Duck Numbers Down Just a Bit for the 2016/2017 Season

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that duck numbers were down slightly compared to last year’s duck count.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service http://www.Flyways.us web site reported:

“2016 duck population and pond estimates from the annual Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. The estimate of 48.4 million breeding ducks was similar to last year’s estimate of 49.5 million, and 38% above the long-term average. The total pond estimate was 5 million, which was 21% below last year’s estimate of 6.3 million and similar to the long-term average of 5.2 million. Despite an early spring over most of the survey area, habitat conditions were poorer than last year because of below-average precipitation and subsequent drying of wetlands. Most prairie and parkland regions were at best fair for waterfowl production.”

Flyways.us reported that Mallards were up to approximately 11.8 million, which was a 1.7% increase to the 2015 estimate of 11.6 million, and 51% above the long-term average of 7.8 million.  Bluewing Teal numbers are approximately 6.7 million, which is 22% below the 2015 estimate of 8.5 million but 34% above the long-term average of 5.0 million. Green-winged teal are up to 4.3 million, which is just 4.5% above the 2015 estimate of 4.1 million but 104% above the long-term average of 2.1 million. The estimate for American wigeon is 3.4 million which is a 13% increase over the 2015 estimate of 3.0 million and 31% above the long-term average of 2.6 million. Estimated numbers of gadwall are 3.7 million which is down 2.6% from the 2015 estimate of 3.8 million and 90% above the long-term average 2.0 million. Scaup (both greater and lesser) showed 5.0 million, which is a 13.6% increase from the 2015 estimate of 4.4 million but similar to the long-term average of 5.0 million. Northern shoveler (the favorite of SJ, our beloved spoonys) are estimated at 4.0 million which is 9% below the 2015 estimate of 4.4 million and 56% above the long-term average of 2.5 million. Redheads are 1.3 million which is 7.7% below the 2015 estimate of 1.2 million and 82% above the long-term average of 0.7 million. Canvasbacks showed 0.7 million which is similar to the 2015 estimate of 0.76 million and 26% above the long-term average of 0.6 million. Pintails were estimated at 2.6 million, which was 13% below the 2015 estimate of 3.0 million and 34% below the long-term average of 4.0 million.

So it looks like, despite this past rainy season’s El Nino (which kind of missed us here in So. Calif.) California, this coming season will present hunters with a few less birds but still has the potential to produce good numbers since most waterfowl are still above their long-term averages. Hopefully we’ll get some rain down here, once the rainy season gets underway, 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 neighborhood in time for our season.

As I type this its 73 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. Hopefully the birds will migrate early and we’ll have another great season at San Jacinto!

To check out the above duck numbers for yourself go to www.flyways.us

(Note:  For some reason the USFWS didn’t calculate the percentage change in duck number for many of the species between the 2015 and 2016 surveys.  If the numbers weren’t too dissimilar they just stated that the numbers were “similar to” last year’s numbers.  I went ahead and did the percentage change for most of them.  Hopefully my math is correct.)

Dove Season Opens September 1st – San Jacinto Wildlife Area Info

Thursday September 1st is, as it has been for umpteen years, is the opening of dove season in California.  Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, wanted me to announce that the entire wildlife area will be opened to dove hunting for the first four days of the season.  From opening day, Thursday September 1st, until Sunday September 4th, hunters may pursue doves not only on the upland areas of San Jacinto but they can also attempt to bag the little gray rockets around the area’s duck ponds.  For the remainder of the dove season, until September 15th, dove hunting will be allowed only on the upland areas of San Jacinto.  Hunting doves in the waterfowl area of SJ won’t be allowed after September 4th.

Traditionally SJ only opened the waterfowl area to dove hunting on opening day but since the opener is on a Thursday this year it was decided to open the entire wildlife area through the first weekend.

Tom also wanted to remind everyone that this year, due to new DFW regulations only non-toxic shot may be used on the wildlife area.  This means NO LEAD SHOT is allowed at any time at SJ whether you’re duck hunting, upland hunting or rabbit hunting.    Be sure you don’t have any lead shot with you if you’re going to hunt San Jacinto, or any other state wildlife area or refuge this year.  Wardens will be checking and possession of even one round of lead shot could get you a citation.  Also, don’t forget that your old hunting license expired at the end of June.  Don’t be caught without your 2016/17 hunting license and your upland endorsement on you license.

Tom told me that they are seeing more dove utilizing SJ this year than ever before.  I’m not going to kid you though, that’s not to say that you’re going to limit out in an hour, like you might be able to do down at Niland or someplace like that but you have a good chance of bagging a few bird close to home.

As a reminder, if you’re thinking about hitting up SJ for the dove opener, you might want to attend the next Blind Brush-Up work day scheduled for the Saturday before the dove opener, on Saturday, August 27th.  It’s a great way to scout out the area for the coming dove opener.

Info on the Blind Brush-Up work day here:  https://socalhunt.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/date-set-for-second-2016-volunteer-blind-brush-up-day-at-san-jacinto-wildlife-area-august-27th/

Hopefully there won’t be any last minute thunder storms to chase the birds out of the area and if you choose to try your luck at San Jacinto things are looking pretty good for the opener.

Hope to see you out on good old SJ some time.

Date Set for Second 2016 Volunteer Blind Brush-Up Day at San Jacinto Wildlife Area – August 27th

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that they have scheduled a second volunteer “blind brush-up” work-day for San Jacinto Wildlife Area. The date is Saturday, August 27th.  Volunteers are asked to gather at 6:00 AM at the SJ Check Station Parking Lot. In addition to brushing up the blinds other activities that might be handled are cleaning out water control structures on the wildlife area’s duck ponds, building new blinds and/or repairing old blinds, general clean-up of the blind areas and moving pipelines off the alfalfa fields. 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. In addition, some of the blinds might be surrounded by water, as the flooding of the ponds has already started, so it would be handy to bring waders also so work can be done on these blinds too if needed.  As always, for this time of year, sunscreen and mosquito repellent are suggested as good ideas.  After the work is done we will get together at Casa Mexicana Restaurant about noon for a well-deserved lunch (each person responsible for their own bill).

Tom stated that they had a fantastic turnout for the last work day and hopefully we’ll have as good a turnout for this one.  There is still a lot of work to do to get ready for the coming season.  As always, when it comes to work days, the more volunteers the better (meaning less work for each person).  Also, Tom added that if you have access to palm fronds please bring as much can for use in brushing the blinds. Tom said there are still a lot of blinds to brush and they can’t have too many palm fronds to do the job.

Tom wanted me to make sure that everyone knew that even if you can’t come out for the work-day if you have palm fronds that you’d like to donate prior to the work-day, and can drop them by SJ, that would be most appreciated.

The last work-day had a great turn out and a matching (or even better if possible) attendance figure for this work-day will go a long way in getting things in “tip-top” condition at San Jacinto.  Hopefully This work-day will make preparations for another great season nearly complete and go a long way towards providing the hunters of San Jacinto with another great waterfowl season.

(Hint – This is also a great way to scope out SJ for the upcoming opening of Dove Season, Sept. 1st, the Thursday following the work-day).

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

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Volunteer Work Party / Blind Brush Up at San Jacinto Wildlife Area a Huge Success!

This past Saturday, 7/30/16, around 40 volunteers, made up of hunters that utilize San Jacinto Wildlife Area, assembled at the SJ Check Station parking lot at 6:30 am to assist the staff in getting the wildlife area ready for the upcoming 2016/17 waterfowl season.  The volunteers were divided into groups and dispersed throughout the Wildlife Area to take on their assignments.

Volunteers Assembling

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With the large turnout several tasks were accomplished on Saturday morning.  The volunteers brushed up some blinds, cleaned water control structures, set up some new blinds and also set up the area’s 30-acre alfalfa field with sprinklers.

Some of the volunteers hard at work

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“Playing” in the sprinklers (might have been the best assignment for a hot day, LOL)

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New blind at F-2 being brushed

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F-2 Ready to shoot (except for the water, LOL)

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Flooding of the area has already begun on some of the ponds and there are already a lot of ducks utilizing the area.

After the work party, many of the volunteers met at Casa Mexicana Restaurant for a well-deserved, and tasty, lunch break.

Some of the volunteers chowing-down

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Much was accomplished on this work party with a great turnout of volunteers from the hunting community.  This work will help San Jacinto put on another successful waterfowl season for we Southern California hunters.   As of this writing another work party day at San Jacinto is going to be scheduled, probably for late August.  Check back with SoCalHunt often for that announcement, and, of course, I’ll get a blog post out on that as soon as the date is set.

For information on the upcoming blind brush up day, or to donate more pam fronds (they can always use them), at San Jacinto Wildlife Area you can call the refuge office at 951-928-0580 or Tom Trakes 951-236-3040.

Tom told me, (regarding all the volunteers), “I can’t express how much we appreciate everyone’s help you all are awesome.”

I would also like to extend my personal thanks to all the volunteers that came out and worked so hard.  Unfortunately, I was unable to attend and I am thankful for the great turnout for picking up my “slack”.  I truly appreciate the work that the volunteers do and I know the San Jacinto staff appreciates it also.

DFW Commission Sets 2016/17 Season Regulations

First off, sorry I’m a little late of this.  The DFW adopted the 2016/17 regulations about 4 months earlier than they did last year and this just snuck by me.  That said…here ya go.

The California Fish and Game Commission, during their April 14th  meeting in Santa Rosa, California, adopted waterfowl season dates and regulations for the 2016/17 waterfowl season.

Regulations adopted for the Southern California Zone (which will cover San Jacinto Wildlife Area):

Seasons:
Ducks and Geese: October 22, 2016 through January 29, 2017.

Special Youth Hunt Days: February 4 and February 5, 2017. (San Jacinto’s Annual Youth Hunt will be February 4th, 2016).

Limits:
Ducks: Daily bag limit: 7. Which may consist of 7 mallards, of which only 2 can be female; 2 pintail; 2 canvasback; 2 redheads; 3 scaup.  (Scaup may only be taken November 5th, 2016 through January 29th, 2017 – so be careful the first two weeks of the season again).

Geese: Daily bag limit: 23 of which 20 may be white geese and 3 may be dark geese.

Possession Limit Ducks and Geese: Triple the daily bag limit.

Black Brant (Although a “sea goose” I’ll add this because the last few years a few seem to show up at San Jacinto): November 9, 2016 – December 15, 2016.  Daily bag limit: 2 per day.  Possession limit triple the daily bag limit.

“Electronic” Spinning wing decoys (AKA – mojo’s) will be allowed from November 30th until the season ends (statewide) – non-motorized / wind powered mojo’s are allowed all season.

The regulations that most affect San Jacinto hunters are the fact that, again, scaup cannot be taken the first two weeks of the season. Most other regulations stayed pretty consistent with last season’s regulations.  Even though geese aren’t a big worry at SJ, as far as going over limit, this year’s regulations dropped the limit slightly on geese to a still astonishing 23 (WOW!) of which 20 may be white geese (which is actually 5 more white geese then last season) and only 3 can be dark geese (down from 10 last season).

So, regulations are set, the bird counts should be coming out any time now (hope for the best), and San Jacinto is well on the way to being in ship shape for the upcoming season.  (Don’t forget to pitch in on the upcoming Blind Brush-Up days if you’re able – Info at the below link).

https://socalhunt.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/date-set-for-upcoming-2016-volunteer-blind-brush-up-day-at-san-jacinto-wildlife-area-july-30th/

Hopefully we’ll get some much need rain to help things along, although last season’s predicted El Nino kind of bypassed Southern California, we can always hope.  We’ll see you all out at good old SJ!

This above information is provided as a general guide only. Please check the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website at:

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations

…or printed regulation book (available soon at most license agent locations) for official information and/or for regulations in other waterfowl zones in the state.

Date Set for Upcoming 2016 Volunteer Blind Brush-Up Day at San Jacinto Wildlife Area – July 30th

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that they have scheduled a volunteer “blind brush-up” work-day for San Jacinto Wildlife Area. The date is Saturday, July 30th.  Volunteers are asked to gather at 6:00 AM at the SJ Check Station Parking Lot. In addition to brushing up the blinds other activities that might be handled are 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 glut of tumbleweeds that always seem to take over some of the blinds). 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. In addition, a few of the blinds might still be surrounded by water, so it would be handy to bring waders also so work can be done on these blinds too.  As always for this time of year, sunscreen and mosquito repellent are suggested as good ideas.  After the work is done we will get together at El Comal Restaurant about noon for a well-deserved lunch (each person responsible for their own bill).

Hopefully we’ll have a good turnout as there is lot of work to do to get ready for the coming season. As always, when it comes to work days, the more volunteers the better (meaning 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, also know as wader ripper palm fronds).

Even if you can’t come to the work-day if you have palm fronds that you’d like to donate prior to the work-day, and can drop them by SJ, that would be appreciated.

A good turn out for these work-days will help get things “ship-shape” condition at San Jacinto.  This will make for a good start to another great season of waterfowl hunting at San Jacinto.

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

Brush Up Flyer 7-2016

 

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Palm Fronds Needed at San Jacinto – Prep for Blind Brush Up Day

Tom Trakes of San Jacinto Wildlife Area is requesting that anyone that has access to palm fronds and would like to get rid of them to donate them to San Jacinto Wildlife Area.  The palm fronds are needed to brush up the wildlife area’s blinds for the upcoming waterfowl hunting season.

Tom wanted me to pass on that they are starting to collect palm fronds for the upcoming blind brush-up days (should be late July and August – exact dates to still be determined).  Tom says anyone who is trimming palm trees and wants to bring them around to San Jacinto to get rid of them to give him a call at 951-236-3040 and he’ll make arrangements for someone to be there so you can drop them off. He also wanted me to remind people that they DO NOT want the fronds that have the thorns on them.  Don’t bring the wader-rippers but other, non-thorny palm fronds are welcome.

Thanks in advance for any palm fronds anyone can bring in.

Here’s a graphic regarding the type of palm fronds needed.

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