Hunters wait anxiously for early July because that is when we begin taking to the field and augmenting our store-bought groceries with fresh meat from the field. Year-round opportunities exist for certain game species, yet July is the beginning of a string of opening dates for seasons on various game. It is a blessing to camp, hike, hunt and share stories in the wild.
First up is rabbit. While jack rabbit season lasts all year, most hunters will agree that a jack doesn’t provide the best table fare. The new season will allow take of brush, cottontail and pigmy rabbits, and varying hare. Those names, straight from the Department of Fish & Wildlife regulations, suggest that there are a number of species of tasty critters we collectively call rabbits.
My own favorite is cottontail, which is very tasty. I assure you from experience that cottontail makes for a fine meal, especially when prepared and consumed in the open air of a hunting camp. I like to sauté boned pieces with butter, onions, sliced serano chilis and a dash of teriyaki sauce. Serve with long grain and wild rice for a savory hunting camp meal to be proud of.
Some of our most avid hunters follow revolving seasons throughout the year, and July is when a number of hunters begin to take to the field after rabbits. Soon we will be able to hunt various small game, deer, bear and upland game birds.
To learn more about upcoming seasons and where you can hunt and stand a reasonable chance of success, visit a local gun store such as Guns of Santa Barbara at 4010 Calle Real (between upper State Street and Highway 154) and ask a lot of questions while buying your hunting license, ammo and supplies and any new firearms you have been saving up for. Another good resource for studying up on specific regulations is the website of the California Department of Fish & Wildlife.
Our hunting heritage is strong and proud. Our wild game are carefully managed. Before hunting, it is necessary for a person to take a course in hunter safety and pass a serious test. A hunting license is required, and much of the money spent on licenses goes toward conservation efforts and game management. Hunters feel good about being stewards of our public lands and the game that live thereon.
After spending much of the year buying raised and slaughtered, pre-packaged meat from the grocery stores, many of us yearn for the fresh taste of game and the opportunity to share tales of good times afield while enjoying the meal with friends and family.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.