As I do every year, I am cogitating, vacillating, and generally deliberating which deer zone to hunt this year. I have become disenchated with zone D8, which is where my cabin is located, because it is overrun with hunters on opening weekend, because the buck/doe ratios have climbed into the twenties after several years of low fawn survival, and because the mulies are basically nocturnal from so much pressure. Success rates are very low.
So this year I am considering applying for premium zones. Specifically I am considering X3a, X3b, and X5a in northeastern California, in the Modoc plateau area. Success rates are high, 4x4s or better are around 30% of the take, but only a few permits are awarded in the drawings. Zone X1, east of Shasta, would be a great backup plan, but somewhere upwards of 2000 tags are usually awarded, so it could be crowded. Nonetheless, success rates are typically much better than in D8. I’ll probably ask for an X zone for my first choice, and D8 for second or third. That way I’m probably going to end up in D8, which I know well, but have a chance for something better.
I’ll probably take bear hunting much more seriously this year as well. I have some pretty good ideas where to hunt them in D8, and they are probably more plentiful further north.
It always amazes me how early and how acutely hunting fever strikes!