Duck Numbers Up for the 2014/2015 Season!

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that duck numbers were up significantly again over last year’s duck count. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service web site reported:

“Preliminary 2014 duck population and pond estimates from the annual Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. The estimate of 49.2 million breeding ducks was 8% higher than last year’s estimate of 45.6 million, and 43% above the long-term average.” reported that Mallards were up to approximately 10.9 million, which was 5% above the 2013 estimate of 10.372 million, and 42% above the long-term average of 7.7 million. Bluewing Teal numbers are approximately 8.542 million, which 10% above the 2013 estimate of 7.732 million and 75% above the long-term average of 4.9 million. Green-winged teal are up to 3.440 million, which was 13% above the 2013 estimate of 3.053 million and 69% above the long-term average of 2.0 million. The estimate for American wigeon is 3.117 million up 18% from the 2013 estimate of 2.664 million and 20% above the long-term average of 2.6 million. Estimated numbers of gadwall are 3.811 million which is 14% above the 2013 estimate of 3.351 million and 102% above the long-term average 1.9 million. Scaup (both greater and lesser) showed 4.611 million, which is 11% above the 2013 estimate and 8% below the long-term average of 5.0 million. Northern shoveler (our beloved spoonys) are estimated at 5.279 million which is 11% above the 2013 estimate of 4.751 million and 114% above the long-term average of 2.5 million. Redheads were 1.279 million which is 6% above the 2013 estimate of 1.202 million and 85% above the long-term average of 0.7 million. Canvasbacks showed 0.685 million which 13% lower then the 2013 estimate of 0.787 million and 18% above the long-term average of 0.6 million. Pintails were estimated at 3.220 million, which was 3% below the 2013 estimate of 3.335 million and 20% below the long-term average of 4.0 million.

So it looks like its could be shaping up to be a great season already. Now all we need here in Southern California is some severe weather up north at the right time to trigger the duck’s migration down to our area and some much needed rain / water around our neck-o-the-woods to attract and hold the birds.

As I type this its 107 days until the season opens down here in SoCal. It might be a good time to start getting the gear together and cleaned up and inventoried. Oh, and maybe think about buying a few more boxes of shells as it looks like we’re going to have more birds to shoot at this season. (Oh, and pray for some rain!!)

Dates Set for Upcoming Volunteer Blind Brush Up Days at San Jacinto Wildlife Area

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that they have scheduled two volunteer “blind brush up” work days for San Jacinto Wildlife Area. The dates are Saturday, July 26th and Saturday August 23rd.  Volunteers are asked to gather at 6:30 AM at the SJ Check Station Parking Lot. In addition to brushing up the blinds other activities will be cleaning out water control structures on the wildlife area’s duck ponds, building new blinds and/or repairing old blinds and generally cleaning up the blind areas (pulling out a plethora of tumbleweeds). Tom advised that anyone coming out to volunteer should bring gloves, shovels and/or hoes, fencing/wire pliers and lots of water, since it is expected to be hot. Also sunscreen and mosquito repellent are suggested as good ideas. After the work is done we will get together at Casa Mexicana Restaurant for a well-deserved lunch (each person responsible for their own bill).

Hopefully we’ll have a good turnout as on each date as there is lot of work to do to get ready for the upcoming season. As always, when it comes to work days, the more the merrier (and the less work for each person).  Also, if you have access to palm fronds please bring as much can for use in brushing the blinds. (see the flyer below for the proper type of palm fronds – don’t bring any with the thorns on them, our waders can’t take those).

A good turn out for these work days will help get things in “ship shape” at San Jacinto and we’ll all look forward to another great season of waterfowling.

If you have any questions contact Tom Trakes at the San Jacinto headquarters at (951) 236-3040.

SJ Brush Up 2014

Great Turnout for San Jacinto’s Annual Hunter’s Education Class

Saturday, May 31st was San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Annual Hunter’s Education Class. Tom Trakes, of San Jacinto Wildlife Area, reported that 54 new hunters attended and everyone passed their Hunter’s Education test. This means that they are now eligible to be fully licensed hunters in the State of California. The students ranged in age from about 9 years old to over 60 years old and they will soon be joining the ranks of we hunters.

The hunter’s education students enjoyed a great lunch at the San Jacinto Headquarters at midday consisting of giant sub sandwiches, watermelon and various donated goodies from the participants.

The next activity for hunters will be a workday at San Jacinto Wildlife Area, probably in late July. This will be a general workday to clean out water control structures and plan and perhaps build or replace some blinds in the waterfowl area. There will then be at least one additional workday, likely in late August, to finish up what work is needed and to brush up the blinds. Keep your eye on SoCalHunt for announcements of the exact dates when these are set.

Here are a couple of pictures of the Hunter’s Education class in progress.

Students hard at work.

photo 1

Instructors imparting wisdom to those in attendance.

photo 4

Victory for Sportsman’s Catering at Wister! Lease Renewed for the Next Two Seasons!

If you’ve read SoCalHunt’s blog here any time in the last couple months you probably saw the post entitled “Sportsman’s Catering at Wister in Danger of Loosing Their Lease – Another Shot Against Hunting in California”.

Frank Bailey (the owner) has announced that he has received official notification that the lease would be renewed through October 16, 2016!

Frank posted the following statement on The Outdoors Forum:

“I just got home from work and there was a registered letter from the State informing me the lease would be renewed until October 13, 2016.

I want to thank everyone for all the assistance you have given to keep this tradition alive.

I know my State Assemblyperson, Manuel Perez and my State Senator, Ben Hueso had a hand in this.

And I want to thank them.’

I want to thank Imperial County Supervisor, Ryan Kelley for his support as well.

I also know CWA has been working in the background as well.

Thank you each and everyone!

If not before, I will see you in September for Dove Season or October for the Duck Opener!

Frank Bailey”

So, score one for the hunting community! Thanks to everyone who read the original post here, posts on TOF, or wherever you found out about it, and took action and contacted state officials to get this lease renewed. This is proof that our voices can be heard!

Sportsman’s Catering at Wister in Danger of Loosing Their Lease – Another Shot Against Hunting in California

I know that SoCalHunt is primarily about San Jacinto but I have, in the past, hunted Wister and I will do so again in the future if the right opportunity presents itself, and so should you, so this is an issue that should be of concern to all hunters in Southern California.

The Sportsman’s Catering trailer at Wister State Wildlife Area, near Niland, is at risk of not receiving a renewed lease to operate.  It has been operating there for close to 50 years, and is a place to buy a cup of coffee, a breakfast burrito, hot chocolate, ammo, other various hunting gear and the all-important licenses and day passes.  (I wish we had a similar outfit at San Jacinto).  It has been a place that generations of hunters have patronized. I’m sure there are grandfathers that buy their grandsons a hot chocolate in the early morning hours as their grandfathers did for them when it first opened.

From what SoCalHunt has been told, apparently the lease was up this year. It originally went to ‘competitive bid’, and Frank Bailey (the owner) was the only one to place a bid.  Frank advised that he has not received any official notification that the lease would not be renewed, but through phone conversations with Scott Sewell of the DFW, who is in charge of Wister, this appears to be the case.

From those conversations, Frank has learned it is not the DFW that is putting a stop to the lease.  It is the “Lands Program People”.

Beside the obvious benefit for hunters utilizing Wister, the state benefits in a big way also.  It is a fact for the year 2013, as a license agent, Sportsman’s Catering had over $20,000 in license and permit sales.  Money going to the state.  Frank has documented proof of this. Also, the sales of ammunition bring in Pittman-Robertson taxes as well.


The Sportsman’s Catering Trailer – (as you can see this takes up a miniscule part of Wister’s nearly 8,000 acres.  Right next to the check station, which could be used for very little else).



This can only be interpreted one way, in my humble opinion.  This is another shot at hunters in California.  One more thing to make it that much more inconvenient for hunters to participate in their sport.  Another nail in the coffin of hunting in California?

The only thing that can be done is to contact people that can have an influence on this situation. Please, if you do contact these people, be respectful and state you objections to the non-renewal of the lease. (Honey catches more flies then vinegar).  Here’s some contact information for people that need to know our opinion:

Assemblyman Manuel Perez’s office (56th Assembly district. Assemblyman for Imperial County where Wister is).  Contact name is Bianka Velez.

Her phone: (760)-336-8912.  Her fax is (760)-336-8914.

Lands Program:

Kari Lewis, Supervising Biologist - (916)-445-3789

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham

California State Lands Commission

Land Management Division

100 Howe Avenue, Suite 100 South

Sacramento, California 95825-8202

Telephone: (916)-574-1940


Chief, Land Management:

Brian Bugsch (916)-574-1940


State Lands Commission Small Business/DVBE Advocate Permits and Leases Application for Use of State Lands:

David W. Brown
(916)-574-1870  fax 


Also, it wouldn’t hurt to contact your own area state senator or assemblyperson and let them know what is going on and your opinion of it.

Successful Volunteer Blind (and more) Clean-up Day at San Jacinto Wildlife Area

On Saturday, March 14th, about 20 volunteers, along with the San Jacinto Wildlife Area staff, gathered in the check station parking lot at 7:00 AM for the volunteer blind clean up day. Each volunteer was given a couple or so blinds to clean out and the group headed out into the wildlife area.  In short order (about 2 hours), due to the large amount of volunteers, all of the blinds were cleaned up and the group then made their way to the upland game area and cleaned up the side of San Jacinto that borders Ramona Expressway. After about an hour and a half of hard work that area was also trash free.

After the clean up the SJ Staff and the volunteers met at Casa Mexicana for a well-deserved lunch before they parted ways for the day.

The Staff at San Jacinto would like to extend a big thanks to everyone that came out and worked hard to clean up good old SJ.

The Volunteers


Clean up along Ramona Expressway

photo 1[1]

Lunch at Casa Mexicana

photo 3[1]

The next event at San Jacinto will be a Hunter’s Education Class on May 31st. Check here…

…for information on the Hunter’s Education Class.  If you’ve never had a hunting license this class is required before you can buy your license.  And, the price is right…FREE!


San Jacinto Wildlife Area – Hunter Education Course Offered, Saturday, May 31st

San Jacinto Wildlife Area will be hosting a free state mandated hunter’s education course on Saturday, May 31st.  If you want to get a hunting license this is the class you need to take to get your license.   Tom Trakes, of San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that the students should assemble at the wildlife area’s check station at 6:30 am with the course beginning promptly at 7 am.  There is no age restriction for the class but for the younger potential hunters the parent or guardian needs to determine if the child is mature enough to become a hunter.  Students must read the hunter’s education manual prior to taking the class.  Tom told me that the weather at San Jacinto in May is usually quite warm and suggested that everyone attending would probably want to bring a good supply of bottled water.  At noon the staff at San Jacinto will host a BBQ lunch and Tom said they would be taking donations (drinks, salads, desserts, chips, etc.) for this to offset the cost of the food.  The class should last until about 4:00 pm and everyone successfully completing the course can then head out to their local DFW license agent (aka: sporting goods store) and buy their hunting license.  Tom asked that anyone wanting to attend this free hunter’s education course should call him to pre-register at 951-236-3040 or Whitney Barr at (951) 928-0580.

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