Zone A California Hunting for Deer, best spots, Public Land Areas, Hunting Ranches and Clubs
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Zone A deer hunters heading aﬁeld this August can expect to see some of the biggest bucks in years, and thanks to cooler-than normal temperatures, chances of downing one of those blacktails is excellent!
The largest zone in the state opens to rifle hunters Saturday, Aug. 12, and nimrods who purchase tags and licenses for this vast coastal zone have some excellent opportunity on tap.
Perhaps 90 percent of the zone is privately owned, and, like most hunting in California, the best prospects can be found on those private ranches. Please see our list of Private Ranches below or click on our map markers to go to that ranch for more information.
We‘re going to give you some options on public land. If you are willing to put some hard work, buy a forest service or BLM map, have an excellent opportunity awaiting. Late spring rains sparked great antler growth in the North , particularly in Mendocino County, which offers the best California deer hunting in Zone A.
Lake County appears to be another winner this year, as does private property in Sonoma and Napa counties. The farther south you go, the hotter and drier the conditions. Water becomes the key source.
Jackson State Forest
Located in western Mendocino County, Jackson State forest offers fair blacktail deer hunting. Hunters will ﬁnd heavy cover and lots of trees, but hunters who locate two year-old clearcuts will ﬁnd deer feeding in them at first light and then again just before dark.
During the day, hunters will have to beat the brush because bucks will be bedded down in thick cover. The southern tip of the Kings Range at the north end of the zone is also open to the public, but hunters will ﬁnd better deer in Jackson State Forest.
Mendocino State Forest
Some of the best California deer hunting in the state can be found in this vast national forest which is open to the public. Zone A hunters need to be careful not to cross over into Zone B territory which doesn’t open until September. Late-season rains caused some out standing antler growth here, and prospects are better than average as a result.
Horse Mountain, Goat Mountain, Bartlett Springs and Elk Ridge all have deer and there is plenty of water around here too. There’s a good piece of Bureau of Land Management property that follows the North Fork Cache Creek into Indian Valley Reservoir.
Spanish Ridge to the north is also worth hunting. Cache Creek BLM Hunters willing to do a little hiking will be rewarded with some excellent California deer hunting in the 30,000- acre Cache Creek area,
Hunters will ﬁnd deer and wild pig on the area located just east of Clear Lake out of Clear Lake Highlands Hunters who want to locate this area need to stop by the BLM office nearest them and ask for the Lakeport and Healdsburg BLM maps. They cost $4, but it’s well worth the money. The maps will show access roads leading to the area. The Cache Creek BLM area is popular among hunters who own horses. They can get into the back country where there aren’t any roads
You’ll ﬁnd deer in the cool shade and and pigs are also in this area so keep your eyes open.
Panoche Hills BLM
Central Valley hunters, unlike their northern counterparts, face extreme hot, dry conditions. Prospects are fair at best in most areas, but there are some decent public hunting opportunities available.
One is the Panoche Hills BLM area, located near Mercy Hot Springs off County Road Jl, I0 miles west of lnterstate 5. Hunters will ﬁnd 30,000 acres, and the best deer hunting is at elevations higher than 2,500 feet. Hunters must locate springs which have been developed by the DFG and BLM. Deer will be congregated in these areas, as will quail and some chukar.
Clear Creek BLM
Clear Creek Management Area is the largest BLM unit in the area with more than 50,000 acres, of which half are open to vehicle use.
Clear Creek is also hot and dry and deer are widely scattered this year. The area is made up of rolling hills, leather oaks, manzanita and chaparral so it’s ideal for deer. Stay away from the barren hills which contain asbestos. This area is located 4 miles south of ldira off County Road Jl.
Get a map from the BLM and located the springs. Hunt in high places like San Benito Mountain, and look for available water. You’ll ﬁnd deer and pigs. Two other public hunting areas that offer fair deer hunting are the Upper Cottonwood Wildlife Area and Pacheco Pass west of San Luis Reservoir.
Los Padres National Forest
Los Padres National Forest offers south coast buck hunters some of the best public hunting opportunity, but hot dry conditions have forced Stage Il ﬁre restrictions in the l.7 million-acre forest which stretches from Carmel down to Ventura County. S
Stage ll ﬁre restrictions prohibit all tire use outside developed recreation sites; restricts vehicle use, including motorcycles and ATVs; and prohibits the use of smoking tobacco except in the developed recreation sites or in enclosed vehicles.
The tinder dry forest means deer will be close to water. The best hunting will likely be opening weekend, then again the ﬁnal weekend when it’s hoped cooler temperatures will prevail. For big bucks, you can’t beat that ﬁnal weekend.
The Venata Wilderness
Offers hunters the best bet and top prospects are Chews Ridge, Arroyo Seco, Black Cone and Prewitt Ridge. Fort Hunter Liggett is always a viable option. See our blog on the Fort by searching for it in our search bar above. Call the post at 408-385-1205 for information and hunting reservations!
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