The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold an outreach meeting Saturday, Aug. 20 in Los Banos regarding the Northern San Joaquin Valley Type A and B Wildlife Areas. CDFW will take comments and recommendations and provide updates on habitat conditions, availability of water for wetlands and possible impacts to hunter access on public lands.
The meeting, which will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, is being offered in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited and the Grassland Water District. Federal staff will discuss the Merced National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), including the Lone Tree Unit, and the San Luis NWR, including the Kesterson, Blue Goose, East and West Bear Creek and Freitas units. The Grassland Water District will make a short presentation on refuge water supply.
State wildlife areas to be discussed are Mendota, Los Banos, Volta and North Grasslands, including the Salt Slough, China Island, Gadwall and Mud Slough units.
According to state law (Fish and Game Code, section 1758), CDFW shall annually provide an opportunity for licensed hunters to comment and make recommendations on public hunting programs, including anticipated habitat conditions in the hunting areas on Type A and B wildlife areas, as defined under the commission’s regulations, through public meetings or other outreach. In complying with this section, CDFW may hold regional meetings on its hunting programs for several different wildlife areas.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will be holding a draw for an apprentice deer hunt on the Chimineas Unit of the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve. The two-day hunt, which is being offered in cooperation with the California Deer Association (CDA), will be held on Sept. 17-18 on the 30,000-acre reserve in San Luis Obispo County.
Mandatory hunter orientation will be held in the evening on Sept. 16. Overnight lodging will be available at the main ranch house on the ecological reserve on Sept. 16 and 17.
Three apprentice hunters will be chosen by lottery. Selected apprentice hunters must be accompanied by an adult. Participants will receive classroom, range and field training in gun handling techniques and safety, deer hunting and game care. Hunts will be led by CDA volunteers. CDA will also provide breakfast, lunch and dinner on Sept. 17, as well as breakfast and lunch on Sept. 18.
Applicants must submit a postcard with the hunter’s name, address, telephone number and 2016-2017 junior hunting license number to: Chimineas Apprentice Deer Hunt, Department of Fish and Wildlife, 3196 South Higuera St., Suite A, San Luis Obispo, 93401.
Only one postcard may be submitted for each applicant. Applications must be received in the office by 5 p.m. on Aug. 12. Late or incomplete applications will not be entered in the drawing. Successful applicants will be notified by phone and will receive additional information, including maps and special regulations, prior to the hunt. Successful applicants will need to possess a valid A zone deer tag at the time of the hunt.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program will provide public access for big game and upland game hunts this fall at several locations in Santa Barbara County.
For the fourth year, fall hunts for deer, bear, turkey, quail and dove at Jones Ranch and Sleepy Creek Ranch will be offered to the hunting public. These remote ranches in West Cuyama Valley encompass 1,000 acres between them and will offer separate hunting opportunities. The terrain offers miles of trails through oak savannah, riparian, juniper-sage woodland and chaparral habitats. The ranches are adjacent to public lands, providing additional hunting opportunities not easily accessible to other hunters.
For the first time, Baeke Ranch will offer deer, quail and wild pig hunts. Overlooking the Santa Ynez Valley just northwest of Solvang, Baeke Ranch is located in Ballard Canyon Ranches, known locally as “Hog Valley.” The property is approximately 20 acres surrounded by open space and encompasses maze of game trails winding through chaparral scrub and coyote brush with large oak and pine cover.
Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales. An $11.37 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. Successful applicants for each property will be allowed to bring a hunting partner or a non-hunting partner depending on the hunt.
These opportunities were made possible by the SHARE program, which offers incentives to private landowners who allow wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities on their property. Participating landowners receive monetary compensation and liability protection for providing limited public access to or through their land. The goal of the SHARE program is to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California. For more information about SHARE opportunities please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.
Hunters’ Dollars to Fund Big Game Conservationand Management Projects
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has awarded $1.1 million in grants for big game conservation projects in Fiscal Year 2016-2017.
The Big Game Grant Program (BGGP), which allocates funds generated by big-game hunters through the purchase of tags for sheep, bear, deer, pronghorn antelope and wild pig, identified 15 proposals for projects that will benefit big-game populations and the habitats upon which they depend.
“This year we are funding some exceptional studies that will broaden our knowledge and understanding of the unique needs of elk and sheep,” said Craig Stowers, CDFW’s Big Game Program Manager. “Other projects will help restore crucial habitat for deer and other wildlife, and provide water sources necessary for their survival. All of these proposals have been identified as an appropriate use of hunter dollars. Their funding goes directly to benefit and sustain the wildlife populations they hunt.”
Buck in wooded meadow. DFG photo.
The projects are selected and budget approved by a public advisory committee. Funded proposals must reflect the grantees’ dedication to big game conservation and management and meet a series of criteria, including increased hunting opportunity. Awards approved for 2016-2017 include:
Three grants totaling $277,000 to Oregon State University and the California chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation for several studies on the effects of pneumonia and respiratory disease in Desert Bighorn Sheep.
A $29,000 grant to the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep to develop water sources for wildlife on isolated parcels of land in the Mojave Desert.
A $205,000 grant to Humboldt State University to study Roosevelt elk populations in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
Four grants totaling $127,000 to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to study elk populations in Modoc and Siskiyou counties.
A $27,000 grant to the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep to refill dried-up water guzzlers for wildlife in rural areas.
Two grants totaling $160,000 to the Mendocino County Blacktail Association to remove fir trees and improve forage and cover for deer in Mendocino, Glenn and Humboldt counties.
A $54,000 grant to CalFauna to conduct a prescribed burn in the Stanislaus National Forest and to document revegetation that will benefit wildlife.
An $81,000 grant to the Mule Deer Foundation to restore riparian meadows near Little Rattlesnake Creek in the Stanislaus National Forest.
A $150,000 grant to the California Deer Association to reconstruct and maintain watering devices for wildlife in the northern part of the state.
Grant monies awarded to the California chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation will allow the continuation of an ongoing study of the spread and consequences of respiratory disease for bighorn sheep in the eastern Mojave Desert. In addition to conserving and enhancing wild sheep populations, the nonprofit is committed to educating the public about sustainable use and the conservation benefits of hunting.
“We could not have funded this three-year sheep study without the support from the Big Game Management Account,” said Kyle Meintzer, an avid outdoorsman and bow hunter who serves on the Board of Directors for the Wild Sheep Foundation. “The BGGP shows the importance and value of hunters and the dollars their licenses and tags provide for wildlife management and conservation.”
The Big Game Management Account and BGGP were created by the California Legislature in 2010 (currently Fish and Game Code, section 3953). Since the inception of the BGGP, more than $5 million has gone to such projects. More information about the BGGP can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/grants/big-game.
Now is a great time for hunters to start pre-planning for the 2016-2017 season. If this is the year that you’d like to hunt an unfamiliar area or learn more about an outdoor pursuit you’ve never tried, you may want to consider hiring a professional guide.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is responsible for licensing hunting and inland/freshwater fishing guides in the state.
As defined by the Fish and Game Code, a “guide” means any person who is engaged in the business of packing or guiding, or who, for compensation, assists another person in taking or attempting to take any bird, mammal, fish, amphibian or reptile. “Guide” also includes any person who, for profit, transports other persons, their equipment, or both to or from hunting or fishing areas.
A good guide can greatly increase the chances of success for a hunter who is stalking a new species or unfamiliar with an area. Your guide isn’t just a mentor, but also a navigator, driver, shooting coach, tracker, and maybe even butcher and cook.
“Hiring a guide can be a worthwhile investment of both time and money,” said Lt. Alan Gregory, CDFW’s Advanced Hunter Education director. “You have to approach it as though you’re hiring a contractor to work on your house. Do your due diligence well before the season starts. Research the options that are available to you and get three bids before any money changes hands.”
Finding a Guide
Spending time in the woods during the preseason is a trait of consistently successful hunters. Licensed guides spend their time scouting during the preseason so they can provide information on recent game sightings, travel patterns and feeding routines. That knowledge can be worth its weight in gold.
A California guide license is “one size fits all,” in that it covers both hunting and freshwater fishing, so it might seem a little daunting to find a true expert in the hunt you want. However, it’s definitely possible if you do a little homework in the months before your hunt.
Look through the searchable CDFW licensed guide database to identify a few possibilities. Each guide can be found by name, permit number, services offered, species and counties of operation.
Look up guide websites (if they have them) and check out online hunting forums and message boards to read testimonials and reviews.
Ask around at sporting goods stores. Some may keep a list of guides, and employees or other hunters in the store may be able to give personal references.
Interview several guides over the phone. Request references. Ask how many years they’ve been in business, what their success rate is and whether they are bonded, licensed and insured.
Ask about cancellation policies. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and to know if you’ll be expected to pay should something unexpected happen.
Budget! Prices vary depending on species, length of trip, whether processing is included, etc. Remember to factor in travel, food and lodging costs for the trip. Be sure you understand the package offered, and what’s included vs. what is not.
Tipping is also the standard for good service, and positive feedback in the form of a good review, in writing, is always appreciated.
Becoming a Guide
Experienced hunters who enjoy mentoring others in the field may find that becoming a professional guide is the perfect way to turn a hobby into a career.
In order to become a licensed hunting guide in California, you have to submit an application and pay a fee. The cost of a resident guide license is $215.73 annually (Feb. 1 through Jan. 31 of the following year). A nonresident guide license is $495.75. Employees of a guide who assist in the service and who meet certain criteria are charged $47.38 for a license.
Guides must not have any CDFW violations in the two years preceding their application. A prospective guide with CDFW-related violations may have his or her application denied and licensed guides with violations may have their licenses revoked.
A guide must also purchase and maintain a “performance bond.” The bond is to protect the clients and assure that any deposit a guide receives from a client to reserve a future trip will be returned to the client if the guide cancels and tries to keep the deposit.
For more information on acquiring a guide license, please go to www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing and see Fish and Game Code, sections 2535-2546 and California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 745.
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Media Contacts: Lt. Alan Gregory, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (209) 274-9923 Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988