Readers may remember some months ago I wrote a couple of columns about Black Brant hunting on the Pacific coast. This is a small goose that migrates down from Alaska, stopping at a number of bays in Washington, Oregon, and California, before ending up in the Mexican province of Baja California.
All these spots thrive with eel grass, which is this bird's primary diet. During the late 1960s and early 1970s I was a licensed guide for hunting Brant over at Morro Bay. About 20 years ago, I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Mexico with my good friend Omer Long and his son Randy. I took some great video while there, and was lucky to have it shown on national television on the "Cabela's Memories In The Field" series.
At that time, one of the producers of the show said it was the best film he had ever seen on Brant shooting. One reason for that was that they are not hunted by many waterfowlers, and films are rarely taken.
Ever since that time I have been wanting to return south of the border for another video. Especially since I am now using a high-definition camera that takes totally awesome quality.
A couple of months ago, Randy called me and said he had a group going to San Quintin, and wanted me to go along and film. It was nothing but excitement as I counted the days off until we were there two weeks ago.
I met Randy and two other guys in San Diego, and we then picked up three more shooters at the airport. The seven of us proceeded across the border at Tijuana and headed south to Ensenada.
Randy had arranged for a nice lunch outside of Ensenada at an outdoor restaurant owned by a friend of his. Great food including octopus, quail, and lobster. This was all cooked on outdoor ranges and ovens using wood for fire. Eight more gunners joined us while there, and after we finished eating we all started south for the three hour drive to San Quintin.
We stopped at a market along the way where one of the members of our group, who owned a restaurant in Colorado and would be cooking one night for us, bought shrimp, white sea bass, and lobster.
We arrived at the Old Mill By the Sea motel that evening and settled in for the night. Our plan was to be shooting out of seven two man blinds that were scattered around the bay in an area of at least two square miles. I hoped to get some quick film from one blind, and then be taken to another for more action.
And, if the shooting was good, possibly a third. Sad to say, it did not work out that way. I was with Randy and another fellow at first light and it took them more than two hours to bag their limit of ten birds.
No big flights worked the decoys at all. Just four. Then three, and then three more. They took out every bird. By the time we picked up and headed in to the dock, all the other hunters were through.
The second morning I was teamed with two other fellows and we went to a blind that had limited in only 30 minutes the morning before. But, bad luck again. By 8:30, we had not had one single bird work our spread. Not one.
The boatman picked me up and took me to another blind a mile away where the hunters had only bagged three birds by that time. I stayed with them an hour, and they only got three more. We were picked up again and we went to another blind hoping to finish a limit, but only managed two more Brant.
I was really disappointed that I was not getting much good film footage.
The two biggest problems with the hunt was the fact that the guide only allows hunting in the mornings, and that we were shooting when the tide was coming in. With years of hunting Brant at Morro Bay, I knew that during the high tide periods the birds would sit out on the ocean just past the breakers, and wait for the ebbing low tide to begin.
The flocks would then fly into the bay to gorge themselves on the ell grass beds that were becoming exposed as the tide receded. Both mornings we were there the tide was incoming until late morning. This is why we were seeing very few flocks working the area.
All things said, it still was a terrific hunt. We had dinner one evening at an oyster farm, and I watched a worker shucking these great morsels by hand.
They said he does 100 dozen per day. 1,200...all by hand. Super nice guys, a clean motel with large rooms, and great scenery. It all made me remember a remark I made in a column I did about being a true sportsman..."Success is measured by the total experience - the appreciation of the out of doors and the animal hunted, the process of the hunt, and the companionship of other hunters."
BASIC FIREARMS & HUNTER EDUCATION COURSE: Next course offered: March 9-10, two day course. March 11 is an internet follow up course.
This is sponsored by Jay Busby. For more information call (661) 871-9025.