they restored 14 drinkers and put in a total of 1,250-man hours. There were additional expenses of material and equipment costs that amounted to $6,500 and some of the costs were covered by donations from the Orange County chapter of SCI and California Deer,” said McDonald. (See McDonald's letter on page 4 about a recent project in the Bishop area in June in the Eastern Sierra).

McDonald added, “Right now Water For Wildlife, other than the Bishop project, has no plans for projects in 2020 on the books for the vast Mojave Desert, but we are open to suggestions for work projects to be done in the East Mojave.”

* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Buy your dove ammo now
Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase your dove ammo. Sporting goods stores, retailers and gun shops currently have a pretty good stock of steel dove ammo on hand at some reasonable prices, but don’t get caught up in the newly enacted, July 1, 2019, CA Department of Justice (DOJ) regulations than can find you put on a wait list for up to 2 weeks, IF, you don’t have a current DROS number on file.

This Western Outdoor News hunting editor was caught up the red tape this past week, which caused a major delay in picking up my dove ammo for this coming season. The following is how things developed.

Plans were to have new steel dove ammo shipped to a local gun shop from out of state, in as much as ammo and firearms can no longer be shipped directly to the purchaser from companies located in other state after passage of Assembly Bill 711 that was adopted and signed into law back in 2013.

BAGGED A DOULBE ON MOURNING DOVE — Hank Osterkamp of San Clemente dropped this double on dove during a hunt last year in the hot desert. Despite heavy thundershower activity in the most all regions of the desert, it should bode well for hunting both mourning and white-wing dove come opening day. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

The gun shop was duly licensed with a current federal firearms license and I had used the shop for other ammo and gun purchases over the years, which made it perfectly legal for the manufacturer to ship the ammo into California.

The shipment was received at the gun shop after the new July 1, 2019 regulations went into effect, which meant that a purchaser had to be on an approved DOJ list before the ammo could be delivered to the purchaser. Seems that I hadn’t purchased a rifle or shotgun since 2012, but did occasionally purchase shotgun shell ammo, when no paperwork was required. I felt confident that buying a Benelli M2 and later a Beretta Black Eagle shotgun, registering them through Turner’s Outdoorsman and waiting the 10 days required for my background check, that my name and pertinent information would be on file with the DOJ. WRONG seems that the DOJ only saved recent files and that firearm purchases made more than 5 years ago, were likely not saved and no longer accessible within the DOJ system.

The gun shop manager brought out the ammo and proceeded to file paperwork with the DOJ on-line system after asking for my drivers license and dob. No problem I thought, I have a clean record and had not violated any firearms or ammunition regulations. The first application was the Standard Ammunition Eligibility Check which can be done quickly on line. Guess what… within minutes it came back with the notation…STATUS: DENY/REJECT!

The manager said I couldn’t take the ammo and that a second transaction would have to be taken that would cost $19, and then I would have to wait until the approval came through, which in some cases could take as long as 2 weeks. With my tail between my legs, I headed back to the office, disappointed, you bet and mad...why me, I am no felon!!!

While still upset, I sent off a quick e-mail to Mike Etienne, Vice President of Purchasing and Marketing for Turner’s Outdoorsman, a good friend and shooting buddy to ask what I could do.

“You will just have to wait now for the DOJ to issue you your DROS number, or you could go into one of our retail stores, purchase some shotgun shell ammo and a Stripped Polymer AR-15 Lower and that should get you issued your DROS number quickly,” said Etienne.

I had already started the application process with the DOJ, so I opted to wait it out and see what happened, as opening day of dove season was still over a month off. It took over a week, which included a weekend, to finally get a call from the gun shop that my DROS number had been issued and that I could come by to pick up the ammo at any time. There would still be some paperwork to sign as the recipient of the ammo. Seems that under new ammo purchase regulations that a licensed dealer needs to fill out separate forms for each type of ammo purchased: as to manufacturer, gauge and how much ammo was purchased.

A further check into the DROS System, the following information was available: BASIC AMMUNITION ELIGIBILITY CHECK: you may use this eligibility check if the individual does not have a current entry in the Automated Firearms System or if they do not have a current Certificate of Eligibility. (who does?) The Department (DOJ) will determine the individual’s eligibility on a comprehensive review of its records (similar to a firearm eligibility check).

In addition, WON found out the following: When transferring ammunition between private parties the following needs to be addressed: When transferring ammunition from one non-vender to another non-vender, YOU must obtain an approved eligibility check for the purchaser and then select a Private Party Ammunition Transfer to submit the sale of ammunition. (Editor’s Note: Does this really make sense?)

So, based on what’s now required when purchasing ammunition, and I am sure more details when purchasing a rifle, shotgun or pistol, go out and buy your dove ammo now. Don’t wait until the last day or so before the season begins on Sunday, Sept. 1, or you might be left out in the heat, due to either a lack of a DROS number or no steel dove loads left on a dealer’s shelf.

* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Outdoor events worth attending and more
During the off-season, except for trips to a gun range, mid-summer hog hunt or a bunny rabbit trip out to the high desert, there are not a lot of hunting opportunities out there. New 2019/20 big game and waterfowl hunting regs are out, but bird hunters are still awaiting regs for upland game bird hunting.

Western Outdoor News just received word from Patrick Raahauge, owner of Raahauge’s Shooting Enterprises (951-735-7981) that the hunting range will be hosting the first annual Raahauge’s Youth Outdoor Adventure Day on July 20. The day long venue will be held to support the Raahauge’s Shooting Sports Foundation for future shooting and other outdoor events.

YOUTHS TO SHOOT AT RAAHAUGE’S OUTDOOR ADVENTURE DAY — Youngsters will get an opportunity to learn how to handle and safely shoot small arms rifles, archery gear and learn all about the great outdoors at Youth Outdoor Adventure Day. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

Youth Outdoor Adventure Day is being sponsored by Turner’s Outdoors, HOWA, Lucas Oil Products along with other representatives of the shooting sports industry, conservation groups and outdoor orientated organizations.

According to Raahauge, “Youth Outdoor Adventure Day will offer youngsters an opportunity to shoot sporting clays, enjoy an archery range and try their luck out of a stocked fishing pond. The venue will feature experts in the field of safe shotgun handling, skills with bow and arrow target shooting and the stocked fishing pond should provide a new experience for many kids. Shooting and firearms experts will be manning the shooting booths and experts in other outdoor fields will be on hand to promote outdoor safety and conservation.”

The event will begin at 8:00 a.m. and conclude at 4:00 p.m. Pre-registration is now available online at the cost of only $15, at, which will include all events and activities. Those waiting to register on the day of the event will pay $20. In addition to there being plenty of great outdoor activities to participate in, there will be a FREE youth raffle and a special adult raffle will take place after all events are closed down.

Raahauge went on to add, “Youth Outdoor Adventure Day is designed to introduce kids of all ages to the great outdoors using hands on activities to encourage more youth evolvement in outdoor adventures.”

Some of the day long activities that youngsters can participate in include: kayaking, rock wall climbing, watch live gun dog handling and wild west demonstrations, go on a nature walk, build a quail call, paint a decoy and learn how to safely handle and shoot a 22 long rifle and sharpen their shooting skills at the BB gun booth.

Hunting wild turkeys in California is probably one of the fastest growing hunting opportunities available as more and more bird hunters are enjoying success in harvesting the largest of all upland game birds. Some 60 odd years ago California didn’t offer up much in the way of good turkey hunting, but after a number of successful transplants of birds from other states, the population of birds has grown to very huntable numbers. Coastal and northern counties in the state have reestablished breeding Rio Grande and Rio Grande/hybrids populations, but it is San Diego County where excellent game management of released turkey has really taken a strong hold. The wild turkey population in San Diego County is due, in part, to a number of private ranches, vast national forest land and the fact that the terrain, at about 3,500 feet of elevation, offers up excellent nesting conditions, not to mention difficult hunter access. The last population estimate in San Diego County was in excess of 30,000 birds, which all began with released birds from other states starting back in the 1990s.

The San Diego Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will host the 21st Annual Hunting Heritage Banquet on Saturday, July 13 at the Carlton Oaks Country Club in Santee. Doors to this great event will open a 4:30 p.m. As of press time, the website for the San Diego Chapter of NWTF is currently under construction. Anyone looking to find out more about this chapter’s banquet should call Vikki Conner, chairperson, at (760) 789-5875.

This is a very active chapter that promotes many events and supports hunting in Southern California. By attending this chapter’s turkey banquet, hunters will be able to learn more about hunting turkey in San Diego County, participate in some fun games and bid on a variety of turkey hunting gear, and wildlife art by way of huge silent and live auctions.


Based on wildlife biologists’ reports coming in to WON, ducks and goose hunting in all portions of the Pacific flyway should offer up better than average waterfowl hunting. Overall puddle duck numbers are up except for mallards and pintail, but gadwall, widgeon, spoonbills and teal gained a few percentage points based on this spring’s nesting conditions. There was some flooding of nesting sites, but it appeared as if Mother Nature didn’t do much to hamper the hatching of eggs.

Pacific Wings (509-967-2303), based out of Basin City within the Columbia Basin, emailed WON about just adding a new hunting lease next to one of its more established clubs. The land and wetlands leased has great potential for combo duck and goose hunts, with a good population of Canada and snow geese using this property. Hunting will be limited to only one party at a time on the property. According to owners Mike and Justin Franklin, there are just so many goose hunting days available in Washington so this limits the number of hunters we can accommodate. All hunting takes place over full body decoys that are both land and water mixed.

* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

New dove hunting ammo
All native or wild upland game birds in California will now have to be hunted with non-lead shot, so out the door goes that lead shot ammo that has produced excellent gunning for dove and quail since first introduced back in the late 1800s. It’s really too bad that wing shooters have to give up on lead pellets, but DFW rules and regulations have been leading to that phase since AB 711 was passed by the legislature back in October 2013.

KENT’S NEW STEEL DOVE LOAD — This new dove load from Kent is likely to be a popular load for California dove hunters now that non-toxic shot is required.

Western Outdoor News checked in with Turner’s Outdoorsman’s Mike Etienne, Vice President of Purchasing and Marketing, to find out what this retailer has planned for dealing with upcoming issues created by AB 711.

“With ammo registration starting July 1, we brought all of our dove loads into our retail stores early so hunters can stock up before the end of June and avoid the headaches of the new regulations. Of course, this is an all steel year, so we are stocked up on Kent and Fiocchi dove loads at sales prices under $8 a box,” stated Etienne.

The following is a list of the most commonly asked questions required in the sale of ammo at the retail level now in California. This information was passed on by way of Turner’s Outdoorsman:

CA Ammunition Background Check/Registration Begins on July 1, 2019

Ammo Registration FAQ’s

1. How much will it cost for the “ammunition eligibility check”? a. There are two distinct types of ammo background checks. i. The “Standard” ammunition check will cost $1.00/transaction and will apply to persons whose information — including current address — matches an entry in CA DOJ’s “Automated Firearm System” (AFS), and who are not on the DOJ list of “Prohibited Armed Persons.” ii. The “Basic” ammunition check will cost $19.00/transaction and will likely be suited for persons who do not have a firearm listed in the AFS system, or those whose current address differs from their address for any gun listed in their name in the AFS system, or those who have undergone a legal name change (due to marriage, divorce or other reasons) that is different than their record(s) in AFS. iii. Alternately, a person purchasing a firearm may purchase ammunition at the same time and undergo one background check for the gun and ammunition at no additional cost beyond the firearm background check fees.

2. How long will the background check take? a. CA DOJ says the Standard check may be completed in a manner of minutes. b. The Basic check will take an indeterminate amount of time; CA DOJ has not announced a minimum nor a maximum amount of time for this ammo check.

3. Can I purchase ammunition in calibers or sizes that are different that those listed for me in the AFS system? a. Yes; there are no restrictions on which calibers/gauges that you can purchase.

4. Is there a limit on the amount of ammunition that I can purchase? a. No; there is no limit to the amount of ammunition that can be purchased.

5. I have a CA DOJ Certificate of Eligibility (COE), am I exempt from the process? a. COE holders are not exempt from the in-store eligibility check, but they can opt for the $1 “COE Verification Process” that is similar to the “standard” ammo background check.

6. I am a state/local or federal law enforcement officer; am I exempt from the in-store process? a. State, local or federal law enforcement officers are exempt when they show their peace officer credential and a written certification from the head of their agency when purchasing ammunition in store.

Western Outdoor News made the rounds of a few gun shops to get an idea of what’s available on dealers’ shelves in the way of new non-lead dove ammo and just how much the cost of a good dove shot is going to run. Based on shelf prices, as posted, it appears that dove/quail 20 ga. shotgun ammo will run between $8 to $12 a box for steel shot. Retailers were a bit hesitant about talking about special prices for dove ammo being available prior to dove season, but it’s a pretty good bet that there will be some sales going on at bigger retailers. Bismuth and TSS shot loads will be significantly higher, but this heavy shot can be pretty effective, especially for long distance shots or those taken at the larger Eurasian collard dove. Watch for ads in Western Outdoor News on any dove shot special pricing.

WON then went to Kent Cartridge Company’s media representative Kevin Howard to find out more about Kent’s new steel dove loads and pick up a few tips for the upcoming dove season.

“With dove hunting being a long-standing tradition, Kent Cartridge has a new steel ammo load was designed to specifically help dove hunters bag limits this coming season. Our Steel Dove loads are the only load specially designed for dove hunters who are required to use non-toxic shot. Available in both 12 and 20 gauges, all steel ammo is a 2¾ inch shell casing, with velocities up to 1400 fps for high performance. Steel dove loads use specially blended clean burning powders for reduced felt recoil. All Kent steel shot dove loads are of #6 size shot.

Over the years Howard has hosted a number of media outings for gun folks and has been very involved with hunter success and safety in the field, including working with a lot of firearms and ammo manufactures and other shooting sports related companies. WON asked Howard for a few dove hunting tips based on his years of being closely tied to the industry and hunting.

“Scouting dove before the season opens is a good way to locate dove where they are feeding and watering. I would also suggest scouting the area to be hunted to determine flight patterns, as dove seem to fly the same course repeatedly. If you see a few birds flying over a spot, it’s a good bet other dove will follow. Dress in matching camo and also try to avoid swinging a shiny barrel before a dove gets within shotgun range. Finally, it is a good idea to get out to a gun range and do some clay target shooting, especially to find out how new steel loads pattern with the newest requirements for non-toxic shot in California,” said Howard.

While Winchester’s AA shotgun shell ammo is traditionally found being used by trap, skeet and sporting clays shooters at the range, Winchester’s line of AA ammo does include a steel load. There is currently a $2 discount per box on all AA ammo that will bring the price down. This refund discount will run through Sept. 21, with a maximum refund of up $100.

* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

What’s all the cooing about?
Based on reports afield and from all the dove cooing going on this early in the summer it appears that this year’s dove opener should be one for the record books,IF Mother Nature cooperates a little. There appears to be a very good hatch of mourning dove taking place and white-winged dove are enjoying good nesting conditions in desert regions. Dove hunters should be able to bag 15-bird limits on opening day, Sunday, Sept. 1, and hopefully conditions will allow for multiple days of hunting thereafter.

GOOD MOURNING DOVE HUNT  — Dove hunters should enjoy some good gunning come opening day of dove season on Sept. 1. From reports being sent to Western Outdoor News there is an excellent hatch coming off with plenty of food and water available across California, over into Arizona and clear on down into Mexico. Hank Osterkamp of San Clements shows off a game strap full of mourning dove. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

There is good news coming in from the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, by way of an updated report by Wildlife Supervisor Thomas Trakes.

“Dove season is looking very strong. With all the rain we had, winter crops are coming along just fine. With some safflower seed that was donated by CWA we planted it early and it’s already heading out. We should be able to start knocking it down in a couple of weeks,” says Trakes.

Trakes went on to state, “There are more dove on the refuge than I have seen in over a decade and they are spread out across the entire refuge. I would think that this coming dove season opener will offer up very good hunting, weather permitting, and that we could see a very high per gun average. On opening day, Sunday Sept. 1 and Monday Sept. 2, the entire refuge will be open to hunting including the waterfowl area. After the Monday shoot, hunters will only have access to upland game bird fields. We plan on keeping water in some ponds and will continue with our farming through the summer months.”

Western Outdoor News was able to get in contact with wildlife supporter Leon Lesicka of Imperial Valley, who was spending some vacation time over on the river in Arizona.

“Right now, I am watching flocks of white-winged dove flying around. There appears to be more birds this year and I would think that the overall hatch will be good, at least in this southwestern part of the lower Colorado River. Also, I am seeing more Gambel’s quail around and these coveys are numbering between 10 to over a dozen chicks along with adult birds,” stated Lesicka.

When asked about the farm fields to the north of Calipatria, Lesicka says that they seem to already have been planted in wheat and should be very huntable come opening day of dove season.

WON then checked in with avid sportsman Steve Turigliatto of San Diego, who has been out scouting dove.

“I’ve been out to the Imperial Valley a number of times recently. There are great numbers of mourning dove and production seems to be in full swing. In checking on the citrus groves there appears to be very good counts on white-winged dove, but the population of Eurasian Collard dove appears to be down around rural towns, but around feed lots there are plenty of this larger species of non-native dove,” stated Turigliatto.

Turigliatto went on to add, “There is a lot or wheat, corn and melons all across the Imperial Valley, all of which are a great food source for dove.”

As for San Diego County Turigliatto said that nesting appears to be later than normal. He told Western Outdoor News that the likely reason for a later dove hatch was all the cold weather, rain and winds that blew through this county up until early June, may have set the dove hatch back a couple of weeks.

Yuma has always been a hot spot for dove hunters and this year is shaping up to be another good shoot. WON asked Richard Sprague, owner of Sprague’s Sports in Yuma,, to file a report.

“We just had our dove opener planning meeting this past week with an Arizona biologist and he reported that white-winged dove are at an all-time high and with the wetter winter we have had this year, and he is expecting the mourning dove hatch to be excellent. The World Dove Cook Off will be held this year on Sept. 7 (Saturday after opener), with more details to follow. This year will also mark the 31st Big Breast Dove Contest,” said Sprague.

In contacting Johnathan O’Dell, small game biologist for the Arizona Department of Game and Fish, the following was passed on.

“Things are looking good in Arizona. We’ve had a very wet winter this past year. Even though we have multiple nesting per year for mourning doves, our biggest hatch occurs in late July. So, it’s still a little too early to tell but it’s expected to be good. As summer agriculture in Arizona continues to be dominated by small grain crops (durum wheat specifically) the doves will only continue to benefit. The call count index for white-winged dove across Arizona remains at record highs and the population is growing steadily,” stated O’Dell.

The local hatch of mourning and Eurasian collared dove is strong as witnessed by all the paired-up dove winging around or sitting on telephone wires in Southland cities. Early morning walks with my Lab Sierra are being rewarded with the cooing of many dove, flights of paired up mallards and at times a small flock of Canada geese. Surprisingly, there appears to be ample turkey millet (dove weed) growing in areas where one would think that foxtails had totally taken over.

* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Page 1 of 74 First | Previous | Next | Last

Advertise with Western Outdoor News