Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Here Are Your New Spiny Lobster Regulations

Spiny lobster photo by CDFW.

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

As the popular recreational California Spiny Lobster fishing season prepares to open on Saturday, Sept. 30, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds divers and hoop netters of new regulations that will be in effect for the 2017-2018 season. The California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) adopted commercial and recreational lobster fishing regulations at its April 2016 meeting to support the implementation of the California Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan. A summary of the new recreational lobster fishing regulations is provided below. All other recreational lobster fishing regulations, unless listed below, remain unchanged and remain in effect:

The 2017-2018 recreational lobster fishing season will open at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. The start time of the recreational lobster fishing season has changed from 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. for safety purposes. Open season: From 6 a.m. on the Saturday preceding the first Wednesday in October through the first Wednesday after March 15 (CCR Title 14, section 29.90 (a)).

Hoop net buoys south of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County) must now be marked for identification and enforcement purposes. Hoop nets used south of Point Arguello shall be marked with a surface buoy. The surface buoy shall be legibly marked to identify the operator’s GO ID number as stated on the operator’s sport fishing license or lobster report card (shared hoop nets can be marked with multiple GO ID numbers, or GO ID numbers can be switched out by using any sort of removable tag on or attached to the buoy, so long as the GO ID numbers are all legible). Hoop nets deployed by persons on shore or manmade structures connected to the shore are not required to be marked with a surface buoy (CCR Title 14, section 29.80 (b)(3)). Hoop nets deployed from Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels must be marked with the boat’s Fish and Game Vessel ID number, and hoop nets provided by licensed guides to clients must be marked with the guide’s license number.

Divers may be in possession of spearfishing equipment while diving for crustaceans (including lobsters). Language on the possession of a hooked device while taking lobster has changed to provide clarification for both recreational divers and enforcement. Diving for crustaceans: In all ocean waters, except as provided in section 29.05, skin and SCUBA divers may take crustaceans by the use of the hands only. Divers may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive. Divers may be in possession of spearfishing equipment as long as possession of such equipment is otherwise lawful and is not being used to aid in the take of crustaceans (CCR Title 14, section 29.80 (g)).

Measuring requirements have been clarified in order to allow for measuring lobster aboard a boat. The change will allow hoop netters to bring spiny lobster aboard a vessel where they can be measured safely.All lobsters shall be measured immediately and any undersize lobster shall be released immediately into the water. Divers shall measure lobsters while in the water and shall not remove undersized lobsters from the water. Hoop netters may measure lobsters out of the water, but no undersize lobster may be placed in any type of receiver, kept on the person or retained in any person’s possession or under his or her direct control (CCR Title 14, section 29.90 (c)).

For additional information and a list of frequently asked questions about this program, please visit CDFW’s California Spiny Lobster webpage.

Sonoma Duo Earn CDFW’s Hunter Education Instructor Honors

Photo by CDFW

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) named Sonoma County husband and wife Tom and Sharon Henderson as 2017 Hunter Education Instructors of the Year. This is the first time the honor has been awarded to two instructors.

“The Hendersons are an amazing team who have dedicated so much to the Hunter Education Program. It would have been impossible not to recognize them both,” said Lt. Bart Bundesen, who coordinates California’s Hunter Education Program on the North Coast.

The Hendersons teach an average of 25 classes a year at the Rancho Adobe Fire Department in Cotati. In 2016 alone, they taught 633 students. Those students and their parents offer frequent accolades about the instructors.

“I get a regular stream of compliments about the job that the Hendersons do,” Bundesen said. “Their ability to help younger students understand the important lessons of the course is one of their greatest assets.”

CDFW Wildlife Officer Tiffany Wolvek said, “Without them, many would likely not make it out to the field as they would struggle to find a class. More importantly, I have confidence in the students who have taken their class to become ethical, conscientious hunters.”

The Hendersons have mentored many new instructors and they take the time to ensure those instructors leave confident in their ability to teach a class. They are an incredible asset to new hunters and CDFW.

CDFW is always recruiting new instructors. If you have a passion for California’s outdoors and passing on the hunting tradition, please visit CDFW’s Become A Hunter Education Instructor webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunter-Education/Become-an-Instructor and check out the hunter education instructor recruiting video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4ezEs7jT5g.

The Sierra Chase Is On

 

The following appears in the September issue of California Sportsman: 

By Nancy Rodriguez 

Thump, thump, thump! 

With every adrenaline-filled heartbeat my crosshairs float over my target – a beautiful three-point mule deer buck. Instead of pulling the trigger, I ask myself, “Is this the buck you want to take off this mountain?” I slowly lower my rifle and let the buck walk. It’s opening morning, after all, and I have plenty of hunting days ahead.

I am high in the backcountry of California. I have drawn a mule deer buck tag in a great unit for mature animals. This can be a grueling hunt. My husband Joe, father-in-law Ray and I have backpacked in 8 miles with all of our gear on our backs. We don’t have any other means of getting into the area we prefer to hunt, so it’s good old-fashioned leg power for us. It’s also a high-elevation hunt and we have to purify and transport all of our water to our dry camp. 

On top of that, winter’s first storms can set in at any time during the season, so we always have to be prepared for the worst. These challenges make pulling any buck out of these mountains very rewarding. 

Through preseason scouting, we know there are a few nice bucks in the area. I know the only way to successfully harvest a big buck is to pass on the smaller ones. Passing on an animal is not in my nature, because the meat is one of the main reasons I hunt. But I have also dreamt about harvesting a nice four-point mule deer in these rugged mountains for many years. So this year I’m on a quest, and I’m up for the challenge.

AS OPENING DAY COMMENCES, we hear numerous shots and see plenty of hunters. This much hunting pressure is unusual for this area. With the extra pressure, my quest will certainly be a bit more challenging. The decision to pass on that three-pointer begins to haunt me, and I ask myself if I made the right choice. Then I remember the rule: You can’t tag a big buck if you shoot a smaller one first. But, still I wonder … Is one more point on the buck’s antlers that important to me? 

The first day of the season comes to an end and I find myself staring at the ceiling of the tent replaying the day’s encounters. I had passed on two more three-pointers, leaving me unsure about my decision. I wonder if I am being greedy for wanting a bigger buck. Hopefully, Mother Nature will see that I have paid my dues in these mountains and bless me with the buck I am after. 

AS DUSK APPROACHES ON the second day, we are creeping ever so slowly when Joe whispers, “Huge buck through the trees!” Suddenly, my regret turns into determination and I am looking at one of the biggest four-point muley bucks I have ever seen – and he’s only 150 yards away! 

While Joe can see the buck clearly, I have a tree in my way. I slowly move over as quietly as I can to get set up for the shot. I place my gun on the tripod and slowly move the tripod over to clear a shooting lane. As I do this, I make a costly mistake. The resulting squeak of the tripod leg on rock alerts the buck to our presence. The buck’s head spins instantly and he has us pegged. I try to get lined up as quickly as possible, but it’s too late. Poof! The grey ghost disappears into thin air. My head drops as I realize I will probably never see that giant again. 

That night I feel sick as I replay the tripod squeak over and over. I think of all the things I could have done differently. All the what if’s swirling inside keep me up most of the night. Maybe Mother Nature is not happy with my early decisions and she is reminding me of my place. I tell myself this is hunting, and the ups and downs are what keep me coming back for more.

THE EVENING OF THE third day finds us set up on a huge rock glassing the pine-filled draw that the giant calls home. As the sun starts to set Joe whispers, “I’ve got him!” He ranges him and he’s at the edge of my shooting range. My crosshairs are steady on the buck of my dreams, my scope turrets are adjusted for the distance and I slowly put tension on the trigger. 

Before the trigger breaks, I decide the risk is too great. With the distance, I couldn’t ethically take the shot. The thought of wounding this mountain monarch is more than I can bear. The giant feeds back into the trees as darkness falls. Mother Nature has humbled us again.

ON THE FOURTH DAY, I find myself feeling much differently. At sunrise we are glassing a beautiful basin that glows with golden aspens and orange and green foliage sprinkled about. I lay back and realize this has already been an amazing hunt. I have had the opportunity at multiple deer, including one of the biggest bucks I’ve ever seen, and I’m enjoying the awe-inspiring beauty of the backcountry. 

As this unfolds, we come up with our evening plan. We decide to head back to the giant’s draw and see what happens. I tell Joe, “If I see a buck on the way down, I’m going to try and take him.” He asks, “Even if it’s a three-pointer?” “Yep! I’ll be happy with any buck.”

It’s early afternoon and the three of us slowly start to head down through the scattered trees to the giant’s lair. After two hours of creeping through the trees glassing every shade patch in search of a bedded buck, Joe whispers, “I think I see an antler through that screen of trees.” I glass and confirm it’s a buck – and it’s a good one. It’s not the giant, but a four-pointer is a four-pointer! All we can see is his head and antlers through the trees, so we wait. 

We are on a little rise about 80 yards away from him and we see the rear end of another buck move through the trees, but we can’t confirm its size. The four-point finally rises and starts to feed. My rifle follows his every step as he walks in and out of the trees. As he steps behind a large pine, I glance in the direction he’s feeding and see a small opening. He enters the clearing with his head down as he continues to feed. He turns uphill toward me. 

At this steep angle, I can see the tip of an antler, the base of his neck, shoulders and along the top of his back. I place my crosshairs between his shoulder blades and slowly squeeze the trigger. 

BOOM! 

He drops in his tracks and out of my line of sight. The other buck runs off, but I don’t see him clearly. Yet I am smiling from ear to ear. We finally have the mature four-point buck we have been after. We have paid our dues and Mother Nature has rewarded us – with a bit of a twist. 

I make my way down to the buck and I am bewildered. I realize the buck I have just shot is a two-point. I look back at Joe and Ray and say, “He’s a forkie!”  I think to myself, How is this possible? I followed that four-point through my scope from the time he stood until I shot. Then I think back to the moment he stepped behind the pine and I glanced to the opening he would eventually enter. In those seconds behind the tree and out of my sight, something changed. As the four-point walked behind the pine, the buck we had seen earlier must have already been feeding behind it only to be pushed out into my line of sight. At that moment I was sure Mother Nature was smiling!

The author (far left), her husband Joe and father-in-law Ray with their prize after a long and grueling hunt. (NANCY RODRIGUEZ)

I MUST ADMIT, A split second of disappointment courses through me. But it vanishes instantly as I kneel down, put my hand on the buck’s neck and look into his eyes. He has died instantly and I am thankful for that. My eyes well up with grateful admiration, and I am completely humbled by the experience. A life is a life, whether his antlers have two points or four points. His wonderful, organic meat will feed my family. 

It’s very hard to explain the feeling of taking a life, but if you are an ethical hunter I hope you can relate. It’s not the kill that captivates us; it’s the hunt itself. I say my prayer of thanks – like I always do with every animal I harvest – and place a blade of grass in his mouth.

The following day we get an early start and pack out our camp and quarry. We cover these 8 grueling miles with 70-pound packs on our backs, and the entire time we have smiles on our faces!

This buck becomes one of my most memorable. I learn a lot of valuable lessons on this hunt. I can still have hunting goals, but no matter what, I will be grateful for every animal I take. It will be a few years before we can hunt these mountains again and we know Mother Nature will be looking forward to our visit. Maybe that will be the year she decides we have paid our dues! CS

Editor’s note: Nancy Rodriguez lives in Cool (El Dorado County), with her husband Joe. She is an outdoor enthusiast who loves to fish, hunt and backpack. Nancy is on the hunt staff for Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women and enjoys inspiring women to get outdoors. 

Telling Outdoor Tales Through Wine

 

Andy Wahl (left) and Bill Kerr wanted to combine their love of wine with the outdoors. (CHRIS COCOLES) )

The following appears in the September issue of California Sportsman: 

By Chris Cocoles

SONOMA—Andy Wahl and Bill Kerr wanted to tell a story. Not with words, but with wine. 

They hail from two places that couldn’t be any different from each other, their families believing in completely different ideologies. But what Wahl, 32, and Kerr, 37, had in common was a bonafide love for and connection with the outdoors. So what better way to start a business and tell their stories than through the bottles of wine they hoped to sell to fellow sportsmen and -women across the country.

So here’s a story within the story from 2014 that would become Wahl’s and Kerr’s Sonoma-based company with the nontraditional name – at least relatively speaking for the historically buttoned-up wine industry – Ammunition (707-938-8322). 

“This guy in (Austin) Texas, where we kicked off this brand, calls me and says, ‘Are you guys in Texas yet?’ I said, ‘No. We launched just two weeks ago.’ And he said, ‘I live in the country with my wine and my guns. I have to get Ammunition.’ It turns out he’s an ex-Marine,” recalls Wahl, who was thrilled the man offered to buy a case of red wine, with plans to keep some for himself and give others to coworkers, family and friends. Wahl was happy to oblige.

“He said, ‘Well, hell, throw in a few business cards and I’ll give it the old college try’” to see if anyone else is interested. “He picked up three accounts – restaurants in his city based off of him bringing in wine that he bought from us and giving them our business card. Because he had a personal connection with the wine. He said, ‘This wine was made for me.’ And it was. That’s the story we wanted to tell.”

Fast forward about three years, and Ammunition – “Wines of the Highest Caliber” – has evolved into a still-growing company here in the Sonoma Valley, every bit the world-class locale for vintners as the neighboring (and more celebrated Napa Valley). With five major varietals, Ammunition went from 150 cases sold in fall 2014, to 2,000 the following year, to 6,000 in 2016.
So it’s that kind of uptick in success that’s made this venture quite satisfying for two newbies to winemaking and weren’t sure what to expect. 

“We’re looking at about 15,000 (cases) this year,” Wahl forecasts. 

Sharing the same market with Sonoma County wine giants like Kendall-Jackson, Sebastiani, Alexander Valley and others, Ammunition doesn’t aspire to be the biggest dog on the block. But as it’s now available in almost 40 states, hunters, anglers, adrenaline seekers and those who appreciate fine wine at a good price point are becoming more and more happy to buy into the messages about family, the outdoors and the memories Wahl and Kerr share.  

“If we tell great stories about our childhood, our upbringing and how it matters to us, other people will see something in themselves in that brand,” Kerr says during an interview at their warehouse in Sonoma. “And if we make the wine kick ass, they’ll keep coming back.”

Photos by Chris Cocoles

IT’S A LONG WAY between Hastings, Nebraska, and Santa Rosa, California. Google Maps says it’s 1,543 miles, and it feels even further considering Bill Kerr’s and Andy Wahl’s backstories. Kerr is a proud Nebraskan who grew up in a conservative household that worshipped Cornhusker football (how the University of Nebraska fares on fall Saturdays is the state’s beating heart) and hunting. Kerr joined family and friends on countless hunts in America’s Heartland and beyond. Hastings (population, 24,000) is located in southcentral Nebraska, and his family owned a hunting lodge to the south in Red Cloud, not far from the Kansas border. 

“I grew up in a family of outdoorsmen; my dad’s a competitive trap shooter. My fondest memories of being a kid were when my dad taught me to shoot a .22, which was the rite of passage,” Kerr says. “A lot of bird hunting – pheasant, turkey. Whitetail deer hunting is huge.”  

He and his dad, who spends part of his time in Tucson, Arizona, once shared a memorable hunting adventure in Africa. Arduous tracking for a zebra finally hit paydirt, though the animal made its way into a pond before falling in 5 feet of water. 

And then came a moment of equal parts excitement and fear that only outdoorsmen can relate to.

“Everything that you hit in Africa can run. The PH, my dad and me wandered into the water, and we were to going to pull that zebra out,” he says. “And there’s a 4-meter-long croc sitting across the way just hanging out. As we’re about hip deep, that thing goes under the water. And I’m like, ‘Done!’ Ultimately we got back in there and pulled that zebra out. So I had to do the leap of faith.”

Over in the San Francisco Bay Area north of the Golden Gate, Andy Wahl grew up the son of a Novato firefighter who left Southern California to be close to the redwoods and settled in with the family in a pastoral setting in the Sonoma County seat of Santa Rosa. Wahl’s childhood, while still connected to the outdoors, was every bit not the experience of his future friend and business cofounder.

“The complete opposite of my family,” Kerr says.

His dad’s schedule at the firehouse meant a series of days on and then up to a week at a time off, which meant fishing and camping getaways to Bodega Bay, Point Reyes, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park. (He proposed to his wife Sarah, who handles the company’s marketing, during a fishing trip to Cabo.) But hunting? 

“My parents were always, no guns. My mom and dad were kind of hippie parents from Southern California who wanted to get into that open space. My dad had a big wooly beard,” Wahl says. 

The Wahls lived in a gorgeous rural setting (the area around their home was a favorite go-to filming location for director Alfred Hitchcock). So there was plenty of room for Andy and his brothers to get their hands dirty and play, though Andy would have to sneak in some opportunities to shoot a gun at a young age. 

“We became scouts and went to Cimarron, New Mexico, where we learned about fly fishing and how to shoot muskets,” he says. “So here I had my parents tell me I couldn’t shoot guns and I’d purposely fail my shotgun merit badge every year so I could just take it again and shoot some more. And I never got the merit badge.”

Still, Wahl didn’t get his first hunting license until three years ago. 

“I was the only one who went that route. But we all grew up fishing.”

And drinking wine. Sort of.

“I grew up tasting wine but usually being the designated driver for my brothers and my mom. ‘You’re 16 and got your license? Guess what? You’re driving us around to the wineries.’ It was so interesting to me when I’m 16 and not drinking and perceiving how people engage in a winery atmosphere.”

But after studying business at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and working as an accountant, little did he know that he and a Cornhusker would eventually create their own harvest. 

Kerr and Wahl are very comfortable on the water or out in the wilderness. (AMMUNITION WINES)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

LIKE HIS FUTURE PARTNER, Bill Kerr studied business, but he had a knack for graphic design and moved to San Francisco to make a living at it. Kerr still works with companies to help them create or redesign logos and labels, including wine and spirits companies. But when a mutual friend introduced him to Wahl, they both decided to invest into something totally new together.

“I happened to be back having dinner with my dad and some friends and we’re sitting around a table. He’s ordering the wine at the table at a steakhouse and looking at the wine list, and I can see that nothing’s kind of resonating with him and sticking,” Kerr says. “And I realized really quickly that, My god, nobody’s making a legitimately premium wine brand with this guy in mind.”

When they began talking seriously about making wine, Wahl, a history buff, was already pondering telling stories that would be reflected in the product. He first pitched a former U.S. presidents’ theme. Wahl suggested a George Washington-inspired cherry- and cola-flavored cabernet to honor the legend of the tree-chopping story. 

But they also realized their shared love for Mother Nature and the role it had on shaping their childhood. 

“If you’re in Oklahoma or Kansas, why do you buy a (specific) wine? What’s your tiebreaker? Why do you buy wine? Is it 100 percent price? Is it because there’s a story related to it? And I want to tell a story,” says Wahl, who along with Kerr knew they needed to strike the right chords with the label that would adorn the bottle. “Bill showed me some initial designs that he had for over a year. And I’m thinking that this is perfect. We actually took the first wine that we wanted to do and made the concept of what we wanted to do was a picture – just of the label and the design. And we went back to his home state, Nebraska, and said this is what we’re thinking about doing. And the distributor said, ‘This is gold.’”

Ammunition’s main concept logo features not a gun-toting hunter but a majestic bald eagle clutching a cluster of wine grapes (a colleague of Kerr’s designed it). 

“You don’t see camouflage all over our packaging. It’s based after vintage Remington advertising, which had a classic American strength to it,” Kerr says. 

And there are signature touches on some of their other primary varietals. Badgerhound, a crisp zinfandel, is named for the English translation of the German word dachshund, the “weiner dog” breed of which Kerr and his wife own two, Alfie and Winnie. Alfie was the model for the canine logo, brandishing a wine bottle in one paw, a stick in the other.

“I was watching a mobster movie marathon one weekend and there was a Godfather saga showing (an extended version of the first two films shown together),” Kerr says. “There’s a scene where Michael Corleone is hiding in Italy and the car pulls up with the two henchmen behind it. He’s got a stick and a bottle of wine. That’s how we drew my dog. He’s protecting the barrel.”

Then there’s Trollop, a chardonnay. Like Badgerhound, there’s a story to tell with this wine dating back to Kerr’s Nebraska home. 

“(Trollop) is an antiquated word for a salacious woman,” Kerr says. “My grandmother actually called someone that when I was a kid; she was like 4-foot-10 German grandmother in Nebraska. I asked my mom, ‘What’s trollop?’ And my mom’s like, ‘Nothing.’ Women love that brand, because it’s saying something a little saucy. But we’ve modeled it after the saloon girls of the Old West.”

One of the guys’ favorite bottle designs is for their Badgerhound zinfandel. (CHRIS COCOLES)

WINE CUSTOMERS HAVE NO shortage of options when perusing the wine aisle at Costco or the neighborhood grocery store. The Ammunition guys’ target – get it! – audience is outdoorsmen and -women. So why not pair some of their wines with wild game and fish (see sidebar)? Generally, the market test for most vintners is how the wine will pair with beef, lamb or chicken, but Wahl and Kerr wanted to go a step further. 

One of their most most versatile wines is the Equalizer, a red blend that is a natural fit with your average beef fillet seared on the grill. But hunters and anglers will have a better idea of what game pairs with which Ammunition varietal.   

Early in the process of creating the wine (using grapes from various local vineyards), one of Kerr’s buddies brought him some backstrap from a deer harvested in Michigan. After the venison was cooked up in the smoker, they washed it down with a test bottle of what would become Equalizer red blend. 

“I think the greatest timing with this is that it’s kind of a hipster revolution, and you look at the chefs, it’s the farm-to-table revolution,” Wahl says. “And a lot of people don’t realize that it’s either an arrow or a gun that’s actually taking that and putting it into the chef’s hands and then cutting it up. A lot of our wines are pretty versatile.”

And getting more and more popular. Wahl and Kerr made their first batches late in 2014. 

“We lost money on every bottle we sold for the first vintage,” Kerr recalls. Wahl adds, “I’m no quitter, but there was a point where I was like, ‘We need to close this thing down.’ In every business there’s a point where you’re thinking, ‘What the @#$% were we thinking? This is not smart for us from a finance standpoint and our home lives.’” 

“And then, probably the beginning of 2015, my whole strategy was, ‘Let’s go to these states where we’re going to be wanted: Texas and Arizona.’ That’s where I wanted to go. And I ended up connecting with these sales guys across the country saying, ‘Hey, you don’t have to hire a national sales rep, but I live here in North Carolina and can get you distribution.’ And that’s where I thought I’ve got feet on the ground. And then it went boom, boom, boom, and within eight months we had opened up 15 states. Holy crap.”

Photo by Chris Cocoles

Ammunition’s wines are reasonably priced (most bottles go for $23, and the company’s wine club program can also provide some great deals). Their growth has made it clear this is a business that should continue for a while. They’d like to eventually open a “saloon-style” tasting room where wine and whiskey can be sampled “in kind of a cigar bar atmosphere,” Wahl says. 

Kerr knew something was up while visiting his parents in Arizona. At dinner, he saw and ordered a bottle of Ammunition from the wine list. When he told the server he was part of the team responsible for the wine, she replied, “Get out of here.”

In 2015 when he really wasn’t sure if the concept was sustainable for the long haul, Wahl was pouring wine for a potential distributor and guests in Huntsville, Alabama. An ex-general who lived in the area was so impressed and told him, “You’ve got something I’ve never seen before and you guys are sitting on a gold mine here.”

Gold, silver or bronze, it’s all about finding a niche with potential customers who can relate. 

“I love wine, I love drinking wine and I love telling stories,” Wahl says. “So I just want to keep on doing that, moving onto the next vintages and keep on growing it.” CS

Editor’s note: For more, go to ammunitionwine.com and follow on Instagram (@ammunitionwines) and Twitter (@ammunitionwine). Like at facebook.com/ammunitionwines.

Sidebar graphic 

VARIETAL “The Equalizer” red blend (merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon) 

ABOUT “Medium to full-bodied with a fruit-forward character …  Its nose has plenty of blackberry, black cherry, baking spice and vanilla notes that are both intense yet elegant.”

WILD GAME TO PAIR WITH Most big game. Also, skirt steak, carne asada and blackened or spicy dishes.  

VARIETAL Chardonnay 

ABOUT “Light golden in color, this medium-bodied Chardonnay is vibrant and fresh with a creamy texture from the barrel fermentation. Baked apples and pears with a hint of citrus dominate the palate.”

WILD GAME TO PAIR WITH Salmon, ducks, upland birds. A great choice with chicken. 

VARIETAL Pinot noir

ABOUT “Sweet plum and cherry flavors with subtle oak tones that are wrapped [in] smooth silky tannins make this a wine that is enjoyable now, but will continue to improve for several years.”

WILD GAME TO PAIR WITH Wild turkey, and just about everything else, including aged cheeses. 

VARIETAL Badgerhound zinfandel 

ABOUT “The 2015 vintage presents appealing aromas of crushed raspberries and blackberries framed by vanilla and cigar box notes. This wine shows sweet concentrated fruit in the mouth with plenty of oak, tannins and acidity to balance the ripeness.”

WILD GAME TO PAIR WITH Wild pig. The zin matches wonderfully with classic barbecue. 

VARIETAL Cabernet sauvignon 

ABOUT “Ripe bright cherries and complex tannins highlight this medium- to full-bodied wine. Long mouth feel through the midpalate and pops with cherries and hints of spice.” 

WILD GAME TO PAIR WITH Venison. Any red meat is delicious with this wineCS

California’s Small-Town Folks Wonder About Their Guns

 

(DAVE WORKMAN)

Interesting story in the Visalia Times-Delta about the fate of gun ownership in California’s sparsely populated areas.

Here’s the newspaper’s Calley Cederlof with more:

Assembly Bill 7, which criminalizes the carrying of a long gun in the unincorporated area of a county, has passed out of the California Legislature and is now awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature. 

If signed, AB 7 would eliminate the ability to openly bear arms anywhere in the state of California. Residents with concealed carry permits will still have the right to carry an unloaded handgun. 

“We are an agricultural and sport hunting county community. The law-abiding people of this state are the losers within this bill if passed by the governor,” said Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux. “These types of legislation only hurt the people who exercise their Second Amendment rights and who pose no threat of danger to the public.” …

The bill is unfair to those gun owners who abide by the existing law, Boudreaux said. 

“The criminal element are those which need to be held accountable,” Boudreaux said. “There are laws already on the books that allow us to successfully bring people to justice who violate the law.”

Firearms Policy Coalition, a nonprofit whose mission is to protect and defend the second amendment, also released a statement in opposition to the measure. 

“The Second Amendment to the US Constitution clearly enumerates a fundamental right to bear arms,” said Craig DeLuz, Firearms Policy Coalition spokesman. “Nonetheless, the State of California has chosen to continue on the path toward completely eliminating this constitutional right in the Golden State.”

There’s no easy way to handle firearms who are in the hands of the wrong people rather than those owners who abide by the law, but I can’t imagine anything that would infuriate a responsible gun owner who lives in the middle of nowhere to know that they have less gun rights than a city dweller.

Chico Resident fined $10,000 In Alaska Illegal Bear Shooting

Lisa Hupp/USFWS

A Chico man has been fined $10,000 after he plead guilty in the 2015 illegal killing of two bears in Southeast Alaska.

Here’s the Alaska Dispatch News with more:

A California man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Petersburg district court to killing two bears on Admiralty Island while hunting was closed, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Griffen Fales, 20, entered the plea on multiple wildlife misdemeanors, troopers said in an online dispatch.

Back in 2015, wildlife troopers based in Petersburg received a report of an unsalvaged brown bear on Admiralty Island in Southeast Alaska.

“(An) investigation found that Fales had shot this bear, along with one other bear, on Admiralty Island during a closed season, than failed to salvage either of the bears,” troopers said.

Fales was also found to have taken a deer without the proper license or a nonresident locking tag, troopers said.

This is the complete Alaska State Troopers dispatch:

On 9-19-17 Griffen Fales, age 20 of California, appeared in the District Court at Petersburg and pled guilty to multiple wildlife misdemeanors.  During 2015 the Alaska Wildlife Troopers, Petersburg Post, received a report of a brown bear located on Admiralty Island that failed to have been salvaged.  Investigation found that Fales had shot this bear, along with one other bear, on Admiralty Island during a closed season, than failed to salvage either of the bears.  Additionally it was found that Fales had taken a deer without a hunting license and non-resident locking tag as required.  The guilty plea was coordinated through the Attorney General’s Office of Special Prosecutions and Fales was convicted on two counts of take brown bear closed season, two counts of fail to salvage and one count of fail to possess a non-resident locking tag.  He was sentenced to pay fines totaling $30,000 with $20,000 suspended and restitution to the State of Alaska totaling $3,000 for the three animals taken.  Fales was additionally sentenced to 30 days in jail with 30 days suspended, loss of hunting privileges for 5 years and placed on probation for one year. 

Feather River Hatchery’s Opening For Salmon Spawning Business

Feather River Hatchery photo by CDFW.

The fish ladder at Feather River Hatchery in Oroville opened Monday, Sept. 18, signaling the start of the spawning season on the Feather River. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hatchery workers opened the gates in the ladder about 8 a.m. Normally more than 3 million spring-run eggs and 12 million fall-run eggs are taken over the next two months in order to produce Chinook salmon for release next spring.

Visitors can observe the salmon through the viewing windows and from the observation deck located at the base of the fish barrier dam. At the main side of the hatchery, visitors can observe CDFW technicians performing the spawning process.

The public viewing areas have been repaired and are safe for the public after sustaining damage in the aftermath of the Oroville Dam spillway incident in February.

As the fall fishing season begins, CDFW reminds anglers to release any fish tagged with green and yellow Hallprint tags located on the dorsal fin. These tags have no monetary value and are used to identify spring-run salmon, a state and federally listed threatened species that cannot be possessed.

Thousands of school children tour the Feather River Hatchery each year. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at the Feather River Hatchery, please call (530) 538-2222. For information about hatchery tours, please call (530) 534-2306.

There are nine state-run anadromous salmon and steelhead hatcheries, all of which will participate in the salmon spawning effort. Those hatcheries, along with federally run hatcheries, will be responsible for the release of 40 million juvenile fall-run Chinook salmon into California waters. These massive spawning efforts were put in place over the last 50 years to offset fish losses caused by dams that block salmon from historic spawning habitat.

Once the young salmon reach 2 to 4 inches in length, 100 percent of the spring-run stock and 25 percent of the fall-run stock will be adipose fin clipped and implanted with coded wire tags prior to release. CDFW biologists use the information from the tags to chart the survival, catch and return rates of the fish.

For more information about California’s fish hatcheries, please visitwww.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

Ducks, Geese Looking Good In DU’s 2017 Forecast

Waterfowl stop to rest during winter migration. Photo by Debra Hamilton/CDFW

If Ducks Unlimited’s annual waterfowl forecast is an indication, there should be no shortage of birds in the Pacific Flyway.

Here’s what DU had to say about the Pacific Flyway:

The Pacific Flyway receives most of its waterfowl from the western United States and Canada, with the majority of ducks and geese coming from Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Alaska, and other western states. In southern Alberta, an estimated 6.4 million breeding ducks were surveyed this spring—a 28 percent increase from the 2016 estimate and 49 percent above the long-term average.

“The breeding season started with average to above-average spring runoff and cool, wet conditions that may have delayed early breeding efforts,” reports Ian McFarlane, a biologist with DU Canada. “Summer precipitation was near normal in the south, but temperatures have been high, which has decreased water levels. However, semipermanent wetlands remain full in the aspen parkland and Boreal transition zone. There was a good late hatch and numerous large broods have been reported by our field staff.” …

In the United States, above-average precipitation improved wetland conditions across much of the West following several years of severe drought. In California, improved production of mallardsgadwalls, and cinnamon teal was expected following one of the wettest winters on record. In Oregon, breeding duck numbers were similar to last year’s estimate and the long-term average, while in Washington, total ducks were up dramatically compared to both last year’s estimate and the long-term average.

The outlook is good for Pacific Flyway goose populations. Weather and habitat conditions were generally favorable for breeding geese in Alaska, and large fall populations of cacklingRoss’slesser snow, and white-fronted geese are expected. Surveys indicate that Pacific brant numbers were similar to last year’s estimates and the 10-year average. 

Most waterfowl seasons in California get going in October.