Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Today I guided Rich and Dennis for pigs. We hit the ground running this morning and worked our way up to the top of the ranch. Within an hour or so we spotted a large group of pigs across the canyon and as we were trying to put a game plan together something spooked them and they took off like a bat out of hell. Off we went in hot pursuit but as we searched we just couldn't turn them up again so we went in search of some others. As we headed further into the ranch we rounded a corner and there stood a group of 7-8 pigs! The guys excited the ranger and it was game on, however, after several shots fired we had nothing to show for ourselves and the guys were pretty bummed out at their shooting or lack there of. We continued to search the hills for our quarry and as we made our way back towards the truck we snuck down the hill to check one last reservoir. As luck would have it there was a large herd of pigs wallowing around the pond. We went into sneak mode keeping the wind in our favor and closed the gap to around 50 yards. After looking over the group of unsuspecting pigs we picked out a couple of good sized meat pigs and the guys each got ready to shoot. As the intended targets turned broadside I gave it the 1,2, 3 count and almost simoultaniously the shots rang out and both pigs dropped in their tracks! As Dennis's pig hit the ground it began to roll down towards the pond, and then stood up and started to swim towards the middle of the lake. It made it about 15 yards from the bank before expireing and then sinking like a rock! I have seen this only one other time but can assure you that when it happens there is no time to get to the pig and the only option is to strip down and go diving! Fortunately I had my trusty apprentice Gavino with me today and he drew the short straw, so he stripped down and dove in to start the search. As he got further and further away from the bank the deeper the water got and before long he was diving to the botton in 12-15 feet of water in search of the pig. After a half hour or so Gavino located the pig and swam it back to the bank, but not before I could snap a picture of him for the blog!! All in all it was a great day afield and the guys ended up with a couple nice sized meat pigs as well as a story that they can tell for years!!!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013


As some of you may or may not know a large portion of what I do here for the Colusa Indian Community is land management and preservation, it's not all hunting and fishing!!

Two years ago the tribe purchased 330 acres South of Colusa, of which 250 acres are wetlands and 50 acres of upland habitat. The current state of the property at the time of purchase wasn't exactly ideal, as the lack of management had allowed the wetland to become over grown by the undesirable plant species and was not producing the high quality feed that the wintering migratory game birds need!

Last spring and summer I took it upon myself to see what proper water management would do for the property and was able to drown out quite a few of the undesirable plant species while increaseing seed production of watergrass and smart weed. The end result was excellent and the seed production banner, lots of feed for the waterfowl and an increase in the seed bank for future years. All in all I felt as if it was a huge step in the right direction.

Following the end of the season last January I applied for a permit through the local NRCS office and was granted an early water release on  the largest wetland unit (185 acres). While this would mean no seed production for this year it would allow me to dry up the wetland so that I could get in there and try to eradicate the ever growing cattail population that was choking out the wetland. I had several ideas that I thought would work, the first being an over water burn. I got the blessing from the local air quality office and set out to try and burn the standing catails, so that I could minimize the ammount of vegatation that would have to be dealt with when the wetland dried up. I tried to burn 3 or 4 different days but the fire just wouldn't carry so I scratched that idea and came up with a new one. When the wetland was dry enough to get equipment on I took our 8520 John Deere tractor and our 20' Rears rice chopper down there and began the long task of mowing up all of the cattail stands. This took about 10 days and several thousand dollars in diesel fuel, as the catails were super thick and the mowing was very slow going, as I had to stop every couple hours and blow out the radiator on the tractor so it did not over heat. Once I had the catails all on the ground I talked with air quality and got the permission to start burning. The burning was to be done in a 4-5 day time line as I could only burn so many acres a day, but the fire hit the ground and before long we had them all burnt and ready to start ground work. The first step was to go in and chisel all of the areas where the cattail stands were growing so that I could expose the roots to the elements, drying them out and killing the tubers. This also broke up the ground and allowed for a deep disking to further expose the roots as well as chop them up with the hopes of killing them. For this task I pulled out the Case 385 and the 17 foot Tatu stubble disc. We disced the catail stands in 2 different directions and then let them dry for a week before repeating the same process. In all we chiseled once (2 different directions) and then disced 3 times in several different directions. Through all of the excess heat and North wind we had this spring and summer it looks as if all the work has been effective and I am not seeing much in the way of cattails sprouting currently. My final step is to finish disc the areas that were treated prior and then pull a ring roller across the entire area to further smash the clods and make a nice seed bed for new growth.

I will complete the final dirt work next week and then fertilize all of the willow trees and spend a week transplanting round stem tules back into the wetland prior to starting the water. My hopes are to wipe out 75% or more of the cattails making the remainder of them easyer to treat in the following years. While the wetland doesn't look like much of a wetland right now I am confident that my timing is right and we should have a nice stand of water grass prior to the fall migration! Regardless this is something that had to be done and will improve the wetland in the long run. Next spring and summer will be spent working on the remaining 2 wetland units to try and eradicate the undesirable plant species in them.