It is time for the annual duck stamp art contest. Serious wildlife artists submit their original work to the Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), last year’s winner is from Ohio. The duck this year is a medium sized bird, the ring-neck duck. Not a colorful bird, like many of the beautiful wetland birds. This may bring the judging to the artist with more accurate ornithology of the species, rather than painting the bright colors on the canvas. Look at this bird: Google ‘images’: ring-necked duck.

All entries must be accompanied by a completed participation agreement and entry form. These forms and the official rules are available online at

Entries will be judged in June. The judges’ panel, which will consist of experts in the fields of ornithology, conservation, art, and printing, will choose first, second and third-place winners, as well as honorable mention. 

The Gold Diggers Club is going to the Downieville Gold Rush Days August 11–13, 2023. Open to the public, post Covid, you will get to see antique equipment in operation. Look closely at mining and actually gold pan for placer gold. Keep what you find. This is a very popular event so accommodations are already hard to come by. You can shop for that gold nugget ring you’ve always wanted. Santa Rosa Gold Diggers Club will not be hosting this event; however, members will be covered for their admission fees. The club is about finding gold and the art of metal detecting. Contact them: Their web site; Santa Rosa Gold Diggers. This is a fun family sport, find out more at their monthly meetings. Ski lifts will be running for the 4th of July this year, August should be alright.

Choice campgrounds are going to be very busy this year, if you are a camper, get busy on your planning and make reservations now. If you are not a camper and stay in a nearby hotel/motel the same holds, plan and reserve now. Search for specific areas and events on your browser, sort as you drill down and pick the winners.

Deer hunters, time is wasting, get ready for this year, buy your tags and put in for your dream hunt. You have until the end of May to postmark you application(s). You never know, some tags are drawn for premium hunts from those without points. This could be your year to hunt an X-Zone! If you have a young hunter coming up or want to try hunting for the first time, the state requires you to take an approved hunter safety course. Find out specifics on the CDFW web site. The course is very good for gun safety, if you want to feel safe around firearms, this might be for you. A hint: unlike the movies, guns do not have an unlimited number of shots. Shooting paper is fun.

Fishing for striped bass is on hold, you can throw your worm in the water, no problem and they do eat in flood waters, the Bay and Delta are always murky. The problem is that your line and tackle will be tangled in debris, like a big log floating down stream. Give it a couple weeks after a major storm. The lakes and reservoirs will need to settle before you go angling. The Tomales Bay fishing reports are spotty, fishers are reporting lots of sharks and rays. If a huge fish fight is your thing, get out there and battle a very big, mean fish.

Rockhounds are making plans for high desert hounding in early summer, before the hot days slither in.

Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.

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