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California fish and game (Volume 1952-1954) online

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the hunters are out after deer.

Deer: After the severe winter of 1951-52, the 1952
deer kill fell oflt sharply, although the following year
the bag climbed sharply to the second best season on
record. Recovery in deer population was especially
noted on the east side Sierra ranges which were hard-
est hit by the severe winter. Other factors contribut-
ing to a lower 1952 kill were the return of forked
horn protection in District 1 % , and mild weather
which kept the deer on high summer ranges where
hunting was difficult. Mild winters, in 1952-53 and
1953-54 brought about marked state-wide increases in
the deer herds.

Tree Squirrels: Tree squirrels are a minor game
species, although 1953 saw the second highest harvest
on record. The previous year showed a small kill.

Jacksnipe: Relatively few birds were bagged in
1953, the first open season on the species since 1940.
Most were taken by duck hunters incidental to their
main quarry.

State-wide Game Kill-1 948-1 953

As reported by hunters in postcard surveys

Yearly average
indicated bags



Species

Quail - .-

Pheasants *

Doves

Pigeons

Ducks



1948-1951
. 1,352,100
. 476,700
. 2,146,200
167,000
. 2,549,000



Geese - - 310,200

Rabbits (brush, cottontail).... 443,900

Jackrabbits — - - - 719,000

Tree squirrels - - 48,000

Bears - 3,300

Jacksnipes (first open season

since 1940)

• Includes pheasants taken on licensed game bird clubs



1952

1,644,700
581,800

2,595,200
177,400

4,642,800

490,300

504,800

986,700

26,700

5,200



19Si
,041,400
732,400
,909,100
294,200
,599,600
580,500
949,400
,188,100
66,400
7,200

44,200



FORTY-THIRD BIENNIAL REPORT



47



FUR RESOURCES

Although not widely known, California still has a
sizable and valuable fur resource. During the past
biennium 1,851 fur trappers were licensed and took
199,000 fur-bearing animals with an estimated value
of 1196,000 for raw furs. Inasmuch as trapping is
closely linked with market demand, about 90 percent
of the animals were muskrats. Current fashions result
in demand for the so-called short hair varieties such
as muskrat, mink and river otter, and trapping effort
is largel\- directed toward these species. Conversely,
such abundant species as gray fox, raccoon, bobcat
and coyote have little value, and are virtually unused
on the present fur market.

Cooperative Hunting Program

For the past two years there has been a steady up-
swing in the department's cooperative pheasant pro-
gram, from the standpoint of number of co-op areas,
acreage involved, shooter capacity, number of hunters
using the areas, number of pheasants bagged, and per-
centage of hunter success.

Since the program was initiated in 1949 by action of
the Legislature, it has seen a steady grow th in popular-
ity as a means of providing shooting for the unat-
tached pheasant hunter. Crux of the program is
agreement between private property owners and the
Department of Fish and Game whereby the owner
allows public hunting on his propert\' under the reg-
ulation and supervision of the department. Permits are
issued at checking stations to the hunters on a first
come, first served basis. Cooperative areas are patrolled
by department personnel to insure compliance with
the agreement and with the regulations.

By the 1953 season a total of 142,500 acres of land
was opened in 18 cooperative areas from Firebaugh
in Fresno County in the south to McArthur in Shasta
County in the north. That year 72,841 hunters, or
about one-fourth of the total, were accommodated,
and 30,698 pheasants taken. Of these co-op areas, 16
were free to the public, and two were charge areas, on
which no more than |2 daily can be charged for the
hunting privilege.

For a complete listing of areas, number of hunters,
and hunting success, see Table 31, Appendix.

Pheasant Hunting on Waterfowl Areas

An innovation during the biennium was opening of
certain waterfowl management areas to pheasant hunt-
ing. In 1953 Gray Lodge provided shooting for 1,586
hunters and a bag of 872 birds; Los Banos, 215 hunters
and a bag of 80; Grizzly Island, 147 hunters and a bag
of 85; and Honey Lake, 838 hunters and a bag of 369
birds.

Grizzly Island and Los Banos hunting was set aside
for juveniles, 16 and under, who were accompanied by
adults.



WATERFOWL MANAGEMENT AREAS

California is justly proud of the quality of shooting
on its public waterfowl hunting areas, which have
continued to expand during the past biennium. Ex-
amples of this are the average bag per hunter of four
birds at Gray Lodge, Butte County, and 3.5 birds at
Grizzly Island, Solano County, better than reported
from any other public shooting ground in the United
States. Four new areas were added during the bien-
nium, including Gray Lodge, Sutter National Refuge,
San Luis Wasteway, and Los Banos. Sutter Refuge is
in Sutter County, and the latter two are in Merced
Count)'. Another factor in the expansion was the addi-
tion of the first cooperative waterfowl hunting area,
the Welch area in Colusa County. Additional shooting
w as provided by leasing at low cost 5,000 acres known
as the Napa Marshes unit from the Leslie Salt Com-
pany. These units, covering 24,775 acres in 1953,
brought shooting to 37,000 hunters who bagged 98,201
waterfowl. These figures do not include the take at
Napa iMarshes, where no checking stations were main-
tained for accurate records. However, 1,650 permits
for use of the area were sold.

Public shooting areas are of three main types: state
land such as Gray Lodge and Grizzly, Lea Act lands
owned by the Federal Government with the hunting
supervised by the State, such as Sutter and Colusa



GROWTH OF PUBLIC SHOOTING PROGRAM
PHEASANT COOPERATIVE HUNTING AREAS



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1949 1950 1951 1952 1953



HUNTING SEASON



48



DEPARTA4ENT OF FISH AND GAME



areas; and leased lands such as the San Luis Wasteway,
from the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Napa
Marshes, from Leslie Salt Compan\'.

Hunters using most public shooting areas were
charged S2 per da>-, which goes toward defraying ex-
pense of maintaining and operating the area. Madeline
and Hone\- Lake were free areas, and on that part of
the Imperial area where blinds were available the
charge was $5 per day. At Napa Marshes a $3 seasonal
permit was issued.

All w aterfow 1 management areas have zones which
are closed to hunting, providing waterfowl feeding
and resting areas. On all Lea Act lands and on some
state lands such as Gray Lodge and Los Banos, hunting
usually is delayed until harvesting on surrounding ag-
ricultural areas is completed as a crop depredation
relief measure. Total acreage of both state-owned and
federally owned waterfowl areas showed big increases
during the period of this report. In 1951 the state-
owned or leased total was 33,584 acres, and by 1953
this total had reached 45,457. Federally owned water-
fowl areas, parts of which are opened to hunting, rose
from 177,507 acres in 1951 to 180,190 in 1953 mainly
through addition to the Colusa and Sutter areas. These
figures include all federally operated areas in addition
to those operated partly as state-controlled public
shooting grounds.

GROWTH OF PUBLIC SHOOTING PROGRAM
WATERFOWL MANAGEMENT AREAS



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35,000



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25,000



20,000



10,000



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1949 1950 1951 1952 1953

HUNTING SEASON



Variety of Sources

Funds for acquisition of the state and federal water-
fowl areas come from a variety of sources: from Pitt-
nian-Robertson federal aid in game conservation by a
tax on sporting arms and ammunition; from the Fed-
eral Lea Act which sets up funds for purchase of land
to prevent crop depredation by waterfowl; funds of
the Wildlife Conservation Board, which was allocated
funds from race horse pari-mutuel betting; and from
the sale of hunting licenses.

Each area has several purposes in the State's water-
fowl management program. These lands provide feed-
ing and resting areas, to prevent damage to nearby
agricultural crops, to provide a sanctuary during hunt-
ing season, nesting areas, and as public shooting
grounds for licensed hunters. Major purpose is perpet-
uation of a natural resource w^hose wintering grounds
has been seriously depleted.

A large portion of Pittman-Robertson funds avail-
able for development work has been spent in water-
fowl management areas because waterfowl are in
greatest danger of being adversely affected by the
continuing economic development of the State.

Work at the various areas included land leveling,
ditch construction, levee construction, installation of
head gates, building construction, cultivation of water-
fowl food crops, and road construction.

Following is a summary of the management areas
on which development work was carried out under
Pittman-Robertson funds:

1. Suisun Waterfowl Refuge: Encouraging the
growth of native aquatic plants for waterfowl feed
was the purpose of P-R Project W9-D in the develop-
ment of this 1,887-acre salt-water marsh area in Solano
County. The area does not lend itself readily to culti-
vation of food crops of domestic varieties. No public
hunting is provided, as the area's function is solely that
of a refuge.

2. Gray Lodge Waterfo-wl Management Area: Cul-
tivation of waterfowl food crops was a major activity
on this area, located in the heart of California's rice-
growing region in the upper Sacramento Valley. Pro-
duction of food crops is important in relieving crop
depredations by holding peak waterfowl populations
on the management area. Development of the crops,
carried out under P-R Project W13-D, saw 1,500 acres
of rice, milo, millet, barley and wheat grown, out of
a total area of 2,542 acres. Public hunting was pro-
vided on a portion of the area beginning in 1953.

3. Imperial Waterfowl Management Area: Size and
effectiveness of this area in providing waterfow 1 feed-
ing grounds and public shooting areas has been re-
duced due to the rise in elevation of Salton Sea waters,
and its encroachment on the waterfowl area. Most of
the area was lost to flooding, leaving less than 1,000
acres. Development of the area w as done under P-R
Project W3f)-D. Because of the importance of having
waterfowl feeding and resting grounds in the intensely



FORTY-THIRD BIENNIAL REPORT



49



farmed Imperial Valley, an alternate site is being ob-
tained through use of Wildlife Conservation Board
Funds.

4. Honey Lake Waterfowl Management Area: De-
velopment of this 4,820-acre area in Lassen County
was carried out during the biennium under P-R Proj-
ect W38-D. It is an important nesting ground for
ducks and Canada geese. About 800 acres of waterfowl
food crops were under cultivation, mainly wheat and
barley. Public shooting is provided.

5. Madeline Plains Waterfowl Management Area:
Another P-R development project was the Madeline
Plains area, which is an excellent waterfowl breeding
area and which has a large resident population of Can-
ada geese. Approximately 700 acres of waterfowl food
crops such as wheat and barley are in cultivation.
During mild winters there is good public hunting for
ducks and geese. This area was under P-R Project
W.39-D.

6. Los Banos Waterfo^vl Management Area: Like
Gray Lodge, this area is important in providing crop
protection for surrounding agricultural areas. More
than 800 acres of waterfowl food crops were culti-
vated, keeping thousands of birds on the area and away
from San Joaquin Valley crops. Public shooting is
provided on a portion of the 3,000 acres in the area.

7. Grizzly Island Waterfow^l Management Area:
This area, largest of California's waterfowl manage-
ment areas, with 8,600 acres, was purchased in 1950
with funds provided by the Wildlife Conservation
Board. During the biennium nearly 28,000 hunters
were accommodated, with 85,000 birds bagged. Lo-
cated close to the heavily populated San Francisco Bay
region, it provides a convenient and excellent shooting
area for a large number of sportsmen. Approximately
2,000 acres of waterfowl food crops was under cultiva-
tion under P-R Project W43-D.

UPLAND GAME BIRD PRODUCTION

During recent years virtually all suitable ring-neck
pheasant habitat in the State has been adequately
stocked, and the biennium saw game farm birds used
for stocking for the gun. Stocking to extend the pheas-
ant range no longer is the prime purpose of the farms,
and most birds are held to maturity and released just
prior to or during the pheasant season.

During the two-year period covered by the report
the department's game farms released 191,772 upland
game birds, of which 187,485 were ring-neck pheas-
ants, 1,955 Reeves pheasants, and 2,332 chukar part-
ridges. The department's facilities for holding birds
are supplemented by sportsmen's pens located through-
out the State. During the biennium 62,366 pheasants,
both male and female, were released from pens main-
tained by sportsmen's organizations.

Policy for release of game farm birds has been to
release most on areas for public hunting, with a consid-



WATERFOWL MANAGEMENT AREAS



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1949 1950 1951 1952 1953

HUNTING SEASON

erable number on cooperative areas. A few birds are
released on land which is closed to hunting for five
\'ears, to be considered seed stock areas. No birds are
released on habitat totally unsuited to pheasants.

Reeves Pheasants: Efforts were made during the
biennium to etablish the Reeves pheasant in timbered
country and coniferous forests, territory similar to that
inhabited in its native China. It was hoped that the
Reeves pheasant would take hold and provide hunting
in areas now lacking in upland game birds with the
single exception of the mountain quail, but success to
date has been nil. The few birds planted during the
biennium were placed in entirely new areas such as the
heavy rain forests of Del Norte Count\'. The depart-
ment has dropped this species for further introduction.

Chukar Partridge: In direct contrast to the Reeves
pheasant, the chukar partridge, another Asiatic native,
has established itself to the point where California's
first open season was authorized for the fall of 1954.
Chukars raised on game farms are used to establish new
colonies of these birds in suitable habitat not now oc-
cupied by permanent population. Game farm chukars
usually are supplemented by wild birds obtained by
trapping, in planting a new site.

Total plant of chukars from the beginning in 1928
to the present has been 47,000 birds.

(See Table 29, Appendix, for game bird releases.)




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Numbers of /he imported chukar partridge increased so much that the first open season was authorized in 1954. Chu/cors are shown at the lip

of a quoil guzzler.



Best habitat for this steadily increasing game bird is
in the arid mountain country east of the Sierra crest,
the southeast desert ranges and the barren hills sur-
rounding the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley.
Although game farm birds were used to a certain ex-
tent in the southern part of the State for transplanting,
much of the success in spreading birds has been done
by trapping and transplanting wild chukars.

GAME HABITAT DEVELOPMENT

Under the Pittman-Robertso,n Project W26-D most
of the major habitat improvement work of the depart-
ment for species other than waterfowl was accom-
plished. The project is state-wide in scope with work
done in all of the five regions.

During the preceding Biennium 1950-52 this proj-
ect was concerned primarily with restoration of quail
range. Activities included food and cover plantings,
erecting artificial roosts and construction of "gallina-
ceous guzzlers" or artificial watering devices. During
the past biennium emphasis was shifted to deer habitat
improvement although the quail work continues, but
on a reduced scale. The program receives help through
financial aid from county fine moneys and physical
labor from sportsmen and other interested groups.

Listed below are the major activities of the project.

1. Artificial Quail Watering Devices (Gallinaceous
Guzzlers): These rain catchment basins have proved
effective in furnishing water for quail. As a conse-
quence man>' areas formerly deficient in water are
now productive hunting grounds. During the biennium
239 guzzlers were installed bringing the total to 2,016.
Although primarily for quail these watering devices
have proved beneficial to chukars and doves. Most of
the guzzlers are located in the central and south coastal
counties and in the southeast desert areas where water
deficiencies are most prevalent. Plastic has been substi-
tuted for concrete as construction material in more in-
accessible areas.

2. Spring Development: A continued program of
spring survey and development work has been carried



on, mainly in the southeast desert mountains. Quail,
doves, chukars, and bighorn sheep are the principal
beneficiaries of this work. Activity consists primarily
of surveying water sources and developing by bo.xing,
piping, and cleaning those springs which show promise
of furnishing year-round water. More than 100 springs
were improved.

3. Brush Removal on Deer Ranges: California has
vast acreages of mature, dense brush stands which are
low in game productivity. By clearing and opening up
these stands to permit deer access they can be made
into good habitat. In addition to providing access, the
new sprouting growth on the cleared areas provides
increased feed for deer and other game.

Methods developed by the department's brush re-
moval P-R research studies are being employed in this
work. Mechanical removal and controlled burning of
brush are the two methods in most common use. Burn-
ing and mechanical removal are done in small patches
and strips so that the area benefited is actually many
times the acreage of the cleared land itself.

During the biennium over 3,000 acres were cleared
mechanically and nearly 1,700 acres were control
burned. Nearly 800 acres have been chemically treated
to retard growth of undesirable species or fertilized
to promote growth of desirable species. Chemical
treatment of brush lands is in an experimental stage at
present, but gives promise of more use in the future.

4. Reseeding of Deer Range Lands: During the bi-
ennium nearly 5,000 acres have been seeded, mainly to
grasses and other herbs such as filaree and clover. Some
experimental reseeding of desirable browse species has
been done also. Range reseeding is done on controlled
burns and on wild fire burns. In addition to the feed
provided it has been found that a good growth of
grasses and herbs on a new burn has a tendency to re-
duce the amount of reinvasion of brush on the area
by choking out the seedlings.

5. Shrub Plantings: More than 50,000 shrubs were
planted in Siskiyou, Modoc, and Lassen Counties in
range improvement work. Bitterbrush, multiflora rose,



FORTY-THIRD BIENNIAL REPORT



51



wild rose, willow, and other species have been used.
Local ranchers and sportsmen have taken an active
part in the program in the form of furnishing tractors
and labor for the work.

6. Deer "Guzzlers": Two deer-watering devices
have been constructed in the Andesite area in Siski-
you County. The locality is in an excellent stand of
bitterbrush which is at present little utilized by deer
because of a lack of water in the area. It remains to be
seen whether these guzzlers will accomplish their pur-
pose.

SPECIAL DEER SEASONS

Ten special deer hunts were authorized by the Cali-
fornia Fish and Game Commission, with a variety of
objectives. Some were for relief of farmers who had
suffered crop depredations, some to protect winter
ranges from over-browsing, others to provide better
harvest of deer herds which were unreachable during
the regular season, and still others to provide hunting
in areas of fire hazard during the regular season.

Special hunts may be sponsored by local groups, or
by the department, but in each case open public hear-
ings are conducted and if local opinion is favorable,
plans for the season are drawn up. Commission policy
has been to authorize special hunts only if they have
local backing. A total of 2,776 deer were taken in the
special hunts held during the biennium. A summary of
the special hunts:

Los Angeles Archery: These hunts, held from July
26 to October 19, 1952, and from August 8 to Decem-
ber 31, 1953, were set up for the purpose of allowing
deer hunting in the heavily populated Los Angeles
area where rifle hunting was felt to be too dangerous.
With either sex provisions, 16 males and 14 females
were bagged by archers last year. No data was avail-
able on the previous season's hunt.

Southern California Winter Season: Fire closures in
Southern California national forest areas for many
years have denied a major deer territory to Southern
California hunters. In January of 1953 a 16-day season
for either sex was set up, with a kill of 700 males, 427
females and 26 unclassified for a total of 1,153. The
following special season, for bucks only, saw a kill
of only 191. The second season was for 11 days only,
and was held during a period of high winds and fire
danger. Because of postponements, interest lagged.
There was an antler drop during the period, further
cutting down the number of animals taken. Hunter
success was low for both years, with a 13 percent
success ratio in 1942 and only 6 percent the following
year. Despite these figures, the majority of sportsmen
participating appeared to favor continuing the winter
seasons.

Fillmore-Ojai Hunt: This hunt for antlerless deer
was authorized as a result of local crop depredations
by deer. During the 15-day hunt in September, 1952,
190 deer were bagged in the Ventura County areas.



Coloma Hunt: This hunt, authorized for the foot-
hill area of El Dorado County around Coloma, re-
sulted in 191 antlerless deer being taken. Its purpose
was to give relief to orchard and pasture land which
had been suffering from deer damage.

Barton's Flat: (Fresno and Tulare Counties) No-
vember 16 to November 29, 1952; November 15 to
November 29, 1953. These two hunters' choice hunts
were authorized in order more adequately to harvest
the deer that winter on the Barton's Flat winter range.
Many of these animals summer in the King's Canyon
National Park and are usually unavailable to hunters
during the regular season. During the two seasons 319
males and 329 females were bagged; total 648. Hunter
success was good with 89 percent successful the first
season and 56 percent the second.

Glenn-Colusa Area: This antlerless deer hunt was
conducted from October 31 to November 16, 1953, in
order to relieve crop damage in the Stonyford area.
A total of 271 deer were bagged. Hunter success was
a high 82 percent.

Camp Pendleton Marine Base: This hunt November
28 to December 5, 1953, was on Marine Base property
for service personnel. Hunter success was 100 percent
as 102 antlerless deer were taken.

Licensed Game Bird Clubs

Originally the plan for these areas was adopted by
the 1939 State Legislature to stimulate the landowner's
interest in the game crop. Through this plan it was
intended to foster and increase the supply of upland
game through land management and stocking of pri-
vately raised game farm birds.

Backers of the plan believed that the income derived
from the game crop would provide an incentive to the
landowner to manage his land for game production,

clearing stripi of brush allows access by game, and provides food in
the form of new sprout growth.




52



DEPARTiMENT OF FISH AND GAAIE



priniaril\- pheasants. Since these areas \\ere to be open
to an\' licensed hunter the income from the game pro-
duced was to be obtained by charging hunters up to a
designated maximum fee for shooting privileges. In
actual practice the income produced from hunting
could not compete with farm crops being produced.
In addition the landowners found it difficult to control
hunting on these areas.

In 1947 the Legislature modified the plan to allow
noncommercial or private clubs to be set up where the
general public could be excluded. These private areas


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