Just getting into upland hunting

BoilingGrease

New member
Hey guys new to the game here, I am up in Northern California and want to learn more. Can anyone recommend books,blogs,websites, and social media? I will be popping on the board to learn as much as possible. Thank you for any help
 

NewmanCA

New member
Hey guys new to the game here, I am up in Northern California and want to learn more. Can anyone recommend books,blogs,websites, and social media? I will be popping on the board to learn as much as possible. Thank you for any help
Hi BG,

Where are you located in Northern CA and what type of upland game are you hunting? Jesse's Hunting Forum has a good forum for Upland. There are several others. There are also a ton of hunting videos on Youtube.
 

quail hound

Moderator
Hello and welcome to UPH. CA DF&W used to print a guide called "Quail Hunting in California", I think you can still find it (you may have to scoure their site) online in pdf form. It has a ton of good information on quail, their habits, and where and how to hunt them. Upland Jitsu has some good blogs for beginning quail hunters also. Good luck and happy hunting.
 

Sporting Days

New member
Hello and welcome to UPH. CA DF&W used to print a guide called "Quail Hunting in California", I think you can still find it (you may have to scoure their site) online in pdf form. It has a ton of good information on quail, their habits, and where and how to hunt them. Upland Jitsu has some good blogs for beginning quail hunters also. Good luck and happy hunting.

Here is the link to the Guide:

https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=23230&inline
 

BoilingGrease

New member
Thanks guys! I live in Chico and the scuttlebutt is the quail is good up here but want to learn as much as I can about As many birds as I can pheasant, chukar, and grouse as well.
 

calamari

New member
Thanks guys! I live in Chico and the scuttlebutt is the quail is good up here but want to learn as much as I can about As many birds as I can pheasant, chukar, and grouse as well.
Pheasants are in the tank in Northern Calif. so they'll be double tough. For the unattached hunter it's public areas or pheasant co-ops only so do the research. Grouse are in the Nat'l Forest east of you. Higher the better. Chukars are all near the Nevada border and as tough a hunt as you'll ever find. Low numbers, tough access, lots of pressure. Quail will probably be your best bet to pull the trigger more than twice a season.
Williams has a pheasant co-op that is looking for members that is pretty close for you and doesn't cost a ton. Over the Ord Ferry bridge and you're in their country. Other co-ops like Meridian and Knights Landing don't have as good cover as the Williams group does. I seem to recall that there are actually two co-ops in Williams with one being through a church.
 

Sporting Days

New member
Pheasants are in the tank in Northern Calif. so they'll be double tough. For the unattached hunter it's public areas or pheasant co-ops only so do the research. Williams has a pheasant co-op that is looking for members that is pretty close for you and doesn't cost a ton. Over the Ord Ferry bridge and you're in their country. Other co-ops like Meridian and Knights Landing don't have as good cover as the Williams group does. I seem to recall that there are actually two co-ops in Williams with one being through a church.
I believe the community/co-op pheasant hunting options have mostly dried up with the disappearance of wild pheasants and a drop of interest in pheasant hunting. There are only two left that I know of in Northern California -- Knights Landing Sportsman's Club -- http://www.klscpheasants.com -- and the Willows Pheasant Association (not Williams) -- http://www.willowspheasant.org --, which is run as a fundraiser for Santa Monica Catholic church. There used to be two in Willlows, but now just one and WPA acquired access to the former's property.

If there are any others out there, they are doing their best to keep them a local secret.
 

Sporting Days

New member
Oh...I guess I should include the Stockton Sportsman's Club as another co-op option -- http://www.stocktonsportsmensclub.com -- however, they typically hunt in big, organized drives typical of what you would find in South Datkota, etc., at least in the mornings, which is of less interest for guys just wanting to go out on their own with their dogs and find some birds.
 

calamari

New member
I believe the community/co-op pheasant hunting options have mostly dried up with the disappearance of wild pheasants and a drop of interest in pheasant hunting. There are only two left that I know of in Northern California -- Knights Landing Sportsman's Club -- http://www.klscpheasants.com -- and the Willows Pheasant Association (not Williams) -- http://www.willowspheasant.org --, which is run as a fundraiser for Santa Monica Catholic church. There used to be two in Willlows, but now just one and WPA acquired access to the former's property.

If there are any others out there, they are doing their best to keep them a local secret.
Willows and Williams are like Biggs and East Biggs for me. So confusing but those are the ones I was thinking of. The Willows co-op is struggling I guess but still going. I didn't know Meridian's had gone out of action. They had very poor cover anyway. Quail. That's the Chico ticket.
 

Sporting Days

New member
Willows and Williams are like Biggs and East Biggs for me. So confusing but those are the ones I was thinking of. The Willows co-op is struggling I guess but still going. I didn't know Meridian's had gone out of action. They had very poor cover anyway. Quail. That's the Chico ticket.
I hunt the Willows Co-Op. I'm not sure it's struggling -- in the sense that I see tons of hunters out there hunting when I'm out there. Sometimes hard to find an unhunted field on opening weekend. I know they acquired some hunters when the nearby Richvale Pheasant co-op closed down a few years ago. They have a great ham dinner at the church hall the Saturday of opener.

The Willows old-timers tell amazing stories about the hunting there in the old days. Hollywood celebrities would fly up for the pheasant opener and the town would have local high school kids serve as the guides. No planted birds -- all wild -- and limits were taken in a matter of minutes if you could shoot at all.

It's all planted birds there now and I have never run across a wild bird there to my knowledge. You would run into occasional wild birds -- flushing hens, etc. -- at some of the other co-ops in the past.
 
Last edited:

Sporting Days

New member
A final thought on the co-ops: They create the illusion of a wild pheasant hunt in the sense that birds are out there on the property and it's up to you and your dogs to go out and find them. The hunting is more difficult than a licensed game bird club, up to you how hard you are going to hunt and how good your dogs are. The "cover" can be disappointing and it can get a little tiring to hunt ditches and rice checks exclusively.

At Willows, they have excellent flying birds, raised locally, and they do a good job of celebrating the tradition and festivity of the wild pheasant opener from years gone past. A lot of folks out hunting, a lot of folks out camping, a lot of folks showing up for the ham dinner Saturday night.

I'll usually hunt there opening weekend with my wife and kids (its' very family friendly as well) and then go target wild birds on the refuges for the remainder of the season.
 

calamari

New member
I said it was struggling not from personal knowledge because I'm not a member but a member told me that the numbers have dropped compared to past years. The last two years opening day I've taken mystery novels and dropped them off at a wildlife area check station the friday before, had Mexican food in Hamilton City and then camped over night at the grange hall on Blue Gum Rd and BS'd with my friend. Next morning I'd have a wonderful breakfast in the grange, tell all the other hunters about how it used to be and then I'd go and play golf. In addition to it being so far from where I live, I have the opportunity to shoot club birds for another friend so he can take the 10,000th picture of his dogs on point so the co-op isn't something that interests me but for the new hunter to the area it's an excellent chance to get to know people and the country with great food a bonus. If there is ever a brisk wind, planted pheasants will give you and your dog all the sport you want. A calm day, not so much.
 

calamari

New member
A thought came to mind about the wildlife areas and wild birds. In the great pheasant years of the 1990s all the birds on the wildlife areas were wild. Now some of the area managers are taking money and buying birds to plant the numbers are so low. Gray Lodge and Howard Slough are two that have done it for the past few years. They also plant birds, not part of a special hunt, on Oroville Wildlife Area for example. It's a Class C area.
When things get tough it's time to look at the experience and skill required to get one bird instead of a possession limit. I keep trying to encourage people to learn to hunt pheasants w/o a dog because every bird is a trophy and it takes real hunting skills to do it. You have to have patience, calling ability and an understanding of the birds habits and weaknesses. It's a very effective way for one person to hunt but you have to be mentally tough. It's a slow method and more like deer hunting than bird hunting. Another trophy is any bird you shoot on the Class C areas along the Sacramento River. There are pheasants there but there aren't any dumb pheasants there. Finally, there's the old stand by, turkeys. There are as many turkeys shot on some wildlife ares as pheasants and there's nothing as delicious as a very young turkey. Way better on the table than a wild pheasant.
 

Sporting Days

New member
A thought came to mind about the wildlife areas and wild birds. In the great pheasant years of the 1990s all the birds on the wildlife areas were wild. Now some of the area managers are taking money and buying birds to plant the numbers are so low. Gray Lodge and Howard Slough are two that have done it for the past few years. They also plant birds, not part of a special hunt, on Oroville Wildlife Area for example. It's a Class C area.
When things get tough it's time to look at the experience and skill required to get one bird instead of a possession limit. I keep trying to encourage people to learn to hunt pheasants w/o a dog because every bird is a trophy and it takes real hunting skills to do it. You have to have patience, calling ability and an understanding of the birds habits and weaknesses. It's a very effective way for one person to hunt but you have to be mentally tough. It's a slow method and more like deer hunting than bird hunting. Another trophy is any bird you shoot on the Class C areas along the Sacramento River. There are pheasants there but there aren't any dumb pheasants there. Finally, there's the old stand by, turkeys. There are as many turkeys shot on some wildlife ares as pheasants and there's nothing as delicious as a very young turkey. Way better on the table than a wild pheasant.
Calamari...I think you've nailed it. I liken wild pheasant hunting today to something like elk hunting. It's going to take a lot of work and every wild bird is akin to a trophy animal. The reality, however, is that type of hunting for pheasants doesn't hold a lot of appeal for most hunters -- it may for a turkey or an elk but not a pheasant, especially when there are options at game bird clubs to shoot a bunch of birds or go out of state to the Dakotas, Kansas, Nebraska, etc.

The best wild pheasant hunting today in California can be found in the Klamath Basin on the federal wildlife refuges there. Those populations have totally rebounded and there is excellent wild pheasant hunting there again for those willing to go up there and get after the birds.
 

NewmanCA

New member
I hunt the Willows Co-Op. I'm not sure it's struggling -- in the sense that I see tons of hunters out there hunting when I'm out there. Sometimes hard to find an unhunted field on opening weekend. I know they acquired some hunters when the nearby Richvale Pheasant co-op closed down a few years ago. They have a great ham dinner at the church hall the Saturday of opener.

The Willows old-timers tell amazing stories about the hunting there in the old days. Hollywood celebrities would fly up for the pheasant opener and the town would have local high school kids serve as the guides. No planted birds -- all wild -- and limits were taken in a matter of minutes if you could shoot at all.

It's all planted birds there now and I have never run across a wild bird there to my knowledge. You would run into occasional wild birds -- flushing hens, etc. -- at some of the other co-ops in the past.
That is sad. I remember stories back in the day. We had good pheasant hunts in the Stockton Delta islands back in the 1970s and 1980s. You could not drive down a street and not see pheasants running and flying somewhere. Same with Madera. We used to hunt wild birds down around Road 4 and there were an incredible number of birds down there. And nothing compares to the stories I've heard about the numbers of wild birds there were in the Willows area. That used to be ground zero for wild bird hunting in the state even in those days where there were wild birds almost everywhere
 

NewmanCA

New member
A thought came to mind about the wildlife areas and wild birds. In the great pheasant years of the 1990s all the birds on the wildlife areas were wild. Now some of the area managers are taking money and buying birds to plant the numbers are so low. Gray Lodge and Howard Slough are two that have done it for the past few years. They also plant birds, not part of a special hunt, on Oroville Wildlife Area for example. It's a Class C area.
When things get tough it's time to look at the experience and skill required to get one bird instead of a possession limit. I keep trying to encourage people to learn to hunt pheasants w/o a dog because every bird is a trophy and it takes real hunting skills to do it. You have to have patience, calling ability and an understanding of the birds habits and weaknesses. It's a very effective way for one person to hunt but you have to be mentally tough. It's a slow method and more like deer hunting than bird hunting. Another trophy is any bird you shoot on the Class C areas along the Sacramento River. There are pheasants there but there aren't any dumb pheasants there. Finally, there's the old stand by, turkeys. There are as many turkeys shot on some wildlife ares as pheasants and there's nothing as delicious as a very young turkey. Way better on the table than a wild pheasant.
Birds on our local wildlife areas are 100% wild. I might only get one bird all day but prefer it to hunting pen raised birds that were released from cages the morning before the hunt. I talked with the area manager a few days ago and they are pleased with the pheasant numbers at the local area refuges this year. According to him, the conditions were ideal for chicks the past couple of years and it is showing up at the refuges
 

calamari

New member
Maybe it's just my mental state but hunting w/o a dog I find to be very exciting. You have the ability to look around and see things that you never notice while focused on a dog but it's double tough recently given the low numbers. I have called roosters to me across a state highway and found birds by listening for them. I know I will be thought of as crazy but it's only because those that think that haven't learned how to do it. One last example of not needing a dog is that on Gray Lodge after the opening weekend the most effective tool to get roosters wasn't a dog but a non brittle limb off a tree about 3" in diameter at the butt and 10 feet long. Another was a Siamese cat.
The weather near Willows was exciting for the opener as in foggy with about a 200' visibility. In those conditions I don't hunt flushing birds with lots of other guys of unknown experience within shotgun range. One of the refuges in the area said that they had a good hatch on site so maybe there'll be some hunting for pheasants on the areas this year after all.
In driving up to Willows I went the back way and drove through the Meridian Basin. It seems the Meridian pheasant hunt still goes on but man it is just ditch running with the fields completely nuked as far as cover.
At least they're honest as far as what your expectations should be.

http://e-clubhouse.org/sites/meridianca/page-7.php
 

calamari

New member
Really? Nobody's the least bit curious about what a 10' limb and a cat have anything to do with pheasant hunting? Upland hunters really are as dull witted as duck hunters say they are.:D
 
Top