My 1st Hunt So.Cal Deer/Bear

#1Closer

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Jun 17, 2019
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Hello everyone 👋🏼 So, I’m preparing for my 1st ever hunt! I’ve drawn a deer tag in the D12 zone of Southern California. I’ve also elected to purchase a bear tag. I’m intending on hunting the congested mountains of San Bernardino. I’m absolutely ecstatic to have this opportunity. Yet it also comes with some concerns. I’m not an experienced hunter but you have to start somewhere! I’m hoping for a few questions to be answered by the more experienced hunters that read thru this forum.

1. Where do you start a hunt? I’ve looked over onX maps and google maps for hours. Looks great on the computer.

2. Considering the heat should I try and get my elevation up or would the lower elevations work out?

3. Should my first time be with a partner? I have gps and maps. I feel confident I will be able to get out of the woods. Also, not worried about being alone overnight.

Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated
 

unclemoe

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Jan 19, 2019
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congrats!

Hunting with a partner for me is always preferred in case something happens and you get hurt or need help always nice to have someone with you, just make sure you know you can deal with them non-stop for several days.
 

SoCalRedneck

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Mar 14, 2017
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damn near Mexico
I thought about trying that tag, but went with A22 for me and D16 for the daughter since I know SD county a bit better and hunted there last year. I'll be interested to hear how you do. One thing I've learned in my brief time hunting SoCal (I grew up a whitetail hunter in GA), is if there's a lot of human activity like heavily used hiking trails or campgrounds, stay away, half mile or more. The deer here avoid people like the plague. The desert out where you are would be a whole 'nother world for me to try to hunt lol, but I have a buddy that scores successfully just north of you in D17 almost every year, so it can be done!
 

#1Closer

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I think this is a good spot to start. There is access and no hiking trails it’s close to some private yet not completely checkered. It within 45 minutes from where I live and looks to have possible water?? Going to get out this weekend with a set of knockers and my spotting scope to do some scouting. Looks good from above lol
 

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cahunter805

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You are definitely on the right track. Some pre season scouting will help you immensely. If you find some hidden little water spots they will most likely hold deer close by.
Find yourself a good glassing point and glass a while then drop in and try to find some water spots.
I’d probably bring a friend during season just in case you need some help and it doesn’t hurt to have an extra set of eyes to glass.
 

Goatshoes

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Something isn't right. Your original post says that you drew D12 which starts at the at the intersection of Hwy 111 and 62 and expands Eastward. The Onx screenshot you provided is for The San Bernadino Mountains West of Banning and located squarely in unit D14. Which is it?

Either way it'll be a tough CA hunt, and totally different depending on which unit you are in.
 

#1Closer

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You are definitely on the right track. Some pre season scouting will help you immensely. If you find some hidden little water spots they will most likely hold deer close by.
Find yourself a good glassing point and glass a while then drop in and try to find some water spots.
I’d probably bring a friend during season just in case you need some help and it doesn’t hurt to have an extra set of eyes to glass.
looks like some scouting is going on this weekend... Do the deer pattern thru out the year, travel the same areas or possible have a home range, use the same water source?
 

#1Closer

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Something isn't right. Your original post says that you drew D12 which starts at the at the intersection of Hwy 111 and 62 and expands Eastward. The Onx screenshot you provided is for The San Bernadino Mountains West of Banning and located squarely in unit D14. Which is it?

Either way it'll be a tough CA hunt, and totally different depending on which unit you are in.
You're right correction D14 is the correct zone. Nice catch!
 

cahunter805

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looks like some scouting is going on this weekend... Do the deer pattern thru out the year, travel the same areas or possible have a home range, use the same water source?
I’m not familiar with that part of the state. If possible I’d put up a trail camera or 2 and see what’s moving and hitting water. Keep monitoring it and see what happens closer to season.
 

Bigjav

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Rifle or bow hunting? Because early season deer act differently than later season deer. It’s usually hotter in that part of the state so plan on being in place at first light when they are more active
 

ElkFever2

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I think this is a good spot to start. There is access and no hiking trails it’s close to some private yet not completely checkered. It within 45 minutes from where I live and looks to have possible water?? Going to get out this weekend with a set of knockers and my spotting scope to do some scouting. Looks good from above lol
Welcome to HT!

In the future, keep in mind that screen shots of maps, or references to specific areas are view-able to the entire world on the public forum...So that promising spot you scouted might be picked up by 10 other hunters and maybe not so promising any more. I'd suggest keeping this kind of info to PM's to HT members who offer to help.
 

Goatshoes

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looks like some scouting is going on this weekend... Do the deer pattern thru out the year, travel the same areas or possible have a home range, use the same water source?
The deer in D14 are not migratory though they will move down slope if they get snow, but I suspect they will move right back up as it melts. This will give you some information to start with. https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=83187&inline .

The rut comes late in D14. You'll be lucky if you catch some rutting behavior at the end of the general season which runs from 10/12/19 -11/10/19. Good luck and don't forget to enjoy the whole experience. And don''t forget that CA requires lead free ammunition statewide for taking any wildlife.
 

#1Closer

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Rifle or bow hunting? Because early season deer act differently than later season deer. It’s usually hotter in that part of the state so plan on being in place at first light when they are more active
Rifle. I couldn’t imagine starting out with a bow.
 

Bigjav

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Rifle. I couldn’t imagine starting out with a bow.
Also take into account are you going to weekend warrior it or do you have an extended time available, because during the weekends when there’s a lot of folks out and about the deer tend to hunker down a little more than during the middle of the week when the woods are a little lonelier
 

#1Closer

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Definitely going to take a week off of work hunt through that week... then back up on the mountain a few days during the week. hopefully that will net me successful season
 

jlong17

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Jan 21, 2019
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Southern California
I think this is a good spot to start. There is access and no hiking trails it’s close to some private yet not completely checkered. It within 45 minutes from where I live and looks to have possible water?? Going to get out this weekend with a set of knockers and my spotting scope to do some scouting. Looks good from above lol

Not sure if you were ale to get out and scout this area, but I should warn you that your screen shot is centered on a CalFire prison camp... so I doubt you'll be getting away with accessing it hahaha. Believe me, I would love to hunt back in there, but you are up against about a thousand access issues- with the camp being #1 problem. D-14 is a tough area to hunt and find accessible areas in the front country. I'd recommend looking up higher in the SBNF. Good luck, and happy scouting!!
 

lastlight

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Mar 30, 2018
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Northern California
Are you comfortable enough with your knowledge on how to break a deer down/bone out and pack it out?

Those mountains in D14 have some surprisingly higher elevations. I would hunt high but thats just me. Find water and feed and glass until its pitch dark in the evenings and start before the sun comes up.
 

Carson

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Definitely going to take a week off of work hunt through that week... then back up on the mountain a few days during the week. hopefully that will net me successful season
I live up here. If you need help packing out or any general info let me know
 
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