X8 - complete famine. Worked my tail off, saw more does than I thought existed in all of California. They were all mule deer, too. How do I know? Because California Columbian blacktail deer do not attain the size of a Kenworth, that's how. I hunted the opener and most of the "season" - all 2 weeks of it. All the bucks I thought I patterned were ... not patterned. All I can tell myself is "next year." I'm thinking D5 for my fall season and maybe a B zone. Or I may just save up all my vacation time and bug out to D5 for the whole season, or as much of it as I can get a hall pass to cover.
But, there was salvation in the upland. Cruised down to a spot near the Clear Creek closure area, looking for valley quail. The last 3 or 4 seasons in that area have been the pits (mostly due to lack of rain), but I had high hopes since 2009-2010's rainfall was pretty good. I was not disappointed. In dry years I would see coveys of 15-30 birds, on a good day. Today I was flushing up coveys of 60-80 birds. More forage, more cover, all good. Of course the resident predators know this too, which is why I saw more bobcat sign in the area (including one slinking away from me after dark) than I have in years. Oh, and did I mention the cottontail population exploded, too?
I came close to bagging a limit of quail, and took a couple cottontails home, too. I'm thinking 'chili', when I think about the rabbits and I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the quail this time around. I'm kind of tired of roasted quail. Maybe something involving a balsamic reduction, 5 pounds of garlic, fig-raisin stuffing (if I've got enough figs on the tree out front yet) and a nice lager.
So, here's to another wet year. Listening to the rain on the windows as I type this, so hopefully things will pan out.
Now, I wonder if I can get back up to the mountains before trout season closes.