View Full Version : DFG Game Bird Heritage Hunts?

12-10-2008, 1:07 PM
Going on one of the ďapprenticeĒ (beginner) game bird heritage pheasant hunts in Merced this weekend. This will be my first hunt of anykind. Anyone ever been on one of these hunts? Any good? What should I expect? Iím bringing 1 3/8oz #5 loads as well as 1 1/4oz #7.5 loads just incase they have a restriction on pellet size that I donít know about. No dog, but I hear they may have folks with dogs helping out. My wife and I only have one shotgun, so weíll be trading off. Hopefully that works out all right. Itís a 20 year old Mossberg 500 w/ 28Ē fixed mod choke barrel.

By the way, once you field dress the bird, how do you get the darn thing home? Inside a cooler w/ ice? Itíll be about 3-5 hours till I get home after the hunt, depending how soon we down a bird, total time could be more like 8 hrs. Then once I get home, freezer or fridge?


12-10-2008, 2:31 PM
yes a cooler with plenty of ice, bring large ziplock bags to put the bird in so that the water from the melting ice dosent soak the meat.

have fun!

12-10-2008, 3:59 PM
Thanks for the tip!

12-10-2008, 4:16 PM
Make sure you leave a wing on it!

12-10-2008, 6:45 PM
and if you or your wife are adverse to blood or guts on your hands bring latex gloves.

When i cleaned a dove in front of my friend on his first time out, he said he was kinda glad that he only got one and the look on his face was great.

heres a basic list of stuff

water in the gallon jugs, with spigot if available (drink and wash)
ziplock bags
sun screen
water in bottles or camelbak

im going to assume that as this is a hunt geared toward beginners they will show you the basics. Remember, the birds neck is stronger then you would think.

12-10-2008, 9:02 PM
Make sure you leave a wing on it!

Do you need to leave a wing on Pheasant? I though that only applied to dove? Or does it apply to all game birds?

12-11-2008, 12:20 AM
I've been on a few of these. Generally a good time had by all.
Safety will be key, of course.
Be sure to bring normal 7 1/2 loads, no high base.
Pretty much all of them require this.
It will bring down a planted pheasant just fine.

They almost always have local dog groups out there helping out.

All the other advice is good. They'll probably give you a tag for each bird you bag. Depending upon the property, they might not let you clean it there.

Your shotgun will be perfect to use, as long as you are each familiar with it.
Sometimes at these they'll have a station for you to shoot some clays beforehand. Practice is always good and they can see everyone handle a gun properly. They also want you to do well.

Fridge or freeezer all depends upon when you plan on cooking the bird(s).

Have fun and good luck.

12-11-2008, 9:57 AM
The old timer's that run these things know what they are doing and will make sure you & your wife have a safe & good time. I went on one of these once and had a good time. It will be over before you know it. I bet your hunt will last no more than a half hour.

Also read this thread, a lot of phesant hunting advise in it.


River Jack
12-11-2008, 5:17 PM
I went on one of these with a buddy last year. It was a lot of fun. Try to hook up with someone with a dog if possible. I hunted without the dog for a couple hours, only saw/shot one bird (pheasant). Then a guy shows up with his dog. Got both our limits within an hour (thanks to the dog). Funny thing was is we walked the exact same transects thru the ag fields that we just completed. Must have walked right by these birds without flushing one several times. The dog was key!

12-11-2008, 9:00 PM
where in merced is this thing at? oh about the dressing stuff just make sure you got several gallons of water to rinse and clean the birds.

12-12-2008, 12:41 PM
where in merced is this thing at? oh about the dressing stuff just make sure you got several gallons of water to rinse and clean the birds.

West of the airport I believe.

EDIT: It's at the new location for the Merced Fish and Game Club. It's unclear wether or not the club has been developed or not. Sounds to be the current or future site of a trap/skeet/sporting clays rage.

12-12-2008, 12:45 PM
I've been on a few of these. Generally a good time had by all.
Safety will be key, of course.
Be sure to bring normal 7 1/2 loads, no high base.
Pretty much all of them require this.
It will bring down a planted pheasant just fine.

Doh! I believe the 7.5 loads I bought were high base! Oh well, Big 5 always has low base 7.5. The info they sent us didn't say anything about ammo, but I should buy some just incase. We shoot clays 1-2 times a month so it's no biggie if we don't use it.

Thanks for all the info guys. I was getting a bit nervous this morning, it being a beginner hunt I was starting to get worried that some of the other hunters may be a bit dangerous. From what you guys have said though, it sounds to be pretty safe. We've got blaze orange hats and vests, so that comforts me a bit.

12-12-2008, 12:50 PM
Fridge or freeezer all depends upon when you plan on cooking the bird(s).

Well, if we get enough birds we are planning on eating 1 Sunday, 1 the weekend of the 20th-21st, and 1-2 over Christmas.

I was told at hunters safety to just pull out the intestines, and then finish the rest of the cleaning at home and use the heart, liver, etc for soup or stuffing.

Considering that it will take me 3-8 hours to get home after downing the bird, does this sound right? (8 hours if we stop to visit some folks in Merced)

Sorry for all the posts...

12-13-2008, 12:12 AM
If you like organ meat (now there's a misnomer), then keep the parts you want there. I don't.
Yeah, gutting it is all you have to do in the short-near term time. If you're not gonna pluck the bird ( I gave up on that - just cook it some moist way) it's just as fast if not faster to skin it in a hurry. There's one method where you stand on the wings, takes about 5 seconds.
Either way, plop it in a cooler for the drive. 2 liter soda bottles frozen make good ice. When you get home, give 'em a good cleaning of debris and rinse in the sink. I like to ziploc 'em then, or vaccuum if you've got it.

I'd freeze the Xmas bird and maybe the 20th weekend as well.

Again, good luck - it should all go well.

12-15-2008, 7:04 PM
Well I thought I’d give a little report on the hunt. Didn’t get any birds, but I wasn’t the only one, so I didn’t feel bad.

Location: Something Something Wetlands. Accessible via the sewage treatment plant on Grove Road and then through a string of city owned semi-public roads open from 7am-3pm which aren’t mapped. I’ve got a Google maps link to it below, the actual hunt area is that rough patch out in the middle of the farm land south of the sewage treatment plant. You may also notice a range close by in the sat view, that’s the police range, unfortunately not open to mere mortals. You need a permit to hunt there, avl through the City of Merced Parks and Rec or DFG (for Game Bird Heritage Hunts only). It was a great area, very scenic with a mix of ponds, creeks, short brush, and tall brush. I was telling my wife that I’d love to come back just to take on walk along the paths. If you have a dog you can easily stick to the many dirt paths and let your dog kick up birds in the brush. I wouldn’t get your hopes up though unless you know that birds have been recently stocked though. It’s an island ecosystem and there really isn’t much there other than some pretty plants, water features, a few little birds, and some cranes/egrets. There’s just no way that it can hold a local population of non-migrant game with hunting pressure. We did see some doves though, and a couple of ducks.
I’m not sure if they allow target shooting or not there. I asked the warden and he said to ask the city. I saw some evidence of target shooting, but it was so little that it I’m thinking it was just bored hunters.

Hunt Area (centered on map, rough patch in the terrain)

Grove Road

Hunt: Well I was a little disappointed off the bat as there was a lot of poor communication between the department at the hunters. They dropped a last minute fee of $16.50 per person on us (previously told it would be %100 free), had no dog handlers, and no clays. The maps they gave us were horrible. The letter they sent us said that blaze orange was optional and eye protection was mandatory, it turned out to be the opposite when we arrived. Eye protection was optional and a blaze orange vest was mandatory. Luckily we had blaze orange vests, but most folks didn’t. Lucky for them the department brought along some chepo garbage bag plastic orange vests.. Anyway, I was fine with the vest situation since we had our own, but disappointed in the miscommunication. The letter also said to be there between 7 and 8am. But they started at 7:30; luckily we got there at 7:15. Again, we were fine, but miscommunication galore. They had virtually no instruction which I was told we would have, as a new hunter with no one mentoring me this was the biggest disappointment of the day. It was basically “put on your vest, finger off the trigger till ready to shoot, don’t get mud in your barrel, ok hunting area is over there”. I asked one of the wardens for tips and he didn’t really have any, seemed more interested in the bird watching he was doing. They also said that they release 100 birds per hunt, but I think it’s more like they try to maintain a population of 100 birds. Of the 15 out of 50 people who showed up about half got 1 bird, a couple got 2. With 15 people hunting 100 birds in a small area, we sure didn’t hear much shooting. As I said, I think it’s more like they try to maintain a population of 100 birds, if that. Also, we saw the bird planting truck and there is no way it holds 100 birds, more like 50 if packed like sardines, 25-30 more realistically. Anyway, enough complaining. It was obvious that everyone had a great time, even those that didn’t get a bird. I learned a lot by talking to other more experienced hunters, had a great walk through some beautiful terrain, and can’t wait to go next season. At the end of the day when we had about 5 min left in the field, I found an empty beer can and feed it some #5 bird shot which put a smile on my face. My wife and I plan to try some clubs next year that rent out dog handlers, but would also like to return to the Merced hunt. Hopefully next year we'll have two shotguns! hehe.

As I said, we did see some Doves. I wasn’t sure if they were in season so I didn’t shoot. Now that I’ve looked it up I see that some species are in season, honestly though I couldn’t tell you which species they were. They were mostly grey.
As far as the ducks, I didn’t have a duck stamp so I just watched them.