Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mixed bag in Southern California

Well, Mike's most recent post describes snow and freezing rain in Montana. There is no danger of such weather in the Imperial Valley. A friend and I headed out there this morning for the dove second-season opener and brought my setters in the hope of also finding a few quail. Temperature was 50F pre-dawn and warked to 71F by noon. Nice, though a bit warm for the dogs.

I also brought a new toy - a Mojo Dove, mounted on a 10' piece of painted conduit, augmented with a couple of stationary decoys. Yeah, it is a bit non-traditional but that thing really worked. We had doves landing in the adjacent trees, apparently mesmerized by the rotating wings. If you get one of these set yourself up close to the decoy - you'll get some birds on top of you. Model 42 range.

The dove were not plentiful but were pretty thick for a few minutes around 8.00. We both bagged a few, then packed up the decoys to look for quail. Within just a few minutes Rosie hit a point but before I could get close a very nervous rooster bumped out of range. Clair Kofoed had suggested #6 for late season dove and I was wishing I had taken his advice, though not because of the dove!

We got into a few quail and I bagged a beautiful Gambel's cock. I usually see only the Valley quail so the Gambel's colors are a treat. I guess I've always been a sucker for redheads. Rosie had another very nice point - intense with a raised front leg - but the bird flushed unshot from the wrong side of the brush.

As we dropped over a berm by a drainage creek, planning to walk back to the car on the adjacent dirt road, another cock pheasant broke out of the brush. That was sufficiently promising that I walked 50 yards downstream and flushed 2 more cocks, one of which I dumped cleanly on the other side of the creek. Wading in that stagnant farm runoff was not attractive so we walked a mile or so around and eventually picked up the bird.

Who says you can't kill wild pheasant with 1 oz of #8 in a 16 ga? And this was a very nice old bird - he'd been around for at least a couple of years.

Hope others are enjoying themselves as much as we did.


Mike Spies said...


Looks like you had a good time in the usual areas. Doves in November... who wudda thunk it?

Peter Houser said...

I think a lot of doves winter in the Imperial Valley. There are not as many birds in November as there are in September but I think we could have taken limits if we had stayed for the afternoon and evening. And the birds are so much bigger in November.

Andrew Campbell said...

Pete: how heavy was that pheasant? I'm guessing your warmer weather also means their plumage doesn't get anywhere near as thick as it does here in NY. I've cleanly shot a NY shot with 1oz of 7s at no more than 25yrds, saw the head drop, bird plummeted into thick cover, but by the time we got the dog to it, it had recovered and run off. I've also cleaned pheasants clearly shot by someone else first that had a dozen #8s trapped against the skin across the shoulders. Glad you were able to get a clean shot -- and the triple bag is pretty impressive, too.


Will Pennington said...

That's quite a mixed bag Pete! I have a friend returning to Lemoore shortly with whom I spent quite a few days chasing chukar IVO Randsburg in 2004-2007. Any reports on bird numbers out there this year? As I recall, they were decent until 06-07 when they really nose dived.

Peter Houser said...

Andrew, you are absolutely right - I got lucky on that bird and put some shot in the head and neck. I wish I had shown some foresight and brought a couple cartridges with #6. When I cleaned the bird I found several shot embedded in the breast, penetrating only an inch or so. The bird was rather heavy with good spurs.

Will - ah, 2006 in Randsberg. Those were the days. We had an El Nino in 2005-2006 so the following 2006-2007 season was great. The next two seasons were awful. I hunted the chukar opener this year farther north, near Olancha, and found about a covey per hour. Not bad, and I'm hoping for the same in Randsberg. Hope you can join me some time.