Editor’s Note: Parrey Cremeans is the far-West big-game Pro Staff manager for Mossy Oak. He also guides for elk, mule deer, blacktail deer and other species in California, Mexico and other areas with Just For Hunting, a full-service outfitter (visit www.justforhunting.com or call 650-888-0808). If you plan to hunt in the far West, make your reservations now. If you can’t get in for this year’s hunting season, go ahead, and book for next year.
We do quite a bit of predator hunting on our ranches, especially during the off-season. We’ve got tons of mountain lions, but we’re prohibited from hunting them. In 2012, we also lost bear hunting with hounds in California. Most people don’t realize it, but we have some of the biggest black bears in the nation. Some folks don’t realize that we have bears in California at all, but we spot-and-stalk them, call them and do quite a bit of hunting for them in the fall. We took a man on his first bear hunt this year with hounds. The main reason he wanted to do it was that he knew it would be eliminated the next season. The bear he took was upward of 600 pounds with a skull that green-scored 23 inches. Once it’s dried, it probably will be in the top-10 for Boone & Crockett.
We can hunt other predators all year, so if you like to hunt, California is a great state to visit. We can hunt coyotes in the daytime or at night, but taking them at night is tough, since they usually circle you to get downwind before coming in to a call. Being able to see them when they circle downwind can be hard at night. If you don’t see them quickly, they’ll be gone, and you never will know they were there. Bobcats and foxes are different, since they’ll come straight into calls. We can hunt bobcats from the middle of October until the end of February. Foxes and coyotes can be hunted all year. A really-good coyote hunt will be five coyotes taken in a day. On public lands, the coyotes have experienced a lot of hunting pressure and are very smart. So, we opt to hunt on cattle ranches. We can harvest quite a few coyotes, especially when the cows are calving, because coyotes will come to those cows and also during the coyotes’ breeding season. Our best coyote hunting usually occurs in January and February. We not only look at coyote hunting as a way to control predators. It also gives us the opportunity to take people hunting when other animals aren’t in season.