California Fish and Game Commission Sets 2017/18 Waterfowl Season Regulations

The California Fish and Game Commission, during their April 26th – 27th meeting in Van Nuys, California, adopted waterfowl season dates and regulations for the 2017/18 waterfowl season.

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

Ducks and Geese: October 21, 2017, through January 28, 2018.

Special Youth Hunt Days: February 3 and February 4, 2017. (San Jacinto’s Annual Youth Hunt will be February 3rd, 2016).

 Ducks: Daily bag limit: 7. Which may consist of 7 mallards, of which only 2 can be female; 1 pintail; 2 canvasbacks; 2 redheads; 3 scaup.  (Scaup may only be taken November 4th, 2017 through January 28th, 2018 – 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 have seen a few Brant occasionally showing up at San Jacinto): November 9, 2017 – December 15, 2017.  Daily bag limit: 2 per day.  Possession limit triple the daily bag limit.

Regarding the “Electronic” Spinning wing decoys (AKA – mojos), there didn’t appear to be any mention of them in the new regulations summary that I could find, but I would assume that hasn’t changed so, unless I discover later that I’m wrong, the following will probably apply.  If it turns out that anything is different once the regulations are published I’ll post a correction on this…but for now…

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

The regulations highlights which most affect San Jacinto hunters are the fact that, once again, scaup cannot be taken the first two weeks of the season. Most of the other regulations stayed the same as last season’s regulations.  The BIG change to watch out for at San Jacinto is the Pintail limit being dropped from 2 a day to 1 a day.  This will be an important regulation to keep in mind at SJ as there is usually at least a fair amount of Pintail cruising around the wildlife area for a good part of the season.  Be sure you know what a Pintail looks like in flight, as well as in hand, especially the hens, so you don’t inadvertently harvest more than one Pintail per day.

There you have it.  The regulations for the 2017/18 waterfowl season are set. The bird counts should be published shortly (as always, hope for the best), and San Jacinto Wildlife Area will have probably two or three Blind Brush-Up Volunteer Work Days scheduled in the next few months.  If you’re able, volunteering at the work days is a great way to meet other hunters that frequent San Jacinto and to learn the layout of the area and just see what’s going on at SJ.  When the Blind Brush-up Work Days are scheduled SoCalHunt will post an announcement of the dates and times.

I probably don’t have to mention this as you probably already know, unless you were living under a rock out of state, that the end of this past season produced some significant rain…finally.  Something we’ve been needing for a few years.  It pretty much destroyed access to San Jacinto via Davis Road and the last several hunt days of the 2016/17 season it was a challenge to even get to the SJ Check Station.  However, the good news is that Davis Road has been repaired, so access shouldn’t be a problem anymore, and, even better, Mystic Lake is back!  It appears to be about half full and should survive the summer, with guestimates that it will be about a quarter full by the start of the season (assuming there’s no more significant rain before then).  This will give the waterfowl a place to rest and even more of an attraction for them to utilize the wildlife area. Also, on hunt days there will be a place they can retreat to, after the initial volley at shoot time, that is close enough that they will normally trade back and forth to the ponds throughout the day giving hunters several opportunities instead of just the morning shoot.

This above information is provided as a general guide only. As of this report, the formal regulations have not been updated on the DFW web site yet but should be up soon.  You can check for the 2017/18 regulations at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website at:

…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.

Until it is updated, and/or until the reg. books are at the license agent locations, you can check the Waterfowl Regulations Summary at:

Much Accomplished on the Volunteer Work Day, Saturday May 13th, at San Jacinto

On Saturday, May 13th, about a dozen volunteers, along with the San Jacinto Wildlife Area staff, gathered in the check station parking lot at 6:00 AM for the much-delayed volunteer clean-up day.  Due to the access problems on Davis Road Tom couldn’t schedule this work day as early as usual but now that Davis Road has been repaired access is no longer a problem.

Tom advised the assembled volunteers the good news that it appears that the Riverside County Department of Transportation is intending on doing more work on Davis Road, hopefully, to perfect the drainage and prevent the type of damage the road suffered this past season from happening again.  Tom said they were out surveying the road just recently.

One problem that the delay in this work day created was that we weren’t able to go out to the blinds and do the clean-up we were expecting to do.  Since we are now well into the nesting season on the wildlife area there are too many ground nesting birds nesting around the blind areas and it was feared our activities might inadvertently damage some nests and eggs.

However, the day was not a waste by any means.  Two of the volunteers, Terry and Frank, volunteered to stucco the new wall surrounding the restroom building and brought their tools and expertise to accomplish this.  There were also areas around the check station that needed to be cleared of weeds and rocks and leveled in preparation for gravel that will be brought in to cover the area.  With the assembled man (and woman) power these tasks were accomplished in short order.

Stucco Work

Leveling around the walkways

I was able to get out into the wildlife area and check things out before we left.  SJ, as usual, looks great.  There is a lot of food growing and a lot of birds, ducks and other types, using the area.  And, great news, Mystic Lake is back and appears to be big enough that it should still be around by the time the season opens again.  If history holds true Mystic should be a game changer for SJ and will improve hunting there quite a bit.

Eared Greb

Tri-colored Blackbird


Duck Food!

Mystic Lake

SJ Scenery, Beautiful as Usual

After the work was completed the SJ Staff and the volunteers met at George’s Pizza on Florida Street in Hemet for a well-deserved lunch before they parted ways for the day.  The San Jacinto Staff and the volunteers would like to say thank you to the owners of George’s Pizza for generously providing lunch today after our work day with the best pizza in town! Thank you for all your support.

The Staff at San Jacinto would like to extend a big thanks to everyone that came out and worked hard to clean up good old SJ.  Also, a special thanks to volunteers Terry and Frank for their expertise and great work on the wall today.

The Volunteers and George and his Wife From George’s Pizza (Thanks again for the Pizza!)

Tom told me he’s going to schedule another Blind Clean-up Day after the nesting season is over so we can get out there and do the necessary clean-up.  That will likely be in late June or early July.  As soon as the date is set we’ll announce it here at SoCalHunt.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area – Free Hunter Education Course Offered, Saturday, June 3rd

San Jacinto Wildlife Area will be hosting a free state mandated Hunter’s Education course on Saturday, June 3rd, 2017.  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 SJ check station at 6:30 am with the course beginning promptly at 7 am.

The class is free to all, no tuition or materials fee. Students must read the Hunter Education manual prior to attending this class. Tom told me that the weather at San Jacinto in June is usually quite warm and suggested that everyone attending would probably want to bring a good supply of bottled water.

At noon there will be a sandwich and chips lunch. Contributions for lunch will be accepted in the morning from which the SJ staff will buy sandwiches and chips. If anyone would like to bring something to go with sandwiches they are welcome to.

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, Walmart, etc.) and buy their hunting license.

Every person who wishes to take this course must pre-register for the class. Before registering the student must obtain a GO ID and DOC number and sign a release of liability waiver. To do this, go to:

…and follow the instructions on pre-registering.

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.

Any questions regarding this free Hunter’s Education course should call Tom Trakes at 951-236-3040 or for questions regarding registering for the course call Shane Reed at (951) 543-5180.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area Blind Clean-up Day Set for May 13th, 2017

San Jacinto Wildlife Area Staff would like to invite hunters to participate in a Volunteer Clean Up Day of the Wildlife Area on Saturday, May 13th, 2017.  Now that Davis Road has been repaired to the point where any vehicle can make it to the check station, the usual meeting place, volunteers are to gather there at 6 AM.

Work will be assigned at the start of the morning.  Afterwards we will meet at noon at Geroge’s Pizza, 2920 E. Florida Ave., Hemet, 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 (some ponds are still holding water)

Be sure to bring plenty of bottled water as the weather may be warm. 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.

Davis Road – Update on Repairs, Part 3 – Some Good News!

I spoke with Tom Trakes of San Jacinto Wildlife Area again this evening about repairs on Davis Road.  If you’re reading this you probably already have seen SoCalHunt’s last two reports on Davis Road. (In case you missed those reports are at the links below…)

Well…check this out…

Yup…that’s Riverside Department of Transportation working on Davis Road.  Tom tells me that they have been working on most of this past week.  They have apparently have also brought in decomposed gravel to try to build up and stabilize the road.

Tom did tell me that even though they have been working on it this past week there is still going to be a lot of work to do to get the road in the shape that it should be in.  Time will tell if they will actually do all the work necessary to really fix Davis Road so we don’t have a repeat of this past season’s problems if we get major rains again.

Tom did say that he feels that people calling and writing the Riverside DOT and their state and local representatives helped get the ball rolling and he (and I) thank all that pitched in on that effort.

If you’d like to continue to encourage the Riverside DOT on their repairs of Davis Road the phone number is 951-955-6899.

Tom told me that the dates for the volunteer Blind Clean-up day and the annual Hunter’s Education Course should be set in the next day or two.  When he gives me the dates and info it will be posted here at the SoCalHunt Blog.  Also, any further info about the Davis Road, as the work progresses, will be reported here too.

Davis Road – Update on Repairs So Far

I spoke with Tom Trakes of San Jacinto Wildlife Area again this afternoon about the progress (or lack of) to repairs on Davis Road.  As you most likely know from SoCalHunt’s last report on Davis Road, San Jacinto Wildlife Area was pretty much in forced isolation as no one could utilize the Wildlife Area because the road was impassable.   The Riverside County Department of Transportation (which owns Davis Road) has (so far) pretty much refused to do much about it.  (In case you missed it, details in the link below…)

Tom said he was hoping that the Riverside DOT would come out today and at least make Davis Road passable so the public could utilize SJWA again.  Well, they refused.  Apparently, they are afraid of getting their skip loaders, scrapers, dump trucks and associated equipment dirty or something.  Tom told me that they said they couldn’t do anything until the road was completely dry.  That’s the bad news…however…

Here’s the good news.  Because the DFW has received so many complaints that there is no public access to San Jacinto Wildlife Area Tom received the OK to do some repairs with the SJ crew so the public can get into good old SJ.  Tom told me that the entire San Jacinto crew got to work this morning and in about 4 hours did what Riverside DOT said was impossible.  Tom told me that they took about 90 square yards of fill from the far end of the SJ check station parking lot and filled in and smoothed over most of the major holes in Davis Road, leveled those areas and leveled a decent roadbed down the rest of Davis Road.  Tom told me that Davis Road is now passable, even to someone wanting to come in with a regular car.  The passable part of the roadbed is narrow in a lot of spots, only one lane wide in some places, but anybody can get through now.  His only caution is that if you are going in and see someone coming out let them down the road first so you don’t end up head to head at one of the narrow spots.

So, as we see, once again, the San Jacinto crew, Aurelio, Josh, John, Shane and Carlos have gone the extra mile (and did a lot of work) to make this happen and allow the public access to SJ.  Kudos to the best Wildlife Area Staff in the entire state!  Tom sent me a link to a video of the Davis Road conditions, that he posted on the SJWA FaceBook page, after the SJ Staff’s repairs…looks pretty good…


Guess it wasn’t “impossible”, was it Riverside DOT?  Anyway, despite this good news, it is only a temporary fix and real repairs still need to be done to Davis Road to ensure we are not back in the same situation with the next significant rain. It would still be an excellent idea for everyone that utilizes San Jacinto Wildlife Area, whether you are a hunter, bird watcher, photographer or anyone else that wants to visit SJ for any reason to call the Riverside County Department of Transportation and express their concern that Davis Road is repaired properly.  The phone number for the Riverside County Department of Transportation to tell ‘um about it is 951-955-6899. It also couldn’t hurt to contact your State Representatives and your Congressperson.  If you happen to live in Riverside County a call or letter to your County Supervisor might also be a good thing.

Tom told me that now that they have public access they will most likely reschedule the canceled Blind Clean-up day for some time in April and they will soon be scheduling a Hunter’s Education Course, probably for some time in May.  When those are announced, and when anything further is learned about the Davis Road situation, we’ll post it here at the SoCalHunt Blog.

(Update as of 4/9/17 here:) 


Davis Road Repairs Started, Results Disappointing So Far – Action Needed!

I spoke with Tom Trakes of San Jacinto Wildlife Area today about the status of Davis Road. As you most likely know, Davis Road, which is the only public access to San Jacinto, was virtually destroyed by this winter’s storms. The results of the storm damage was to make SJ just about inaccessible to hunters or anyone else that might want to visit the Wildlife Area. We almost lost the last 5 hunt days of the 2016 / 2017 season as the DFW almost closed SJ due to the access problems. Several vehicles got stuck trying to get in on the last few hunt days with only the highest ground clearance 4X4 trucks were able to negotiate the mud, ruts, holes and deep puddles (almost qualifying as lakes) to make it into San Jacinto. As you also most likely know, Tom and the SJ crew went above and beyond by getting special, one-time permission to allow public access through the upland area for this season’s 23rd annual Junior Hunt. Without this, the Junior Hunt would have been canceled.

Tom told me that Riverside County Department of Transportation, which is responsible for maintaining Davis Road, came in today and graded Davis Road. According to what Tom told me the county did a minimal job and only graded part of the road. The road is still impassable and the only people making it into San Jacinto, unless they want to walk it, are the SJ staff, utilizing the road through the upland area. Unfortunately, even though Davis Road is the access to San Jacinto, since it is a county road the SJ crew aren’t allowed to fix it themselves, even if they had the equipment and materials to do so.

Although the road through the upland area was used for access for the Junior Hunt, that was a one-time, special permission from the DFW big wigs thing, just to accommodate the Junior Hunt. The road through the upland area is just a small service road and cannot be used by the public for access as it could not take the daily traffic, especially during hunting season, and would be unserviceable in short order.

Tom told me that the county has the equipment and means to repair Davis Road, at least a serviceable “path” that vehicles could use to access San Jacinto, right now. But, apparently, they don’t want to. Tom said that the county needs to come in and bring the road back up to proper grade, crown it for proper drainage, and create culverts for the water to run off into. Tom said that the county told him that this type of damage happens to Davis Road all the time when we get heavy rain. Well, I beg to differ, and I know Tom does too. I have hunted San Jacinto many a day in the past when it had rained so heavily that the internal roads at SJ were flooded and closed (the infamous “walk-in” days) but Davis Road was still opened and passable by any vehicle because it was (back then) properly crowned and had proper drainage. I believe Tom has been at SJ for at 23 years and he’s only seen it this bad a few times, (’93 / ’94 – ’97 / ’98 – ’02 / ’03), and those were during years that it rained much, much more. I’ve been hunting there probably at least that long and I personally can’t remember Davis Road this bad, but then maybe I’ve blocked it out. The reason it has gotten so bad is that every time Davis Road was damaged all the county has done is come in and scrape the road smooth again. This has resulted in the loss of the road’s crown and the lowering of the road’s grade until the water has nowhere to go.

The fact is Davis Road is an access route to one of only two State Wildlife Areas in Southern California that have a type A waterfowl hunting program (Wister being the other one). If Davis Road is not properly repaired it may be a very short 2017 / 2018 waterfowl season there. Even if you don’t hunt San Jacinto and only utilize Wister this should concern you. What do you think will happen if San Jacinto is shut down? That’s right, many hunters that would usually hunt SJ will head to Wister. 3920 hunters utilized San Jacinto this past season. I’m sure that number was down some just due to access issues the last month of the season. A more correct number had there not been access problems, probably would have been more like 4300 or so. Add to that the people that come in to utilize the upland area for hunting and the people that come in throughout the year for bird watching, photography, nature study, horseback riding and other such outdoor pursuits and I’ll bet you have around 6500 or so people utilizing SJ throughout the year.

So, with all that said what needs to be done is to put Riverside County Department of Transportation’s feet to the fire and make sure they take the repair of Davis Road seriously. Tom advised me to urge everyone that utilizes San Jacinto Wildlife Area, whether it be hunters, bird watcher, photographers or anyone else that has a stake in this to call the Riverside County Department of Transportation and express their concern that Davis Road be repaired, and repaired properly, so we’re not back in the same position next season. The phone number to call for the Riverside County Department of Transportation to express your concern is 951-955-6899. It might also be a good idea to contact your State Representatives and your Congressperson.

Hopefully, if Riverside DOT sees that people are serious about this, things will be done right.

Updated info (as of 3/27/17) here….



Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 87 other followers