Way up north in Siskiyou County, the Rising Sun Hunting Preserve has become the playground for deer and elk. Sportsmen couldn't ask for a better place to hunt.
Troy Isberg moves in on a 4-point C-zone mule deer. The Rising Sun Hunting Preserve is in Zone C1.
Photo by Art Isberg
Down the pine-studded gravel road leading to Bert Holzhauser's Rising Sun Hunt Preserve, the first thing I saw were 10 quail hot-footing it across in front of me then down into brush. If there's anything I dearly love to hunt it's quail, but I kept my foot on the gas until rounding the bend then stopped in front of the ranch house. The day was Sept. 1, opening day of dove season.
"I hear you've got a few doves up your way," I kidded.
"I do at that, if you can hit 'em." Bert fired back. "Want to give it a whirl?"
And so I set the date for this first trip to someplace I'd been wanting to go for quite a while, but was about to learn there was a whole lot more than I ever expected. The property sits eight miles north of the tiny farm community of Macdoel and the same distance south of the Oregon/California border. At 4,200 feet elevation this is a land of lovely hidden farm valleys surrounded by thick pine forests with stunning, snow-capped Mount Shasta dominating its southern view.
Bert exited the ranch house as I got out and we shook hands. "You ready to do a little hunting? I've got a spot picked out for you in that cut rye field about a quarter-mile away where the birds have been coming through during the morning flight. Soon as the sun clears the ridge behind the house, they generally begin to move."
After positioning me Bert took off on his ATV to do chores and start irrigating various fields while I blazed away at the first pulsing streaks of gray flashing by. About an hour later he returned and said he'd seen a big gathering of birds feeding at the opposite end of the field. I picked up my shell carrier/seat and trudged across to a big patch of green pigweed. Doves boiled out by the dozens just out of gun range. I set up quickly and began shooting at birds that came in steadily and reminiscent of ducks coming to decoys.
It was great gunning, and when the morning flight eventually slowed at about 9:30, I picked up my birds and gear and headed back toward my truck. Halfway there I saw Bert on his ATV cutting across the field. I admitted the shooting had been fast but that I'd missed about as many as I'd bagged. Little did I know that's when the real fireworks were about to start.
As we neared the ranch house I looked left and saw two dozen mule deer feeding in an open field 70 yards way, but what stopped me cold was the bucks among them. Six sets of antlers were clearly visible: two 4-pointers, 3-pointers, and a pair of young forked-horns all stared back at me. As a long-time mule deer hunter I couldn't take my eyes off all that bone and mentioned it to Bert when we reached the house.
"The mule deer stay here throughout the year," he said. "They don't migrate because they've got feed and cover right here. Last night my wife and I counted over 98 out in front of the ranch. There are a couple of really good bucks among them too."
The Rising Sun Hunt Preserve is situated within hunting Zone C1, which is shaped roughly in the form of a large V, the top portion being the California/Oregon border, the western leg state Highway 97, and its eastern one I-5 meeting at the town of Weed. There are actually four different C zones numbering 1 through 4, but if you draw a tag for one of these zones you can also hunt in the other three in their general seasons are open. Season dates differ between the zones.
Zone C1 itself consists of national forest and some Bureau of Land Management properties where any tag holder can ply his trade during the Sept. 17 through Oct. 16 general big-game season. But it is also important to understand that even though all C zones open on or about Sept. 17, they do not all close on the same date. That means careful study of the regulations is necessary.
We hadn't gone a quarter-mile from the ranch up a valley when Bert braked to a stop.
"See what I see?" he asked. I was already lifting my binoculars to study a lovely, high-antlered 3-point buck laying in a little opening between tall pines about 100 yards away. After a few moments he slowly got to his feet then walked off into shadowy timber.
Over a pine ridge on the other side of the ranch we pulled to a stop in front of a rustic, two-story chalet. A big fireplace frames its living room, with a modern kitchen, shower and bedrooms upstairs. It's available for guests who want a modicum of comfort and might also want to bring the family along with them as I often do. In fact, my wife is one of the best game spotters I've ever hunted with, so this cabin really got my attention.
Holzhauser is a licensed and bonded guide who uses his entire 1,080 acres of the ranch. Besides the popular bird hunting in the fields for pheasants, quail, chukars and Hungarian partridge, he also offers riflemen the chance to hunt free-roaming mule deer by paying an access fee. This is one of only a very few hunting preserves I'm aware of that give shooters this option of both shotgun and rifle hunting. And in California, where buck hunting can be a somewhat difficult task, this becomes even more appealing.
|ABOUT ZONE C-1|
|Applications for deer or elk generally became available in mid-April. Check the California Dpartment of Fish and Game online at|
www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/biggame/biggamehunting.html for licensing information. The nearest regional office is in Redding at 601 Locust Street, 96001. Or you can call (530) 225-2300 for information.
For more details on buck hunting, birds, elk or bear at the Fishing Sun Hunt Preserve, call (530) 397-3621, or send an email to email@example.com. Be sure to check out their Web site at www.rshunt.com. There is also limited space for hunters at the ranch bringing in their own campers, trailers or recreational vehials, which must be sself-contained.
Detailed area maps of the Klamath National Forest and Zone C-1 can be purchased from the U.S. Forest Service, 3644 Avetech Avenue, Redding Ca 96002. The phone number is (530) 225-2500. Price is $5 plus postage for those needing mailing. -- Ari Isberg.
Last season's big-game statistics for Zone C1 are an interesting study. Like most other areas in the state it's conducted on a computer draw
basis in which preference points can play a big role in your success. The applications become available in mid-April and party hunting up to six members can apply. Department of Fish and Game statistics show that hunters tagged 168 bucks in Zone C1 in the most recent data, with 41.7 percent of bucks taken being forked-horns, 38.1 percent 3-pointers, 16.7 percent 4-pointers, and 1.8 percent had racks with more than four points on one side of their antlers. On a representative basis statewide these percentages are slightly better than average with a grand total of 1,133 bucks tagged for all four C zones.
For those hunting on C1 public areas, a Forest Service map of Klamath National Forest is vital to show entry points, access roads, boundaries and road numbers.
Beside mule deer, a free-roaming herd of elk also frequents the Rising Sun property. Limited opportunities for hunting cows or bulls are available; check with the DFG for drawing dates, applications and more information.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service have supported Holzhauser with grants for land clearing and plantings that benefit elk and mule deer.
I've hunted a number of shooting preserves over the years but nothing with the enormous variety that Rising Sun offers its visitors. On top of everything else I've mentioned here Holzhauser also offers predator hunting for coyotes and bobcats as well as bear hunting with his dogs in the national forest outside the ranch. So if you're interested in bucks, bulls, bears or birds, Rising Sun has it all.