California Wildlife Notes
Geese and Pheasants
The dark goose waterfowl survey for the northern San Joaquin Valley was completed on November 11, 2001. The flight was completed on a shoot day. This year's flight included areas up to the confluence of the Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers. The waterfowl population index for the northern San Joaquin Valley was 404,158. Waterfowl were primarily on the Los Banos sewage ponds and San Luis National Wildlife Refuge. Last year's flight only included the Grasslands and Mendota area, so the comparable total based on survey area would be 368,553 to 458,894 last year. This would represent a decline of 20% from last year's index.

The 2001 pheasant season opened on November 10. Opening weekend results for those areas staffed by the Los Banos Wildlife Area were as follows:

November 10 November 11
Areas Hunters* Pheasants Hunters Pheasants
Los Banos W.A.
170 (183)
70* (33)
158 (97)
26* (3)
Volta W.A.
33 (55)
6 (2)
22 (20)
1 (3)
Kesterson NWR
16 (18)
1 (5)
0 (2)
0 (2)
* Hunters include waterfowl hunters, except the Kesterson hunt, which is pheasant only. Figures in ( ) are numbers for 2000.

On November 17 and 18, four Junior Pheasant Hunts were held at O'Neill Forebay. The 128 junior hunters participating in the hunts took 160 pheasants, averaging 1.25 birds per hunter. The junior hunters were accompanied in the field by 141 non-shooters.

At the Mendota Wildlife Area, the 17th annual Junior Pheasant Hunts were held on November 17 and 24. Hunter participation and success were similar to previous years. Eighty-six junior hunters harvested 76 pheasants, averaging 0.88 birds per hunter.

A new Junior Quail Hunt was conducted on October 27, 2001 on a large, private ranch near Springville in the foothills of eastern Tulare County. Six junior hunters were selected by drawing from 56 applications received at the Fresno Regional office. All six junior hunters showed up for the free hunt and killed 11 California quail, for an average of 1.83 birds per hunter. The Sequoia Unit biologist operated the hunter check station, and along with the landowner, assisted the hunters in the field.

A Persons Dependent upon a Wheelchair Pheasant Hunt was held on November 18, 2001 near Chowchilla in Madera County. This was the third year of this special hunt and the only one of its kind conducted by the DFG. Volunteers with trained pointing dogs were used to locate the birds. When a dog "locked" on a point, a wheelchair hunter was pushed into shooting position by a football player from Chowchilla High School. The pheasant was flushed by the dog handler so that, hopefully, a shot could be taken. Fifty pheasants for this special hunt were purchased with Madera County fish and game fine monies, and the vendor, Hoffman Game Birds of Manteca, donated an additional 25 pheasants. Applications were mailed to over 500 handicapped hunters registered with the DFG as well as to the hunters who participated in last year's hunt. There were 12 wheelchair-dependent hunters signed up for the hunt, although only six showed up the morning of the event. The hunters did exceptionally well, taking 18 pheasants for an average of 3.0 birds per hunter, the daily bag limit. Volunteers from the Madera Breakfast Lions Club brought out their barbecue on wheels and provided hamburgers, hot dogs and soft drinks for the hunters and volunteers, in addition to doughnuts and bottled water donated by the Stockton Chapter of Quail Unlimited. The success of this hunt was only possible with the help of the volunteers.

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