When I was a teenager we had lots of great hunting in Northern California. We hunted for deer, ducks, geese, pheasants, dove and quail. Many of us, along with our families and friends, hunted together.
I was lucky because I had relatives, the Sopwith family, with a rice farm north of Sacramento where, in the 1960s, we had fantastic pheasant hunting. We also had great duck hunting later in the season. My uncle Tom Anderson, high school friend Jim Silva and my cousin, Jim Sopwith, would all hunt together with the help of their black Labrador retriever, Tammy. We had some wonderful days hunting wild Chinese ring neck pheasants back then…..
With some south Sac friends we leased a 100 acre pond near Woodland, California. We had 4 sets of double tanks so 8 of us could hunt at once. I think I split a tanks with someone else for $75.00 a season. On one fantastic opening day around 1960 we had hundreds of Mallard ducks flooding into our decoys. Not being to experienced we all shot a little over the limit by 9:00am. Luckily one of us had the idea to come into our vehicles with one limit per person. Well, we lucked out because two game wardens showed up to check our shotguns for plugs and to check our limits. Later that day we had other friends go out and shoot some then bring in the rest of the ducks.
My high school friend, Jim Silva, had a connection to a big ranch up near Ione where we were able to hunt for thousands of California Valley Quail. We would drive up there for the day and they let us have an old jeep and a set of keys for all the gates. I guess we were very lucky to be able to have this big ranch all to ourselves. In the fall when the quail season opened we would find them all in one giant flock of hundreds.
One year we had thousands of wild pigeons down at a lower elevation than normal near Bass Lake on Hwy 50. I was working at a bait-n-tackle shop in West Sacramento, West Capitol Rod& Gun. We got word of this and we would drive up there for weeks with a car full of crazy hunters. We basically had to almost trespass to find a place to hunt. Big flocks would fly just over the tree tops and we were pass shooting them. We got limits in just a short time or we run out of shells. As soon as we stopped shooting the pigeons would land all around us in the trees to rest.
We always had good hunting for Morning Dove around Sacramento back in the day. My brothers, my dad, my high school friend Tony Schiro, and I would load up in our station wagon and head out to the Deep Water Channel in West Sacramento for doves in the evening. We had some good times…..