SoCalHunt San Jacinto Hunt Report 1/15/11

SoCalHunt again brings you a hunting report from San Jacinto Wildlife Area.

Once again my hunting partner and I headed out to San Jacinto Wildlife Area to try our luck in the sweatline bucket. When we arrived this morning there appeared to be a much larger percentage of the reservation holders waiting in line then there was Wednesday and a much larger crowd to give the sweatline a go.

As always, after the reservation holders were taken care of, Tim came out with the sweatline bucket and we threw our card in. Wednesday we were the second pick out of the bucket but, in contrast that that, we were second from last pick from the sweatline bucket today. When we went into the check station to pick our spot there wasn’t much left, one blind on the far north end of the refuge and the other was on the far south end. Since we had been to the northern end Wednesday we decided to see if the southern end head any greater promise and choose the Walker-12 blind, the furthest blind from the check station on that end of San Jacinto. The San Jacinto staff was, once again, shuttling hunters out in the DFG truck to the blinds but, since we were almost the last pick, and there was a line of hunters waiting to be shuttled out, and it was less then an hour to start time, we decided to walk out carrying minimal gear. We both took a folding seat, our shotguns and our 25-shell allotment and began the hike out. We arrived at our blind about 7 minutes after start time as hunters in the other blinds and the adjacent private duck club began to open up on the early flights of ducks. Upon our arrival at our blind we discovered that the blind was actually now sitting in the water due to the recent flooding because of the rains so we set our seats next to the blind in the shoreline brush.

As we sat and waited for a bird to come within range we were treated to another gorgeous San Jacinto sunrise.

Not long after we sat down a lone shoveler came in over the pond within range and I dropped him with my first shot of the day. The bird was nice enough to drift into shore right in front of our blind so neither of us had to wade in to get him. After that we had a few teal and several buffleheads race by low over our pond but we just couldn’t connect with these little fighter-jets as they swooped in low and fast. I finally knocked a bufflehead down but, only wounded, it began to dive and swim away. It seems that its almost impossible to kill a duck on the water and this bird was no exception. She finally ended up across the pond mixed in with a few ruddys that were over in that corner of the pond. I walked around the pond to see if I could still get the bird and ended up jumping a ruddy that appeared wounded. Since I don’t like leaving any wounded birds in the field I opted to do the ethical thing and take the wounded ruddy. After I collected the ruddy it appeared she had either been hatched with half a right wind or had an old injury that caused her to loose half her right wing and had healed over. Unfortunately I never did find the bufflehead I had knocked down. While I was busy looking for my bufflehead my partner had a couple of other buffleheads swing in near the blind and he dropped the drake. We saw several flights of ducks trade back and forth over us going to and from Mystic Lake and the private duck club behind us but none of them wanted to come down within range as they passed over us. We could see Mystic Lake from our blind and there appeared to be several hundred birds, at least, rafted up on the lake. I’m sure that all it would have taken today to make this an excellent day of hunting would have been a good stiff wind stirring up Mystic Lake’s surface. At about 10:45 we decided to call it a day and walked out with our three birds.

Being at the Walkers blinds meant that we had to walk at least to the turn in the road near pond 3 as the road going out to the Walkers blinds is completely submerged and they aren’t running the shuttle out to that end of the refuge. As we walked out to the road near pond 3 Aurelio came driving in from the A & B blinds area in DFG pickup shuttling hunters back to the check station. We happily jumped in the truck and in a few minutes we were back at the check station parking lot. For us it was another slow day, although we did hear more shooting throughout the refuge then we did Wednesday and we did see more birds in the air then Wednesday, albeit mostly out of range. Next Wednesday is another day. We’ll be going again.

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