Duck Numbers Up Slightly for the 2015/2016 Season!

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

“Preliminary 2015 duck population and pond estimates from the annual Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. The estimate of 49.5 million breeding ducks was similar to last year’s estimate of 49.2 million, and 43% above the long-term average.” reported that Mallards were up to approximately 11.6 million, which was 7% above the 2014 estimate of 10.4 million, and 51% above the long-term average of 7.7 million. Bluewing Teal numbers are approximately 8.5 million, which about the same as the 2014 estimate of 8.5 million and 73% above the long-term average of 4.9 million. Green-winged teal are up to 4.1 million, which was 19% above the 2014 estimate of 3.4 million and 98% above the long-term average of 2.1 million. The estimate for American wigeon is 3.0 million down 3% from the 2014 estimate of 3.1 million and 17% above the long-term average of 2.6 million. Estimated numbers of gadwall are 3.8 million which is 1% above the 2014 estimate of 3.8 million and 100% above the long-term average 2.6 million. Scaup (both greater and lesser) showed 4.4 million, which is 5% below the 2014 estimate of 4.6 million and 13% below the long-term average of 5.0 million. Northern shoveler (the favorite of SJ, our beloved spoonys) are estimated at 4.4 million which is 17% below the 2014 estimate of 5.3 million and 75% above the long-term average of 2.5 million. Redheads were 1.2 million which is 6% below the 2014 estimate of 1.3 million and 71% above the long-term average of 0.7 million. Canvasbacks showed 0.76 million which 11% higher then the 2014 estimate of 0.685 million and 30% above the long-term average of 0.6 million. Pintails were estimated at 3.0 million, which was 6% below the 2014 estimate of 3.2 million and 24% below the long-term average of 4.0 million.

So it looks like, despite California’s drought, this coming season has the potential to produce good numbers of birds. Some species are down a little, like the Pintails and Scaup, but most species are up at least a little from last year, but some are up significantly over their long-term averages. Hopefully El Nino will kick in and we’ll get some rain down here to provide the needed habitat coupled with some severe weather to the north at the right time to trigger the duck’s migration down to our neck-o-the-woods in time for our season.

As I type this its 106 days until the season opens down here in SoCal. It might be a good time to start getting your duck hunting gear together and maybe go shoot a few rounds of trap or skeet to tune up. If you’re optimistic (like I am) you might want to consider buying a few more boxes of shells as it looks like we might have a few more birds to shoot at. (Oh, and pray the predicted El Nino kicks in and we get some rain!!)

To check out the above duck numbers for yourself go to

Total Lead Ban on State Lands (Including San Jacinto) Starts July 1st

Tomorrow, July 1st, is the day a total ban on lead ammo on state lands goes into effect. Hunters will be restricted to nonlead ammunition while hunting at any of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife lands and when hunting Nelson bighorn sheep anywhere in the state. This is part of the plan to phase-in unleaded ammo that will eventually prohibit the use of any lead ammunition for hunting in California. This will be the case on any part of the San Jacinto Wildlife Area starting Wednesday, July 1st. Rabbit season also opens July 1st so be aware of this if you intend to pursue the bunnies on San Jacinto’s Upland Areas. This regulation is part of Assembly Bill 711, signed in October of 2013, that intends to phase out the use of all lead ammunition in California. If nothing changes, four years from now, on July 1, 2019, hunters in California will be banned from using lead ammunition anywhere in the state, not just CDFW lands. Hopefully, AB 395, introduced by State Assemblyman James Gallagher (R), will be passed and overturn the lead ban except in condor rangers. The bill should be heard in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee sometime in early in 2016.

San Jacinto’s Annual Hunter’s Education Class a Great Success

Saturday, May 2nd was San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Annual Hunter’s Education Class. Tom Trakes, of San Jacinto Wildlife Area, reported that 40 new hunters were in attendance and they all passed their Hunter’s Education test. The new hunters are now eligible to be fully licensed to hunt in the State of California. The students ranged in age from about 9 years old to their late 50’s and they will now be joining the ranks of the hunting community.

The hunter’s education students enjoyed a hearty lunch at the San Jacinto Headquarters at midday consisting of giant sub sandwiches, potato salad, chips and soft drinks.

The next event for hunters at San Jacinto Wildlife Area will be a workday / blind brush-up day, probably around the first Saturday in August. This will be a general workday to clean out water control structures and build or replace and brush-up some blinds in the waterfowl area. There will then be at least one additional workday, some time in September, to finish up what work is needed and finish brushing the blinds. Keep your eye on SoCalHunt for announcements of the exact dates when these are set.

Tom also wanted me to mention that they have started to collect palm fronds to use for the blind brush-up day. If you have palm trees to trim and want to get rid of the palm fronds just give Tom a call and he’ll make arrangements for someone to be at SJ to meet you so you can drop off the palm fronds. You can get ahold of Tom at (951)-236-3040.

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

Students hard at work.

Lunch, yumm!

Instructors imparting wisdom to those in attendance.

San Jacinto’s 21st Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt Event a Big Success, January 31st, 2015

First off, sorry for the lateness of this report but here it is, finally…

I am happy to report, once again, that San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt event was a big success! This is the 21st year of this great event and it was well attended and well appreciated by the junior hunters.

The day started at 0300 as the junior hunters and their adult partners gathered at the San Jacinto check station to get their hunting spots for the day. As always, 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 the 85 junior hunters in attendance gathered back at SJ headquarters for a delicious lunch and, of course, the prize raffle. This year’s hunt was in honor of our Military Men and Women and 14-year-old Sofia Lazado started off the festivities with a great rendition of the National Anthem. She was accompanied by the NJROTC color guard of Chaparral High School consisting of John Minter, Devin Hernandez, and Alexis Apilado. A big thanks to these patriotic individuals for adding a big dose of American pride to the event.

All the juniors in attendance were given a custom made SJ Junior Hunt shirt, a SJ Junior Hunt hat and a goodie bag with an assortment of hunting related items. 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 walking away with at least two raffle prize.

I’m proud to say that the San Jacinto hunters outdid themselves this year with the donations to the Junior Hunt box on the check station counter. $1079 was collected in the box during the past season. In addition the Sure Shot raffle at the check station resulted in another $679 towards the event. The money went to buy some of the food, the shirts and hats, the drinks and some of the raffle prizes including the two grand prizes of two new shotguns for a couple of the lucky juniors. Once again Bass Pro Shops generously gave the San Jacinto staff a 25% discount on the raffle prizes that they bought allowing the money go much further.

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

I’d like to add that these junior hunters are the future of our sport and it is really gratifying to see the San Jacinto hunters step up to the plate this year and donate towards this outstanding event.

Shopping for the prizes at Bass Pro.

The flag salute and National Anthem.
SJ Nat Anthem

Conducting the Raffle.

A couple of the many prize winners and the crowd enjpoying lunch!


San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s 2014 Annual Bryant Park Preschool Toy Drive a Big Success!

Sorry this is so late but here it is, finally…

Thanks to all the hunters at San Jacinto who donated toys this year the San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s annual Bryant Park Head Start Preschool had a great party for the kids!

Santa came by and distributed the toys to all the preschool’s approximately 60 kids, plus their siblings. A great time was had by all and again a big thanks to the SJ hunters for their generous donations of toys making this all possible. This just proves that hunters have a heart and really care.

Thanks again for the toy donations!

Santa 1

Santa 2

San Jacinto Wildlife Area – Hunter Education Course Offered, Saturday, May 2nd

San Jacinto Wildlife Area will be hosting a free state mandated hunter’s education course on Saturday, May 2nd. 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.

Hunter ed 2015

San Jacinto Wildlife Area Blind Clean up Day Set for March 21st, 2015

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 21st, 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. The local Boy Scouts will also be out on Saturday to set up some new raptor poles for their Eagle Project on the wildlife area. Afterwards we will meet at noon 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 – some ponds still are holding water.)

Be sure to bring plenty of bottled water as it may be hot. Also, you might want to bring some mosquito repellant.

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.



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