When Larry Skinner founded the Camanche Hills Hunting Preserve in Ione back in 1962, he wanted to create something that could be enjoyed by generations of hunters.
And in the decades since, he has seen exactly that play out at the private duck and pheasant club on the north shore of Lake Camanche – watching fathers and sons, grandfathers and grandsons turn up season-after-season and help create an environment that he says serves as the backbone of the experience.
“I enjoy wildlife and being around people, and this was an opportunity to do both of those things,” said Skinner, who is gearing up for the start of the annual pheasant season which runs from Nov. 10 through Dec. 23. “This place truly has a family feel to it – the members bring something special with them when they come here, and we’ve seen generations coming back year-after-year and memberships being passed down through families.
“It makes the experience something that is special.”
While the club, which is approaching its 800-member cap, isn’t open to the general public, Skinner said that they do offer a promotional shoot for people who may be interested in becoming lifetime members. For $135, guests can take up to three birds – the type depending on the season – and if the hunter likes the experience, can apply that cost towards a membership.
Last year, according to Skinner, the club planted 24,000 pheasants – raised by private handlers across the state and then transported and planted on-site – and hunters took 8,000 ducks, 2,500 chukars and around 500 quail.
And when memberships become available, they don’t last long on the market.
With around 10 members leaving the state every year for greener pastures, Skinner said that the memberships that are bought back and made available are snatched up almost immediately. Those who have access to a membership are entitled two transfers, meaning that they’re often passed down throughout families – reinforcing the generational approach that many hunters find unique about the facility.
“I enjoy meeting new people, and if I can see them have a great time in the field, that is my thrill,” Skinner said. “If you draw a 75-mile radius around this place you’ll find about 90 percent of our members, but we have people that come in from Arizona, a lot from Nevada, and even some from Alaska.
“When people are coming in from out of state because they like what you’re doing, I think that says something.”
The Camanche Hills Hunting Preserve is located on the north shore of Lake Camanche at 2951 Curran Road in Ione. For additional information about upcoming events or shoots – like the three clay shooting courses, or the archery that is also available – visit their website atwww.camhills.com
, or call 209.763.5270.
PHEASANT HUNTING CLUBS AND LOCATIONSRooster Ranch Wings and Clays
26166 Kelley Road, Hilmarwww.roosterranchonline.com
209.667.0483Stockton Sportsmen’s Club – Manteca
(Sign-in trailer location)
3455 McMullin Road, Manteca
2951 Curran Road, Ione