We been talking to Brad Hunter of Ash Creek Outfitters about field testing his new lodge, The Bucket List Ranch, in Lookout, Ca for a couple of months. He had advised us that he would give us a call when the geese show up and that call came in about the first week of January. We booked our tickets and were scheduled to show up the last weekend of goose season. For some odd reason the Northern California Zone opens and closes early. We were pumped up and could not wait to shoot some honkers.
We flew out of San Diego into Sacramento Thursday night, the 12th. Later we realized it is about a 4.5 hour drive from Sac. After talking to Brad, he recommended flying out of Reno in the future. We made a quick stop in Willows to pickup John, and we were on our way. We came into Lookout at about 4:00 am. Brad and Alison had the bunk house warm and ready to go for us. Coffee was on and it was going to be a no sleep day. After a great breakfast provided by the Brad, we set out for our hunt.
We met Ty Nay, guide at The Bucket List Ranch, in the field. The property we were hunting was located directly on the pit river. It was recently obtained by Brad and they had been killing quite a few geese on it prior to us coming up. We were pit blind hunting on a dry field just off the river. It is pretty cold up there, the first morning it was 12 degrees outside. Not what we are used to hunting the rice fields in the Sac Valley or So. Cal. Most of the birds did not want to move until about 9:00 am when the sun had warmed the air just past freezing. At about 9:30 we had our first group of birds work in. They did not wan to play for some reason, so after the first pass we took them at about 40 yards. Down came one greater. There was a pretty long pause after that in activity. Around 11:00 am the birds really starting moving. We had 15 birds come in from the east and lock right up on us. They circled once and proceeded to bomb in. There was a slight breeze, so they decoyed in a little sideways, as the wind had changed from when we set up. We all get up when the birds are feet down 15-20 yards and whiff. One bird come down and Ty, the guide, is the only one to drop anything. We basically felt like slapping ourselves, this was our chance to load up and leave. That set the tone for the day and we felt like we were all rookies. Oh well, it happens. 30 minutes later we had another group come in and down come 2 more. We were happy with what we shot and beat tired, so we decided to call it a day at noon. Of course as soon as we went to load up decoys, we had groups of birds working.
Day 2 was a cold one. We woke up to 3 degree weather. It was really cold. We decided to setup on the river in a small blind they had setup on the bank. Brad and Ty broke a nice hole in the ice on the river, and tossed duck and goose floaters in.
It was freezing cold, but we were determined to kill some birds. It was a slow start, nothing wanted to move. Around 10:00 am, 3 Mergansers came charging down river and met a few 12 gauges. We killed all 3 quickly and the skunk was off. We stuck around until noon and NOTHING wanted to move. We saw a few flocks of geese in the distance that would get up and go right back down. They did not want to go anywhere.
Day 3 was the last day of goose season and it seemed as though anyone for 50 miles knew it. The first 2 days we saw no one going to hunt, but today it seemed as though the community had come out of their shells for one last day of goose carnage for the year. We made it to the field and set up in the pit blind again hoping it would be as productive as day 1. Around 9:30 we had a lot of birds moving. Lots of Lesser’s and Specks in the area. We called in a few flocks that were very weary from being shot off the roost that morning. Nothing wanting to decoy and finish. At 10:30 we had a group of Lesser’s come take a look. They came in 40-45 yards. We drop a couple and that was our day. There was a storm approaching and the highway in can get very sketchy when it is snowing. We knew we needed to pack it up and get out of town. We headed back to a great lunch and we were on our way back to Sacramento.
Brad Hunter and Alison are some of the most accommodating people we have ever had the pleasure of staying with. Their lodge is first rate, and their food is incredible. We ate like kings the entire time we were their. With meals like Sweet and Sour Goose, Rib Eye Steaks, and homemade soup (everyday) you never go hungry.
The bunk house is like a really nice cabin. The beds are full size bunks and brand new, very comfortable mattress’s. Flat screen TV with satellite cable, phone and a wood burning stove make you feel like you are right at home.
Brad plans on hunting his 600 acre ranch starting next year which the lodge lies upon. You will be able to sit on the patio and watch birds on the ponds.
Heated blinds with full power are currently under construction. These will be very nice and comfortable even on the coldest days. Power to the ice eaters in the pond will be controlled from the blind.
The Bucket List Ranch is first rate and one of the most peaceful places in California. Brad and Allison are great Outfitters and have some of the finest property in the area. They are taking reservations for next season and for Trout season this summer. In addition to the bunk house, they have (2) RV spots with full hookups.