PSE’s Albert Quackenbush -Baptism in Southern California
By Albert Quackenbush
When I moved to California in 2006 I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had no friends here. I knew nothing at all about the hunting here and I was afraid. I’ll be the first to admit that I was fearful because there was so much unknown to me. After asking around, I found a local archery club that met a mile from my apartment and thought I was saved. I showed up with my bow set up for hunting out of a treestand. Right away I was told to either get a bow that would allow me to shoot farther or plan on going back to NY to hunt each year. At first, I was more than discouraged, but it began to toughen me up. When I asked the hunters in the group where I might go to get started not a single one would help me. I can’t blame them as they had worked hard to find their own spots and now I had to do it. The archery range where I shoot beckons people from all over and I took it upon myself to approach archers and start asking those questions. I would walk up to them, introduce myself and share what I was trying to do. It wasn’t until I met a young man and his son that I felt I had my first nugget of information. He shared with me a spot to go try and while it would be tough to hunt, it would give me an idea of what hunting was like out here.
My equipment also needed an upgrade. The bow I had wasn’t cutting for Western hunting. I started asking around; scouring the internet and finally found a bow I wanted to try out. I met the seller at his house and he produced a well-cared for PSE Vengeance compound bow. I had never seen a Vengeance, let alone shoot one. This man helped me in a way he’ll never know. First, we talked and then he insisted I shoot the bow before buying it. While that should be a normal thing to do, I know many people who do not and I was one of them at the time. So I shot it. It felt like it was made just for me. It was a little on the heavier side from what I was used to, but it was a well-built bow with power. As we talked, the man shared that he and his son hunted and that if I ever had any questions or wanted to tag along I was welcome. That gave me hope! While I never did tag along, I am thankful for his support!
During my search for updated equipment, I found another gentleman selling some arrows. Little did I know that this chance meeting would turn into a friendship that would lead to a hunting partner. The purchase of the arrows lead to deeper conversation about hunting in California and hunting partners. It turns out that his partner left for the wilds of Oregon and he was partnerless. We rectified that and within the next couple weeks we were out scouting the area. Some of the areas were not only beautiful, but were exactly what I needed to find.
Hunting out here is just as much about finding huntable land and wearing out boot rubber as it is to knowing the regulations and laws. Knowing the season dates should be a given, but there are multiple regulations between different game animals, weaponry, and borderlines of private and public land. I review the regulations and fish & game code often to be certain I am hunting the right area, during the right time, with the proper weapon.
Another factor that I hadn’t bargained for are the rattlesnakes. Unlike many people, I think rattlesnakes are very interesting creatures. Snakes are awesome in my opinion. That being said, rattlers can stay awesome from a good distance and not underfoot! They are everywhere out here and while you may never see one, you still have to protect yourself. Wearing snake boots has become the norm for me. Hopefully my encounters with them will be few and far between.
My advice to anyone wanting to hunt California, or anywhere for that matter, is to ask as many questions as you can. You might be afraid, but everyone has a slight degree of fear. The worst thing anyone can say is ‘No.’ Find the right person and you may gain access to some prime hunting land or land yourself a good friend. The hard work has paid off for me and I know it will for you, too.
Albert Quackenbush has been bowhunting for more than 28 years. He shares his adventures on his blog, SoCalBowhunter.com, and also writes for Bow Adventures e-magazine. He is a Pro Staff member for DIYbowhunter.com, Piranha Custom Bowstrings and Field Logic. He is a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, California Deer Association, and is a Life Member of the North American Hunting Club.
Albert was born and raised in New York State where he learned to hunt everything from squirrels to whitetail deer. He currently resides in Southern California with his wife and daughter and hunts year round.