Last year, the average bag at Little Dry Creek on opening day nearly reached the limit of seven ducks (there are restrictions on some species; check the game laws handbook or ask, the area manager). This 4,000-acre, state-operated wildlife area is located 11 miles west of Gridley. Hunters familiar with the area usually pack in at least a dozen mallard decoys and use natural cover or one of the 10 blinds available. (Expect changes in California regulations regarding robotic decoys; they will still be legal but may be subject to new rules.) Mallards, wigeon and green-winged teal are the main birds at Dry Creek. Hunting is permitted on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during the mid-October to mid-January season and there is a daily quota of 70 hunters. Hunters apply in advance by purchasing an application card ($1.05) from any licensing agent and sending it to the Department of Fish and Game at least 17 days prior to the preferred hunt day. A lottery draw is conducted every evening (apply by 6 p.m., drawing at 8 p.m.) before the next day's hunt to determine the order of entry for hunters without reservations. The daily entry fee is $12. A two-day pass is $20 and a season-long pass is $100. Contact: Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area (530-982-2169).