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Early Season Bowhunting in California

California: The Best and Earliest Bow Season in America


Parrey Cremeans has been a Mossy Oak ProStaffer since the inception of its current tiered format. “I had a closet full of Mossy Oak camouflage long before I was added to the ProStaff. Matter of fact, I can't remember a time when I didn’t wear Mossy Oak.” 

Cremeans’ home is in northern California, and he has an outfitting company, Just for Hunting, with leases on over 50,000 acres. From Cremeans’ home base, his company offers hunts for deer, hogs, turkeys, elk, waterfowl, predators, bears, dove and quail. He also manages Mossy Oak’s Regional ProStaff in the Northwest and schedules hunts throughout North America and overseas with outfitters he’s personally hunted with and/or has vetted with his outdoor friends. 

“At Just for Hunting, we also offer hunters: whitetail hunts in Ohio; mule deer and elk hunts in Colorado; and whitetail and waterfowl hunts in Saskatchewan, Canada; grizzly bear, mountain goat and moose hunts in British Columbia; as well as red stag hunts and other animals in New Zealand,” he said.

Cremeans helps out, too, as a guide with Mossy Oak hunts in New Mexico and with outfitter hunts in Oregon, Washington and several other states. To say that Cremeans is up to his eyeballs with the outdoor world’s hunting and outfitting is a gross understatement.

Parrey-Cremeans-blacktailAccording to Cremeans, “Most of the country’s early bow seasons are in September and October. However, here in California, our bow season for Columbian blacktail deer begins the first of July, and we can offer some excellent blacktail bowhunts during July and August. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that on many of the days you’ll be hunting, the air temperature is more than 100 degrees.

“I do seminars on how important scent control is for successful hot-weather deer hunting. With our outfitting business, I’m in the woods almost every day of the year - either scouting, guiding or hunting myself. So I’m constantly bathing with some type of scent-free soap, and I keep my Mossy Oak hunting clothing in a scent-free box. Lately I’ve been using Scent Crusher as well as Ozonics to keep me as scent-free as possible. Our statewide bow season usually starts in August, and I use quite a few different Mossy Oak patterns then, depending on where I’m hunting, and the time of year that I hunt.

“In Redding, where I live, we’re in what’s known as the central valley, and our blacktail season starts somewhat later than the coastal blacktail season does,” Cremeans explains. “We’ll still be hunting in yellow grass and oak brush when we start out early in the morning. In the middle of the day, the deer will bed down. We’ll try to sneak in behind a bedded buck and get as close as we can without the buck’s hearing or seeing us. Then when the buck stands up, our archers can take their shots.

“During the month of July, we guide only bowhunters. Our gun season for blacktails doesn’t start until around the first of August, and in the central part of the state, the gun season doesn’t start until the first part of September. Because the air temperature is generally about 104 degrees, we tell all of our hunters to bring plenty of odor-neutralizing spray with them. Don’t let anyone kid you – there’s not any product that makes a hunter totally scent-free. As long as you’re breathing, you’re producing odor in that hot weather. The advantage of using an odor-neutralizing spray is it may give you that 3 – 20 seconds to get off a shot before a buck smells you, if he’s downwind of you. You may be able to fool a deer’s nose, if you get a small puff of wind that blows downwind of you. However, if you get a constant wind that passes over you and drifts downwind, more than likely that buck will smell you.”

In July and August, the northern California blacktails that Cremeans’ customers hunt still  have velvet antlers, and the deer usually will be out in the open. Sneaking up on them isn’t easy. Cremeans’ hunters see a lot more deer in the early season than they do later during the season. 

The coastal blacktail is a small deer with good bucks often only weighing 90 to 140 pounds. To make the Boone and Crockett record book, a blacktail must be at least 135 inches. To make the Pope and Young record book, the buck has to have 90 inches of antler. Any blacktail buck that’s a 3x3 with brow tines probably will make the Pope and Young record book. Cremeans mentions that he’s taken blac-tails like these with a bow as close as 8 or 9 yards and as far away as 65 or 70 yards. According to Cremeans, if an archer can shoot out to 60 yards accurately, he’ll greatly improve his odds for taking a nice trophy blacktail.

“I shoot archery as a member of the Bowtech ProStaff,” Cremeans said. “I shoot my bow every day out to 100 yards, but I wouldn’t take that shot unless the conditions were absolutely perfect. Most of the time the 100-yard shot is a follow-up shot, but I feel really confident of making a lethal hit out to 80 yards when I’m shooting at a deer.” 

To learn about deer hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ eBook and print book, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows.” For information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book, “How to Prepare Venison Jerky: The Ultimate Snack Food,” from At the same click, you also can download a free book, “Miz Denise’s Outdoor Cooking: More Than 35 Recipes for Elk and Mule Deer.” 

Elk, Blacktail, Hybrid and Mule Deer Hunting in August

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