California offers one of the earliest rifle deer seasons in the country-the A-Zone season, opening the second Saturday in August. The A Zone has a quota but it is almost always undersubscribed and tags can be purchased over the counter at Department of Fish and Game offices. The tri-county area of Mendocino, Lake and Colusa counties contains some of the highest deer numbers, the most public land and a high buck harvest. Hike in as far away from the roads as possible and hunt hard. Within the largest public hunting area, the Mendocino National Forest, the top producing areas are the Fork Fire Burn and the Pine Mountain area. Also try the 85,000-acre Cache Creek Natural Area in Lake County. Contact: Department of Fish and Game (916-653-7664); Mendocino National Forest (530-934-3316); Bureau of Land Management (707-468-4000).