Welcome

Hi, my name is Victor and I will happily be your guide for hunting tours in the California Clavey River area. I can advise on all planning aspects and will be happy to make sure you everything you need for a successful hunt. I am also available for multi day overnight camping trips where we can cover a lot of ground and you can get to know the true beauty of nature around here.

Victor Ashworth

Use my contact page to arrange a meeting or a phone call and I will get an information package to you immediately. I have over 40 years experience in hunting and I grew up in this area so I know exactly where to go at different times of year.

Hope to see you soon,

Victor

Hunting Gear For 2016

One of the first questions I usually get from people booking my tours is what kind of gear I recommend. Local people to the area and those that have hunted here in California before kind of know what to expect in the different months of the year from a weather perspective. But for the benefit of people travelling from further afield I have put together this list of essentials.

1 – Rifle Equipment

While I do have a connection for renting hunting rifles, I generally recommend people bring their own. I know that it sometimes isn’t possible, but I found that hunters who use their own equipment are far more successful. I ill also only bring people along who have a scope mounted and zeroed, as a trip can be cut very short if this has to be done on the day. For best hunting scope options I recommend checking out ScopeAndSpotters.net.

In recent years I have also been asked whether a hunting rifle is a must have. The answer is that it is preferential but not really essential. I often have people arrive with an AR15, and as long as they are familiar with the firearm and it has the best AR 15 scope attached attached I am perfectly ok with that.

I carry a side arm and shotgun for protection, just in case we get too close to a bear. You can do the same, but it is not a necessity.

2 – Clothing

Camouflage is essential, but I can provide the necessary vests. The important thing is that you dress to the time of year. Summers get very warm and into early winter it gets quite wet and cold. I will not bring people along that arrive in shorts and t-shirts, and yes, that has happened. Be serious and use some common sense. I recommend you ring me a few days before your booking to check the weather forecast.

3 – Food

I will provide packed lunches for all day trips. On multi day trips I will pack some extra, but generally we try to hunt for stuff that we eat. You will need to bring water bottles and these can be filled before we leave and along the way. I will not carry water for you!

Food will be distributed before we leave and dependent on the day and distance travelled we will make sure to have breaks at adequate intervals. Your fitness levels will dictate how far we go, but this will all have been prearranged.

4 – Ammunition

Don’t go all Rambo on it and bring hundreds of rounds. On most trips I do we use less than a box. Just make sure you have the right ammo for your rifle as you do not want to be out in the forest with no ammo. I will send you minimum and maximum specifications for the type of animal we are hunting. Please don’t arrive with a .50 caliber rifle, as I will send you home.

5 – Digital Equipment

I will carry a GPS as a backup in case of bad weather or fog, but I know the area like the back of my hand. Do bring a small digital camera, as there will be plenty of photo opportunities other than the trophy pics. Other than that, everything else is just added weight, so don’t turn up with your iPads and laptops!

6 – Camping Gear

tentIf you are booking a multi-day trip then you will need camping gear. Dependent on the time of year we will need tents, but in summer it is perfectly fine to sleep under the night sky. I have tents available for rent, but you should bring your own sleeping bag and some changes of clothes.

 

Common sense prevails when it comes to hunting, but if you are uncertain, just give me a call before the trip.

Hunting Management Part 2

For Part 1 click here.

I hunt one of these areas and I live with those consequences. I quickly realized the need that I manage myself and my hunting areas because unfortunately my Government has not at all the same goal as me and most hunters.

Managing your own area is pretty simple; I summarize here what I apply in my territory.

  • First, the most important rule is that I harvest every male Fawn and buck a year and a half or older.
  • I try to have the best possible census of deer that occupy my territories
  • I try to count the number of females that live on my territories, less obvious than for males but using a computer, you can enlarge the photos to recognize detail (example: a task at a specific place, scar, particular sign, female only, female with a fawn, white and female with 2 fawns etc.).

 

At the end of the summer I have a good overview of the deer that use my territory. This is what will allow me to make my choice of harvest. Of course I dream of harvesting a mature Buck each season but unfortunately, this is not my reality. Before I dream of a mature buck, I first have to have males on my territories and know their ages.

deer 2It is during my exploration based on hunting trips in spring that I can know if males are present on my territories. They will leave me signs (chafing, erasures) and the more I find the better my chances to see males of all ages. Signs may leave me clues about the size of the buck who has rubbed a tree, ex: the height of the rubbing, the diameter of the tree, marks of the plume on the tree, etc.

Thereafter, my cameras will take care of the rest of the work. I install cameras in specific areas and on different paths to have the maximum amount of information on the use of the territory by deer and this contributes to my census.

I class all my photos and time lines are created. Each month has its file and the trails or the installed cameras are listed (ex: trail corner of the field). In this way, I can have all the information I need to make my census.

It is following this census that I’ll decide what will be my harvest for the coming hunting season so I can make a crop that will be positive and not negative for my next years, at least from what I can control (ex: winter hard, predation, poaching).

The harvest of females is important to balance the herd and the census will dictate the number of females that can be harvested. The option to harvest a female without Fawn can have a bad perception among some but I prefer to leave the mother with her young what, in my opinion, will help them to face their first winter.

For the males, it is the amount and the age of these which will dictate my choices. If several males of different ages are present, I will opt for one of the oldest available bucks. On the other hand, if no mature male is present (as males of a year and a half or two years and a half) I’ll abstain from taking one of these males and let them become of age. As they say, I am winning in only a year or two. My choice will then be to pick a female without fawn.

The area I hunt offers the possibility of the double killing. Used in the right way, antlerless permit can help in balancing my livestock. Let me explain. On one of my territories, the number of deer is respectable but at capacity for females. If I go out to win the double killing, I will try to pick a female without Fawn during archery season.

In this way, I just removed a female and so I contribute to balance the male/female ratio. I have good meat in the freezer and if I can’t take a mature male, my hunt will have still been successful. I insist on the fact that I harvest a female Fawn and adult. I never hunt fawn for a simple reason or bad luck takes high to take a male fawn. My goal is not to “fill my tag” but simply to use this permit to foster better management of my territory.

It is better to collect the female during the bow/crossbow season for the following reasons; females have not mated so the efforts of a male will have been wiped out. Furthermore, you remove females available for the next hunting period i.e. the period of the rut. If females are available in the territory, males must be more active if they want to mate. Your chances of seeing them during the hours of hunting will be thus increased.

Finally it would be unthinkable for me today to hunt deer without prior taken knowledge of the individuals who occupy my territory and take no known side effects. I strongly invite you to start acting on your territories and contribute towards better management.

Hunting Territory Management Part 1

Management Of Your Hunting Territory

In 2016 we cannot talk of hunting deer without talking about management. The first time I heard of QDM management, I had the following reaction “It’s just an idea for hunters to collect trophies”.

I admit that I was skeptical, but after several hours of reading articles in various journals, books, the site chevreuil.net, as well as DVDs and training evenings, I now know this management technique and today I can only thank for sharing with us this philosophy.

SONY DSC

If we go back a few decades, herds of deer were at a very low level in Canada and the United States. To help increase the number of deer, the buck Act was introduced. No levy of antlerless deer and a minimum of 7 cm for the male were harvesting rules. After several years of applying this management approach, in Canada and in the United States, deer herds began to increase gradually and this was greeted with joy by hunters who, a few years ago hardly managed to find any deer.

After several years of incorporating that regulation a problem began to appear in an explosion of herds. We continued to collect only males which led as a result to an imbalance of the male female ratio almost everywhere in North America. On the other hand, in some States, our neighbors to the South have seen the same problem and solved it before the herds are too unbalanced.

They have authorized the removal of females and have educated their hunters to better manage their territory in a manner to that female male ratio is more balanced, i.e. about one male to one or two females in a habitat that would have never known a hunting pressure. Remember in Canada, the opening of a new area that was never hunted with firearms, mature males were present in a quantity and beautiful bucks were harvested during the first years.

A herd heavily balanced towards females is a stock that I would describe as “sick”. Let me explain. If it is hole, several anomalies appear. A year and a half male mating, females who fall into heat again since there are enough males to fertilize them during the first rut causing late fawn births. These fawns can be seen in September, tiny with even their white dots. These fawns that were born later did not have the best quality of food available in June and it will remain smaller, weaker and often, they are the ones that we find dead in winter, too weak to pass through their first winter.

And it is not counting the number of females who have not been fertilized due to the lack of males available on their territory. Moreover, mature females often refuse to be coupled by young males. Nature is thus made to ensure good genetics. We often hear the expression of “sterile females” in recent years.

deerIt is specifically with these concerns that QDM was born in the United States. Meanwhile, in Canada, things moved slower and they are still applying the law of the male by continuing to create our flocks. If I am not mistaken, it was until the late 80’s or early 90s that first female permits were beginning to see the light of day, by drawing lots, and in very limited quantities. Meanwhile, the number of deer skyrockets always with an imbalance of the ratio.

This resulted in pressure applied to the Department to reduce herds in some areas where agriculture is very present and where there were many car accidents involving deer. Result, a multitude of special permits become available such as permits for double slaughter, allowed for landowner etc. to so reduce the number of deer per square Km. Taking grown deer without horns, females, fawns and this, without any protection to young males had the result that the quality and the quantity of the deer that inhabit these areas has deteriorated in a deplorable way.

Identifying Black Bears

Identification

Total length: 137-188 cm.

Shoulder height: 66-91 cm.

Weight: Male 115-270 kg; Female 92-140 kg.

Maximum weight in the fall due to large fat reserves and minimum in the spring following the winter fasting.

Colour: black coat; sometimes white spot V-shaped chest; end of the yellow snout. Sometimes in north western States and Canada cinnamon brown coat.

black bear 2External characteristic features: robust and stocky body; small eyes; muzzle tapering towards the tip; prominent and rounded ears; short neck; sturdy legs with 5 fingers and short curved claws; short tail (7-18 cm).

Habitat

It inhabits dense forests deciduous or coniferous, slash and burn, brush, sometimes tundra. The bear will regularly attend streams, rivers, lakes and swamps.

Active mainly at dawn and dusk, it moves also during the day or night. It easily climbs trees to feed or find refuge, swims skillfully and runs quickly (55 kph).

Between early October and late November until March or April, it overwinters in a den (cave, crevice, hollow shaft, reversed or under a conifer strain) on twigs of spruce and dead wood litter. It comes in lethargy: its body temperature and respiratory rate lower.

Range: male 60 to 173 square km. female 5 to 50 square km. Usually solitary, it tolerates the proximity of other individuals to sites where food is abundant.

Food

It is omnivorous. Plant material constitutes about 75% of its diet; Carrion, insects, mammals and fish make up the rest.

In the spring, it feeds on stems, buds and roots of various herbaceous plants, small mammals, young deer and carrion.

In summer, it feeds on insects (bees, wasps, ants, termites) under stones, in the trunks of trees and rotten strains; fish, berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, cranberries, berries of saskatoons and camarines) and honey make up the rest.

In the fall, hazelnuts, acorns, beechnuts, and apples add to his diet.

In winter, during hibernation, it stops feeding.

He also visits dumps and inhabited areas to feed on garbage (food waste, paper, cardboard, rags, twine, wood).

Reproduction

Season: Summer, June and July.

Mode: The sexual maturity is reached for females at 3 or 4 years, one year later for males. Gestation lasts approximately 220 days, but the embryo begins to develop in the fall (October or November) and the young are born between mid-January and early February, during hibernation. Number of 1 to 6 (on average 2 to 3), they are naked, blind, and particularly small (about 20 cm) and poorly developed. They are weaned after 5 months, fairly autonomous in 6 or 8 months, but remain with the mother between 16 and 18 months. It ardently defends its young. The female breeds usually only every two years (if she loses her offspring soon enough, the female can reproduce two successive summers).

Introduction To Black Bear Hunting

In California, the black bears are hunted in the spring and/or fall depending on the chosen hunting area. Exact dates change from year to year so make sure to call us or contact the department of wildlife and fisheries. The black bear is found almost everywhere in our forests and regularly frequents areas where there are water sources. It is omnivorous, feeding on almost everything he can get his teeth into. Except during the rut, black bears live alone. Like several other big game, he regularly uses the same tracks and is more active in the morning and late in the day.

black bear 1The choice of the bear hunting site is paramount. We must find clear signs of passage or faeces before setting up for a shoot and preferably close to a water point. It is rare to see black bears in our survey outputs. Very cunning, he sees the vast remote human scent and is extremely suspicious. A stalking point at a minimum height of three meters (9 feet) is suggested regardless of hunting gear used. It takes bait at a suitable distance to the hunting gear used and the geography of the selected area. With a bow or crossbow a distance of 20 meters is required while with a firearm, the bait can be 50 meters from the lookout. To attract the bears quickly to your bait, an odor bomb is required and your bait should be oriented to allow you to shoot easily in the vital part of the animal. Baiting the site must be done regularly to fool the bear easier and this is something we take care of.