All posts by Chris Cocoles

Dermestid Beetles: Cleaning Your Trophy Mount

Beetle 5 Double

Photos courtesy of Tim Hovey


As hunters, we always want to remember our adventures in the field. Sharing our trials and successes of the hunt with others is as old as the activity itself. Whether it’s taking photos of the event or preserving part of the animal to commemorate a milestone, remembering our field adventures is an important part of the hunting tradition.
Most hunters opt for the standard shoulder mount to immortalize a successful trip. They’re stylish, traditional, and the workmanship of many of today’s taxidermists is amazing. However, they can be expensive, bulky and take several months to a year to get back to you depending on how busy your taxidermist is.
Many outdoors enthusiasts may not realize there is a cheaper, and in my opinion, more attractive alternative to the standard shoulder mount to remember a successful hunt. A European mount is simply the skull of an animal cleaned, whitened and suitable for display. Over the years, the techniques used to process an animal head into a European mount have evolved.
For cleaning skulls, taxidermists no longer prefer the old methods of soaking a head in water until the meat falls off (maceration) or boiling the skull. Serious skull cleaners use dermestid beetles.
For close to 15 years now, I’ve maintained several large colonies of dermestid beetles for skull-cleaning purposes. During that time, I’ve learned a great deal on how to culture, care for and utilize the beetles for cleaning bones. What started as an interesting hobby has grown quickly into a thriving Internet business, and my preferred way to remember my adventures in the field.
Probably one of the most frequently asked questions I get regarding the beetles is if they will harm the living. This species has absolutely no desire in anything other than dried-out, dead meat. They don’t bite and are essentially harmless. They do require good ventilation and a working temperature of between 70 to 85 degrees, which makes cultivating this species in California relatively easy.
More adventurous individuals may want to consider starting their own dermestid beetle colony. They’re easy to raise and maintain, and many beetle culturists are available online, providing information on raising and caring for your own colony. Dermestid Inc. (, an online dealer in dermestid beetles, offers informative DVDs, beetle starter kits and all the information required to successfully culture beetles.
o contact Tim Hovey’s beetle-cleaning business, Dermestid Inc, call (661) 263-9418, or go to

QuikCamo: Get Your GameFace Gear On

ABOUT US: Doug Niedrich and Warren “Nick” Nichols, outdoor entrepreneurs from Sun Valley, Idaho, are the co-inventors of several patent pending multifunction headwear designs. Warren “Nick” Nichols… life time world class Sportsman, national caliber Ballroom Dancer, father of 3 beautiful girls.  Doug Niedrich, family man, inventor, entrepreneur, Outdoorsman, put their heads together to create the QuikCamo rear model for bow hunters, and over time have introduced several additional patent pending designs.

QuikCamo provides one hand face concealment so fast it will make your “hat spin” QuikCamo is “ready when you are and there when you need it”
QUIKCAMO JPEG LOGO badge-finalist2[1]




Finalist in “THE NEXT BIG THING” Philips innovation fellows competition.

Fabric Features include:

Scent control (Kills bacteria that causes odor)
Anti Microbial/Anti Bacterial
Moisture wicking
Quick Dry
Breathable. (Keeps you cool during warm weather hunts)
Soft hand

Available in Mossy Oak Realtree, Kings Snow Desert, Mountain Shadow Camo, Mathews lost camo, Blaze orange, Ground blind Black, Camo West and 3-D leafy Kids hats. Perfect for Spring turkey water fowl and big game.

For more information, check out the QuikCamo website (, or call (208) 720-2088.


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Irvine Lake’s Huge Trout

Look for Steve Carson’s annual report on the Irvine Lake Nov. 1 trout opener in the soon-to-be released November California Sportsman. There’s no wonder Steve always seems to get excited about this Orange County staple for anglers. Look at some of the trout that have been pulled from Irvine’s waters:

Photos courtesy of Irvine Lake

Carson Lake 11 Irvine Lake 4 Irvine Lake 9 Irvine Lake 5


Get Steve’s full report and more great photos in the November issue of California Sportsman. To subscribe, and get $10 off a one-year subscription ($19.95 for 12 issues of your local fishing and hunting news), click here.


Wild Pig Hunts Available In SoCal

Apologies for not getting this in sooner. Ironically part of what slowed me down is being able to reach several wild pig hunting guides for a story that ultimately fell through. But here goes:

Subscribe to California Sportsman today and get a full year of your local hunting and fishing news for just $19.95 for 12 issues.

Click here for details.





Spring Will Be Lightning Round At Lake Jennings


Photo courtesy of Lake Jennings

By Chris Cocoles on Oct. 22

They are not quite as outrageous as the “Austin Powers”-inspired “sharks with frickin lazor beams attached to their heads“, and there is no evidence of ill-tempered mutated sea bass in any of the Lake Jennings “lightning trout” that will be stocked in the San Diego-area trout fishery. But these seem like pretty funky fish for Jennings anglers to catch.

Lightning trout will be stocked in Jennings twice in the spring. These are essentially rainbows, but with a twist: with vertical stripes and a golden color to them.

“People are really interested in them,” says David Acevedo, the head ranger at Jennings. “They’re just a unique strain of fish. The thing with them is, they do grow a little slower. That’s one reason for us putting them later in the early spring. They really have to get to a good size. They are great fish. They’ll bring a lot of excitement, and it’s going to be nice to have something a little different. But they’re the same as the Sierra bows. The (lightning trout) are a good fishing fish.”

As the Nov. 1 trout opener approaches, Jennings will be receiving almost weekly plants of more traditional rainbows from the Mt. Lassen hatchery.

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Fishouflage Offers Camo For Anglers




Passion for the outdoors has always had an exclusive look. Camouflage. Until now, it’s always been about the hunt. Not anymore. Finally, fishermen have a series of camo patterns exclusively for them…not for cover or to conceal, but simply to be enjoyed.

Fishouflage patterns are designed using cutting-edge underwater photography, digital rendering, and the latest in high definition imaging to achieve unsurpassed realism. Freshwater and saltwater aquatic habitats come to life, and the fish we love to catch are so vivid in the designs the patterns are patented. Fishouflage is available worldwide on merchandise including clothing, tackle bags, rods, reels, and many other items in Bass, Walleye, Crappie, Redfish, Musky and European Carp patterns.

Fishouflage clothing is built with long lasting, high performing fabrics, engineered for comfort and freedom of movement, with great attention to all the details. We know you’ll love all our Fishouflage apparel.

Wear it proud!


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Some Positive News For State’s Duck Hunters

By Chris Cocoles on Oct. 21

Look for a story on the November issue of California Sportsman on the woes that plagued the Alturas area when the partial government shutdown closed the Modoc National Widlife Refuge and canceled plenty of waterfowl hunters’ trips during the early October opening in the Northeastern Zone.  Many hunters probably won’t get back those missed opportunities, but at least some good news came from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Here are the list of formerly closed areas that are back open for access, per the DFW r:

• Colusa NWR, (530) 934-2801
• Delevan NWR, (530) 934-2801
• Kern NWR, (661) 725-6504
• Merced NWR, (209) 826-3508
• Sacramento NWR, (530) 934-2801
• San Luis NWR, (including Kesterson, Bear Creek, Freitas North), (209) 826-3508
• Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR, (760) 348-5278
• Lower Klamath NWR, (530) 667-2231
• Tule Lake NWR, (530) 667-2231
• Modoc NWR, (530) 233-3572
• Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR, (510) 792-0222

Here’s hoping these re-openings will provide a fresh chance for those outdoors enthusiasts who were locked out for most of the first half of October can get back outside and enjoy the fall in California.


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Lake Del Valle fish report

Lake Del Valle Fishing Report


October 18, 2013


The water temperature is 68 degrees at the end of the dock. Fishing hasn’t changed very much from this week to last week; with weather still cooling off. Striper bite has slowed down best thing to throw out is Anchovies, Sardines, Worms, or Jigs. Topwater lures, Crank-baits, and Jerk-baits still haven’t really been getting their attention as much. Hetch Hetchy and the Lower Narrows are the best places to fish for Stripers. The Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass bite has slowed down even more this week, you need to really go looking for them using Rat-L-Traps and Lipless Crank-baits out at Swallow and Heron Bay are best places to try for Bass. When fishing for Catfish try using Chicken Livers or Anchovies in the Lower Narrows and South End near the down trees. Trout bite still picking up and they are surfacing in the mornings and evenings; best thing to throw out are Crank-baits and other steady retrieving lures, Power-bait, and Night Crawlers. Brighter colored Powerbait such as rainbow or chartreuse is what works the best right now is the East beach. There has also been luck down the dog run trail near the lower narrows for those who don’t mind a little bit of a walk.

James Roberecht

Photo Courtesy of Lake Del Valle



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Sac River Salmon Still Biting

Northern California salmon anglers can still fish until Dec. 15. And while the bite will really slow down if much-needed rains fall, guide Rick Kennedy of Tight Lines Guide Service (888-975-0990; continues finding big kings in the Sacramento River. Here’s Rick’s report:


We spent the last two days fishing the Sacramento River in the Sacramento Metro area. It didn’t take long to remind myself how this area can be either on of off. Monday we fished hard for several hours for nothing more than a slight grab. As a guide days like this keep you up all night thinking what could I have done different and what will I change tomorrow. Well, today we launched at the same time,  started in the same place with the same lures and within an hour and a half we had five nice salmon up to 35 pounds in the boat. We got our first five fish quickly and needed one more for full limits for our clients. We had that number six fish on four times but couldn’t seem to get him to the boat. All our fish were caught trolling down river on the outgoing tide.


Brothers Brandon, Brogon and Brett Abril with their salmon. Brandon is from Vacaville, Brogon and Brett from Pittsburg. 


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Birdman Of Castaic Lake



Photo courtesy of the Ojai Angler

By Chris Cocoles on Oct. 15

Castaic Lake, located just off I-5 north of Santa Clarita, covers 350,000 acres, so it can be a daunting body of water for anglers to attack. But veteran bass  guide Marc Mitrany of the Ojai Angler (805-640-8491; said looking for fall bass that are feeding on shad around the surface starts with the birds. Mitrany, who will be featured in November’s print edition of California Sportsman for a Castaic Lake update, channels his inner Alfred Hitchcock/Tippi Hedren -of The Birds (not the birds) fame-  when he fishes the lake.

“I’m watching the birds, they’ll tell me where to be from a long ways away,” Mitrany says. “I don’t use electronics that much over there. It’s mostly a visual.”

Mitrany is counting on where the birds are feeding on the threadfin shad that swim in Castaic. The birds and bass are both in search of the food supply near the surface. Plenty of green and blue heron gather at Castaic on a regular basis.

“The birds are there 24 hours a day.  I’ve almost never been let down by that,” Mitrany said. “If I see those green and blue heron are there, there is going to be bait there and there are usually going to be fish there. If there are no fish around, there is definitely going to be bait there.”

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