First CA Deer Hunt

Kopfjager

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Joined
May 1, 2017
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27
Location
Bakersfield, California
Well actually, it's my first year deer hunting ever. I am 33 years old, and for all intents and purpose, a first generation hunter in my family. The time is drawing nigh to submit tag applications, and I am in need of advice as to what zone I should put in for.

I live in Bakersfield, and would prefer to not have to travel more than a few hours, as I would like to do some scouting on foot and get a few training hikes in the area I plan to hunt. Any recommendations?

As always, I appreciate any and all input, and look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Nick
 

Cant hit em

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jul 28, 2014
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3,240
Archery or rifle ? Pick a zone you can go to alot. Down there maybe Azone or D7,8 ,9,10 . You will be hunting general zones , so Id just pick the one you can get to and explore with boots on the ground most often to begin with and learn


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paleraider

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Jun 7, 2016
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Idaho
Welcome to hunting! I 2nd what was stated above, pick a spot you are willing to travel to frequently. Yet I would also say pick one that others would be less likely to travel to.

If you are brand new to hunting I would recommend rifle over archery, based on your handle I am quite certain you prefer rifles. Your first few hunts will probably be a steep learning curve as you have no one to show you the ropes. If feasible look up some hunting organizations and see if you can tag along with any locals on their hunt for a few days. Otherwise get out there and get comfy in the woods and best of luck on your hunt!
 

Pro953

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Sep 27, 2016
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513
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California
I was in your exact situation when I started out. Find some pockets close to you and dedicate time to them unless you can take regular weekend trips to an area further out to get to know the spots. Lots of good dove, rabbit and coyote hunting closer to home for you to whet you appetite and get experience in the off season as well.


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Bubblehide

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May 13, 2015
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Your surrounded by California Mule Deer, unless you head toward the coast and a bit north. If I were you, I would put in for an X zone (1st deer tag application only), so that you start to build some points (we have a draw system, with a few zones being a guaranteed draw.

Keep in mind that we have some low deer herd population numbers, as such, it takes the average new hunter at least 5 years to harvest their first buck. Unless they have a good mentor.

Considering your location, I'd suggest you use your second deer tag for D13, since it is very close to you. For your first deer tag, as I said I advise you to put in for an X zone. X10 is the closest to you, but it is a tough hunt. If you draw X10, I´d be happy to steer you in the right direction, possibly do some scouting with you. You will draw D13, I´d be happy to do some scouting there with you, as despite having a real honey hole, I have been wanting to check a few new areas out.
 

lif

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Nov 7, 2012
Messages
702
I live and hunt in NorCal but don't know a lot about so cal hunting. A zone is very much private land especially in the southern portions from what I understand. If you need any info on NorCal zones I can help. Shoot me pm if you want info for up north
 
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Kopfjager

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May 1, 2017
Messages
27
Location
Bakersfield, California
Your surrounded by California Mule Deer, unless you head toward the coast and a bit north. If I were you, I would put in for an X zone (1st deer tag application only), so that you start to build some points (we have a draw system, with a few zones being a guaranteed draw.

Keep in mind that we have some low deer herd population numbers, as such, it takes the average new hunter at least 5 years to harvest their first buck. Unless they have a good mentor.

Considering your location, I'd suggest you use your second deer tag for D13, since it is very close to you. For your first deer tag, as I said I advise you to put in for an X zone. X10 is the closest to you, but it is a tough hunt. If you draw X10, I´d be happy to steer you in the right direction, possibly do some scouting with you. You will draw D13, I´d be happy to do some scouting there with you, as despite having a real honey hole, I have been wanting to check a few new areas out.

I was thinking a D13 tag would be good, given that it will let me hunt D11 as well! Thank you for your guidance! I will probably follow this to the tee, since X10 wouldn't be a bad drive either, should I manage to draw. You recommend X10 over X9a? I know there are fewer tags, but wonder if the longer and later season wouldn't give better chances?

I'd love to take you up on your offer to do some scouting together! Aside from what I've read/watched/listened to, I am completely new at this, and am looking to learn all I can!
 

Mischief209

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Sep 29, 2015
Messages
241
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Central,Ca
Bubble covered most everything, only thing ill add is you've had some big wild fires down there recently. Those are perfect places to start your search. The deer love the new green foliage that sprouts after those fires and its a tad easier to see.
 

Bubblehide

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May 13, 2015
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..., since X10 wouldn't be a bad drive either, should I manage to draw. You recommend X10 over X9a? I know there are fewer tags, but wonder if the longer and later season wouldn't give better chances?

I'd love to take you up on your offer to do some scouting together! Aside from what I've read/watched/listened to, I am completely new at this, and am looking to learn all I can!

X9a is a better zone. However, in the past you have needed a few points to draw it, where as X10 was pretty much a sure draw if you put in for it as your first choice. Due to the tag cuts in most of the X zones, I expect to see changes to the draw odds of other zones, and at least a couple of the D zones to go premium, but one never knows. Although you can find deer dispersed throughout both of these zones, in general, the deer utilize different parts of the zone as the season progresses. During mild winters, many of the deer never reach their traditional wintering grounds. In short, early in the season, the deer are still utilizing their summer range. As the temps drop, their summer range is no longer viable, and they move to what I refer to as their staging areas (not traditional winter grounds), still often bedding on north east and north facing slopes, but in close proximity to south facing slopes, where they generally feed at night. There of course are always exceptions to the above. So, knowing the ecosystem condition, and how it affects the deer can be very important in filling a tag in an area with low population numbers. Keep in mind that a 100 to 1, doe to buck ratio is common. So many manage to find deer, but finding the bucks is often an extremely difficult for many hunters.

D13, the deer are non migratory, although they do still have wintering areas. Shoot me your number in a PM, and I'll be happy to chat with you about meeting up.
 
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Kopfjager

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Bakersfield, California
Ok... I am on DFW's website putting in my application and am trying to make a little sense of it. Let's say I put in for X9c as my first choice, and say D13 for my second. If I'm not successful for the X draw, do I get a point and a D13 tag? Or do I put in for all X zones for my 3 choices on my first tag and forfeit the tag fee in exchange for a point, then put in for a second OTC tag for D13?
 

Mischief209

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Sep 29, 2015
Messages
241
Location
Central,Ca
First one. You get a point if you dont draw x9c. Then they move to your second app. Since d13 doesnt sell out you could get crazy and put 3 x zones but its not really possible to draw a x zone on a 2nd or 3rd app. So its a waist of time. After the draw they would credit acoount and you would have to go down and buy the d13.

Just put x9c first and d13 second. If you dont draw a random on x9 then they will send you a d13 and 1 point.
 
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lif

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Nov 7, 2012
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California any second choice draw does not eat your points. Second or third choice draws will still earn you a preference point.
 

Mischief209

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Sep 29, 2015
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241
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Central,Ca
Read back a bit and looked at the numbers, you have a possibility to draw x10 as a 2nd and still getting a point.So you could go
X9c
X10
D13

You have a good chance at either x zone.
 

Ozzymodel70

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Feb 23, 2013
Messages
99
Location
Hollister, CA
Congrats and good luck on your new adventures. you got some good advise here already. ill just add don't get discouraged buy all the negative road hunters. a lot of us know the type. "the we aint seeing shit all day" type theirs ALOT! of them usually out here. But the good thing about it is a little hard work will get you in some good country. the deer are there you just have to work for them. good luck work hard and don't give up!
 
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Kopfjager

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May 1, 2017
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Location
Bakersfield, California
Well, I put in for X10 and D13 per Bubble's recommendation, and in hopes that I'll get some much appreciated and valued time gleaning from his great experience! Picked up a Pig tag as well. Here's to hoping this is a good first big-game hunting year! Thanks again to everyone for your input!

Nick
 

Countrystalker16

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Aug 29, 2016
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33
Location
Tehachapi, Ca
I know you put in you tags but I used to live in Bakersfield and live in Tehachapi now. Good to see another hunter from my area! D8 is a good zone with a low amount of deer in certain spots. Cant exactly say where cause they migrate a lot and are I haven't hunted the area a ton but have explored it a lot. Not an awesome zone, but is a lot closer and easy to get to because it goes from Lake Isabella and pretty far north. Hope you can get the tags you applied for and good luck this season! Also if you have a pig tag I would ask around and talk to guys who own property in Caliente or Glenville. They are all private property but some guys will allow hunting. Lots of pigs in there if you get the right property.
 
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Kopfjager

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Location
Bakersfield, California
I know you put in you tags but I used to live in Bakersfield and live in Tehachapi now. Good to see another hunter from my area! D8 is a good zone with a low amount of deer in certain spots. Cant exactly say where cause they migrate a lot and are I haven't hunted the area a ton but have explored it a lot. Not an awesome zone, but is a lot closer and easy to get to because it goes from Lake Isabella and pretty far north. Hope you can get the tags you applied for and good luck this season! Also if you have a pig tag I would ask around and talk to guys who own property in Caliente or Glenville. They are all private property but some guys will allow hunting. Lots of pigs in there if you get the right property.

Thanks Country! I actually have access to a bit of acreage up above Twin Oaks, so I will definitely be on the lookout for some pigs up there as well. My dad grew up in Tehachapi, and my grandparents had a ranch and bred Arabian horses, and I'm really wishing they still did! I did spend many a summer day up there as a kid though, hiking around old tribal grounds, learning to shoot, ride horses, and work!
 
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