Archive for September, 2011

SoCalHunt Gear Review – Avery Green Head Gear Pro Series Decoys

I’m going to actually call this a preliminary gear review, as I haven’t had an opportunity to use these under hunting conditions…yet. Obviously the season hasn’t started yet, but after breaking them out of the box I was so impressed with these lifelike decoys I couldn’t wait to post a review.

After last season I decided to retire some of my old worn out decoys, some of which were over 30 years old, and get a few of the new Green Head Gear (GHG) decoys by Avery. I bought a dozen of the GHG Pro Grade teal, a dozen GHG Pro Grade Widgeon and a dozen of the GHG Pro Grade mallard resters. These decoys are sold in sets of six and with each set of the teal and the widgeon there is 1 high head drake, 2 rester drakes, 1 surface feeder drake, 1 rester hen, and 1 surface feeder hen. The mallards, also sold in sets of six, being the “resters” came with 3 rester drakes, 1 rester hen, 1 sleeper drake and 1 sleeper hen.

One of the great things about these decoys is, as you’ve already read above, the fact that they are posed in different positions. No longer do you have a pond full of decoys with every decoy looking exactly like the next and all posed with their heads high as if the whole flock is on alert. Avery also touts what they call their 60/40 keel, which is supposed to make these decoys float in a more realistic manner on the water. The detail on these decoys is amazing and the color so realistic that it appears they will jump up and fly away if you get too close to them.

I took a couple of the teal and widgeon out to San Jacinto Wildlife Area on the last volunteer workday just to see what they looked like under actual field conditions. I tossed them out into one of the ponds and they just seemed to come to life. (Click on the below pictures for a full sized view).

So, there you have it…so far. I am just so impressed with how these decoys look that I can’t help but think the ducks will treat them as real. Of course, time will tell and I’ll have to post a follow-up gear review on them after a few hunts when we see how the ducks actually respond to them.

A couple of tips for anyone considering these decoys or, for that matter, for any decoys new or old. Over the years I’ve gone away form that thick, heavy black or green decoy cord. You have to remember that the birds are seeing your decoys from the air and looking down into a pond I would imagine a coil or two of thick black cord floating around or just under each decoy has an unnatural look. For a while I used monofilament fishing line, however, under certain conditions you can get some shine off of the mono, especially if the pond is shallow and some of the mono floats to the surface. I have recently gone to 15-pound test spectra fishing line. This stuff is green and is about the diameter of 2-pound test mono. It is just about as invisible as any decoy line you could get. The only word of caution, well, actually two words of caution, is that spectra can cut, so if you have a dog going back and forth through your decoys to retrieve birds it might not be a good choice and it is extremely hard to manage if you happen to get a tangle in one of the lines while putting them out at o-dark-30. It is almost impossible to see what the problem is in the dark. It would probably be smart to carry a spool of it in your blind bag to replace any lines that you might tangle in the dark and have to replace (a little later in the day when you can see what you’re doing).

A second tip, which will help your decoys last longer, is to give them a couple of light coats of Krylon 1311 clear matt finish spray paint (or similar clear matt finish). This will, in effect, “lock on” the painted finish of your decoys and help keep them looking new even after banging around in a decoy bag all season. Just be sure you use a matt finish, as you don’t want bright shiny gloss surface on decoys.

Good luck to all in the coming season.

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Successful Volunteer Work Day at San Jacinto Wildlife Area 9/24/11

SoCalHunt attended today’s blind brush-up volunteer workday at San Jacinto Wildlife Area. More then 20 volunteer hunters showed up to clean up and brush-up blinds in the wildlife area. Unfortunately Tom Trakes, Wildlife Habitat Supervisor, couldn’t attend today due to an unforeseen emergency but Fish and Wildlife Technician Dirk Holt stood in for Tom and divided the volunteers up into several groups and sent them off to their assigned tasks.

SoCalHunt went with a group assigned to work on a new blind for E-2. Dirk told us there was already a pile of brush on the blind site and we were given a small chainsaw to cut some more brush if needed. The new E-2 blind is located at the north end of the pond and should be easier to find and hunt from, as that end of the pond will be shallower. If you are familiar with the “E” ponds then you know the south end of them gets fairly deep, sometimes requiring a dog to retrieve birds. We utilized the brush already provided, cut some more from a deadfall nearby and also cut some tulies to add to the blind’s cover. We also had some palm fronds that one of our group had brought along to add to the blind. We also cannibalized some wire and wooden steaks from the old E-2 blind. The old blind was in very poor condition and falling apart. In the end we had a very nice blind with a combination of natural cover and palm fronds.

Before…

…after.

After we finished our blind we took a quick drive-around of the refuge to check what other work has been done lately by the San Jacinto Staff. In the “B” pond there were major changes made. The levee dividing B-1 through B-4 from B-5 has been taken down and, at this point, with the pond probably about half full, was almost entirely underwater.

The new pit blind in B-1 looked good and appeared to have just about the right amount of cover around it. There is now a nice, graveled, submerged walkway out to B-1.

The new graveled walkway out to B-2 looked good too…maybe too good as one of the volunteers tried to drive his truck out there to work on the blind and got his truck stuck….

Oops!

Dirk was able to get the truck unstuck with the help of the refuge’s tractor. Once the pond fills this walkway will also be submerged making B-2 an island.

Over in the “C” pond C-2 was moved north of where it was and a nice graveled walkway leads out to it also. C-2 is no longer the handicap blind and C-3 is now the new handicap blind.

The new handicap blind, C-3, which was built during the last volunteer work day on August 13th, is now completed and looks good. It also has a nice graveled walkway out to it.

The other new pit blind, at Marsh W also look good and has nice cover around it.

After a quick drive-around of the refuge it appears that things are really shaping up and it should be a good productive season for all this year. Most of the ponds are at least half full and look to be on schedule to be filled up by the opener.

Thanks to all the volunteer hunters who worked today and at the last workday on August 13th. They are an important part of getting things ready for the upcoming season.

(Don’t forget, if you want to see full-sized pictures on SoCalHunt’s Blog just click on the picture).

Official Press Release Regarding San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Blind Brush-Up Day September 24th

State of California Department of Fish and Game
San Jacinto Wildlife Area September 24, 2011
“Blind Brush-Up Day”

The DFG Area staff would like to invite you to come and participate another volunteer day on September 24, 2011. Volunteers are to assemble at 7 am at the Wildlife Area office on Davis Rd.

Work will be assigned at the start of the morning and will conclude with a volunteer appreciation BBQ lunch at 12 noon at the Headquarters office.

Please be prepared for the following;
1. Bring work gloves, sturdy boots/shoes, hand tools that pertain
to building new blinds and repair of old.
2. Waders, hip boots, mud boots, if available.
3. Palm tree cuttings and brush for blinds, cuttings without thorns.
4. Bring your favorite dish for lunch and or contribution.
5. Drinking Water, lots of it!

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- SJWA (951) 928-0580 Scott Sewell (951) 634-4652 Tom Trakes (951) 236-3040.

“Tell a friend and come, see you there” TT

San Jacinto Volunteer Work Day Date Moved – Now September 24th

Tom Trakes of San Jacinto Wildlife Area advised SoCalHunt that the next volunteer work day date that was originally set for September 17th has been changed to Saturday, September 24th. Tom advised that this would be a general “tune up” of the refuge, brushing up some blinds, checking and repairing blind seats, checking and repairing blind signs and just a general clean up / brush up.

Tom advised that the ponds are being flooded for the season and there are already some ducks using the area. There are some new pit blinds and some other blinds have been rebuilt. Things are shaping up for the season.

Tom said the since the ponds are flooding volunteers should bring waders and, if they can get any, bring some palm fronds to brush up some of the blinds. Tom said that the last volunteer work day, which was on August 13th had a great turnout and he’s hoping for a similar response from San Jacinto hunters again.

Any questions please call San Jacinto Wildlife Area at (951) 928-0580 or Tom Trakes (951) 236-3040.


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