Archive for March, 2011

San Jacinto Wildlife Area – Hunter Safety Course Offered, Saturday, June 18th

San Jacinto Wildlife Area will be hosting a free state mandated hunter’s safety course on Saturday, June 18th. 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 course will begin promptly at 7 am at the wildlife area’s check station. There is no age restriction for the class but for the younger potential hunters the parent or guardian needs to determine if the child is mature enough to become a hunter. Tom said that they should be getting the hunter’s safety handbooks in at the wildlife area in the next few weeks and anyone that wants to take the class can come by and pick one up to study. 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 case of bottled water. At noon the staff at San Jacinto will host a BBQ lunch and Tom said they would be taking donations for this to offset the cost of the food. The class should last until about 4:30 or 5:00 pm and everyone successful completing the course can then head out to their local DFG license agent (aka: sporting goods store) and buy their hunting license. Tom asked that anyone wanting to attend this free hunter’s safety course should call him to pre-register at 951-236-3040.

SoCalHunt’s Report on San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Volunteer Clean Up Day

My hunting buddy and I attended, as part of about 15 volunteers, to assist the San Jacinto staff in getting the refuge’s blinds cleaned up from the recently ended waterfowl season’s use. The volunteers were divided up into small groups and spread out through the refuge, plastic bags in hand, to clean up any spent shell, wads or other miscellaneous trash left out in and around the blinds.

I am currently recovering from knee surgery (2 weeks ago), which limited my participation, but I was able to pick up a small amount of shells, wads and other stuff along the shoreline of the E, B and C ponds. My hunting buddy, however, waded out to the blinds in those ponds and was able to pick up an entire 30-gallon trash bag full of trash, which I would guess weighed about 20 pounds, along with an old stray decoy. Other participants picked up similar bags of trash.

After the clean up Tom, Tim and Durk hosted a nice BBQ hot dog lunch for all the volunteers. Tom cooks up a mean hot dog.

It was great to once again get out on the refuge. Many ducks were still in the area and the scenery, as always, did not disappoint. It was nice to see the wildflowers splashing their colors across the landscape, something much different then we usually get to see during the waterfowl season when they are dormant.

Reminder – San Jacinto Volunteer Clean Up Day This Saturday, 3/12/11

This is a reminder that this coming Saturday, 3/12/11, is the volunteer clean up day at San Jacinto Wildlife Area.

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

I spoke with Tom Trakes this afternoon and he told me that they had a bunch of hot dogs that they were originally going to use for the junior hunt that they will use for a BBQ lunch after the clean up. Tom wanted me to advise anyone coming that they need hot dog buns, drinks (soda and water), chips, potato salad and such items to complete the menu.

Tom also told me that a good portion of the refuge is still flooded so waders are a must to get the work done along with a good pair of work gloves.

If you have any questions you can call either Tom Trakes at (951) 236-3040 or Scott Sewell at (951) 634-4652.

Hope to see a lot of folks out there.

SoCalHunt Gear Review – Jon-E Hand Warmer

This week’s gear review at SoCalHunt is about the Jon-E Hand warmer.

Fortunately, or maybe, unfortunately, depending on your point of view, in Southern California we don’t normally have to deal with sub-freezing temperatures during our waterfowl hunting forays. Unless you head up north you’re probably not going to run into any temperatures under about 30 degrees except for some exceptional days in December and January.

Having said that I’m going to admit I’m a wimp when it comes to cold. Being born and raised in Southern California makes me think that a 35-degree morning is way cold! Okay, all you guys and gals from the northeast can now laugh at me.

I have yet to find a pair of gloves that I really like to wear when I’m hunting. I just find them cumbersome and they make it hard to reliably feel for the safety and the trigger on my shotgun, which to me is a little disconcerting.

My solution to this dilemma, either freezing my hands (or at least feeling like they’re freezing) or trying to safely operate my shotgun with bulky gloves, is the Jon-E Hand Warmer.

I’ve tried several brands of those cheap chemical one-time-use hand warmers and, to me anyway, they just don’t seem to get warm enough to make a bit of difference. I’ve also tried those gel type hand warmers; the type you push on a metal button inside the gel pack to activate; but they only stay warm for about a half hour or so and then you have to boil them when you get home in order for you to use them the next time.

The Jon-E Hand Warmer is a cigarette lighter fluid powered chrome-plated metal hand warmer. It is made from metal and has a small platinum catalyst heating element on the top of it with a metal cover. It comes in two sizes, the #700 model “standard” size, which is about 3 ¼” x 2 ¼” x ¾”, and the #701 model “giant”, which is about 4 ¼” x 3” x 1 ½”. The standard sized warmer holds 6 tablespoons of lighter fluid and the giant holds 14 tablespoons of fluid. This is supposed to translate into 8 to 12 hours of heat in the standard model and up to 36 hours of heat in the giant model (although in my experience it goes much faster than that).

Each Jon-E Hand Warmer comes with a cloth carrying bag. This bag is not only for carrying and storing the Jon-E Hand Warmer but you must have the warmer inside the bag while it is in operation. Using the bag you can somewhat regulate the heat that your Jon-E Hand Warmer produces.

Remember with the Jon-E Hand Warmer you are dealing with fire so caution is a must! I will quote directly from the Jon-E Hand Warmer instructions regarding their warning on the unit:
“WARNING! A Jon-E Hand Warmer is made to generate heat. To avoid a skin burn always keep it in the carrying bag and change its position frequently. When removed from cloth carrying bag and left uncovered in the open air it can get HOT! Do not allow uncovered operating Jon-E Hand Warmer to come in contact with your skin. Do not use while sleeping; or with an unattended handicapped person or small child.”

To use the Jon-E Hand Warmer you must first fill it with lighter fluid. Each model of Jon-E Hand Warmer comes with a plastic fill cup, which fits on the bottom of the unit. Caution: Do not leave the plastic cup on the bottom of the unit while it is operating or you may find it melted to the unit at the end of the morning. To completely fill your Jon-E Hand Warmer takes two of these cups of lighter fluid. One of them is probably plenty for your typical Southern California morning. The first thing to do is remove the unit from the cloth carrying bag and put the bag well away from where you’re filling the unit. You don’t want to get lighter fluid on the carrying bag. To fill the unit, remove the heating element, being careful not to touch the actual element material. Pour the lighter fluid into the cotton material inside the unit. Be careful to not spill the lighter fluid on the side of the unit or around the blind or your other equipment in the blind. If you do spill some wipe it up as good as you can and let the unit sit for a short while for the fluid to evaporate.

Again, because we are dealing with fire here, I’ll quote the Jon-E Hand Warmer instructions:
“WIPE OFF any fluid on outside of case! WIPE UP spilled fluid too! CAUTION: Spilled fluid is highly flammable! Do not ignite a match or cigarette lighter flame near spillage, clothing wet with fluid, or napkin/rag used to wipe up spillage because it will flame up! Anything wet with spillage should be allowed to air out and evaporate the fluid completely before any flame is ignited nearby.”

In the Jon-E Hand Warmer instructions it says to fill and start it indoors but, for waterfowl hunting, I’ve not found it practical to start the thing at one o’clock in the morning at home and keep it running all that time until you’re actually in your blind and hunting at six in the morning.

Once you have the unit filled with fluid pop the heating element back on, once again being careful not to touch the actual element material. Right next to the heating element is a wick. Set the unit on a flat surface and carefully light the wick. Let the wick burn for one minute then blow the flame out. Replace the chrome cover over the heating element. Let the unit sit for four or five minutes to warm up and then, with a gloved hand (yes, even though I said I don’t like gloves I do carry gloves – mainly for this purpose) place the unit inside the cloth carrying bag.

You can somewhat regulate how much heat the Jon-E Hand Warmer gives off by how much of an opening you allow in the top of the bag. If you want a little more heat out of the unit open of the top of the bag a little to give it a little more air. (Just be careful not to burn yourself on the metal inside).

Once the day warms up somewhat and you want to turn off your Jon-E Hand Warmer it is a simple matter of taking it out of the bag, again with a gloved hand, removing the top cover and, with the edge of the top cover, prying the heating element off the unit. Let it sit for a minute and it should be cool enough to handle. You can then put the heating element back on it, it won’t re-light until you actually light it again.
Now, for the pros and cons of the Jon-E hand Warmer:

Gives off a good amount of heat. It’s the only hand warmer I’ve found that gives off enough heat long enough to make a difference.
Absent extreme wind or rain it is actually pretty easy to use once you’ve done it a couple times.

It is hard to light sometimes. If it’s windy it may be impossible to light. It also requires you to carry matches and keep them dry.
It uses lighter fluid, which means you have to cart a small bottle of lighter fluid around in your blind bag.
It is a source of fire. If you’re not cautious with it you can get burned. You could even start your blind on fire if you’re a real klutz. Just because of this it may not be a good choice for some.
You have to be careful with the heating element. If you drop it in the mud in the bottom of the blind you’re done. You might be able to clean it off at home and let it dry out but you might have to get a new heating element if that happens.

All in all, even though the “cons” list is longer then the “pros” list I would recommend the Jon-E Hand Warmer for anybody that gets cold hands in those early mornings in the blind. It may not be for everybody but if you can deal with the “cons”, in my opinion, the short list of “pros” actually outweigh the “cons”.

Edit: 2/16/19

It appears that the Jon-E Hand Warmer is no longer being made.  I could not find any source online that has them listed.  The only possibility if you want a genuine Jon-E Hand Warmer is to check eBay for these. I just checked eBay and there are 50+ up for bid right now, in varying conditions and prices, almost all of them listed as used, although there were a couple listed as “new” (which in this case probably means old but never used).

As an alternative, there are a couple other brands of this type of handwarmer currently still available.  I will not recommend them at this time as I have never tried any of these other brands myself but I will say they, in general, look almost identical to the Jon-E Hand Warmer and appear to function the same way so, I guess it’s pay your money, take your chances.  I’ll also not list any sources for these, again, because I haven’t bought one of these, but a quick Google search should reveal sources for you.  The ones I’ve seen that look similar to the Jon-E Hand Warmer are the Zippo Hand Warmer, the Peacock Japanese Giant Size Platinum Catalyst Metal Hand Warmer, or the Whitby Hand Warmer.  For a general Google search try using “catalytic hand warmer”.   Again, I have tested none of these so you’re on your own here, although they do appear to be pretty much the same as the good old Jon-E Hand Warmer.

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