Rush Ranch Pig Management


Rut - Me worry?
Jan 27, 2013
(Disclaimer: Given our degree of (un)success, I would have posted this under a "Scouting report" forum if that were an option.)
Center Mass drew a SHARE program hunt at Rush Ranch on Grizzly Island (Suisun Marsh) a couple of weekends ago. He was looking for a hunting buddy, so I tagged along with him. The short version is that we didn't see any pigs, but otherwise it was a fun weekend and we both gained a lot of insight about pig hunting in that area. Thanks to NBK for helping us get it organized.
The weather that weekend was forecast to be wet and very windy. We were permitted only archery, crossbow or slugs as method of take, and with wind forecasts of up to 30kts and after some calls and Google Earth recon showing little or no cover, I left my bow at home. CM was kind enough to let me borrow one of his guns for the trip. I got some great insights from Shake N Bake, Casey and Neil, Lungpopper, Randomshot and the guys at Bow N Arrow shop.
We got up there Friday afternoon, rented a car and drove down to check in. The way these hunts are allotted, there was to be another pair of hunters there that weekend. But there was a mud slide north of Paso Robles on 101 and they had to cancel, so we would have the whole place to ourselves. We were treated really well by the caretaker and staff. They cordoned off nearly the entire ranch for the weekend and posted signs to keep hikers out of the area, and gave us everything we needed. It was nice to deal with wardens who really appreciated our presence and wanted it to be a worthwhile trip for us.
After the initial orientation, we scouted the northern (smaller) unit of the ranch. The levee was washed out in one area and the water level was so high, we could tell it was going to be tough to get into the marsh. The driving wind and rain made for tough going at times. I was glad I hadn't brought my bow. We walked the fence line looking for sign, but didn't see enough for me to put out any of my cameras. After about five miles of hiking, we headed home with a plan for Saturday to cover the larger unit to the south.
We were up bright and early on Saturday, and posted up on a knob that gave us a great view of the marsh all the way out to Suisun Slough. Other than a lone coyote making his rounds, we saw nothing. As the light came up, we continued southward scouting for sign. We came across a couple of promising areas and set up my game cams as we moved along. The coyote was yapping at us the whole time. He wandered a little close at one point, affording me an opportunity to check the iron sights on CM's 870: I held over just a bit too high at a range of 160 yards and the slug made a huge splash on the hill right behind him. We didn't hear from him again after that. I was later told by the warden that they didn't want us shooting at the coyotes.... My bad. ;)
Every time I came to an area where I could see a levee or pig track that might afford access into the marsh, I tried it. But I never got more than a couple hundred yards into the marsh before my way was blocked by tulies or an impassable ditch full of water. In all, we put in about 12-13 miles on Saturday in three separate outings.
Sunday we were up and at it again. The cams showed birds and cattle but no pigs. We put in about 5 miles or so, still trying to get into the marsh, but the water level was just too high. I had hip waders, but when I get knee-high in water and still haven't reached mid-channel, I'm not going to risk it.
All in all, it was a spectacular setting, but it was tough going with the water this high. I would think that it would be ideal for a hunt if the weather had been drier: the only pig taken on the ranch this year was at the far end of the marsh, right up against Suisun Slough.
I'll post up a video and some pics in a few.
Here are a couple of pics of the marsh, looking west and south from the high ground of the pasture. That's Suisun Slough in the background.


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Good info...looks like a great spot for waterfowl to live.
Good info...looks like a great spot for waterfowl to live.

Yup, tons. I'm not a waterfowler as you know but Mark was rattling off all the duck and goose subspecies flying or sitting on the water, so maybe he'll comment. So much water, though, you'd need to be pretty lucky hunting from a blind unless you figured out the favorite food sources, which wasn't our game. We could see the CWA facility a couple of miles to our southwest, across the slough. We drove by it Friday afternoon before checking in for our hunt. Spectacular property.
We jumped a few random pond ducks while we were walking. That could have given us a chance if we'd been hunting them. And a lot of pheasants roosting in the marsh near the pastures, that would flush as we approached. That was a surprise.

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Good info...looks like a great spot for waterfowl to live.
Absolutely, in fact: The Suisun Marsh is the largest contiguous brackish marsh remaining on the west coast of North America. It is a critical part of the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary ecosystem. Encompassing 116,000 acres, the Suisun Marsh includes 52,000 acres of managed wetlands, 30,000 acres of bays and sloughs, 27,700 acres of uplands, and 6,300 acres of tidal wetlands. It is home to public waterfowl hunting areas and 158 private duck hunting clubs. The Suisun Marsh serves as the resting and feeding ground for tens of thousands of wintering and migrating waterfowl and provides habitat for more than 221 species of birds. The Suisun Marsh supports more than 40 species of fish and 80% of the state's commercial salmon fishery by providing important tidal rearing areas for juvenile fish allowing them to grow twice as fast as those reared in the upper watershed (improving their survival). The Marsh is also home to the endemic Tule Elk, and Federally Endangered Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse. The Marsh's large open space and proximity to vast urban areas makes it ideally suited for wildlife viewing, hiking, canoeing, and other recreation opportunities.
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