Archive for February, 2011

Gear Review – The LeMaster Method Waterfowl Identification Book

This year the following where the regulations we had to deal with in the Southern California zone for waterfowl:

Ducks (including Mergansers).
From the fourth Saturday in October extending for 100 days.
Scaup: From the first Saturday in November extending for 86 days.
Daily bag limit: 7
Daily bag limit may include:
• 7 mallards, but not more than 2 females.
• 2 pintail (either sex).
• 1 canvasback (either sex).
• 2 redheads (either sex).
• 3 scaup (either sex).

….ah, ya think it was important to be able to identify birds on the wing in the field this year? And, I’m sure, the regulations will be just as complicated, if not more so, next season. Gone are the “good old days” where we could go out there and bag a 7-bird limit and it didn’t matter what species they were.

Due to these regulations a book on waterfowl identification is an essential piece of gear to carry in your blind bag. In fact, it should be an essential piece of equipment to carry on scouting trips or just occasional jaunts to the local marsh, ecological reserve, park-lake or whatever waterfowl habitat might be close by were you can brush up on your duck ID skills off season.

The best waterfowl ID book I’ve seen, bar none, is The LeMaster Method Waterfowl Identification by Richard LeMaster.

The LeMaster Method covers al the waterfowl you might run across in California, as well as other areas of the country. The book is spiral bound, which makes it easy to lay flat and keep it opened to whatever page you like to look at no matter if you’re looking at it on a table at home or laying it on top of your blind bag in the field. The pages on each bird show you a profile of the bird in flight, male and female, a profile of the bird’s head, showing the different plumages at different times during the season and a life-sized picture of the male and female bills.

Another great aspect of The LeMaster Method book is four pages of side-by-side duck and goose bill pictures for comparison to help ID the bird in hand. In fact, the check station at San Jacinto Wildlife Area uses these four pages out of The LeMater Method at their check in table to help ID the birds hunters check in.

The great thing about these bill picture pages is that all you have to do is lay the bird’s bill on the page and if the size and color match you have your bird identified.

Also included in the book are two pages of duck feet pictures to assist with identification of the bird once it’s bagged.

In addition, LeMaster has included four pages of “flight levels” for the ducks. These pages illustrate the likely of four “flight levels” that each species of bird is likely to fly at in non-migratory flight which is another assist in identifying birds on the wing.

The LeMaster Method Waterfowl Identification is available directly from the publisher, Stackpole Books, for $10.95 at:  (edit 7/12/21 – Stackpole apparently does not sell direct to the public anymore.  The link below will take you to their webpage on this book and there are 5 links on that page that have it for sale)

This is, in my opinion, required reading for any waterfowler in the Southern California area, or anywhere else for that matter.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area Blind Clean Up Day Confirmed for March 12th, 2011

Info from the press release.

“State of California
Department of Fish and Game
San Jacinto Wildlife Area

Volunteer Clean Up Day of the Wildlife Area

March 12, 2011

The DFG Wildlife Area Staff would like to invite you to come participate in this years’ annual Volunteer Day on March 12, 2011. Volunteers are to assemble at 7 am at the Wildlife Area Headquarters office on Davis Road.

Work will be assigned at the start of the morning and will conclude with a volunteer appreciation BBQ Pot Luck lunch at 11 am

Please be prepared for the following;

Trash removal from hunt sites
General clean up of hunt areas, (Waterfowl and Upland Game)
Bring work gloves, sturdy boots, mud boots, covered shoes
Waders, if available
Bring your favorite dish for lunch, and bottled water

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? Please call Scott Sewell (951) 634-4652, Tom Trakes (951) 236-3040.”

Tentative Date Set For Blind Clean-up Day at San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Saturday, March 12th

Saturday, March 12th, is the tentative date set for the San Jacinto Wildlife Area Blind Clean-up Day. This is an important project to help get the area ready for the work that the staff at San Jacnito will be doing in the off-season. Volunteers are needed for this important event. Once the date is confirmed SoCalHunt will post more details.

If you’d like to volunteer, or need more info, you can contact the staff at San Jacinto at 951-928-0580.

Hunt Results for San Jacinto Wildlife Area Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt, Saturday – 2/5/11

Waterfowl counts for the Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt on Saturday, 2/5/11, at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area were a little slow, however, the junior hunters had a great time shooting at the refuge. Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto, supplied the following results for Saturday, 2/5/11:

75 junior hunters bagged 5 Northern Shovelers, 7 Bufflehead, 13 Cinnamon Teal, 5 Gadwall, 18 Green Wing Teal, 4 Pintail, 2 Ring Necks and 5 Ruddy Ducks. The juniors also shot 9 coots. This gave an average of 0.9 waterfowl per junior hunter.

So, that brings an end to a great 2010/2011 season at San Jacinto Wildlife Area.

Tom wanted me to thank all who donated time, effort, prizes and money to help pull off a successful junior hunt. Every penny, dime, nickel, quarter and dollar that hunters put into the Junior Hunt “water bottle” at the check station desk was put to good use. Each junior hunter left the check station in the morning with a gift bag containing a hat, shirt, calendar and gift card. That’s not to mention all of the nice prizes that were donated which were given out at the raffle at lunch.

Planning ahead for next season, unless there are some changes between now and then, San Jacinto will be open for waterfowl hunting on Wednesdays and Saturdays only. You can put in for reservations through the state reservation system (your card has to be to Fish and Game in Sacramento 17 days in advance to get in on the drawing – buy one day and five day reservation cards at your local license agent AKA: sporting goods store) or you can get in on the daily “sweatline” drawing for the remaining blinds after the reservations are taken care of. Reservation spots are given out starting at 3 AM and the “sweatline” drawing is done after that. You can also show up for an afternoon refill hunt but the last refill is at 1 PM. For more information, contact the staff at San Jacinto at 951-928-0580.

2010/2011 Season Sunrise / Sunset Recap

San Jacinto Wildlife Area, in most cases, offers hunters a great bonus when they hunt the area. Below, in order of appearance, were most of the sunrises or sunsets on the days we hunted San Jacinto this year. There are a few days, due to rain, where there was no opportunity for a sunrise or sunset picture but the majority of our hunt days either dawned or set under beautiful skies. Presented for your enjoyment:

(Click on the image for a full sized picture)

Sunrise 10/23/10

Sunrise 10/27/10

Sunset 10/30/10

Sunrise 11/10/10

Sunrise 11/17/10

Sunset 11/24/10

Sunrise 11/27/10

Sunrise 12/8/10

Sunset 12/29/10

Sunrise 1/5/11

Sunrise 1/12/11

Sunrise 1/15/11

Sunrise 1/19/11

Sunrise 1/26/11

San Jacinto Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt Event – 2/5/11

I just returned from attending the annual San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Junior Waterfowl Hunt Event. A great time was had by all who attended. There were about 65 junior hunters in attendance (exact numbers and the bird count will be in a later report) and there were a number of nice raffle prizes given out.

The attendees were treated to a wonderful pancake breakfast and a nice lunch of giant submarine sandwiches, chips, and many homemade desserts.

After lunch the raffle was conducted and many nice prizes were given out. These ranged from gun cases, knifes, decoys, calls and other various hunting equipment. The big prizes today were a Remington 870 Junior Shotgun, won by Taylor Reed who was hunting in Marsh Z, and a fully guided turkey hunting trip on private property in the Julian area, won by Carlos Barrios who was hunting in blind B-3. There were several former junior hunters in attendance that Tom had conduct the raffle this year. Tom and the rest of the San Jacinto Staff, as always, did a great job running the show.

Once the lunch and raffle were over many of the junior hunters headed back out to their blinds to finish their day of duck hunting (which many are still doing as I write this, I’m sure). I should have the final bird count for the junior hunt by Wednesday and will post it as soon as Tom gets the numbers to me.

Hunt Results for San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Saturday – 1/29/11

Waterfowl counts on Saturday at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area dropped way down from the windy Wednesday just prior. Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto, reported the following results for Saturday, 1/29/11:

107 adult hunters and 12 junior hunters bagged 22 Northern Shovelers, 1 Widgeon, 3 Bufflehead, 10 Cinnamon Teal, 24 Gadwall, 59 Green Wing Teal, 7 Mallards, 22 Pintail, 1 Redhead, 2 Ring Neck and 3 Ruddy Ducks. There were also 4 coots taken. This resulted in an average of 1.33 waterfowl per hunter. Tom advised 20 out of the 50 reservation cardholders arrived on time.

So, that’s it for the 2010/2011 season at San Jacinto Wildlife Area, unless you’re 15 or under. Saturday February 5th is the annual Junior Hunt. At this point it is way too late to get a reservation request card in the Sacramento for the Junior Hunt but you can still get your junior hunter in on the daily “sweatline” drawing for the remaining blinds after the reservations are taken care of. Reservation spots are given out starting at 3 AM and the “sweatline” drawing is done after that. You can also show up for an afternoon refill hunt but the last refill is at 1 PM. For more information, contact the staff at San Jacinto at 951-928-0580.

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