Hunt Results for San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Saturday – 10/18/14

The San Jacinto Wildlife Area waterfowl take for opening day was good with some hunters scoring quick limits, the majority being teal. Shovelers and Cinnamon Teal tied for first place for most birds taken with Green Wing Teal coming in second.  Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, reported that the results for Saturday, 10/18/14 were as follows:

202 adult and 19 junior hunters bagged 150 Northern Shovelers, 150 Cinnamon Teal, 13 Gadwall, 39 Widgeon, 127 Green Wing Teal, 6 Mallards, 4 Pintail, 15 Redhead, 26 Ring Necks, 1 Wood Duck and 22 Ruddy Ducks. There were no geese bagged on the wildlife area Saturday. There were also 36 coots taken on Saturday. This resulted in an average harvest of 2.67 waterfowl for each hunter. Tom advised that out of 52 reservation cards 39 showed up on time.

San Jacinto is open for waterfowl hunting on Wednesdays and Saturdays only. You can put in for reservations on-line through the DFW Automated License Data System (ALDS). Your reservation request has to be to the ALDS system 17 days in advance to get in on the drawing or you can get in on the daily “sweatline” drawing for the remaining blinds after the reservations are taken care of. Reservation spots are given out starting at 3 AM and the “sweatline” drawing is done after that. The ALDS can be accessed through the DFW web site at the below link –

Don’t forget that all licenses and 1 day, 2 day or season passes must be purchased at a DFW Office or a license agent before your arrive at the refuge. These can be purchased on-line via the ALDS system also, however, you will have to wait for the DFG to mail you’re the actual licenses and passes which can take up to 15 days. If you purchase your license and passes in person at a DFW office or license agent you immediately get them without the wait for the mail. No licenses or passes will be sold at the check stations this year. You can also show up for an afternoon refill hunt but the last refill is at 2 PM. For more information, contact the staff at San Jacinto at 951-928-0580.

Changes for Check-in / Sweat Line Procedures at San Jacinto Wildlife Area for the 2014/2015 Season

Tom Trakes, of San Jacinto Wildlife Area, has advised that there will be some changes and modernizations to the check-in procedures at San Jacinto for the Sweat Line drawing. These changes are meant to speed things up and ensure the “bucket drawing” will be a fair as possible for everyone.

The first, and probably biggest change, will be the fact that the good old 5-gallon white sweat line bucket, the one that, over the years, has held probably tens of thousands of those little slips of paper with the names of hunters hoping to claim the spots of reservation holders that didn’t show up, is gone. Gone are the days of trying to crumble your slip or fold it a certain lucky way or whatever you may have done to, hopefully, increase your chances of the searching hand finding your little slip of paper in the bucket first instead of last. However, it is only gone in a physical sense as, in the virtual world, it is still with us.

New procedure for the SJ Sweat Line will be signing up on a clipboard with a number by your name. When you sign-up what you will see is a number and four letters, A – D, plus a check box that says, “mobility impaired” (more on the “mobility impaired” later). Everyone in your hunting party has to have their name written on the sign-up sheet PRIOR to the drawing. There will be no adding on to your hunting party after the list goes in. Tom advised me that the cut-off time for signing up on the list will be 3:30 AM at the latest and he recommended that you get there by 3 AM to be sure you get on the list. This is because the Sweat Line drawing will be completed while the reservations are in the process of being given out. The Sweat Line drawing will now be handled by a computer app that generates random numbers and it will create a list based on the number of hunting parties signed up. In other words if there are 48 hunting parties signed up the SJ staff will simply enter the number 48 into the computer and it will generate a randomly numbered list. So, if you were number 22 on the sign-up list and the list that the computer generates (which will be posted on the window of the check station when it comes out) has number 22 in the 5th position, then you are 5th on the Sweat Line list. Same as if your slip was pulled out of the old bucket on the 5th draw. This should greatly speed things up because as soon as the reservation line is done the SJ staff can immediately start giving out the left over spots to the non-reservation holders listed on the computer generated Sweat Line list.

An important thing to note on this is that your name CAN ONLY APPEAR ONCE on the initial Sweat Line sign-up sheet. In other words, if you have 3 hunters in your party they can’t all put there names on the list and then list their two friends below them, thereby giving themselves three chances. Doing so will result in disqualification from the drawing. Also, if you’re going to go out in the morning, if you’re number’s low enough to get a non-reservation blind, and you have a friend coming to meet you later, you need to put your friend’s name on the initial sign-up list or your friend will not be allowed to go out and join you later in the morning.

As I mentioned before the Sweat Line sign-up sheet will have a check box that says “mobility impaired” next to each set names. If one of the hunters is mobility impaired then this box can be checked. What this results in is that the mobility impaired hunter, and his party, will go into the Sweat Line drawing and have just as much chance as anyone else of ending up anywhere on the computer generated random number list, however, the two mobility impaired blinds will only be given out to mobility impaired hunters. In other words, if the mobility impaired hunter is 23rd on the Sweat Line list when the SJ staff gets down to the mobility impaired hunter the mobility impaired blinds (if they haven’t been taken by a mobility impaired hunter with a reservation or higher up on the list) will be available for this hunter and his party if they want it. If the mobility impaired hunter wants another blind, however, they can choose any available blind. Tom advised that this year the mobility impaired blinds will only be reserved for the mobility impaired hunters until 1 PM. After that time, if anyone wants to refill into one of the mobility impaired blinds, if they are opened, any hunter will be able to use them. Tom said that if there is a mobility impaired hunter in the party that they need to bring along their DMV registration for their vehicle showing that they are mobility impaired or they will not be allowed out into the mobility impaired blinds. Tom advised that this requirement is per Fish & Wildlife regulations.

Here is the text of the regulations designating the requirements for a mobility impaired hunter:
A number of State Wildlife Areas and National Wildlife Refuges have hunting blinds designated for use by mobility impaired hunters. A “mobility impaired hunter” is defined as any person who has been issued a Department of Motor Vehicles ‘‘Disabled License Plate”; “Permanent Parking Placard Identification Card”; “Disabled Veteran License Plate”; or valid “Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License” (FG form 1460). The blue plastic “Disabled Parking Placard” may not be substituted for the required “Identification Card” which bears the name of the mobility impaired person. Disabled hunters must provide the registration certificate for DMV issued disabled license plates.

One other change is that, in the past, the blind were limited to 4 hunters, 2 adults and 2 juniors. Now it will be 4 hunters, doesn’t matter if they’re juniors or adults.

Tom also wanted me to remind everyone that SJ has no free roam areas. It is very important that hunters stay in their assigned blinds for hunting as many of San Jacinto’s blinds are tightly spaced and hunting outside your blind could be disruptive of others’ hunts at best and dangerous at worst. The only allowable deviation from staying in your blind would be if you’re out chasing a cripple and then be extra careful of your background if you have to shoot at it.

As for the refill list. If someone comes in to refill, AFTER the sweat line drawing is done, (as I had to do for afternoon hunts all last season due to my work situation), nothing has changed there. You will just sign up on the refill list in the order you arrive.

On a final note Tom wanted me to remind everyone that there will be no harassment or bullying of any kind tolerated on the wildlife area. Also, there are usually at least a few children and/or women present so watch the inappropriate language. Let’s all show a little class and be mindful of the people around you. Failure to do so may result in loss of your hunting privilege for the day.

Tom wanted me to relate to everyone that these new procedures are experimental and there may be some wrinkles to iron out, some glitches to overcome, or some tweaking of the actual procedures to figure out so bare with San Jacinto staff as they implement these new polices.

Hopefully these new procedures will help things go smoother and quicker and be fair to everyone involved. SoCalHunt will be looking forward to a great season, as I’m sure everyone else is, so please be patient while the best wildlife area staff in the state works to make things even better at good old SJ. If anyone has any questions or comments about these new procedures Tom said feel free to call him at 951-236-3040.

Hope to see you out there this season!

Blind Brush-Up / Touch-Up Volunteer Work Day a Big Success

There was a good turnout on Saturday, September 27th for the San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s volunteer blind brush-up touch-up day. 7:00 AM found the volunteers waiting at the check station parking lot to help finish up the preparations for the upcoming duck season. Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, reported that about 20 volunteers, composed of hunters that utilize San Jacinto, were present and quickly dispersed to their assignments to work on the blinds.

Today’s work party was tasked with the final touch-up of the area’s blinds to finish brushing them up for the season to come. The volunteers also moved about 20 tons of gravel to, in effect, “pave” the walkways to the mobility impaired blinds. This was a huge task as most of the gravel had to be moved one wheelbarrow at a time and smoothed out with shovels. The result of all that work culminated in walkways that almost resemble the driveway in front of your house. Excellent work by the volunteers!


Moving and smoothing the gravel.


Even the youngsters did their share!


The “driveway” (but not in front of your house).


One of the mobility impaired blinds. (2)

The majority of volunteers had obligations after the work was done so the group passed on the usual post work party lunch at Casa Mexicana Restaurant.

The flooding of the ponds is pretty much near completion and there is already a good number of birds, including some geese, using the wildlife area so it’s really shaping up to be a good opener on October 18th!

Obviously the next thing on the calendar for San Jacinto Wildlife Area is opening day of the waterfowl season on the above-mentioned date. Everything is shaping up for a great season to come. The opening day reservations have already been posted by the DFW (hope you got one if you put in for the opener) so things are pretty much set to begin the season.

For those that follow SoCalHunt’s hunting reports, just so you know, I won’t be out on the opener due to work obligations…again…but myself and my usual hunting partner plan on being there for the first Wednesday of the season on October 22nd (hopefully with a reservation in hand if the ressi gods are kind to us).

Hope to see you out at San Jacinto some time this season.

Date Set for Volunteer Blind Brush-Up / Touch-Up at San Jacinto Wildlife Area

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that they have scheduled one final volunteer workday at San Jacinto Wildlife Area. This will be a workday to fine tune and touch up the previous work on the blinds done on the last volunteer blind brush-up day. The date is Saturday, September 27th. Volunteers are asked to gather at 6:30 AM at the SJ Check Station Parking Lot. The main focus of this workday is to finish up the brushing up of any of the blinds that might still need it and to, in general, just make sure the wildlife area is in great shape. 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. The mosquito repellant being especially important now, from what I understand. Also, since the ponds are well into the flooding process, waders will be a good idea. After the work is done we will get together about noon at Casa Mexicana Restaurant for a well-deserved lunch (each person responsible for their own bill).

Hopefully we’ll have as good turnout as the last couple work days and be able to, in effect, “customize” the blinds to assist in making the upcoming season exceptional. As I always say, on the workdays, the more the merrier (and the less work for each person). If you have access to palm fronds please bring as much can for use in helping to detail out the brushing of the blinds. (see the flyer below for the proper type of palm fronds – don’t bring any with the thorns on them, not good for our waders).

As has been on the previous workdays a good turn out will help get things in exceptional shape at San Jacinto and we’ll all look forward to an outstanding season of duck hunting.

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

Brush up Tune Up 2014

Who Ya Gonna Call? Skybusters!

There are two things that I know that anyone who has hunted any public refuge or wildlife area in California has experienced. These two things can disrupt a hunt and ruin what could potentially be a great day of hunting. Both are rooted in selfishness, narcissism and an utter disregard for fellow hunters, as well as, in the case of one of them, a disregard for the rule of law.

What are these two things? They are early shooting and skybusting.

Early shooting is shooting before legal start time. The legal start time for waterfowl hunting in California is one half hour before sunrise. The Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) publishes a chart on their web site and in their printed regulation books showing what legal shoot time is for various areas throughout the state. In addition, the legal start time is posted each hunt day at the wildlife area or refuge check station. Also, at least at San Jacinto Wildlife Area, and I’m sure its done at other wildlife areas and refuges, the legal start time is announced at the morning briefing.

So, now you should know what the legal shooting time is for your area for the hunt day you’re on. How do you keep from shooting early? Well, maybe first I should talk about why you shouldn’t shoot early.

First, it is against the law. If a DFW Officer catches you shooting early it’s a big ticket and who wants to pay a big ticket, and possibly loose hunting privileges for a season? Second, its just down right rude. Here we all set in our blinds, ten minutes before shooting time. Ducks are filtering in to our decoys and we can hear the rustle of their wings and the muffled splashes as they touch down inside our decoy spread. All we have to do is wait ten minutes and we can hope up and potentially drop 4 or 5 birds between us for a great start to our hunt day. The clock ticks away, 9 minutes, 8 minutes….BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! from two blinds over and all the ducks sitting in the decoys take off for parts unknown. Because one person couldn’t wait 8 more minutes no one else on the refuge gets a shot at the many birds that were, (key word WERE), sitting in their decoys. And, unfortunately, this seems to be infectious, as once one person opens up others feel that its okay for them to shoot too. During a slim season, such as last year, sometimes the only good opportunity during the day to bag a couple birds is at start time but, because one person is so selfish and so desperate to kill a duck that they blow the opportunity for everyone else.

Now, as I asked before, how do you keep from shooting early? Personally I think the best way now a days is to set the alarm on your cell phone. Pretty much everybody and their brother has a cell phone now and there are two good things about that, clock-wise. First, the time on the cell phone is set by the cell phone provider signal so it is accurate. Second, as I mentioned above 99.99% of the cell phone I’ve seen have an alarm app. So, if start time is 6:25 am set your alarm on your cell phone for 6:25 am. “But”, some say, “won’t the alarm going off scare the birds off my pond?” My answer to that is that the multiple shots going off all over the refuge a millisecond after start time will be scaring them much more then the little “beep, beep” of your cell phone alarm.

Here’s a link to DFW’s Shooting time chart for Southern California for the 2014/15 season:

Now, on to skybusting. Some call it skybusting, some call it skyscraping in short it is consistently shooting at birds that are out of range. I say consistently because we all make errors in judgment and distance once in a while, but doing it over and over indicates a problem. Once again, as with shooting early, this practice is rooted in desperation to kill a duck and basic selfishness along the lines of “if I can’t shoot them then no one else can either”. There are guys out there that are pretty good at longer range shooting and can consistently drop birds at 60+ yards but they are few and far between. There are also guys that will tell you they have dropped ducks at 100 yards, and, its not a lie, they probably have. However, the 100 yards shooters are relying on an old technique called “the golden BB”. The “golden BB” is that one pellet that happens to hit the bird in a vital area, such as the head, and brings it down when, under normal circumstances, due to the distance, the bird would usually escape due to the loss of shot velocity not inflicting a debilitating wound. Once a shot pattern gets beyond 50 yards or so it starts to spread so much that it is possible for a bird to fly right through the center of the pattern and not be hit by one pellet. What’s worse is when the bird is hit by only one or two pellets in an area that isn’t immediately lethal. What happens then is the bird flies off only to die somewhere else from blood loss or inability to escape a predator due to the injury. A good rule of thumb is to try and keep all your shots within 40 yards, 50 on the outside. At 40 yards you’ll still have a dense enough pattern to knock the bird down, usually killing it in the air, if you center it in the pattern. The part of skybusting that effects other hunters’ hunt is that when people are shooting at high flying birds they are scaring them out of the area and not giving them a chance to work anyone’s decoys where they might come in for a good lethal inside 40 yard shot. Skybusting will not endear the offender to anyone on the refuge as they are preventing anyone else from having a chance at the ducks which, if left unmolested, might very well drop into someone decoys.

Sometime inexperience is the reason for skybusting. People will shoot at high birds thinking they are in range just because they haven’t hunted that much. If you are weak on judging distance the following might help. Take a standard sized decoy out to your local high school football field some Saturday or early evening. (don’t use a jumbo-sized decoy it will throw you off). Place the decoy on the goal line then walk out to the 40-yard line. Turn around and point your finger at the decoy and look down your arm, as you would down the barrel of your shotgun. This will give you an idea of what a duck look like at 40 yards. A word of caution here. I recommend looking down your arm at the decoy because it would probably not be a good idea to take your shotgun out on a high school football field and point it at the decoy. Your local law enforcement would probably take a dim view on that so use your arm, or may a broomstick at most if you have to have a prop. The idea of this is to get an idea of the size of a duck at 40 yards. You might want to do this several time over the course of several days until you get a good idea of what 40 yards looks like.

Bottom line on all this is I know, in most cases here, I’m probably preaching to the choir but hopefully this will dissuade a few people from doing one or both these two things. If everyone cooperates, which is essential on a refuge or wildlife area with their close together blinds, everyone will have a good productive hunt.

Yet Another Successful Blind Brush-Up Day At San Jacinto Wildlife Area

Saturday, August 23rd, 0700, found a good number of volunteers waiting in the San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s check station parking lot to help out with this year’s volunteer blind brush-up day. Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area reported that about 30 volunteers, hunters that utilize San Jacinto were on hand to receive their assignments and then headed out to the ponds to work on the blinds.

This work party was primarily to clean out the area’s blinds and the get them brushed up and camouflaged for the upcoming season. Several of the blinds were completely rebuilt by the volunteers. Most of the blinds were brushed up with palm fronds primarily provided by the volunteers.

Brush up8
Brush up 12
– Building a blind -

Due to the number of volunteers they were able to get a lot done in a short time. Tom reported that he will probably call for one more volunteer work day, probably some time in late September, to finish up some of the blinds and “fine tune” things for the season. Much of the flooding of the ponds has already started, which is a little earlier then usual, but with the water situation in the state this year its better to take it when its available.

Brush up 1
Brush up 7Brush up 6
– A couple of the completed blinds -

After the September “fine tuning” of the blinds the next thing on the calendar for San Jacinto Wildlife Area is opening day of the waterfowl season on Saturday, October 18th! Everything is looking great for the season ahead. The water is already flowing into the ponds and a lot of birds are already using the area.

Hope to see you out at good old SJ.

Second Volunteer Work Day / Blind Brush Up Day Saturday, August 23rd

The second blind brush up / Volunteer work day at San Jacinto Wildlife Area is coming up fast. Two weeks from tomorrow, on Saturday, August 23rd.

Tom Trakes, of San Jacinto Wildlife Area, 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. Volunteers are asked to gather at 6:30 AM at the SJ Check Station Parking Lot. The main focus of this work day will be brushing up /repair / building of the blinds throughout the wildlife area.

Hopefully we’ll have a good turnout as there is still a 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 the work day 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


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