How to find a reputable hunting trip guide or operator in southern California?
December 16, 2010 11:30 PM   Subscribe

How do I find a high-quality hunting trip operator or arranger, for California (preferably in southern California)? I was asked to arrange one for a bachelor party, but haven't the foggiest idea how to find a reputable guide or organizer. I've asked around and googled but with no success. We're looking for a hunt involving a larger animal, but could go smaller or with water fowl depending on the budget. I know there are many who find hunting objectionable (and I'm not exactly a fan, either), but this would mean a lot for the bachelor, and I'd love to make this happen for him. Thanks!
posted by ccl6yl to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total)
Magazine such as Field and Stream and their ilk generally have quite a few advertisments for guide services and the like. Although I'm not sure about how to determine if their reputable. Maybe once you have some names Google could provide and assist.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:35 PM on December 16, 2010

posted by IvoShandor at 11:35 PM on December 16, 2010

Large animal + Southern California sounds perfect for wild boar. The plus side is there are a ton of guides offering boar hunts, the tags are easy to obtain and the equipment is light: no decoys, just a guide, a few dogs, a rifle with a scope, and a pickup truck to haul out the carcass. If it helps ease your conscience, the wild boar in California are a non-native species that are incredibly destructive to native vegetation. Also, they are very tasty.

For boar, give Tejon Ranch a call. They do the full on lodging/meals/guided hunt and they are set up to handle groups.

Waterfowl, despite it sounding easier, is more difficult for the one time hunter because there's quite a bit more equipment involved (waders and other waterproof camo-pattered clothing, decoys) and the terrain can be very challenging (slogging through mud and icy water in the predawn hours) plus actually shooting a duck requires more skill than one might think (ducks can fly 40-50mph, shotgun pellets have a relatively short range). Also note that blinds tend to be on the small side and due to the spread pattern of shotguns, not something you want a lot of guys milling about nearby: 4 men blinds are generally the max and even then it's a tight fit and a lot of declined shots given that no one wants to do a Cheney. Duck hunting is a lot like fishing: a lot of time sitting around waiting for something to happen. Anyway, if you're still interested, I'll ask my SO, the Mighty Duck Hunter, if he has any socal guide recommendations.
posted by jamaro at 1:37 AM on December 17, 2010

Forgot to add: CA waterfowl season ends Jan 30, 2010 for both public and private land. If you want be guaranteed a spot to hunt on public lands, you'll want to submit your refuge reservations ASAP.

Wild pig can be hunted year round on private and public land.

posted by jamaro at 2:07 AM on December 17, 2010

Correct pig link.
posted by jamaro at 2:10 AM on December 17, 2010

Thanks for the answers, jamaro and IvoShandor. Boar hunting in southern California sounds like the right choice. I've left a message with Tejon and am waiting to hear back. In the meantime, if you have further guide suggestions, that would be helpful, too. I'll look for a few more guides on my own, as well.

One thing of concern is that most of us have no real hunting experience. Tejon's website suggests we should have our own rifles, and this isn't an option for us. I would think this lack of experience and equipment limits our options. I've gone shooting a few times at a range and shot some discs - but that's all. I'm just noting this in case it helps better guide anything you might write.

Thanks again.
posted by ccl6yl at 11:00 PM on December 19, 2010

Hm, given the collective skill/equipment levels, a better, safer option would be going to a sporting clay range and signing up for a group lesson. This would be especially good (and necessary) if there's anyone in the party who is unaccustomed to firearms safety procedures. SO recommends Triple B in S. El Monte. If you haven't been to this kind of range, it's a lot like golf: one walks or drives carts from one station to another (there's 25 stations at Triple B), each station presents 2-3 launchers firing clays off in different angles/directions, with 2 stands scaffolded for skill level. They have a proshop where one can rent shotguns, buy ammo, and hire instructors.

He also recommends calling Raahauges in Corona. In addition to a range, Raauage *might* have pheasant or chukar available but you'll have to call and ask if they will rent guns to hunt vs just the range. The downside of hunting upland birds is it's pretty hard to do w/o dogs and absolutely no place or guide is going to let novices shoot over their dogs.
posted by jamaro at 12:18 AM on December 20, 2010

Should note that in order to shoot game, you guys need hunting licenses and to get a license, you have to pass the Hunter Safety Course first. You don't need the license to shoot clays, though.
posted by jamaro at 12:24 AM on December 20, 2010

Jamaro, thanks again. Based on your suggestions, I think we'll go with the sporting clay shooting instead of the boar hunt. We also don't have a lot of lead time to go through the logistics of licenses and safety courses.
posted by ccl6yl at 10:39 PM on December 29, 2010

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