by Jerry Springer
|It was the last Friday before the close of the California D3-5 deer season, October 31st. It had been 90 degrees in Stockton just the Monday before but the weather forecast was for possible light showers in the Central Valley and maybe a dusting of snow at the highest elevations in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
After hearing the weather forecast, I talked to my son about taking off work and hunting with me on Friday in hopes that some deer might start migrating downslope and a buck would make a big mistake of showing us his antlers. The usually hot weather during the B and D zone deer seasons had kept me out of the woods and doing other hunting activities but this forecast of cooler weather was too much to pass up.
As we moved to higher elevations on Highway 88, the gray skies began to drop some snow ice crystals on the windshield. I watched the outside temperature gauge in the truck, it was in the thirties. The farther we climbed in elevation, the lower the temperture dropped and the snowflakes increased. Snow was now covering the roads and we noticed a CalTrans snowplow truck parked on the shoulder of the road. I was starting to get concerned because I had left my tire chains back home in the garage. Rolling down our passenger window, we pulled up next to the snowplow and asked the driver what the conditions were farther up the road. We told him we were headed for the Mormon Emigrant Trail cutoff and wanted to be able to make it to Kyburz on Highway 50. He asked if we had four-wheel-drive, and when we answered yes, he said, "No problem!" With that we stepped on the gas.
The snow continued to increase and it was now piling up in inches. We drove slowly and reached the cutoff with no problems. The snow was now three or four inches deep. This part of California now looked like one of my elk hunts in Colorado. The temperature was now 24 degrees, making the snow dry and powdery. It was beautiful!
We tried a number of places that I thought would be migration corridors but still found limited deer tracks. The tracks I found were all headed downslope. We did manage to see two different groups of does totaling eight deer, but the bucks had outsmarted us. In conversations with other hunters and we did run into a number of them on the roads everyone gave the same report. They also reported hearing only a couple of shots or no shots being heard.
Why didn't this perfect hunting weather produce a buck for me? Did I not get set up on the right migration trail? Did I not stay in one of my spots long enough? Had most of the deer already moved to lower elevations? (We did hunt lower elevations, also.) Could it be due to low deer numbers in this zone? What happened?
|As I write this report, answers to those questions don't seem that important. It was an awesome day of hunting. My son did take advantage of our lunch break to throw some snowballs in my direction, and I even returned the favor. It was like living one of those other western states' hunts... ones that few California deer hunters have a chance to do. This day was different in California, this was deer hunting weather we only dream about and both Scott and I were glad we got this opportunity.|
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