CALIFORNIA

Deer Forecast 2004 -- WEST

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Expect an average year in California. According to Craig Stowers, deer program coordinator for the California Department of Fish and Game, the upcoming season won't be much different from that of other years. However, he says that forest fires burned more than 1 million acres of land in the southern region over the last two years, and improved habitat should soon emerge. Winter mortality was negligible, with no serious problems. Regarding the drought that has affected other states, Stowers says that many areas in California always suffer from drought.

The success of the deer season is directly related to weather, says Stowers. If there are early snows with cold temperatures, deer will leave the high country for places where hunters can get to them. He says the B zones could have outstanding hunting if the weather cooperates.

Deer tags are available in a draw, but many units are undersubscribed, chiefly in the A, B and D zones. Not so in the X zones, where hunters try for quality units that offer excellent opportunity. These are in the northeast and the Sierras, where hunters who draw tags take big bucks every year.