Second Volunteer Blind Brush-Up Work Day At San Jacinto Wildlife Area also a Big Success!

The second volunteer blind brush-up day for the 2015 / 2016 season, Saturday, September 26th, was also a big success. There was a good turn out with about 20 hunters showing up to volunteer. Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area reported that the volunteers met at the check station parking lot early morning and eagerly headed out to the waterfowl area to get to work.

The Volunteer Workers (Thanks guys!)


This work party’s main goal was to brush up several blinds throughout the wildlife area for the upcoming season. Many blinds were brushed up with palm fronds, many of them provided by the volunteers.

Hard at work!


Another blind ready to go!


Much was done in a short time and then the crew headed to El Comal Restaurant in Nuevo for a well-earned lunch. Tom wanted me to remind hunters that there are still a few blinds that need brushing up as the volunteers ran out of palm fronds. Tom said the staff at SJ will finish the work before the season opener but wanted me to remind everyone that they still need palm fronds to finish the job. If anyone wants to donate any palm fronds give him or his crew a call to make arrangements to drop them off. Just give the SJ Staff a call at (951) 236-3040 if you want to drop some off.



The next thing on the calendar for San Jacinto Wildlife Area is opening day of the waterfowl season on Saturday, October 24th! Everything is looking great for the season ahead. The ponds are filling and many ducks, and even a few geese, are now using the wildlife area.

Start getting the gear in shape and maybe we’ll see you some time during the season at San Jacinto.


Waterfowl Hunting Clinic to be Held at San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Saturday 10/3/15 – And a Request for Mobility Impaired Expertise Assistance

Tom Trakes, of San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised me that on Saturday, October 3rd, there will be a Waterfowl Hunting Clinic, put on by the DFW along with the Southern California Hunter Education Instructor Association. Details below from the official DFW announcement:

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Southern California Hunter Education Instructor Association will jointly offer a waterfowl hunting clinic on Saturday, Oct. 3 at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County.

Participants of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, are welcome to attend. The clinic will cover the basics of hunting with the goal of developing ethical, conservation-minded hunters.

Topics will include hunter safety, decoy placement, blind design, ballistics, game care and hunting on state and federal waterfowl management areas.

The cost is $45 for adults (youths age 17 and under are free). The clinic hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Space is limited to 25 people, so please register early. To register or for more information, please visit

Or contact Lt. Alan Gregory at (209) 274-9923.”

In addition to the Clinic Tom wanted me to put out there that they area will having an Eagle Scout project that same day as the clinic. The Scouts will be putting up signs and striping the parking lots and installing the parking bumpers. Tom asked me to request if there is anyone out there that has experience on how correctly do this type of work to comply with the mobility impaired requirements for the state of California and if he or she would like to volunteer be out there to advise the Scouts on how to do it right that would be a big help. If you have any questions regarding helping out with the Scouts’ project contact Tom Trakes at the San Jacinto headquarters at (951) 236-3040.

Remember, for the clinic the contact info is different. For the clinic contact info is:

Or contact Lt. Alan Gregory at (209) 274-9923.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area Second 2015 Volunteer Blind Brush-Up Day Coming Up – 9/26/15

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, wanted me to remind everyone that the second volunteer “blind brush-up” work-day for San Jacinto Wildlife Area is coming up on Saturday September 26th.  Volunteers are asked to gather at 6:30 AM at the SJ Check Station Parking Lot. This work-day will concentrate on brushing up the blinds that still need it and any repairs to old blinds that may still need attention. 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 are already surrounded by water, so 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 Casa Mexicana Restaurant about noon for a well-deserved lunch (each person responsible for their own bill).

Hopefully we’ll have another good turnout like we had at the first work-day (thanks volunteers!) as there is still much work to get done so everything is 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(s) if you have palm fronds that you’d like to donate prior to the work-day(s), and can drop them by SJ, that would be appreciated.

A good turn out for this second work-day will help finish getting things in great condition for the coming season at San Jacinto

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

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A San Jacinto Tour – Plans for the Season and a (sort of) Dove Hunt

This past Wednesday, 9/9/15, SoCalHunt wondered on down to San Jacinto Wildlife Area to see what was up with the coming season. Wednesday marked 44 days out from the duck opener and we figured we’d see how things were progressing towards the coming waterfowl season.

My usual hunting partner was available, a rare occurrence as of late with our conflicting work schedules, so, since we only had the afternoon available, we though we’d check things out at SJ and then hang out and see if we could bag a dove or two since the first half of dove season is still on.

When we arrived at San Jacinto Tom Trakes, Wildlife Habitat Supervisor, and the man in charge of the wildlife area met us. Tom graciously offered to give us the “grand tour” and show us what was going on and some of what was planned. We climbed into Tom’s DFW truck and off we went out into the depths of the duck hunting area.

I will say right here that I was IMPRESSED! Most of the duck ponds were already being flooded and in the roughly 15 years or so I’ve been going to San Jacinto I’ve never seen the area looking this good. The SJ crew has been extremely busy off-season planting duck food and the results can now be seen in the ponds and some of the adjacent fields. Barley, millet and triticale were in evidence all over the wildlife area making many of the ponds look like green fields with a base of water. Most of the grain was heavy with seed heads and the ducks were enjoying the banquet.


In all the time I’ve been going to San Jacinto I have never seen so many ducks using the area. Some times it almost looked like a scene out of the old Hitchcock movie “The Birds”. I have no idea how many ducks we saw Wednesday but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in the neighborhood of several thousand! Almost every corner we went around caused a virtual cloud of birds to rise from each pond and flee the DFW truck. The birds didn’t go far however because as soon as they figured out they weren’t in danger they’d swing back around and land a short distance away and continue feeding of the “duck food” the SJ staff has so generously supplied this year.  (a few picture below – I had to include so many as they’re all pretty awesome and, believe it or not, this is just a sample of them)











As for San Jacinto’s water situation this season Tom told us that they are fortunate that they will have no problem flooding up this year and the local water district is giving them all the water they need so far with no reduction anticipated. Very fortunate indeed when you look at other refuges such as Kern which might not even open this season.


Some of the plans for this season are to create a new flooded area south of the “B” pond and place at least one new blind there and they are also working on an area down at the far south end of the wildlife area, down near the Bridge Street pond, that they hope to flood and place probably 3, maybe 4 blinds in that area. If we get the anticipated El Nino rains, and Mystic Lake appears again, there’s plans for several blinds around Mystic’s shoreline, the number depending on how big Mystic Lake gets.

(new area near Bridge Street)


All in all it was a very impressive tour and we were grateful to Tom for taking the time out of his day to show us and tell us what’s up. Once again Tom proves that San Jacinto is the best run wildlife area in the state, at least in my humble opinion anyway.

After the tour we climbed in our truck and headed over to an area near the Bridge Street pond to try our luck on the dove. San Jacinto isn’t really know as a dove mecca and we really didn’t expect much but figured since we were there and the season was opened we’d give it a shot. Well, as it turned out, we didn’t give it even one shot. We did see a few dove but none in range of our shotguns and we never even pulled the trigger. We were, however, rewarded with yet another signature SJ sunset. Gorgeous as always.




Although we didn’t harvest any dove we were not disappointed as the “dove hunt” was really just a side light since we were there anyway and the main objective, to check out SJ for the coming season was more then adequately fulfilled. So as we left San Jacinto we left with the anticipation of a great season to come. Hope to see you out there some time.

Baby Shower for Whitney Barr!

If you’ve ever hunted San Jacinto in the last couple years I’m sure you’ve met that ever smiling face, Whitney Barr, at either the check station or the bird table when you check in your birds.  Whitney has been a great asset to San Jacinto and is always a pleasure to see, even if you happen to walk up to the check station after a day of hunting without any birds (which never happens to me….yeah, right….LOL).  Whitney is an integral part of the SJ crew and we’re lucky to have her.

Well, Whitney is expecting a baby boy!!   The crew at San Jacinto is throwing Whitney a baby shower and any San Jacinto hunter is invited to attend!  The shower will be held at the El Jalapeño Restaurant at 199 North State Street, Hemet, CA 92542 on Saturday, September 12th at 5 PM.  Each person will be responsible for their own meal.  Cake will be served after the meal. (if you’re coming RSVP to Tom at 951-236-3040 ASAP).  Bring a pack of diapers for a chance at a prize!  For gifts, Whitney is registered at Target, Babies R US and Bye Bye Baby.

If you can make it I’m sure Whitney and the rest of the SJ staff will be happy to see you.  This is a great chance to get together off season and celebrate and support a great member of San Jacinto’s staff.  Hope to see you there!


New Procedures for Donations for the Annual Junior Hunt at San Jacinto Wildlife Area

I spoke to Tom Trakes, San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Wildlife Habitat Supervisor, about a change in state policy regarding donations for their annual Junior Hunt. As most of you probably know, especially if you frequent the SoCalHunt Blog, the annual San Jacinto Wildlife Area Junior Hunt is an important event to pique the interest of our up and coming junior hunters who will be the future of hunting in California.

Per a change in policy by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife donations of money, food or merchandise cannot be accepted unless the donations go through a formal acceptance procedure. What this means is that if you want to donate any prizes, merchandise, food or funds to the Annual Junior Hunt you need to contact Tom at San Jacinto prior to December 15th so there will be adequate time to get the donation approved.

So, because of this new procedure, if you are of a mind to contribute to the Junior Hunt you have to plan ahead and get a list of the pending contribution(s) in on time or they can’t accept the donation. Tom wanted me to make sure I noted that this information is not a solicitation for any donations but information for anyone who wants to contribute.

I asked Tom how this was going to effect our donations to the Junior Hunt via the “money box” that formerly set on the counter in the check station. Tom advised that the money box is gone but, hopefully, to make up for that Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga was working on some type of raffle that will generate money that Bass Pro will then donate to San Jacinto following the donation procedure. (more on that when I get more details, hopefully within the next month or so).

Tom told me that this new procedure will not effect San Jacinto’s Annual Toy Drive for the Bryant Park Preschool as, in that case, they are just collecting the toys for the preschool and the donated toys are not being donated to the DFW, they are just the middle-man in that situation so the toy box will be at the check station as usual.

So, if you are of a mind to contribute anything to the Annual Junior Hunt, which will be held on Saturday, February 6th, 2016 this season, you need to contact Tom Trakes at either phone at 951-236-3040 or email at by December 15th.

This new procedure applies statewide so if you instead or in addition to want to donate to any other DFW Junior Hunt, such as the fine Junior Hunt program at Wister, the same procedure applies. In the case of any other refuge or wildlife area you would need to contact your chosen area directly.

See the attached letter from Scott Sewell, Wildlife Habitat Supervisor II / Area Manager for further details.


Dove Season Opens Tuesday, September 1st – Reminder for San Jacinto

This coming Tuesday, September 1st, is the opening of dove season in California. Due to the ammunition restrictions required by the ill advised (and zero scientific study backed) AB 711 if you are going to hunt any state wildlife areas and ecological reserves, of which San Jacinto is one, you are now, as of July 1st, required to use non-lead ammunition.

Traditionally, in the upland areas of San Jacinto, we were allowed to use lead shot for taking dove, quail and rabbits but with the phase 1 ammo restrictions of AB 711 we must now use non-lead ammunition. Be sure, if you are going to hunt doves on the opener at San Jacinto, or any state wildlife area or ecological reserve, you don’t have any lead shot in your possession. You will be subject to a big citation if you are checked by a DFW Wildlife Officer (Warden) and have any lead shot on you. Be sure you carefully go through your hunting vest or whatever you’re going to carry your ammo in and ensure that there isn’t a stray lead shell from last year hiding somewhere.

You can read more about AB 711 here:  

Good luck if you’re going. Maybe we’ll see you out there.


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