High Adventure at Low Cost

Ventura County

For most people the Fourth of July is a time for fireworks and picnics. For some hunters in California, it also means the A-Zone archery deer season is about to open. California has one of the earliest deer seasons in the country-archery opens the second Saturday in July and general rifle opens the second Saturday in August. The A-Zone has a quota but it always is undersubscribed and tags can be purchased over the counter at California Department of Fish and Game offices. The A-Zone is a huge area stretching from Ventura County in the south to above Fort Bragg on the northern coast. The hot spot in terms of deer density, number of bucks harvested and the most public land is the tri-county area of Mendocino, Lake and Colusa counties. While there's plenty of trespass fee and guided ranched hunts, many hunters do fine on their own. They get as far away from the roads as possible, gain some elevation, find sign and hunt hard. The largest public hunting area is the 886,000-acre Mendocino National Forest. Top-producing areas are the 83,000-acre Fork Fire Burn and Pine Mountain. Additionally, Bureau of Land Management lands offer another 170,000 acres open to hunting. Try to hunt the 85,000-acre Cache Creek Natural Area in Lake County. It's closed to vehicles and accessible only on foot or horseback. A resident hunting license is $28.60 and a deer tag is $18.65. Nonresidents pay $100.30 for a license and $171.15 for a deer tag. Contact: Mendocino National Forest (530-934-3316); Bureau of Land Management (707-468-4000); California Department of Fish and Game (916-653-7664); Multiple Use Managers (800-557-7087).