A country boy from NY now living in Southern California, Al Quackenbush is a husband, father, & bowhunter. A writer, graphic designer, photographer & certified smart ass who loves to chronicle his outdoor adventures. His gear reviews are appreciated by hunters and manufacturers alike for his honesty and candor.
Swing by the Bass Pro Rancho Archery range this Saturday to try out the latest BlackOut Archery Gear! This is a one-day event so come early!
When: July 27 from 11AM – 4PM
I’ll be giving a Bowhunting 101 Seminar (absolutely Free!) in the hunting area (or maybe by the fish tank) at 1:00 PM. I’ll go over the gear, scouting, and where to look for deer in SoCal. Bring your maps and I’ll try to get you pointed in the right direction.
The view from the back deck was beyond breathtakingly beautiful.
Central California is a majestic place full of wildlife, clean air, and very little traffic. It’s been nearly a decade since I had the opportunity to get up there and go on a pig hunt. A few weeks back, a co-worker, Mike G. who just happens to own a bit of property up there, invited me to go up with him a couple friends. Days passed by slowly with anticipation of the hunt and when the day finally arrived I couldn’t load my gear fast enough!
The end of June marks the last days you can fill a pig tag for the previous hunting year. While it is halfway through 2019, California has screwy time tables for issuing tags. I had one pig tag in my possession a couple weeks back and decided if I was going to hunt with my rifle I had better purchase a second one. I hit up the local sporting goods store and picked up a second with days to spare. I figured I had better be prepared.
It was fitting that I be given the camouflage quad to use.
Yes, that’s a drop-off right there.
We spent the first day on quads and dirt bikes getting a tour of the property. Thank goodness because the ground we covered was intense and there is no way I could have done it on foot. Had I been hiking, I’d have been huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf, but not in a good way. We covered 20 miles all over the property and it was amazing! For not having used a quad in nearly 30 years, I handled one pretty well and am grateful Mike allowed me to use one. I carried my unloaded rifle with me as we traveled high and low throughout his land. The grand tour was filled with hill climbs, hiking, and a view from a high peak with a spectacular view.
Back at the house, we ate lunch and Mike prepared me for the evening hunt. He knew I was chomping at the bit to get out there, but it was also nearly a hundred degrees. I opted to chill in the shade, hydrate, and waited until just after four o’clock to head up. He took me to a great lookout and as we reached the turn four Tule elk busted out 30 yards from where he was riding. Three bulls and a cow bolted and slowed to look back at us. Nature is awesome. We looked over the area and I knew there would be no boredom. Waterholes, ridge lines, open grass prairies, and the temperature was dropping. It was going to be a good night to spot some animals.
Sitting in my lookout spot was both peaceful and fulfilling.
For the next couple hours I glassed up two different blacktail bucks and numerous Tule elk. My Vortex 20-60×85 Viper spotting scope armed with my iPhone X in a Phone Skope worked very well. I spent most of the time getting some video of the big bulls rounding up their cows. The buglefest started around 6:00 and didn’t stop! As the sun started to drop, I thought about what my next move would be. I had not seen any pigs yet and my goal was to fill at least one of my tags. Mike mentioned that on many occasions he would be riding down the trail and pigs would be right stopped in the middle. Taking that advice to heart, I decided because I didn’t know the area super well and I wanted to see more of the property, I would cruise out slowly to the road.
Screen grab from one of my videos of the Tule elk bull that caught my attention.
Taking my time, I crept the quad around each turn slowly with my eyes looking for any movement. As I made my way down the last stretch of mountain I spotted chubby dots rapidly covering ground…pigs! A sounder was moving to the east and heading my way. I didn’t have much time, so I locked the e-brake, cut the engine and hopped off. The pigs trotted just past the draw I was standing above. I unbuckled my Remington .270 WIN from my Badlands 2200 pack and loaded the rifle. I anticipated the pigs would come back my way and right up the draw. I dropped and got prone and the pigs read the script. They walked right in at 70 yards and started feeding. One well placed shot later and the lead sow was down. I immediately racked another round and an Oreo-looking pig crested a small hill broadside to me. A second shot dropped her in her tracks. Two pigs down in a matter of seconds. Second to last day of the season and I was tagged out!
Mike giving me a much needed assist on the skinning of one of my pigs.
Skinning and quartering the two pigs created a bit of a challenge for me. It was already 10:00 PM and I had two pigs to skin and quarter before I cleaned up for the night. Fortunately, my buddy Mike lent me a hand in helping me get the pigs skinned. After seven bottles of water and an energy drink, I completed the tasks as the clock struck 2:22 AM. A quick clean up of the knives, a much needed shower and I was in bed by 3:00 AM hoping to fall straight asleep. It didn’t take long, but as soon as the sun came up I had to fight to get more sleep. I’ve always been a morning person, but this day I wanted to sleep in! Finally, I gave in around 7:30 AM and started cleaning up for the ride home.
I want to say thank you to Mike G. for inviting me to his property, driving up and back, and helping out as much as he did. You were a gracious host and I had a great time!
Whoever tells you it’s a great idea to buy that second tag and shoot two pigs right before dark… go ahead and kick them! I kid, but the amount of work (while worth it) is tough. More ice was procured on my way home as I contemplated how long I wanted the meat to rest. I allowed the pigs to age in my coolers for seven days, then butchered and vacuum sealed the specific parts I wanted separate. Then I made up 35# of sausage. Would I do it again? You bet I would because I love to hunt and I will take the opportunities when I can. Hunting wild pigs is one of my favorite things to do. Eating them is better still.
Every year it’s usually the same thing in my house. My wife and daughter ask what I want for Father’s Day and I shake my head and say, ‘Nothing. I have everything I want.’ The scowls on their faces tell me otherwise and I love them for always wanting to reward me. Being a good husband and a good dad is truly reward enough. Beyond that, there are a few items that I am going to test out and you dads might be interested in one or a few of them.
Cycling is exercise I actually enjoy, but on some of the bike paths around here, the wind is annoyingly constant. The reduction in hearing what’s going on around me is frustrating. These add-ons from Wind Blox are supposed to reduce that noise by 80% and I am eager to put them to the test. Price: ~$17.95/pr.
I go through socks like the NHRA goes through tires. Quality socks that breathe are something I am always willing to put to the test. These hiking socks from Cloudline Apparel look to be just the ticket. As a heavier guy, I need a little extra padding under my feet. I’ll be testing these out on my scouting trips and local hikes in the near future. Price: ~$19.99/pr.
Living in Long Beach, CA has its perks. We live close to the beach and there is always something you can do. My family loves going to the beach (my wife and daughter to play in the water and me to look for treasure with my metal detector). Either way, by the time we get back to the truck, our feet and hands are usually covered in sand. The showers are normally pretty busy, so having an Advanced Elements 3.0 Gallon Summer Shower in the truck will be a great perk! Price: ~$24.99
The Skeeter Beater is something that I can use year-round. It’s made to fit your vehicle windows and attaches by the use of magnets. It’ll be great for me because one of our shooting spots has a bee’s nest nearby and they are always trying to get inside the vehicle. Having to run the air conditioning all the time with the windows up drives me crazy. These should help with that! Price: ~$54.95/pr.
After our beach trips, or my hikes, I am usually dirty or sweaty. Having a towel I can wipe down with is great, but also having something to go over my seat for the ride back home is a win-win. The Transition Wrap 2.0: Microfiber Gym Towel, Seat Cover for Athletes, Car Seat Cover from Orange Mud is a great solution. I chose the Woodland Camo pattern for obvious reasons. I plan on using this after my hikes, the mountains, and to keep in the truck for those beach days. Price: ~$39.99
No matter what you do for your dad, tell him you love him. Have fun with him. Share this post with him and see if he likes something on here. You might be surprised!
Don’t forget to apply by this Sunday night!! See the information from the CDFW website below. Get your applications in now. Also remember that this year you must use all copper projectiles to take game in California.
CDFW staff are only available to help with and correct draw application errors Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Don’t wait until June to submit your draw applications! Last minute application errors may result in you missing this year’s drawing. Late applications cannot be accepted.
Tips to Prevent Missing This Year’s Draw
Don’t wait until June to submit your application!
Check your receipt before leaving your local license agent or CDFW sales office to ensure you successfully submitted a draw application.
Be sure you purchase a First-Deer Tag Drawing Application, not a First-Deer Tag, if you intend to apply for a premium deer tag or obtain a preference point.
If you turned 18 since the last time you purchased a license, you must visit a license agent or contact CDFW to add your own identification to your customer profile. Use a previously issued license or drawing receipt to retrieve your profile and have the sales clerk click on “Add Identity” to add your own identification.
When applying online, make sure you check the box to authorize the purchase and then click on “Complete Transaction.” When the “Transaction Complete” screen appears, download your drawing application receipt.
Do you have questions, need to update your CDFW profile, or need help with submitting or modifying a hunt application? If so, contact the License and Revenue Branch at (916) 928-2537 or LRB@wildlife.ca.gov.
California regulations now mandate that you must use copper projectiles when hunting with a firearm. I’ve been researching possibilities for a while, made some purchases, and customized some ammunition. Months of testing have passed and I now have my final hunting loads for deer, bear, and pigs tested and approved for my Remington .270 Winchester rifle. It took me some time as I wanted to test out a variety of powders, projectiles, cases and hunting conditions. It’s been a fun process that had some surprises.
Rifle: Remington 710 chambered in .270 Winchester Optic: Vortex Diamondback HP 4-16×42
All loads were tested at 100 yards, shooting flat, and from a seated position. Not that it makes any difference, but I like being open about how I set up.
In the image above, you can see a nice tight group from my custom loads on the first day of testing. The load specifics are as follows: New Winchester case, 50 gr. Hodgdon Hybrid 100V powder, Nosler 130 gr. E-Tip projectile, and a Winchester large rifle primer. There was a slight 5-10 mph cross breeze from R to L and the temperature was 66 degrees. The target above shows one of 30 (yes, 30) different targets from the first testing day. I shot 150 rounds that day. I ran a dry patch through the barrel and let the rifle sit for five minutes with the action open.
The only test I did not run was velocity through my chronograph. For a multitude of reasons, that will be done at another time.
This target shows the results from the final day of testing. After a minor scope adjustment, I had five shots group like this. The load specifics are similar: 2x fired Winchester case, 50 gr. Hodgdon Hybrid 100V powder, Nosler 130 gr. E-Tip projectile, and a Winchester large rifle primer. On this day, the temps were 60 degrees and there was a 10-15 mph breeze R to L. The rgusts were strong when they hit and I waited in between gusts as best I could, but you can see it wasn’t always perfect. I ran a dry patch through the barrel and let the rifle sit for five minutes with the action open.
Overall, I am thrilled with the results. Keep in mind, this custom loads works exceptionally well in my rifle and may not in yours. That being said, this is a great starting point for anyone shooting 130 gr. copper projectiles out of a .270 WIN. If you want my load data sheet, email me and I’ll send it to you. You might find a different load that I tested that works better for you. All in all, I have found the handload I am going to be using from now on for hunting deer, bear, and pigs.
It’s range day and you are carry your sidearm on your hip to the firing line. It weighs so much that your pants slip lower and lower making it uncomfortable and unsafe. Propper came up with a solution to that with their new Propper Carbon Carry Belt. Not only will it hold up your pants and carry your holstered sidearm, but it will do both at the same time.
My first impression of the belt was that it looked like a stripped tire and smelled like one, too. I’m not going to lie, it smells like tire factory. Once I got beyond that, I looked it over for imperfections (I found zero) and looked at the construction (solid). I slipped it through my belt loops (takes some getting used to as it hugs each loop on the way through) and secured the buckle. My pants were not going anywhere.
The first time I took it to the range I secured my Glock 20SF (10mm) with the 10-round California compliant mag full. The loaded handgun is a bit heavy, but unlike other belts, the Carbon Carry Belt didn’t lean or fold. It stayed put and so did my handgun. I carried it around the range, fired off a few rounds here and there and checked the location of my holster. It didn’t move throughout that entire time and my pants stayed put. (I have worn the Propper Kinetic Tactical Pants many times, but I always had an issue with them creeping down. I don’t have that problem any longer.)
A bit of sag in the belly, but not in the Propper Carbon Carry Belt. It holds strong and true.
The second time at the range I opted to hike a bit more with pockets loaded up, handgun loaded and extra mags in my pockets. Again, I zero issues carrying my handgun, shooting and returning the firearm to the holster, or having my pants fall down. This belt stayed put through the entire day and I’ll admit, I was very happy. A big guy like me wants his pants to stay up (so does everyone else at the range), and I want my handgun to stay put. The Carbon Carry Belt did all of that.
Competitively priced at $54.99, these are priced to sell. It’s a great price considering what you get, there is free shipping, and there is a low price guarantee. Considering it is the only belt I have used that secures both pants and holster with loaded firearm, I definitely recommend the Propper Carbon Carry Belt to handgunners with any size handgun.
Aerial and ground surveys of Southern California’s Mount San Gorgonio desert bighorn sheep population conducted during early March have confirmed a severe decline in numbers. Biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and partner agencies counted 60 animals, approximately one-third the number counted in the last helicopter survey conducted in March 2016.
This reduction appears to be consistent with an outbreak of respiratory disease that CDFW has been investigating since December.
“Die-offs of bighorn sheep of this type and magnitude that have occurred in the past have almost always been triggered by contact with domestic sheep or goats,” CDFW Wildlife Biologist Dr. Jeff Villepique said.
In December 2018, multiple reports of dead or dying bighorn sheep in Whitewater Canyon and the Mission Creek drainages were confirmed by biologists working for CDFW. Tissue samples from carcasses were sent to pathologists at the California Animal Health and Food Safety laboratories. The investigation is ongoing, with 21 bighorn carcasses identified thus far.
Administering medical treatment to sick bighorn is not feasible due to many factors, including the remote location, the difficulty of capturing animals and inability to capture and treat the entire herd.
Southern California is home to approximately 4,800 bighorn sheep in 64 herd units. To date, there have been no reports of sheep in nearby herds being affected by the disease.
CDFW is one of several entities involved in managing bighorn sheep in California, and participates in the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Wild Sheep Working Group. The Group has declared respiratory disease to be “the biggest impediment to restoring and sustaining bighorn sheep populations.”
Media Contacts: Dr. Jeff Villepique, CDFW Inland Deserts Region, (909) 584-9012 Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 221-1169