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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2014 California Game Warden Stamp Now Available

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announces the 2014 edition of the Warden Stamp is now available.

The new Warden Stamp, for 2014 is now available for purchase in person from any CDFW regional or licensing offices or by filling out and sending in the CDFW Warden Stamp form with a check or credit card info to your closest CDFW office. You may also purchase Warden Stamps via the CDFW online license services (ALDS).

If you’re going to mail in the form the addresses for the DFW offices are found on page two of the Warden Stamp form.  To find the form, a list of CDFW Offices selling the stamp over the counter or the link to the ALDS to buy the stamp online click the link below:

Below the picture of the Warden Stamp is a list of links to either buy the stamp online, find a list of CDFW offices selling it over the counter (if you want to walk in and buy one) or a link to the mail-in form to purchase through the mail.

The Game Warden Stamp isn’t really a “stamp” for your license, such as your federal duck stamp is, as the name might lead you to believe, but rather it’s a roughly 3” x 3” decal.

The new 2014 version has a red background and a silhouette of a lobster on it. (see picture below)

2014 Warden Stamp_bid

The 2010 version (which is still available, if you like that design better) is a green shield with an elk silhouette on it.  The 2011 version (which is also still available, if you like that design better) is a light blue background with a silhouette of a trout or salmon on it. The 2012 version (which is also still available, if you like that design better) has a dark brown background and a silhouette of a California quail on it. The 2013 version (which is also still available, if you like that design better) has a gold background with a silhouette of a duck landing on it.  (see pictures below). If you like them all you could buy one, or more, of each if you want to.

2010 Warden Stamp

2011 Warden Stamp



The stamps are $5 each and the funds go into a special account.  The money is used to provide our Game Wardens with additional equipment, training and new programs, such as new communications and surveillance devices, protective equipment, training in specialized areas, new law enforcement programs to assist them in their duties.

Due to State budget cuts, non-hunting / fishing politicians feel that the DFW is a “painless” way to cut back on the budget by giving the DFW less to do more with.

Quoting the DFW web site on the Warden stamp:

“Game Wardens are responsible for protecting more than 1,000 native fish and wildlife species, 6,300 native plant species and 360 threatened or endangered species California’s 159,000 square miles of land (414 square miles per warden) 1,100 miles of coastline, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,800 lakes and reservoirs and 80 major rivers.  Game Wardens patrol on foot, by plane, boat, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, and even on horseback.  There is one game warden for every 200,000 constituents.

Game Wardens work hard to educate those they encounter in the outdoors, as well as school children in the classroom, about the importance of resource conservation, pollution prevention, and the importance of a healthy natural environment. These men and women dedicate their lives to ensuring our resources are here for future generations. You do not have to be an outdoor enthusiast to help, just someone who cares about protecting California’s wildlife populations and conserving the habitats in which they live.”

Now – back to me…

As I’ve said every year that I’ve written about the Warden Stamp, the important point here, in my opinion, is getting the money to the “boots on the ground”.  If your $5 (or more, if you can afford it) results in some equipment, training or what have you that helps catch a poacher in your area the payoff may be more game or more fish for you and yours to legally harvest.  And, the bottom line is, that’s what’s important. As for the “stamp”, stick it on your truck, ammo box or tackle box, stick it in a drawer, throw it away if you want, do whatever you want with it.  The important thing is to help give our Wardens the tools they need to protect our hunting and fishing heritage.

Now, as I do every year, excuse me while I pull up the ALDS on my computer and order this year’s warden stamps.

2013 / 2014 Season Sunrise (not) / Sunset Recap

As is our tradition every year at SoCalHunt I’ve posted an article, with photographs, of the sunrises and sunset we’ve experienced in the season just past.  Again this year is no exception, except for the caveat that this season, due to work responsibilities, we weren’t able make any morning hunts and sunsets are all we have this time as we were only able to do afternoon hunts.  That being said, I’ve always asserted that the most beautiful times of day while hunting at San Jacinto Wildlife Area are sunrise and/or sunset. If you hunt San Jacinto, and have been there at the beginning or end of a hunt day, you probably already know that good old SJ has some of the most spectacular beginnings and endings of the hunting day.  Below, in order of appearance, are the sunsets on the days we hunted San Jacinto this year.

Presented for your enjoyment:

(Click on the image for a full sized picture)

10/23/13 Sunset


11/6/13 Sunset


11/27/13 Sunset


12/4/13 Sunset (2 different exposures of the same shot)



12/11/13 Sunset


1/1/14 Sunset


1/15/14 Sunset


1/22/14 Sunset


San Jacinto Wildlife Area Blind Clean up Day Confirmed for March 15th, 2014

San Jacinto Wildlife Area Staff would like to invite hunters to participate in a Volunteer Clean Up Day of the Wildlife Area on Saturday, March 15, 2013.  Volunteers are to assemble at 6:30 am at the Wildlife Area Headquarters office on Davis Road.

Work will be assigned at the start of the morning and afterwards we will meet at Casa Mexicana Restaurant for a well-deserved lunch.  (Everyone responsible for their own check).

Please be prepared for the following:

Trash removal from hunt sites

General clean up of hunt areas

Bring work gloves, sturdy boots, mud boots, covered shoes, Waders (if available)

Be sure to bring plenty of bottled water as it may be hot.

Direction to the San Jacinto Wildlife Area

From the 215 South freeway,

-Exit Ramona Expressway going east towards Lake Perris, go 7 miles to Davis road, turn left and go up Davis road 2 miles to the Wildlife Headquarters office.

From the 79

-Exit Ramona Expressway going west towards Lake Perris, go to Davis road, turn right and go up Davis road 2 miles to the Wildlife Headquarters office.

Questions?  Contact Tom Trakes (951) 236-3040.


San Jacinto’s 20th Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt Event a Big Success, February 1st, 2014

(Don’t forget to check the photos at the bottom of this page – click on them for full sized pictures)

San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s 20th annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt event was a big success!  As usual.  The junior hunters and their adult partners gathered at the San Jacinto check station at 0300 and, after hunting spots were assigned, a nice pancake and sausage breakfast was enjoyed by all before heading out to the blinds.

After a successful day of duck hunting (check the results at the link below at the bottom of this page) the 98 junior hunters (a new record!) gathered back at SJ headquarters for a delicious roast pig lunch and the prize raffle.

Lunch consisted of a beautiful roast pig, hot dogs, hamburgers, beans and chips, along with cake for dessert.  All the juniors came away with a custom made SJ Junior Hunt shirt, a SJ Junior Hunt hat and a gift bag with an assortment of goodies like sunscreen, a calendar, camo pencils, lanyards, calls, pocketknives and DVDs.  Many prizes were donated and they ran the gamut from gun cases, decoys, fishing rods, blind bags and other assorted hunting and outdoor gear.  Needless to say all the junior hunters went away happy with everyone getting at least one raffle prize and probably about 50% of the Juniors walking away with two.

I’m proud to say that the San Jacinto hunters did a great job this season with their donations to the Junior Hunt box on the check station counter.  More then $955 was collected in the box.  The money went to buy some of the food, the shirts and hats, the drinks and some of the raffle prizes.  Also, Bass Pro Shops gave the San Jacinto staff a 25% discount on the raffle prizes that they bought making the money go much further.

A great time was had by all to top off a good day of duck hunting.

(Hunt results for the Junior Hunt can be found here:  )

The roast pig…yummmmm!


Everybody enjoying lunch!


Prizes galore!


The Junior Hunters!


The sponsors list.


Well-deserved plaque of appreciation to the SJ Crew!



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