While the chances of finding pheasants in Del Norte County are slim, Crescent City residents are discovering the excellent pheasant hunting opportunities in neighboring Siskiyou County.
Aside from wild birds at Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges near Tulelake and Shasta Wildlife Area near Yreka, pheasants can also be found at bird clubs where roosters are released for hunters. One of the best pheasant hunting preserves on the West Coast is located in northern Siskiyou County at the Rising Sun Ranch.
The Rising Sun offers exceptional opportunities for novice and experienced upland bird hunters. The ranch was recently featured on the popular hunting show "Hunting with Hank," whose host, Dez Young, called it one of the best places he'd ever taken pheasants.
An old cattle ranch just south of the Oregon border, the Rising Sun is operated by Burt Holzhauser, a fourth-generation rancher. He switched from raising cattle to pheasants on the 1,000 acres of sagebrush, pastures and timber in the Cascade foothills.
The ranch has been producing exceptional hunting this season. Now that cooler, moister weather has arrived, the hunting will get even better, Holzhauser says.
"It's been great," Holzhauser says. "It's been real good. The weather has been cooperating."
Prime habitat, no crowds
The Rising Sun has developed a reputation of providing hunters with the closest thing to a wild bird hunt in California on private land. "I've had a lot of people tell me this year that these are the best flying birds they've ever shot," Holzhauser says.
Pheasant and chuckar season opened Sept. 1 at the ranch. Pheasant hunting will remain open through the end of March.
"We have a private area for each person to hunt," Holzhauser says. "I don't mix one group with another group. They don't even see anybody else. We've got 1,080 acres where I can spread them out pretty good."
Hunters will find a mix of grasses, sagebrush, brush and pine trees, as well as the cattle pastures with holding areas for birds.
For novice pheasant hunters, Holzhauser and his guides can flag areas where birds are released so people can train their dogs. Veteran hunters often find the hunting just as good as the best wild pheasant hunting in the Plains.
Good tracking conditions
With cooler weather, dogs are having an easier time locating birds. "The scent is better and it's cooler and better for your dog," Holzhauser says.
With recent rains in the Siskiyou Mountains, pheasant hunting has also improved. Once the sun comes out, birds have been retreating from the brush to sun and dry out.
Hunters tell Holzhauser how many pheasants or grouse they want released. They can use their own dogs, or hire Holzhauser to help them find the birds with his flushing labs or pointing English setters.
Because the hunt takes place on private land, non-toxic or lead shot can be used.
For more information on the Rising Sun, visit www.rshunt.com or call (530) 397-3621.
A few salmon continue to be caught on the lower Smith, but this week's rain could bust the fishing wide open any day. Except salmon to begin holding near the Piling Hole downstream from the Sarina Road boat launch soon. Orange Puff Balls fished off the bottom produce well, as do gobs of salmon roe fished below a bobber.
The Klamath also has been good for angler launching and drifting roe. After this year's near-record run failed to show up on the Klamath for a couple months, anglers are now reporting hot fishing.rolling a Kwikfish in the tidewater stretch of the Smith River two