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Dove hunters first impacted by non-lead ammunition phase-in plan


The first phase of the statewide lead ammunition ban for all hunting will go into effect this year, and those most impacted will be dove hunters. Because the lead ban will impact four of the most popular hunting areas in the region, already questions about adequate supplies of non-lead ammunition are looming for dove hunters in the region.

The regulation adopted earlier this year says that lead ammunition will be off limits for all hunting on Department of Fish and Wildlife-owned lands. This means that non-lead ammunition will be required at four of the most popular public dove hunting areas in Southern California – part of the Imperial Valley, the most popular fields in the Blythe region, one of the only public hunting areas in western Riverside county, and a locally-popular spot in the High Desert.

In the Imperial Valley, both the Wister and Finney-Ramer units of the Imperial Wildlife will be closed to hunting with lead. These two areas include some of the better fields that have been planted by Desert Wildlife Unlimited for hunters the last several years, including fields 513, 412, and 312 north of Niland along with the wheat field, game farm field, and field 138 historically planted south of Calipatria.

In the Blythe Region, the Palo Verde Ecological Reserve has fields planted in dove feed each year and it is the most popular hunting area on the California side of the river in this area. Many hunters also hunt the Arizona side of the river, and non-lead ammunition is already required on the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, so at least one local merchant in Blythe (The Yellow Mart) has carried upland steel loads for dove hunters at Cibola.

The San Jacinto Wildlife Area in western Riverside County annually attracts 300 to 400 hunters opening day of dove season, and this area will require non-lead ammunition. The area has planted more dove fields this year than in past years and it might draw even more hunting this season.

Lastly, the Camp Cady Wildlife Area on the Mojave River east of Barstow will have a non-lead ammunition requirement. This little-known wildlife area has been a popular spot for dove hunting with local hunters and it has been targeted for increased dove field planting by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Combined, these four areas represent a significant chunk of the public land dove hunting that takes place in Southern California. The question is whether or not there will be adequate supplies of steel upland bird loads available with No. 7 (or No. 6) shot.

Only one of the four Southern California stores contacted on Friday this week currently had any upland steel already on its shelves.

Pete Schumacher of Schumacher’s Waterfowl Supply in Orange said he had three cases of upland 12-gauge No. 7s and two cases of No. 6s. But he didn’t have any steel for other gauges.

“We looked into the crystal ball and saw this coming,” said Schumacher.

The Turner’s Outdoorsman stores in Corona and Victorville both reported no upland steel, although the Corona store did have some steel 6s in 12 gauge designed for waterfowl. Mike Etienne, with Turner’s corporate office in Rancho Cucamonga, said all of his suppliers showed upland steel available and that all Turner’s stores would be stocking them as the season approached.

Eric Monjack at High Desert Sporting Arms in Palmdale said he didn’t have any in stock at the moment, but that the distributors he deals with all had upland steel in inventory in 12, 20, 28 and .410 if his customers wanted the ammunition.

“Right now it’s available with the click of a button,” said Monjack.

Manufacturers do not produce upland steel loads in high volume, and with the number of hunters who will be looking to buy steel upland loads this year for the Sept. 1 dove opener, it would be wise to stock up in advance to make sure you are not caught with empty shelves in the last minute rush.

AB 711 was passed by the state legislature in 2013 and it directed the Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife to phase in a complete ban on the use of lead-based ammunition as quickly as possible, with a complete ban being implemented no later than the 2019 hunting seasons. The Fish and Game Commission approved a phase-in process earlier this year that beings July 1. Besides requiring non-lead ammunition on DFW-owned lands, non-lead bullets must also be used by all hunters lucky enough to draw a bighorn sheep tag.

Eliminating skunk smell

from a sprayed pet

One of the Facebook pages I follow posted the “recipe” for removing the smell of skunk from a pet that has been sprayed this week. It brought back a flood of memories. Most of them bad.

A few years ago, the Arizona Game and Fish Department did a press release on the scent removing formula back when most people were still using tomato juice (which does absolutely nothing), and I mailed and faxed copies of that press release to people all over Southern California.

In fact, I sent it to one hunting friend several times. (Like me, he has a poor memory and misplaces things.) He had a Labrador that apparently hated skunks and attacked them at every chance. While the Lab usually won the battle, we had to suffer through the war transporting that reeking dog.

You can’t make it up in advance and store it in a sealed container (it will explode – well, pop the cap off or split the jug) because the ingredients react with each other, but more importantly they react with the sulfur-based molecule (call thiols, if you care) that makes up the skunk spray. Here’s the formula:

-- One quart of three-percent hydrogen peroxide

-- 1/4 cup baking soda (not baking powder)

-- One teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap

Mix the ingredients together (and you might want double the recipe for a big dog) and lather up the entire dog with the mix, working it deeply into the sprayed areas and scrubbing. Washing the animal as soon as possible after it is sprayed will help keep the skunk spray from soaking deeply into the hair and fur. This mix will burn their eyes, so be careful or use a pet eyewash. It may take more than one washing to get the scent knocked down, so be thorough.

The soap acts as a wetting agent to help get the rest of the ingredients to the sprayed molecules. The hydrogen peroxide breaks the complex sulfur molecules down (it’s actually multiple reactions) into sulfonic acid, which is then neutralized with the baking soda. You then rinse the works off with water. The smell is gone. Well, mostly. My buddy’s Lab seemed to have the faint smell of skunk all of his life from the repeated exposure. So did my truck.


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