New York State of Mind

Our new hunting columnist, Al Quackenbush.
Our new hunting columnist, Al Quackenbush.

Albert Quackenbush (aka “The SoCal Bowhunter“) makes his California Sportsman debut in January with some great perspective on his upbringing in western New York and comparing that to his new experiences hunting in Southern California. Here’s a taste of what is writing about:

How you hunt in Southern California is very different from western New York. A vast majority of the hunting during my East Coast days was out of a treestand. You spent weeks getting the treestands up in the right spots, and then, when it was time to hunt, you had to pick the right stand according to the wind. California hunting is nearly all spot and stalk, or ambush on the ground. In New York, I would always use my safety harness and have to worry about my stand squeaking. In California, if I am hunting a treestand (which does happen on occasion) I will wear my safety harness as well. If I am on the ground, it’s one less thing I have to pack. But now my concern is how much noise am I making and what direction is the wind blowing?
In New York, the deer are walking to you, and in California, you are walking in on the deer. It’s quite the reversal and each has good merit.
Utilizing quality optics was new to me when I began hunting in California. In the Empire State, we used optics 5 to 10 percent of the time. In Southern California, optics is used in 99 percent of hunts, and we know our optics. I didn’t give optics a second thought in New York. I just used what was the cheapest from one of the local sporting goods stores.

Hunting in New York, we would spread out and cover an entire woods, or good chunk of them. It allowed our scent to dissipate more, gave us a better chance of seeing deer, and you knew where your hunting partners were when you had the opportunity to make the shot. The same principle applies for hunting in Southern California. Most SoCal hunters I have encountered will not venture more than a couple miles on foot to hunt. Add in some steep terrain and the numbers drop even more. I like to find a remote, not-so-easily-accessible area. Does it make it more of a challenge? Sure it does, but that is one of the things I love about bowhunting. Personally, the farther I can get away from other hunters and see animals the happier I am. I know that most of the bigger animals are far from roads and people. It won’t make for an easy hunt, but it will make all the difference in killing that buck you have been dreaming about.