Anybody have any luck? A lot of our hunting areas around here got scorched this summer, like over 300,000 acres, but some folks are still pulling out some absolute bruisers! I've seen quite a few pics of absolutely huge blacktails coming out of norcal this year.
That said, I've had a rough go of it this year. On the one hand, I finally hunted an area around the top end of the trinity alps that I've been wanting to for many years. More signs of cows than humans, though one richard did break the lock at the trailhead and drive up there, but no deer. Pretty remote country with minimal human contact, and the only thing I could find were some grouse that were nearly as surprised to see me as I was to see them. I hunted up there 2 or 3 days so far and am going to focus a couple more in that area. There's a ridge across the valley I really want to find a way to so I can glass the basin between it and the mountain behind it. Looks like really thick brush though, and it's really steep country, so I may hold off on that till next spring so I can start beating down a trail well before the season.
I have had a few days where I saw several deer, mostly in the burned out areas, and finally saw my first bear of the year the other day. I was turning around on a road that's never open, mostly cause I was worried they'd sneak behind me and lock the gate, saw a black blob about 250-300 yards uphill from me and knew it was a bear. Threw the truck in park, jumped out to get a better view and, sure enough, there's a bear making his way across the cut. Started whistling at him and got his attention right as he crossed a log, stopping broadside to see what was making such a racket, then I thought "shoot, I shoulda grabbed the gun so I could scope him out to see how big he is". By the time I grabbed the rifle from the truck, he was little more than random black blobs behind brush and downed trees. Still, I was stoked to see him and am hoping to see several more this year... I also found a decent condition 3 point skull/rack that had been partially chewed on by the rodents.
I've had some customers come in and share pics of what they've killed this year, one of which was a friend who said "we set up deer camp, but it turned into bear camp!" as he showed me 2 nice chocolate/blond bears laid out across 2 adjoined picnic benches. I said, "you're lucky, that's some of the best meat you can get!", and he smiled, started shaking his head and said, "yea, I just found that out!" Turns out like so many, he believed the stories of bear meat being gamey, oily and tasting bad, but that night he cooked up the backstraps and was blown away by how good it tasted and how great the quality of meat was.
All that said, if you know me, you know I could only care about 1% if I get a deer or not. I just love being out there and exploring during one of my favorite times of the year, and just hope the right opportunity presents itself. My joints don't really allow me to do much of this stuff anymore anyway, and I know at some point I will be relegated to road hunting, but this year has been surprisingly good to me. First couple times I went out for birds left me pretty sore and beat up, but the last few times I went out deer hunting I came back feeling much better and had quicker recovery times.