New to Hunting/New to California General Info

Ajt5110

New Member
Jul 23, 2016
17
3
3
32
Just want to thank you all in advance to the time and any advice given.

Long story short I recently moved here from Maryland. I've never gotten the opportunity to hunt and it's been something I've wanted to do for some time as I genuinely enjoy the outdoors.

I'm working on getting myself a good start for next season, both for bear and deer. I have completed my safety course and finally have my first hunting license at the young age of 28

I've been reading all I can read about deer habitats/behavior, the public lands and our lottery system. I wanted to start building points in order to hopefully, later in life, have enough to hunt a better location. Currently I was looking to apply to next years drawing 1)X5B 2)D9 3)D11 for the rifle season. I want to take some time and get comfortable with a bow before I attempt to harvest an animal with it. I was hoping to see if anyone could give some recommendations to zones that may be better in terms of the ability to harvest both bear and deer?

I've tried to find some answers online in terms of how it will work when I attempt to apply to the draw, but I can't seem

I'm genuinely interested in the D-11 wilderness areas as some of them are harder to get to and they provide a large array of habitats. I figured get away from easy access and look for areas that can shooort deer and work my way from there. Does anyone know if the Access Pass counts as a wilderness permit? Or do I have to apply for that separately?

Thank you all for your time and help
 

Nicholas909

Suns out, Guns Out
Sep 1, 2014
594
130
43
121
Yucaipa
Welcome to SCH. California hunting is hard & you need to put in the time scouting to be successful or just lucky. I don't really think there is any zone that is easy especially the OTC tag, like D11. D11 holds a good amount of Bear. But once again it's not an easy area. You can hunt Bear with a rifle in any zone that is open for General Deer season for the most part.

I hunt D14 every year & Hunt up north in D6 and a few other areas.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ajt5110

ilovesprig

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 3, 2012
12,735
11,719
113
Escondido
Welcome Ajt,

Good luck on your endeavors......Ask specific questions and many of us will try to answer to the best of our ability.

ps......I hate a draw system......So, I buy only A-22 & D-16 tags......Plus, I'm old......:blush:
 
Last edited:

Ajt5110

New Member
Jul 23, 2016
17
3
3
32
Welcome to SCH. California hunting is hard & you need to put in the time scouting to be successful or just lucky. I don't really think there is any zone that is easy especially the OTC tag, like D11. D11 holds a good amount of Bear. But once again it's not an easy area. You can hunt Bear with a rifle in any zone that is open for General Deer season for the most part.

I hunt D14 every year & Hunt up north in D6 and a few other areas.


Thanks for taking the time to reply. I apologize for my delay we've been bouncing around hospitals today. I'm glad to hear that the bear population is healthy though and the fact that you can hunt them in all the zones with a rifle is exciting in terms of being able to combine the hunt. I don't mind at all putting in the time to scout and find myself some deer, it's actually something I look forward. I figure if I can start learning the areas now it'll get me a a good position to be successful this next year.

I definitely hope to get a chance to hunt up north in the next few years, they have some awesome terrain and growth up there. If you don't mind me asking, when you're glassine is there a technique that works better than another? Are you mostly seeing deer bedded once the heat of the the day starts kicking in? Are you masking your scent with any animal scent or using sage as a scent? Should I invest in a spotting scope? Right now all I have is good pair of binos that I was thinking of getting a tripod for to help glass comfortably longer.

Do you spot and stalk? Or have you found more succes in finding a productive area and setting up for a shot where they've shown a continual habit?

Sorry for bombarding with questions. I genuinely want to learn as much as I can, some things I can't find online.
 

Ajt5110

New Member
Jul 23, 2016
17
3
3
32
Welcome Ajt,

Good luck on your endeavors......Ask specific questions and many of us will try to answer to the best of our ability.

ps......I hate a draw system......So, I buy only A-22 & D-16 tags......Plus, I'm old......:blush:


I appreciate the good vibes and the input on the draw system I looked into D-16 at first but I didn't know if I should give the second draw spot to an over the counter tag? I figured I'd try my luck and if I didn't get the D-9? If you don't mind me asking for the OTC tags does the list of expected OTC come out before the draw or is that determined once the draw has been completed? D-16 is closer to home (I live in Oceanside) so I don't mind the idea of that at all. It seems the archery seasons are pretty good out here, I'll definitely start having to put in more time on a bow to get myself ready to take advantage of that.

Let's say I'm able to harvest an animal. Once I place the tag on it, who is able to validate the kill?


When I stalk, during the season, am I allowed to do so with my weapon loaded? I had planned to keep the weapon on my pack with a magazine in but only chamber a round once I'm ready to shoot. Sorry if my questions sounds incredibly ignorant but I couldn't find a clear answers on some of these so far.

Once the season starts you can shoot sunrise to sunset correct? Let's say I'm set up at a location on opening day and I get there hours early to setup before the morning movement. At what point is my weapon allowed to be loaded? At sunrise once it's legal to shoot or can it be at the ready before then? I just want to make sure I'm going through the process correctly and not do something I'm not supposed to.

I've been hoping to sign up for some of those advanced hunters ed courses to see if I can soak up some of that knowledge as well, hopefully one of those will available a little closer to where I live.

I figure I'll spend as much time as I can in the field learning and glassing. Ask as many questions to everyone willing and able to share some knowledge and hopefully put together an enjoyable season that I can build from.
 

Nicholas909

Suns out, Guns Out
Sep 1, 2014
594
130
43
121
Yucaipa
When I stalk, during the season, am I allowed to do so with my weapon loaded? I had planned to keep the weapon on my pack with a magazine in but only chamber a round once I'm ready to shoot. Sorry if my questions sounds incredibly ignorant but I couldn't find a clear answers on some of these so far.

3 years ago I missed an opportunity to shot the biggest buck i've ever seen in D-14 because I had my rifle strapped to my pack, 2 years ago I missed a buck on the last day because I got excited and forgot to load my rifle, this past season I missed on opportunity for a 30' shot due to not having a round in the chamber & my scope caps still on.
Just remember to always be ready, but as safe as possible, & always keep the safety on till your ready to shot.

Are you mostly seeing deer bedded once the heat of the the day starts kicking in? Are you masking your scent with any animal scent or using sage as a scent? Should I invest in a spotting scope? Right now all I have is good pair of binos that I was thinking of getting a tripod for to help glass comfortably longer.

I Hardly ever bring my spotting scope. I just use my binos with a tripod or a shooting stick with a removable head.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ajt5110

xjon

Active Member
Jul 26, 2014
563
236
43
AJT- you are asking lots of different (and good if not great) questions. Might be hard for SCH peeps to answer them in one post. You might want to ask specific question per post and it will be easier to follow.

I suggest when you scout for next season you carry a rifle and pack and get used to it. Keep in mind muzzle direction and safety at all times. Hook up with another hunter for advices and tips when actively hunting. You will answer your own questions on when is the right time to chamber a round. For example, I have a round chambered when actively stalking or sitting in a blind. When moving spots or hiking I'm not chambered. If Im hunting with someone, I only chamber when we have discussed the plan and I am up front.

When glassing-get comfortable. Get comfortable with binos. You will have to train your eyes. Theres wasted time glassing and effective glassing....know/feel the difference. All part of training.

Go with someone who's a seasoned hunter and learn. Pick and choose which habits are good and bad.

Best advice from SCH....get off the couch.
 

Ajt5110

New Member
Jul 23, 2016
17
3
3
32
3 years ago I missed an opportunity to shot the biggest buck i've ever seen in D-14 because I had my rifle strapped to my pack, 2 years ago I missed a buck on the last day because I got excited and forgot to load my rifle, this past season I missed on opportunity for a 30' shot due to not having a round in the chamber & my scope caps still on.
Just remember to always be ready, but as safe as possible, & always keep the safety on till your ready to shot.



I Hardly ever bring my spotting scope. I just use my binos with a tripod or a shooting stick with a removable head.


Thanks a TON for sharing those painfully learned lessons. I can't thank you enough for saving me the same pain of missing a chance for those reasons.

I'll go ahead and get myself a tripod for the binos so I can see how that works for me and adjust from there. Do you suggest a shooting stick for the rifle or will bipods work in this terrain?

I've seen a lot of people using trail cams, are they worth the investment?
 

Ajt5110

New Member
Jul 23, 2016
17
3
3
32
AJT- you are asking lots of different (and good if not great) questions. Might be hard for SCH peeps to answer them in one post. You might want to ask specific question per post and it will be easier to follow.

I suggest when you scout for next season you carry a rifle and pack and get used to it. Keep in mind muzzle direction and safety at all times. Hook up with another hunter for advices and tips when actively hunting. You will answer your own questions on when is the right time to chamber a round. For example, I have a round chambered when actively stalking or sitting in a blind. When moving spots or hiking I'm not chambered. If Im hunting with someone, I only chamber when we have discussed the plan and I am up front.

When glassing-get comfortable. Get comfortable with binos. You will have to train your eyes. Theres wasted time glassing and effective glassing....know/feel the difference. All part of training.

Go with someone who's a seasoned hunter and learn. Pick and choose which habits are good and bad.

Best advice from SCH....get off the couch.


Thanks a ton for your time and my apologies for the barrage of questions.

I absolutely agree that the best learning happens during the practical applications. Unfortunately I've only got one other friend in the area and neither of us are experienced hunters. We've spent a lot of time in the outdoors in different capacities but never hunted. I'll start getting myself out there and learning here after the holidays and hopefully will report back with some more questions and thankful for all the advice I've received.

I'll make sure I take a book and take notes of what I see and where (winds/times/locations) and hopefully I'll have some good questions to ask.
 

xjon

Active Member
Jul 26, 2014
563
236
43
Trail cams worth the investment yes. As long a you make sure you are not investing for someone else. Plenty of thefts reported so if you leave one behind make sure its not at a convenient place.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ajt5110

Ajt5110

New Member
Jul 23, 2016
17
3
3
32
Trail cams worth the investment yes. As long a you make sure you are not investing for someone else. Plenty of thefts reported so if you leave one behind make sure its not at a convenient place.

Understood. Thanks for the heads up, I'll make sure I place them less visible/obvious locations.
 

baboltin

Well-Known Member
Jan 1, 2014
1,548
315
83
As far as optics I use a set of 15x50 which a lot of people would probably so is over kill, most would use 12x50 but I personally love my 15s. As far as spotting scopes for me local hunting I don't typically carry mine because I do a lot of hiking and don't want the extra weight, although there has been a couple times where I regret that decsision. I do use my spotting Scope a lot when I hunt more open sage areas like in the sierras and also when I go out of state.

If you live in Oceanside why go all the way to d9 to hunt ?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ajt5110

Nicholas909

Suns out, Guns Out
Sep 1, 2014
594
130
43
121
Yucaipa
I'll go ahead and get myself a tripod for the binos so I can see how that works for me and adjust from there. Do you suggest a shooting stick for the rifle or will bipods work in this terrain?

Make sure the tripod is light and compact with a good head. I have a bipod on all my rifles. But I never use it and I only use the shooting stick for my binos
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ajt5110

Ajt5110

New Member
Jul 23, 2016
17
3
3
32
As far as optics I use a set of 15x50 which a lot of people would probably so is over kill, most would use 12x50 but I personally love my 15s. As far as spotting scopes for me local hunting I don't typically carry mine because I do a lot of hiking and don't want the extra weight, although there has been a couple times where I regret that decsision. I do use my spotting Scope a lot when I hunt more open sage areas like in the sierras and also when I go out of state.

If you live in Oceanside why go all the way to d9 to hunt ?

Baboltin thank you for the reply.

I'll definitely hold off on the spotting scope for now and look into getting myself a pair of 12/15 x 50 Binos. I imagine the 15x50 allows you to make up for some of the viewing power a spotting scope would provide, which makes sense. I have a pair of 10x42 Binos, are those going to be essentially useless out here? I bought them under the impression that they'd work well.

If you don't mind me asking when you're glassing, are you focusing on certain areas in the landscape? Shade Spots? Sage Bushes? I've been mentioned ineffective glassing, I'm hoping to minimize that. Are you posting up on a high viewing point and working glassing your way through the valleys? When you're glassing do you ensure the wind is blowing in the opposite direction of the area you're planning to glass?

To be honest I was planning to hunt the D-11 Zone, since it is closer and has a good amount of wilderness areas. I applied to D-9 because I wanted to at least put in for one drawing tag that I had a chance of getting. It's definitely a drive but the ratio of number of deer harvested to tags issued made it look appealing. I figured I would spend most of my time in D-11 but check out D-9 if I had a chance. Do you have any other suggestions? I'm open to different zones and ideas
 

Ajt5110

New Member
Jul 23, 2016
17
3
3
32
Make sure the tripod is light and compact with a good head. I have a bipod on all my rifles. But I never use it and I only use the shooting stick for my binos

Thanks for the reply Nicholas909. If I had to choose between a shooting stick and a tripod for the Binos, which of the two would you suggest? I'm trying to work my way through the "essential" gear and then slowly but surely buy the more gear.

Do you have a Bino strap on your shooting stick to lay them on it, or are you just sitting them on top? (I know it sounds stupid, but honestly I don't know any better).
 

Nicholas909

Suns out, Guns Out
Sep 1, 2014
594
130
43
121
Yucaipa
Do you have a Bino strap on your shooting stick to lay them on it, or are you just sitting them on top?
I have an adaptor that screws onto the front of my binos, and then that's screw's onto my shooting stick. I would suggest a shooting stick with a removable "V" head.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ajt5110

turkeyman 85

Active Member
Feb 24, 2014
205
64
28
I would get a tripod it would be 100 times more steady. With quick detaching plates. It would allow you to switch quickly between optics. I use a spotter also and carry it during scouting and hunting season. Makes for a better glassing experience when nothing is shaking. I know some guys don't carry a spotter when hunting but for me it just confirms bucks or any game at longer distances. From there I decide if I'm gonna head out for a stalk.
 
  • Like
Reactions: troyt and Ajt5110

Ajt5110

New Member
Jul 23, 2016
17
3
3
32
I have an adaptor that screws onto the front of my binos, and then that's screw's onto my shooting stick. I would suggest a shooting stick with a removable "V" head.

I appreciate the description of how it works. I looked up the items just to put eyes on them and get a better understanding as well. Are you generally sitting when you do your glassing or for the most part have you found that standing is more comfortable/effective? I know if you're on the actual stalk a smaller profile will matter, but for general glassing which have you found best?

When you do scout and sit are you doing so on one of those little chairs I've seen few people carry or just against the pack? I'm sure I will find out what works best for me with time but just so I have a general idea before I get out there.
 

Ajt5110

New Member
Jul 23, 2016
17
3
3
32
I would get a tripod it would be 100 times more steady. With quick detaching plates. It would allow you to switch quickly between optics. I use a spotter also and carry it during scouting and hunting season. Makes for a better glassing experience when nothing is shaking. I know some guys don't carry a spotter when hunting but for me it just confirms bucks or any game at longer distances. From there I decide if I'm gonna head out for a stalk.


Turkeyman, you actually brought up a point I was thinking about in terms of stability. I imagine a shooting stick would be quicker/simpler to deploy compared to a tripod, but you do sacrifice the stability aspect since you only have one leg. I was thinking that a tripod would be great for long range/long time glassing and the shooting stick would be awesome to have during the stalk for both the Bino and the rifle (not that I'd know any better). I think I may try my friends tripod/shooting stick in Colorado this January and see what suits me best.

What spotting scope are you using? I've heard some amazing things about Vortex (warranty and quality) but I honestly don't have the capitol to spend $500 on a spotting scope at the moment. I was looking at some Bushnell Legend Ultra HD for ~$270? (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001MYESEC/ref=ox_sc_act_title_6?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER) Do you have any recommendations for a starter spotting scope that will work within a budget of under $300? I've been diving through the interwebs and thats the best deal I could find in terms of quality of glass and price at around that price range.

I know that here in Cali and the areas I'll start off hunting it may not be a true necessity but I was hoping to take part in some out of state hunts as well (Colorado) and I figured it may prove really useful out there.
 

turkeyman 85

Active Member
Feb 24, 2014
205
64
28
Well I might be willing to part with mine. I have a vortex diamondback spotter. It's good for a starter scope. I picked that one over the viper just cause of the weight. Viper HD is freaking heavy. I strictly use vortex optics,love them. And honestly, I depoly my tripod system pretty quick. It's just getting use to the fire drill. Knowing your gear is key. As in where and how it's attached to your pack. I had everything packed away when I first spotted my deer in corona. Got everything out and was glassing within seconds. Also if it wasn't for my spotting scope I would've never seen the buck I took. He was bedded at 600 yards. All I saw was some sort of movement,so I put the spotter on the movement and therehe was. The other bucks were a spike and one that was broken off. That's what got my attention first and by glassing off the tripod I was able to catch the little movements of the shooter buck. And that same day just before my shot my buddy wouldn't have gotten his buck if it wasnt for the tripod and spotter. I was able to confirm he was legal at 200 yards or so.
I am a firm believer of tripods for bumps, they let you catch the smallest movements that you wouldn't see my free handing or mounting to a shooting stick. My buddy was using a stick to steady his glass when I was trying to tell him about a deer at about 700 or so yards away. I was watching him lick his nose and he could even find it. I told him to sit behind my binos and he couldn't believe how I saw the buck. He was looking at the same spot just couldn't make him out.
But everyone hunts with their choice of gear. I just know what works for me. Sorry about the long post. But I'm really into tripods as you can tell. Lol I wish I could afford an even better one than what I got. Hope this helps.
 

About us

  • SCHoutdoors was created in January of 2011 by a few people who love the outdoors. The main goal is still the same – bring people together who enjoy the outdoors and share their knowledge and experience.
    Outdoors in the West, Hunting gear reviews, Big Game, Small Game, Upland Game, Waterfowl, Varmint, Bow Hunting, long Range Rifles, Reloading, Taxidermy, Salt WaterFishing, Freshwater Fishing, Buy-Sell-Trade on Classifieds and Cooking/Recipes
    All things outdoors…come join us, learn, contribute and become part of the SCHoutdoors community.

Quick Navigation

User Menu