Bitterwater Outfitters — A Complete Hunting Service

April 17, 2015
By Jim Niemiec
Western Outdoor News Staff Writer

BITTERWATER VALLEY — It was nearly a decade ago that newly-retired rodeo cowboy (healer) Clayton Grant hung up his spurs and became a guide operating out of the family ranch at the head of Bitterwater Valley. Western Outdoor News hunted with Grant during his second season after hearing so much about the “Pistachio Run” that targeted wild hogs moving through ranch property after feeding all night on pistachios and grapes in the valley below the ranch that had been in the family name since the late 1800s.

Bitterwater Outfitters now offers the most complete selection of big game and upland game bird species in the western portion of the United States. Whether it be Tule elk, blacktail bucks, wild hogs, exotics or upland game birds, all are offered as multi-day hunt packages by Bitterwater Outfitters, which this year added a released game bird option.

The spring turkey season opened rather slow for most all of Southern California, and in many parts of the central valley as well due to extremely untimely warm weather, which triggered an early dispersal of Rio Grande turkeys and produced a condition referred to among turkey hunters as “henned up gobblers.” During the Fred Hall Show in Long Beach, Grant talked about opening weekend and would this hunting editor be interested in coming up to hunt for a spring gobbler on a 50,000-acre ranch located east of Arroyo Grande. To be very honest, it didn’t take long to accept the invitation and arrangements were made to hunt with another client, Richard Danielsen of Clovis, who would be on his first-ever turkey hunt, and my guest, Captain Buzz Brizendine, owner/captain of the sport fisher Prowler, who had never shot a gobbler, would make up the party of three. It would be a fine mix of new turkey hunters, and this pretty-seasoned recently “grand slam” turkey hunter with a couple of Bitterwater Outfitters top guides.

Hunters and guides were to meet up at the Chevron station at the intersection of Grand Ave. and Hwy. 101 and then make the drive to ranch headquarters about 30 minutes east of Arroyo Grande. Nick Bourgault and ranch cowboy Ty Gonsalvez had planned out the morning hunt, which included setting up below a roost and hopefully have gobblers leave hens in a flock of some 9 birds and come to a decoy setup.

The sun was yet to rise when gobbles from the roost echoed through the valley floor. At fly-down, the birds headed off in a different direction but soon appeared over a nearby ridge; but still, the toms were sticking pretty close to the hens. A young jake and lone hen did walk off to the north, as the flock fed across the face of a grazed off foothill.

Gonsalvez was reluctant to do much calling, even though it appeared as if one of the toms was really interested in the decoy set-up of two hens and a gobbler mounted on the back of a submissive hen. That first run toward the decoy, with our adrenalin in full mode, was short-lived as that gobbler moved back into the flock of hens. Hunters were outfitted in Realtree XTRA camo that blended right in with the dead oak tree that we all backed up into.

The flock again disappeared into an adjacent canyon, but continued to be very vocal with a mix of purrs, putts, yelps from hens, and head-shaking gobbles from the two toms.

Finally, after nearly an hour of setting motionless, the hens popped over a nearby ridge followed by the toms. One tom was still focused on the decoys while the other bird stayed pretty close to the hens. Once that focused tom starting make a B-line towards the decoys, it didn’t take long for the other tom to make up the distance and the charge was on.

WOW! What an adrenalin rush for all as one gobbler kicked the holy hell out of the decoy, while tom #2 waited his turn. Ty softly whispered … any time you are ready guys, shoot … Brizendine shot first, folding his gobbler, followed by a shot to the head with Federal Premium Turkey #5 ammo by this shooter. Kill shots taken were at less than 20 yards with twin brother turkeys weighing just a tad over 20 pounds and sporting identical 9.25-inch beards and 1-inch hooked spurs. A “classic” turkey hunt to remember forever! Unfortunately, Danielsen was in a non-shooting position and had to hold off pulling the trigger.

Bitterwater Outfitters has just a few spring turkey hunts open for the remainder of the season, all on leased ranches. According to Grant, he wants to manage his turkeys on each ranch in the best interest of not over-shooting any of the properties.


HUGE BLACK HOGS — This picture was shot recently as WON left turkey camp near Arroyo Grande. These five Russian strain black hogs looked like Black Angus heifers and were in a field prior to sunset on a ranch that abuts a 50,000-acre ranch under lease by Bitterwater Outfitters. These hogs were in the 250- to 350-pound class. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

Not to be overlooked as hunting options for this outfitter are wild hog and exotic big game hunts that have proved to be very popular with novice hunters as well as seasoned outdoorsmen. Hunters can opt to shoot sheep, goats, hogs, bison, water buffalo and varmints all year long; native valley quail, dove and turkey in season; released pheasant in the fall months; while blacktail deer hunts take place during the zone A hunting period. Youth exotic hunts can be booked for as little as $400.

A hunt package for most game hunted by Bitterwater Outfitters are for two days and include guiding, field dressing of game and complimentary delivery to a local butcher. Grant says that the barley crop has been hurt due to a lack of additional rain along the Central Coast and added that many farmers are going to have to let their crops go unharvested. With all the grain available, late spring and early summer hog hunting should be awesome as the pigs will head right for these rural feeding grounds. For additional information on booking a hunt with Bitterwater Outfitters, log on their website at bitterwateroutfitters.com or give Grant a call at (805) 610-4521.

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What a great hunt!!! Clayton Grant’s hunting operation is first class, fun and safe. Clayton is an exceptional guide who made sure that we were safe and ready for an exciting hunt. Even though we had only planned on harvesting one boar each, we ended up taking two more. Four boar in less than four hours. Now that’s my kind of hunt!
James