CDFW To Hold Online Public Outreach Meeting Regarding Southern California Wildlife Areas Thursday, Oct. 6, from 3 to 4 pm

From the DFW website post regarding the meeting:

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold an online outreach meeting on Thursday, Oct. 6 to take comments and recommendations regarding hunting programs in Southern California wildlife areas, and to provide updates on habitat conditions and availability of water for wetlands during the drought. State wildlife areas to be discussed are the San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County, and the Imperial Wildlife Area and the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge, both in Imperial County.
The meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 6, from 3 to 4 p.m. using Microsoft Teams(opens in new tab) https://teams.microsoft.com/dl/launcher/launcher.html?url=%2F_%23%2Fl%2Fmeetup-join%2F19%3Ameeting_YTRjZWZiMjctNmU0Zi00Njk2LWI3YWItN2VlNzlhZDQ3MTdj%40thread.v2%2F0%3Fcontext%3D%257b%2522Tid%2522%253a%25224b633c25-efbf-4006-9f15-07442ba7aa0b%2522%252c%2522Oid%2522%253a%2522121f743c-b0e0-4191-8e32-45b17101bb5e%2522%257d%26anon%3Dtrue&type=meetup-join&deeplinkId=d0595a98-4ff1-4acb-a134-d2e5bd60112e&directDl=true&msLaunch=true&enableMobilePage=true&suppressPrompt=true .

Members of the public can join the meeting.
CDFW annually provides an opportunity for licensed hunters to comment and make recommendations on public hunting programs, including anticipated habitat conditions in the hunting areas on Type A wildlife areas through public meetings and outreach.”

If you’d like to listen in or join the meeting, click the link above in the DFW article or here >>> Microsoft Teams – https://teams.microsoft.com/dl/launcher/launcher.html?url=%2F_%23%2Fl%2Fmeetup-join%2F19%3Ameeting_YTRjZWZiMjctNmU0Zi00Njk2LWI3YWItN2VlNzlhZDQ3MTdj%40thread.v2%2F0%3Fcontext%3D%257b%2522Tid%2522%253a%25224b633c25-efbf-4006-9f15-07442ba7aa0b%2522%252c%2522Oid%2522%253a%2522121f743c-b0e0-4191-8e32-45b17101bb5e%2522%257d%26anon%3Dtrue&type=meetup-join&deeplinkId=d0595a98-4ff1-4acb-a134-d2e5bd60112e&directDl=true&msLaunch=true&enableMobilePage=true&suppressPrompt=true .

Links below are to the two articles about this on the DFW website:

https://wildlife.ca.gov/Subscribe/c/469/ce/439977110/view/preview#lcpreview

https://wildlife.ca.gov/News/cdfw-to-hold-online-public-outreach-meeting-regarding-southern-california-wildlife-areas

San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s September 10th Volunteer Clean Up / Brush Up Work Day in the Books

About 10 volunteers showed up in the early morning light on Saturday, September 10th at the SJWA check station parking lot for the second volunteer clean-up/blind brush-up workday for the upcoming season. This workday was to finish any repair, touch up, clean up, and brush up of any of the hunting area’s blinds that still needed it. Flooding of the ponds is well underway and there are already many ducks using the Wildlife Area. The volunteers were able to get just about everything that needed to be done accomplished so it looks like San Jacinto is almost ready for opening day. As usual, some of the volunteers retired to Marcello’s Pizza Restaurant in Nuevo for a well-deserved lunch.

As always palm fronds are still needed for the blinds at SJWA. There are always a few blinds that need some repairs taken care of throughout the season. Having the palm fronds on hand makes that easier for the SJWA Staff. If you can bring in any palm fronds you can drop them off at San Jacinto almost any time. Just call Tom at 951-236-3040, or the San Jacinto staff at 951-928-0580, and they’ll make arrangements so you can drop them off. Please make sure you don’t bring in the type of palm fronds with the thorns on their stalks unless you’re willing to strip off the thorns first. Those things wreak havoc with waders if the thorns aren’t removed.

As always, Tom and the crew at San Jacinto would like to give a massive thank you to everyone that came out and worked hard to help get things dialed in for the fast-approaching waterfowl season.

For the near future, it looks like the next “official event” at San Jacinto will be opening day on Saturday, October 22nd. If you haven’t already done so it’s time to get your license, duck validation, federal duck stamp, type “A” day, 2 day, or season pass so you’re all legal and ready to go for the opener. Clean last year’s mud off your decoys, get your gear in ship shape, and make sure you have your non-toxic ammo. Hopefully we’ll see you out there sometime this season.

Blind Clean-up Days Set for the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Sept. 19th and 23rd

It was brought to SoCaHunt’s attention that the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge is having two blind clean-up days coming up soon and have put out a flyer asking for volunteers. If you’re not familiar with the Sonny Bono Refuge it is at the south end of Wister and, during hunting season, hunting there is accessed through Wister as part of their hunting program.

The clean-up days will be Monday, September 19th, and Friday, September 23rd. Volunteers will meet up at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Office Parking Lot at 906 W. Sinclair Rd., Calipatria, CA by 6:30 am. Blind clean-up will be conducted until about 11 am. The SBSSNWR Staff is asking that anyone who wants to participate either email or call to be added to the list of volunteers and that volunteers be 10 years old or older. They will provide trash bags for the clean-up. As usual with clean-up days like this it will be hot so bring plenty of water along with mosquito repellant, and a pair of gloves probably would be handy too.

If you have any questions, you can email Rachel_noriega@fws.gov or call the Sonny Bono Refuge Office at 760-348-5278. Below is a Google Maps link to the location of the SBSSNWR Office:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/906+W+Sinclair+Rd,+Calipatria,+CA+92233/@33.1895809,-115.5976683,8718m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x80d0aae4ecb29a4b:0x5565b6900b0ef968!8m2!3d33.1772929!4d-115.6155834?hl=en

…Just click “directions” and put your home address in and Google Maps will give you directions.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area Second Volunteer Blind Brush-Up Workday Scheduled for Saturday, September 10, 2022

Sorry for the late notice on this. Just got the go-ahead from Tom…Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that the second volunteer workday for the upcoming season at San Jacinto Wildlife Area has been scheduled. The date is Saturday, September 10th. The workdays will be primarily for building, repairing, and brushing-up blinds and cleaning up the general hunting areas around them. Tom advised that volunteers should meet at the check station at 6:30 AM and anyone coming out to volunteer should bring work gloves, sturdy boots or shoes, Shovels, wire cutters, pliers, etc., and waders if you have them. Some of the ponds are in the process of being flooded. Also, obviously, the weather will be HOT so bring lots of water, sunscreen & mosquito repellent.

Tom is also requesting that anyone that has access to palm fronds and would like to get rid of them to drop them off at San Jacinto Wildlife Area any time. The palm fronds are needed to brush up the wildlife area’s blinds for the upcoming waterfowl hunting season as well as to have some on hand for repairs to the blinds throughout the season. Anyone who is trimming palm trees and wants to bring them around to San Jacinto to get rid of them or knows someone who is trimming palm trees and wants to save the fee the dump would charge them, give Tom 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 fronds that have thorns on them. Don’t bring the wader-rippers but other, non-thorny palm fronds are welcome. The thorn-laden fronds are okay to use, however, if you’re willing to strip off the thorns prior to bringing them in.

After the work is done, we will get together at Marcello’s Pizza Restaurant in Nuevo for a well-deserved lunch. (Each person responsible for their own bill).
Hopefully, we’ll have a great turnout so we can get the blinds and hunting area prepped for another waterfowl season. SJ is very short-staffed right now and needs all the help they can get to get ready for the season. As I always say, the more the merrier (and the less work for each person).

If you have any questions contact Tom Trakes at the San Jacinto headquarters at (951) 236-3040, or the San Jacinto staff at (951) 928-0580.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area 2022 Dove Season Opening Day Results

On Thursday, September 1st, the San Jacinto Wildlife Area opening day of the 2022 dove season dawned hot with the thermometer quickly heading even higher. By the end of legal shoot time, 110 hunters had utilized San Jacinto in their quest to bag a few of the little birds. This resulted in a total of 177 dove harvested. The average bag came out to 1.6 birds per hunter. That was way up compared to last year’s dismal average of 0.32. As I’ve said before, SJWA isn’t really known as a dove mecca. As is usual with any hunting some hunters came away with nothing, a few hunters were able to harvest several birds, and some bagged 1 or 2 or so. So, as typical for San Jacinto when it comes to dove hunting, it wasn’t wide open, but it wasn’t too bad. It did give a good-sized group of hunters a spot close to home to put in at least a couple of hours in pursuit of the little buff-colored missiles and maybe scratch out a few of them. Especially true for those that couldn’t put in a whole day or more to drive down to Niland or Brawley.

San Jacinto is open for dove hunting until the end of the first half of the dove season on Thursday, September 15th. Sunday (September 4th) is the last day the waterfowl side of SJWA will be opened for dove hunting so, if you want to give the waterfowl side a try for dove hunting you still have the first two days of Labor Day Weekend to give it a try. Also, don’t forget that it’s non-toxic (steel) shot only for all hunting everywhere again this year so don’t mistakenly bring along any lead shotshells. That’s a big no-no.

Kern NWR 2022/23 Season Opener Will be Delayed Again

Ok, I think we all expected this but here’s the “official” announcement. Pretty much the same as last season. I’ll just quote the Kern NWR website again (nothing more to say)…

2022-2023 Waterfowl Season Update:

Due to extreme drought conditions, Kern National Wildlife Refuge was allocated significantly less water than a normal year. This reduction in water allocation will have a direct impact on the flooded habitat we can provide, and the hunt program. Given the current water allocation, Kern NWR will not be able to have enough wetland acreage flooded to have the hunt program begin on October 22, 2022, the Southern San Joaquin Valley Zone opener. Therefore, Kern NWR will delay the hunt opener until November 19, 2022.

This delay will give Kern NWR the time to flood the acres needed to support healthy waterfowl habitat and a waterfowl hunt program. If you have any questions, please contact our office at 1-800-344-WILD (1-800-344-9453) or go to the contact page on Kern’s USFW web page at…

https://www.fws.gov/contact-us

…and fill out the contact form.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area August 20th Volunteer Clean-Up / Brush-Up Workday Successful

About 15 volunteers arrived bright and early on Saturday, August 20th at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area check station parking for the volunteer clean-up/blind brush-up workday. The volunteers fanned out across the Wildlife Area to clean up, repair, and brush up several of the hunting area’s blinds. Many of the blinds were brushed up in preparation for flooding and a little general clean-up was accomplished. Some blinds were also repaired and brushed up with palm fronds either brought in by the volunteers or dropped off in the last several weeks at the SJ check station parking lot.

After the work was finished many of the volunteers and the SJ Staff gathered at Marcello’s Pizza Restaurant in Nuevo for a well-deserved lunch.

(I’ll post some pictures below)


As always, Tom and his team at San Jacinto would like to give a huge thank you to everyone that came out and worked hard to start the process of getting things ready for the upcoming waterfowl season.

There will be at least one more blind brush-up/workday to finish getting things in preparation for the coming waterfowl hunting season. The next one is already scheduled for Saturday, September 10th (mark your calendars!). The September 10th work day will concentrate on finishing brushing up the blinds, so palm fronds are needed. If you can bring in any palm fronds any time before the work day you can drop them off at San Jacinto. Just call Tom at (951) 236-3040, or the San Jacinto staff at (951) 928-0580, and they’ll make arrangements so you can drop them off. Please make sure you don’t bring in the type of palm fronds with the thorns on their stalks unless you’re willing to strip off the thorns first. Those things wreak havoc with waders if the thorns aren’t removed.

Again, I’ll emphasize it’s important to have a great turnout in September to make sure everything gets ship shape for the opener. Watch SoCalHunt for an “official” reminder announcement and details of the next blind brush-up/workday as the date approaches.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area 2022 Dove Season Opener – Thursday, September 1st

The opening day of dove season in California is Thursday, September 1st. Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, has advised SoCalHunt to pass along that the entire wildlife area, including the waterfowl areas, will be opened for dove hunting the first four days of dove season. From the opener on Thursday, September 1st, through Sunday, September 4th, hunters will be permitted to hunt doves on both the upland area of San Jacinto and SJ’s duck hunting areas. After Sunday, for the remainder of the dove season, from September 5th until September 15th, dove hunting will only be permitted on the upland side of San Jacinto. There will be no dove hunting on the waterfowl side of SJ after September 4th.

Hunters trying SJ for dove need to remember to self-check-in and out at one of the three new prefab metal permit booths that were just installed at San Jacinto. There is one across Davis Road from the check station, another is in the dog training area which is closer to Ramona Expressway, and one way around on Bridge Street. The Bridge Street booth will come in handy for anyone wanting to hunt the Bridge Street area of SJWA. Now you won’t have to drive all the way up Davis Road to check in and then backtrack to Bridge Street and then, after hunting, drive back around to Davis Road again to check out. It can all be done right there at Bridge Street.

Tom also wanted SoCalHunt to remind everyone that due to Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations only non-toxic shot may be used to take any game anywhere in California. Lead shot has been banned on State Wildlife Areas for the last five years, however, the no-lead restriction went into effect three years ago statewide for ALL hunting. So, just remember, even if you don’t choose to hunt doves at San Jacinto WA, or any of the other DFW Wildlife Areas, you still need UNLEADED anywhere you hunt in California. DFW Wardens, as always, will be checking for lead shot and possession of even one round will result in you receiving a citation. So, be sure to check your hunting vest thoroughly to make sure an old round of lead shot from a few years ago, or from your last visit to the trap range, isn’t kicking around in one of your pockets. Also, don’t forget that your 2021/2022 hunting license expired at the end of June. Be sure you have your 2022/2023 hunting license, including your upland endorsement on your license.

The regulations covering doves is as follows, Mourning Dove and White-Winged Dove have a daily bag limit of 15 in combination, up to 10 of which may be white-winged dove. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. There are no limits on Spotted Dove and Ringed Turtle Dove, although these two varieties have the same season dates as Mourning Doves (September 1st -15th). Hunting for Eurasian Collared Dove is legal year-round and there are no limits on them. Note: There is no open hunting season on common ground-doves, ruddy ground-doves, and Inca doves.

As usual, the SJ Staff has planted some fields with dove-attracting crops on the Wildlife Area and they’ve been seeing a few dove around SJ so far this year. Of course, San Jacinto isn’t Niland or Brawley or any other traditional “hot-spot” dove hunting area and you’re unlikely to limit out in an hour, but you have a fair chance of bagging a couple birds a lot closer to home. SJ is a good place if you just have a few hours and would like to try to get a shot or two at the dove.

So, hopefully, there won’t be any end-of-August thunderstorms in the area that might drive the birds south, and if so, there should be at least a fair chance of bagging a few. If you want to try your luck at San Jacinto things are looking fair for opening day, Thursday, September 1st.

Also, don’t forget, another volunteer blind brush-up workday is coming up, Saturday, September, 10th. SoCalHunt will post information on the September 10th workday here soon. Keep an eye out for it. One advantage of going to the September 10th workday is that dove season is still on that weekend so you could give it a try in the afternoon after the workday is over.

Tom also asked me to ask everyone to keep a sharp eye out for palm fronds to utilize on the upcoming blind brush-up day. If you can get any of them any time before the workday you can make arrangements to drop them off at San Jacinto by calling Tom Trakes at the San Jacinto headquarters at (951) 236-3040, or the San Jacinto staff at (951) 928-0580. Of course, if you’re going to come out for the workday you could bring them along with you then too, or even drop some off if you come out to try your luck at dove hunting SJ in September.

US Fish and Wildlife Reports Nationwide Duck Numbers Down for the 2022/2023 Waterfowl Season

As you probably already know, if you’ve followed SoCalHunt for the past few years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service canceled their 2020 and 2021 Waterfowl Population Survey, supposedly due to Covid. This year the USFWS reinstated the survey, and the results were just released.

Since 1955, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service have reported the results of their joint breeding population and habitat survey. Total duck numbers for this year were down 12 percent compared to 2019’s count. Most species dropped to some degree with the exception of Blue Wing Teal and Redheads, with Scaup showing no increase or decrease. As for the long-term averages, out of the species surveyed 5 were down from their long-term averages, and 4 were above their long-term averages with Green Wing Teal right on their long-term average.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Report on Waterfowl Population Status, 2022 can be viewed at: https://www.fws.gov/sites/default/files/documents/waterfowl-population-status-report-2022.pdf

In the summary of this report, it states “In the traditional survey area, which includes strata 1–18, 20–50, and 75–77, the total duck population estimate (excluding scoters [Melanitta spp.], eiders [Somateria spp. and Polysticta spp.], long-tailed ducks [Clangula hyemalis], mergansers [Mergus spp. and Lophodytes cucullatus], and wood ducks [Aix sponsa]) was 34.2 ± 0.6 million birds. This estimate was 12% below the 2019 estimate of 38.9 ± 0.7 million, which was the last year a survey was conducted and 4% below the long-term average (1955–2019). Estimated mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) abundance was 7.2 ± 0.2 million, which was 23% below the 2019 estimate of 9.4 ± 0.3 million and 9% below the long-term average of 7.9 ± 0.04 million. In the traditional survey area the 2022 estimate for blue-winged teal (Spatula discors; 6.5 ± 0.3 million) was 19% above the 2019 estimate and 27% above the long-term average of 5.1 ± 0.04 million. Estimated abundance of gadwall (Mareca strepera; 2.7 ± 0.1 million) was 18% below the 2019 estimate and 30% above the long-term average of 2.0 ± 0.2 million. The 2022 northern shoveler (Spatula clypeata) estimate of 3.0 ± 0.2 million was 17% below the 2019 estimate iii of 3.6 ± 0.2 million and 15% above the long-term average of 2.6 ± 0.02 million. The estimated abundance of green-winged teal (Anas crecca) was 2.2 ± 0.2 million, which was 32% below the 2019 estimate of 3.2 ± 0.2 million and similar to the long-term average, while the canvasback (Aythya valisineria) estimate of 0.6±0.05 million was similar to the 2019 estimate and the long-term average. Estimated abundance of redheads (A. americana; 1.0 ± 0.1 million) was 35% higher than the 2019 estimate and 36% higher than the long-term average of 0.7 ± 0.01 million. Northern pintail (Anas acuta) abundance (1.8 ± 0.2 million) was 21% below the 2019 estimate of 2.3 ± 0.1 million and 54% below the long-term average of 3.9 ± 0.03 million. The abundance estimate for American wigeon (Mareca americana; 2.1±0.1 million) was 25% below the 2019 estimate and 19% below the long-term average of 2.6 ± 0.02 million. The combined estimate of lesser and greater scaup (A. afnis and A. marila; 3.6 ± 0.2 million) was similar to the 2019 estimate and 28% lower than the long-term average of 5.0 ± 0.04 million. A time series for assessing changes in green-winged teal, ring-necked duck (A. collaris), goldeneye (Bucephala clangula and B. islandica), merganser, and American black duck (A. rubripes) population status in the eastern survey area is provided by breeding waterfowl surveys conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) in Maine and eastern Canada. The estimate of goldeneyes was 0.7 ± 0.2 million, which was similar to the 2019 estimate and 1998–2019 average. Ring-necked ducks (0.6 ± 0.1 million) and green-winged teal (0.3 ± 0.07 million) were similar to their 2019 estimates and the long-term averages. The estimate of mergansers was 0.9 ± 0.1 million, which was 13% above the 2019 estimate and 19% above the long-term average. The 2022 estimate of American black ducks in the eastern survey area was 0.8 ± 0.09 million, which was similar to the 2019 estimate of 0.7 ± 0.07 million and the 1998–2019 average. The black duck estimate at the plot survey scale, which is used for management, was 0.57 ± 0.04 million. Eastern mallard population status is derived by integrating data from the eastern survey area and ground plot surveys conducted in the northeastern U.S. states of Virginia north to New Hampshire. The estimated abundance of mallards in 2022 was 1.2 ± 0.16 million, which was 15% above the 2019 estimate and similar to the long-term average.”

Below I’ll include a graphic on this survey that was put out by Ducks Unlimited as it’s probably a little easier to understand than lines and lines of numbers.

As of this report, it’s 63 days until the season opens here in Southern California. It’s a great time to start getting all your duck hunting gear ship-shape and maybe go shoot a few rounds of trap or skeet to tune up. Despite the lower duck numbers in the USFW survey the bigger factor for us down in this part of the state is to get the birds moving our way will be the weather. Hopefully, we’ll get the weather and the birds will migrate early, and we’ll have another great season at San Jacinto!

Lake Perris Draw Results Posted

Lake Perris posted the results of their drawing for their Wednesday waterfowl hunts for the coming season. They also added a Sunday hunt on opening weekend. Click the link to go to their hunting program page and, once there, click the link for “Award List for 2022-2023 Waterfowl Season”. Hope you got picked if you put in for a hunt.

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24697&fbclid=IwAR1qv7vt9_1HBOhfK9pRsNDxicHMqFFbbDwcwk9jFT5yiH0WPTShixSBEk8

San Jacinto Wildlife Area Volunteer Blind Brush-Up Workday set for Saturday, August 20, 2022

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that the first volunteer workday for the upcoming season at San Jacinto Wildlife Area has been scheduled. The date is Saturday, August 20th. The workdays will be primarily for building, repairing, and brushing-up blinds and cleaning up the general hunting areas around them. Tom advised that volunteers should meet at the check station at 6:30 AM and anyone coming out to volunteer should bring work gloves, sturdy boots or shoes, Shovels, wire cutters, pliers, etc, and waders if you have them. Some of the ponds may still be flooded. Also, obviously, the weather will be HOT so bring lots of water, sunscreen & mosquito repellent.

Tom is also requesting that anyone that has access to palm fronds and would like to get rid of them to drop them off at San Jacinto Wildlife Area any time. The palm fronds are needed to brush up the wildlife area’s blinds for the upcoming waterfowl hunting season as well as to have some on hand for repairs to the blinds throughout the season. Anyone who is trimming palm trees and wants to bring them around to San Jacinto to get rid of them or knows someone who is trimming palm trees and wants to save the fee the dump would charge them, give Tom 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 fronds that have the thorns on them. Don’t bring the wader-rippers but other, non-thorny palm fronds are welcome. The thorn-laden fronds are okay to use, however, if you’re willing to strip off the thorns prior to bringing them in.

After the work is done, we will get together at Marcello’s Pizza Restaurant in Nuevo for a well-deserved lunch. (Each person responsible for their own bill).

Hopefully, we’ll have a great turnout so we can get the blinds and hunting area prepped for another waterfowl season. SJ is very short-staffed right now and needs all the help they can get to get ready for the season. As I always say, the more the merrier (and the less work for each person).

A second volunteer blind brush-up day is tentatively set for Saturday, September 10th, 2022. Mark your calendar and watch for details here at SoCalHunt soon!

If you have any questions contact Tom Trakes at the San Jacinto headquarters at (951) 236-3040, or the San Jacinto staff at (951) 928-0580.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife 2022 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey Shows Duck Numbers Down

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released the results of their 2022 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey for the first time since 2019 (due to the pandemic, of course). The data collected shows the overall number of breeding ducks has decreased by 19 percent, including mallards which are the most abundant duck in the survey. Individually the Mallards showed a 25 percent decrease in their breeding population.
I’ll just give you a quick excerpt from the report since there’s really no reason to plagiarize the entire thing:

(From the DFW report on the survey): “…the total number of ducks (all species combined) decreased from 470,450 in 2019 (the last year the survey was conducted) to 379,870 this year. This estimate is 30 percent below the long-term average. The estimated breeding population of mallards decreased from 239,830 in 2019 to 179,390 this year, which is below their long-term average. The decline is attributed to the ongoing drought and the loss of upland nesting habitat for ducks.”

If you want to read DFW’s news release on the survey you can access it at the following link…

https://wildlife.ca.gov/News/cdfw-completes-2022-waterfowl-breeding-population-survey

If you’d like to read the entire Breeding Population Survey Report, you can access that at the link below…

So, more bad news for the coming season. Hopefully, we’ll get some weather early to drive more birds down to our end of the Pacific Flyway and the numbers will (hopefully) jump up for our season.

Don’t forget the upcoming Special Volunteer Workday at San Jacinto on Saturday, July 9th. This workday is to install new permit booths in honor of James Honeyfield, an SJWA regular who pass on last year. You can get details on this upcoming workday in SoCalHunt’s report at the link below…

Also, keep an eye out here at SoCalHunt for announcements soon on the upcoming Blind Brush-up Workdays, likely in late July or early August and September to get things ready for the upcoming season at San Jacinto.

Hope to see you out there!

Date Set for Special Volunteer Workday at San Jacinto Wildlife Area – July 9th

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that they have scheduled a Special Volunteer Workday for the San Jacinto Wildlife Area. The date is Saturday, July 9th. This special workday is for the assembly and installation of three new prefab metal permit booths. These booths will replace the old, worn-out wooden permit booths on Davis Rd. (across from the check station), at the Dog Training Area, and a new one will be installed at Bridge Street. These booths are to honor a long-time regular, James Honeyfield, who passed away in 2021. James’ family has raised money to purchase these new permit booths for SJWA to honor James’ memory.

Volunteers are asked to gather at 6:00 AM at the SJ Check Station Parking Lot. Tom advised that anyone coming out to volunteer should bring gloves, and if you have a battery-powered drill/screwdriver that might come in handy also.

As always for this time of year, sunscreen and mosquito repellent are suggested as good ideas. SJWA staff will provide cold bottled water for this workday. After the work is done, we will get together at Marcello’s Pizza Restaurant for a well-deserved lunch (each person responsible for their own bill).

Hopefully, we’ll have a good turnout and the new permit booths will go up in short order, ready for the coming season. As always, when it comes to workdays, the more volunteers the better (meaning less work for each person).

Tom expects to have the usual Blind Brush-up Workdays scheduled soon, the first one likely in late July or early August. Watch SoCalHunt for the regular Blind Brush-up Workdays dates to be scheduled soon!

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

Miracles Do Occur – Duck Hunting Returning to Perris Lake for 2022/23 season

After a 17-year hiatus, the Lake Perris State Recreation Area will be reopening waterfowl hunting every Wednesday during the 2022/23 Southern California Zone hunting season. Duck hunting was suspended indefinitely in 2005 due to the lake being drawn down for repair work on Perris Dam.

Although the major part of the work on the dam was completed in 2018, and they started to fill the lake, duck hunting was still not reinstated.

Today, (5/27/22), SoCalHunt received information that the Lake Perris State Recreation Area will once again be allowing duck hunting on the lake. Hunting will be by boat only. Hunting days are every Wednesday during the season. There will be no Saturday or Sunday duck hunting. Quitting time will be 12 noon each hunt day and all boats will be off the water by 1:00 PM. There will be 9 hunting sites, actually mooring buoys, which hunters will have to stay within 20 yards of. Whoever is operating the boat will need to have a California Boating Card under the following circumstances. At the start of the season if the boat has a motor 15 HP or larger anyone 45 years old and under needs the boating card. On January 1st, 2023, that changes, and anyone 50 or younger need the boating card if the motor on the boat is larger than 15 HP. If you’re over those ages at those times, or your boat motor is under 15 HP, you don’t need the boating card. NOTE – this is only required for the person operating the boat.

Hunters will be chosen by lottery ONLY. There will be no sweatline, no walk-ons, and no refills. A drawing for all hunting spots will be held on August 5th, 2022. Applications can be mailed or dropped off between July 1st and August 1st, 2022. There is a $7.50 application fee. This fee is for the entire season (which, because it’s only Wednesdays, is 14 days). Each applicant will be considered for all hunt days.

Hunting party size will be a maximum of between 2 to 4 hunters, determined by the size of the boat the hunters are utilizing. The minimum length of boats allowed on the Perris hunting program is 11 feet. 2 hunters are allowed if the boat is between 11 and 13 feet. If the boat is between 13 and 16 feet 3 hunters are allowed, and if the boat is over 16 feet, then 4 hunters are allowed. No float tubes, inflatables, kayaks, jet skis, or paddleboards will be allowed. Hunting fees per hunt day will be $50 for 1 hunter, $70 for 2 hunters, $90 for 3 hunters, and $110 for 4 hunters. Junior hunters and dogs are free.

So, anyway, great news! Perris Lake duck hunting again. I was beginning to think it would never happen again.

There are additional rules and requirements to be aware of for the drawing, the hunting, the boats required, and so forth but not being one to reinvent the wheel I’ll just refer you to the below links for further study. So, if you’ve got a boat you can use for duck hunting here is a nearby opportunity to utilize it the way it was meant to be used. Good luck and stay safe. Don’t forget the all-important life jackets. (Links to additional info and hunt application below)

Link to the general Lake Perris hunting page, which also includes info on their upland hunting program… https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24697&fbclid=IwAR37AHmXRdvoFE0iZsnxRXEwWtQztNCCZf6dJQdvu7XMXSjuxlR7fxzMZrg

Link to the detailed information about the Lake Perris Duck Hunting program… https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/651/files/Lake%20Perris%202022-2023%20Waterfowl%20Program%20Final.pdf

Link to the 2022/23 season application form for duck hunting at Lake Perris… https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/651/files/Hunting%20Application%202022-23.pdf

Follow Up – Fish and Game Commission Takes No Action on Petition to Ban Hunting on Navigable Waterways in the Benicia, CA Area – So Far

The California Waterfowl Association reported that the Fish and Game Commission, during their April 21st meeting, basically took no action on the petition to ban hunting on the navigable waterways in the Benicia, CA Area. The Commission asked the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to report back to the Commission on the issue, likely at the Commission’s next meeting in mid-May.  You can check CWA’s report on this action by the Fish and Game Commission by clicking the below link…

https://calwaterfowl.org/news/benecia-waterfowl-hunting-ban?fbclid=IwAR08i1aidV406Qol6K3-vdjScblm5qz-phZHHlyct9029RnCKV8nj0n-Hco

So, this is still pending however with the unanimous rejection of the petition to ban bear hunting by the Commission and the fact that in the last 20 years efforts by other local residents or entities attempting to petition the F&G Commission or the DFW to ban waterfowl hunting on state-managed navigable waters, including Tomales Bay and Morro Bay have failed this one will hopefully suffer the same fate. Only time (and the Commission) will tell.

California Fish and Game Commission Sets 2022/23 Season Regulations

The California Fish and Game Commission, during their April 21st meeting, adopted changes to the waterfowl season dates and regulations for the 2022/23 waterfowl season.

Regulations adopted for the Southern California Zone (which will cover San Jacinto Wildlife Area):
Seasons: Ducks and Geese: October 22, 2022 through January 31, 2023.
Special Youth Hunt Days: February 4 and February 5, 2023. (San Jacinto’s Annual Youth Hunt will be on February 4th, 2023).
Special Veteran/Active Duty Military Hunt Days: February 11 and February 12, 2023 (San Jacinto’s Annual Vet/Active Duty Hunt will be February 11th, 2023)

Limits: Ducks: Daily bag limit: 7. Which may consist of 7 Mallards, of which only 2 can be female; 1 Pintail; 2 Canvasback; 2 Redheads; 2 Scaup. (Scaup may only be taken from November 7th, 2022 through January 31st, 2023 – so again, be careful the first two weeks of the season).

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 occasionally a few seem to show up at San Jacinto): November 9, 2022 – December 15, 2022. Daily bag limit: 2 per day. Possession limit is triple the daily bag limit.

“Electronic” Spinning wing decoys (AKA – mojos) will be allowed from December 1st until the season ends (statewide) – non-motorized /wind-powered mojos are allowed all season. (NOTE – Again, as far as I could find this was not mentioned in the season regulation changes at the Commission meeting so I’m listing the dates based on last season’s regulations (assuming no changes). This has been December 1st for as long as I can remember but check with the official regulations once they are posted on the DFW website or the printed regulation books when they come out, probably in a couple of months but still well before the season).

Once again, we have an extended end date for the season, to January 31st. This season, January 31st is on a Tuesday, so SJ’s last actual hunt day will be Saturday, January 28th. With that info, it appears that all the regulations for the 22/23 season stayed consistent with last season’s regulations.

So, there it is. The regulations are set, and Tom and the entire SJWA Crew are working hard to get San Jacinto Wildlife Area in ship shape for the upcoming 2022/2023 waterfowl season. The SJ Staff should be able to get a couple more clean-up/brush-up days scheduled soon to assist in getting things ready for the season. When the clean-up/brush-up workdays get scheduled try to pitch in and help if you’re able – Info will be posted here on SoCalHunt when I receive it. Hopefully, at least some of Mystic Lake is still going to be there which usually helps enhance the bird numbers at San Jacinto!

The above information is provided as a general guide only. Although they haven’t updated the DFW website with the newly adopted regulations yet when they do, probably in a month or two (still well before the season) please check the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website at:

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

Now, as it is with every season, all we need is to get some weather up north at the right time, hopefully early in the season, to drive the birds down to us and we can all look forward to another great season at San Jacinto Wildlife Area.

Anti-hunters at it Again – Help Resist Efforts to Shut Down Hunting on Navigable Waterways in the Benicia, CA Area

First off, I know this is in Northern California, but I am of the philosophy that any attack on hunting anywhere is an attack on hunting EVERYWHERE. I also believe hunters need to stick together and fight these efforts, no matter where they are, but especially if they are in this state, as any success by the anti-hunting crowd sets a precedent that may trigger a domino effect and result in more unreasonable restrictions on our hunting here.

I will defer to, and quote, the California Waterfowl Association on this subject as I also believe in not re-inventing the wheel, so to speak.

“CWA needs your assistance to defeat a petition before the California Fish and Game Commission to prohibit waterfowl hunting on navigable waterways near the City of Benicia. The petition was submitted by a local resident and cites noise, conflict with other recreational users and perceived threat to public safety, amongst other issues.

The Carquinez strait and other waterways in the Benicia area have been hunted for generations. There are no incidents of members of the non-hunting public being injured by the waterfowl hunting that occurs there, while hunters must comply with existing state safety laws, including those that restrict the discharge of firearms near occupied buildings and across roads and other ways open to the public.

Local residents and groups have tried to restrict hunting on state-manged navigable waterways throughout the state in the last 20 years, including Morro and Tomales Bays. The Commission rightly rejected the previous proposals primarily because there were no legitimate safety issues nor waterfowl population impacts from hunting; and, in many cases, the proposals were based in part on anti-hunting sentiments.

Should the Commission now prohibit hunting on public waters near Benicia, it will set a dangerous precedent and only encourage other residents in other parts of California to seek similar hunting restrictions, likely resulting in further loss of waterfowl hunting opportunities.
Please contact the California Fish and Game Commission and urge that the Benicia petition be rejected. Thank you for your help.”

Back to me. Below is a link to CWA’s page explaining the above call to action (which is where the above text came from). Click on the link below to go to CWA’s page and fill out the CWA petition next to this article and submit it. It’s very easy, fill in the blanks. It should only take a couple minutes.

https://calwaterfowl.org/action-center?vvsrc=%2fCampaigns%2f93642%2fRespond

CWA, and I, and every waterfowler in the state thanks you for your help on this.

Good Turnout for San Jacinto’s Volunteer Blind Clean-Up Day, Saturday, March 12th, 2022 Gets Much Accomplished

20 volunteers were in attendance bright and early on Saturday, March 12th at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area check station parking lot for the first post-season volunteer clean-up day of 2022. The main goal of this work day was to clean-up the hunting area’s blinds. Much was accomplished and all the area’s blinds received a good going-over. The most common thing picked up in and around the blinds, unsurprisingly, was spent shotgun shells but there were other items as well that ranged from just general trash to mylar balloons and even a boogie board from Mystic Lake. Tom Trakes of San Jacinto Wildlife Area told me that each volunteer came back with at least a half bag of “stuff”, if not more.

After putting in all that hard work all morning most of the volunteer crew, and the SJ staff gathered at Marcello’s Pizza Restaurant in Nuevo for a well-deserved lunch, (each person responsible for their own bill).
Once again, Tom and his team at San Jacinto would like to thank everyone who came out and worked hard to start the process of getting things ready for the upcoming waterfowl season. SJWA couldn’t be maintained as well as it is without the volunteers who come out and lend a hand.

There will probably be at least two more blind brush-up/work days to finish getting things in ship shape for the coming waterfowl hunting season. The next one will likely be scheduled sometime in August and the one after that in early September (of course the dates are still to be announced). Watch SoCalHunt for info on these upcoming work days when the dates are announced. Also, there will be a special work day coming up where the current permit booths will be replaced by new, carport-like covered booths at the upland self-check in across Davis Road from the check station and in the dog training area further down Davis Road nearer to The Ramona Expressway. There will also be one added over in the Bridge Street area which will really be nice if you decide to hunt rabbits or dove in that area as you won’t have to drive up Davis Road to check in and out from that side of the wildlife area. Funds for these new permit booths will be provided by a GoFundMe account in honor of SJWA regular James Honeyfield who recently passed away. Watch SoCalHunt for an announcement of when that work day will be as soon as it is scheduled.

In preparation for these upcoming work days palm fronds are needed. If you can get a hold of any palm fronds any time before the work days you can drop them off at San Jacinto. Just call Tom at 951-236-3040 and he’ll make arrangements for you to drop them off. Please make sure you don’t bring in the type of palm fronds with the thorns on their stalks, unless you’re willing to strip off the thorns first. Those things wreak havoc with waders if the thorns aren’t removed. Watch SoCalHunt for the “official” announcement and details of the next blind brush-up/workday. Also, hopefully, SJWA will have a Hunter’s Education Class scheduled soon. Watch SoCalHunt for the announcement of the Hunter’s Ed Class in the near future.

Okay, I did this last year and I’m going to do it again…here I go back up onto my soapbox. Please…please try to pick up your empty shells, and any others’ shells you might find in and around your blind when you go hunting, along with any other miscellaneous trash. The best way to keep our hunting privileges at SJWA, or any other place for that matter, is to keep the area as clean as possible. I would hate to see any restrictions on our hunting privileges because some anti-hunting big wig from Sacramento sees a bunch of shells strewn about our hunting areas. It would be kind of hard to deny that hunters left all that litter behind when most of it is shotgun shells. Empty shells are still a majority of the trash picked up on the clean-up day and there’s really no excuse for that or really any other trash for that matter. So, ‘nuff said about that.

Looking forward to seeing everybody that can make it to the next work day. Watch SoCalHunt for the announcement when the date is set.
(check the photos below for some “action shots” from the clean-up day)

Second Annual San Jacinto Wildlife Area Veterans/Active Duty Military Hunt, Saturday, February 12th, 2022, A Great Success

The last hunt of this past waterfowl season found 66 Veteran and Active Duty Military personnel reporting for duty at San Jacinto Wildlife Area at 0300 for the second annual Veteran/Active Duty Military special hunt.

The military personnel were treated to a breakfast of coffee, hot chocolate, coffee cake, and doughnuts. The California Waterfowl Association (CWA) supplied each Veteran or Active-duty Military member in attendance with a hat and a tribute coin to start off their day. The Veterans/Active Military then dispersed over San Jacinto Wildlife Area to await start time horn. Hunting was absolutely outstanding on this day and for the second year in a row, the Veterans/Active Military beat the wildlife area average take by more than two birds a person with an average harvest of 4.24 waterfowl per hunter! (Hunt results for the Veteran/Active Military Hunt can be found here… https://socalhunt.wordpress.com/2022/02/12/hunt-results-for-san-jacinto-wildlife-areas-military-vets-active-duty-hunt-saturday-2-12-22/ )

At noon our Vets and Actives gathered at the SJWA workshop area for a great lunch of tri-tip with all the fixin’s, Macaroni, and potato salads (provided by Robert Hartman, his wife, and his daughter – whose son/brother is a Coast Guard member). Tom Trakes’ daughter provided a military-themed cake for dessert. During the lunch break, Diane Barr of Stars & Stripes Service & Therapy Dog Training did a demonstration of basic obedience, advanced obedience, urban obedience, and tasking. Stars & Stripes Service & Therapy Dog Training is a non-profit organization that helps disabled veterans and first responders train their dogs to help them with tasks that they may need help with.

As is usual, San Jacinto Wildlife Area hosted a great salute to our Military Veterans and Active Duty Military heroes. If the per hunter average bird count for that day is any indication it looks like military service teaches our military personnel excellent marksmanship.
(here’s some photos of the event below)

Kern National Wildlife Refuge 2021/2022 Season Long Stats

The end of the 2021/2022 waterfowl season at the Kern National Wildlife Area revealed some interesting stats for the number of birds checked in and the per hunter average take.

970 adult and 65 junior hunters (1035 hunters total) harvested a total of 1814 Northern Shovelers, 69 Mallards, 321 Gadwall, 415 Widgeon, 396 Pintail, 787 Green Wing Teal, 88 Cinnamon Teal, 47 Redheads, 9 Canvasbacks, 21 Ring Necks, 1 Scaup, 101 Bufflehead, 1 Goldeneye, 4 Blue Wing Teal, 6 Eurasian Widgeon, and 16 Ruddy Ducks. In addition, there was also 1 Snow Goose, and 6 White Fronted Geese taken at Kern this season. 15 Coots were also checked in for the 2021/2022 season at Kern. This figured out to a total of 4103 Ducks and Geese or, with the Coots included, 4118 waterfowl taken for the season. The per hunter average take for 2021/2022 season came out to 3.96 Ducks and Geese per hunter or, with the Coots added in, 3.98 waterfowl per hunter.

This is where I would usually compare this season’s counts and averages and the + or – on the number of each species taken this season compared to last season but due to Kern’s late opener this year, shortening the season by 8 hunt days, there is no way to make a fair comparison or one that would actually reflect the real difference, one way or the other, between the seasons.
So, there you have it, the year-long stats for the Kern National Wildlife Refuge. Overall Kern actually had great averages most of the season once it finally opened. Hopefully, next season won’t have a delayed opener. If next season opens on time I won’t be able to compare it with this one, for the same reasons I couldn’t fairly do a comparison this time, but if it is delayed again for the same amount of hunt days we could do a comparison next year. Hopefully, Kern will get the water they need for a regular opener and the breeding populations will do their thing up north and we’ll get the weather needed to drive the duck south early in the season and things will improve next season.


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