Riley's Red Bank Hunt Club in NoCal

spectr17

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A veritable paradise for hunters and anglers

Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle.

Thursday, November 8, 2001


THE FIRST time I explored Riley's Red Bank, I remember saying to myself, "This is the kind of place that hunters and fishermen dream about, but never get to experience."

Dream? Try dreaming about a private 1,700-acre ranch that is managed expressly for wildlife, set at the head of the Sacramento Valley foothills. The oak woodlands here are loaded with quail, wild turkey, pheasant and deer, with 11 ponds full of bass and bluegill.

Except at Red Bank, you can do more than dream. It is the only ranch of its scope available to the public, where for a fee you can experience some of the best game-bird hunts anywhere in the West, as well as lodging, meals and pond fishing. Four youth camps that are always sold out well in advance also are available in the summer.

It is located in the foothills west of Red Bluff, about a three-hour drive from San Francisco. The ranch was formerly named Red Bank Ale & Quail, even though no ale has been known to have been served there, and was purchased by new owners last month, giving longtime manager Brian Riley a major share and complete autonomy over the operation.

On Monday morning, we climbed aboard a Mule, a 4-wheel-drive ATV with a small container bed, loaded with hunting dogs in transport kennels. We crossed Red Bank Creek, climbed a rise, and then suddenly, Riley stopped and pointed off to the right.

"Look at that," he said, aglow from the morning chill. "Look at all those wild turkeys."

Some 75 yards off, down a gully, 18 wild turkey were marching across the open grasslands, and in less than a minute, found cover amid manzanita and valley oak. It was just a start.

In the next six hours, we hiked across this landscape, up short ridges, down into gullies, under oaks and around manzanita. Occasionally, one of the hunting dogs would lock into a point, often staring into a downed manzanita thicket. Riley would flush the point and out would come the quail, sometimes a full covey, with quail darting off in every direction possible. Up went the shotguns. That's when you learn the quail hunter's motto: There are quick ones, and there are hungry ones!

Sometimes we'd flush 10 or 15, other times singles, doubles and triples. Over the course of the day, we flushed close to 100 birds. Compared to the molasses-slow duck season this fall, this quail hunt was like taking a ride on the space shuttle for a few orbits.

Yet all the time, we were surrounded by natural beauty and an abundance of great wildlife. It feels remote and vast, with long-distance views of the Yolla Bolly Range to the west, Mount Lassen to the east, and Mount Shasta to the north, with Shasta and Lassen again brightened by snow.

At one point, we looked up and suddenly spotted two does about 140 yards off, perfect silhouettes in a break in the oak woodlands. We watched them for a few minutes, then saw a slight movement near the does, shielded by an oak. We looked closer, creeping forward a few feet for a clearer view. There it was:

A buck that looked like that Hartford commercial, looking right at us. We played staredown for a minute, then as the does moved off, the buck turned to follow in pursuit, disappearing into the woodlands.

At the ponds, our biggest bass was a 4-pounder, caught on a Brush Hog, and the biggest bluegill better than 10 inches, on a Senko.

It seems like everywhere you turn something special can happen. That's because it can.

Hunt Club Getaway

Rules: For all hunts, California hunting license required. Youth ages 16 and under must have Junior Hunting License (available after passing a state- approved hunter safety education program).

Cost: At Riley's Red Bank, quail hunt with guide and dog (20-bird limit), $395; lodging and meal, $95; fishing & lodging, $150; one-week summer kid's camp, $500. Other choices available.

Options: For a list of 55 gamebirds clubs in California, check www.dfg.ca.gov/hunting/gbclub.html. They vary dramatically in size and quality.

Directions: From Interstate 5 in Red Bluff, take the Central Red Bluff/Highway 36 exit west. Turn west on Oak Street, drive one-half mile to Main Street. Turn right, go two blocks to Walnut, then left for two miles to Wilder. Turn left, drive one-half mile to Oak Road, then right for one-half mile to Red Bank Road. Turn left, drive 3 miles to the club entrance on the left.

Contact: Riley's Red Bank, P.O. Box 8295, Red Bluff, CA 97080; (530) 529- 9435; http://www.redbankhunting.com/

E-mail Tom Stienstra at tstienstra@sfchronicle.com.
 



Whoadog

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 I highly recommend this place.  My wife took me there last year for my birhtday and it was outstanding!  I told my wife the only way I would do it is if I could take my dogs, usually you use the guides however they said no problem.  It is pretty expensive but if you only do it once a year what the heck. The sporting clays course will really humble you. I was going to get some friends together this year and go again but just haven't got around to it.

Brian
 

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