Buck Season Open

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The weather, coupled with a slow gradual decline in deer numbers throughout most of California, may make deer elusive this year, the Department of Fish and Game's Region 1 office said today. While biologists ponder the long-term forces working on the California deer herds, weather can still be counted on to be the biggest factor in the 2003 deer seasons.

The DFG said cool wet conditions will almost guarantee an improved buck kill during the various archery and rifle seasons. According to DFG biologists, storms tend to make both deer and hunters more active and can produce downhill herd migration to mid and lower ranges.

Archery hunters, as usual, got a sneak preview of the north state's deer season. All archery B zones opened August 16 and will close September 7 except for B-4 zone, which opened July 26 and closed August 17. C2 and C3 zones ran from August 9 through August 31, C1 opened August 16 and closed August 31, and C4 opened August 30 and closes September 14. Rifle hunters will get their shot in zones B1-3, B5-6, and the four C zones beginning September 20. Hunters may hunt each day from one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. Legal bucks are those with a forked antler or better on at least one side. No antlerless or either-sex deer hunts are scheduled in Region 1 the agency said.

By August's end, the DFG's Region 1 office said about 32,000 of the 55,000 B-zone tags were still available. Last year, hunter success throughout the B zones was 23 percent, up slightly from 22 percent in 2001.

All C-zone tags sold out August 4. The success rate dropped slightly from 16 percent in 2001 to 15 percent last year. The total kill in the C zones for 2002 was estimated at 1,619 bucks as compared to 1,776 in 2001.