Archive for October, 2011

SoCalHunt Hunting Report for 10/29/11

Once again this morning SoCalHunt ventured out to San Jacinto Wildlife Area to brave the sweatline. Instead of my usual hunting partner one of his friends accompanied me today. We arrived to observe that although the group of hunters in attendance was much smaller the last weeks opener there were still quite a few hoping to get out to hunt this morning. As usual, after the reservation holders were assigned blinds the slip with our names took the plunge into the sweatline bucket.

In contrast to last week, the sweatline draw was very kind to us as we were pleased to hear our names drawn first out of the bucket. We picked our spot and headed out to set up.

Once we were set up we settled back in the blind to await start time. As is, unfortunately, seemingly a habit of some hunters, someone decided to start 5 minutes early and several ducks we might have had a chance at sitting in our pond vacated the area.

While we were waiting for a duck to come into range we enjoyed what is also a habit at San Jacinto, a beautiful sunrise.

It was pretty slow and we didn’t have our first opportunity until almost exactly an hour after legal start time but I blew the shot. About an hour later a couple of teal swung through our area but we couldn’t connect on them either. A couple of times we had birds sneak by when we were looking right and they came in from the left or vice-versa. It was turning into a typical bluebird early season day and warming up fast and we had yet to down a bird.

While waiting for some action we observed some of the other wildlife in the area. If you liked coots we could have had all we wanted (no thanks). We saw ibis, stilts, pelicans and egrets in or near our pond. We even watched a group of about 25 or 30 speckled belly geese spiral down from the stratosphere (seemingly anyway) to apparently land in the fields between the “B” / “C” ponds and Marsh X to feed on the grain sprouting in that area. At least during slow periods there always something to watch at San Jacinto.

Around 9:30 a lone sponny hen landed outside our decoys and paddled around just out of range. We ducked low in the blind and waited. After a few minutes the bird got nervous about the shooting going on in the “F” pond to the east of us and took off heading straight for us. I was able to drop her as she tried to gain some altitude over us. After that we didn’t see another bird until about 11:30 when a couple of cinnamon teal came in towards our blind. The hen saw something she didn’t like and pealed off out of range but the drake kept coming and my partner dropped him with one well-placed shot.

About a half hour later with it getting hotter and with no more ducks seen in our vicinity we decided to call it a day. So we ended up with a bird each and another good day of hunting at San Jacinto. Hopefully I’ll be back Wednesday to try again.
(Click on pictures for a full size view).

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Hunt Results for San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Saturday – 10/22/11

The Waterfowl count for San Jacinto Wildlife Area for opening day was very good with many hunters scoring quick limits, the majority being teal, in the morning. The afternoon hunt was exceedingly slow by comparison though so the refill hunters were not as fortunate. Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, reported that the results for Saturday, 10/22/11 were as follows:

160 adult and 9 junior hunters bagged 42 Northern Shovelers, 3 Blue Wing Teal, 295 Cinnamon Teal, 10 Gadwall, 45 Green Wing Teal, 21 Mallards, 5 Pintail, 5 Redhead, 6 Ring Necks, 3 Wood Ducks and 36 Ruddy Ducks. In addition 1 Speckled Belly goose was harvested on Saturday. There were also 33 coots taken on Saturday. This resulted in an average harvest of 2.99 waterfowl for each hunter. Tom advised that out of 50 reservation cards 32 showed up on time.

San Jacinto is open for waterfowl hunting on Wednesdays and Saturdays only. You can put in for reservations on-line through the DFG Automated License Data System (ALDS). Your reservation request has to be to the ALDS system 17 days in advance to get in on the drawing 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. The ALDS can be accessed through the DFG web site at the below link –

https://www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales/

Don’t forget that all licenses and 1 day, 2 day or season passes must be purchased at a DFG Office or a license agent before your arrive at the refuge. These can be purchased on-line via the ALDS system also, however, you will have to wait for the DFG to mail you the actual licenses and passes which can take up to 15 days. If you purchase your license and passes in person at a DFG office or license agent you immediately get them without the wait for the mail. No licenses or passes will be sold at the check stations this year. You can also show up for an afternoon refill hunt but the last refill is at 2 PM. For more information, contact the staff at San Jacinto at 951-928-0580.

SoCalHunt Hunting Report for 10/22/11 Season Opener

This morning my usual hunting partner and I headed out to San Jacinto Wildlife Area for the season opener. The DFG reservation computer didn’t smile on us so we were going to sweatline it. When we arrived there were already a lot of hunters in attendance with more showing up as the early morning clock ticked down to 3 am. It appeared to be over 200 hunters by the time the reservations started being called and, after the reservation holders were assigned blinds our names went into the sweatline bucket, along with many others.

The sweatline draw was not kind to us either and we ended up number 24 on the refill list…shoot! (Or maybe I should say no shoot, at least for the morning). Anyway, with no possibility of getting out for the morning shoot we ran down Ramona Expressway to Henry’s Café for a quick breakfast. Steak and eggs soothed the hurt somewhat and we were back at San Jacinto by 7:30 to wait it out for a refill.

By the way, if you don’t know about Henry’s Café it’s a great place for a nice breakfast, while waiting to refill or a nice lunch or dinner on your way home after a successful hunt. Prices are reasonable, the food is great and the portions are large. Henry’s is located about 10 minutes from San Jacinto down Ramona Expressway just before you get to the 15 Freeway.

While we were waiting we saw several parties of hunters checking back in at the check station, many of them with full limits, most of the birds being cinnamon teal. Around 9:30 or so blind C-1 became available and since no one ahead of us on the refill list wanted it we decided to give it a try. When we got out to C-1 it turned out that the pond was only about half full and we had to kind of tuck back in a corner between some trees to have adequate water to hunt.

After about two hours without seeing a single duck we decided to pack up and head in to the check station and exchange C-1 for another blind assignment. There were a few blinds opened and we chose F-6 as our “second chance” blind. We finally got settled in to F-6 and the decoys set about 1:00 and waited for the ducks to come in. It was extremely slow and very few shots were heard throughout the refuge the whole time we were there. Apparently the great duck hunting that occurred earlier in the day was not going to be repeated for the afternoon.

At one point a large flock of Speckled Belly Geese, numbering probably about 35 or 40, flew close enough for a good ID through our binos but nowhere near close enough for a shot. The specks circled around a couple times and then dropped into Mystic Lake for a rest.

About 4:00 a couple of coots flew in and a hen shoveler tried to sneak by us right behind them. My partner tried a shot but I didn’t have the angle by the time we realized it was a duck and she flew on her way unharmed. Around 4:30 a group of about 7 teal flew in and my partner connected on a hen cinnamon.

We saw maybe about 15 more birds total between then and quitting time, none of them in range, and that was it for the day. Total waterfowl harvested, one teal for my partner and not even a shot fired for me for the day. (At least I don’t have to clean my shotgun). Anyway, it was still nice to finally get out duck hunting again and, as usual, the scenery at San Jacinto was great. Beats sitting on the couch at home anyway. We’ll get ‘um next time. (Click on pictures for a full size view).

Season Reminders for the 2011/2012 Waterfowl Season

On the eve of the 2011/2012 waterfowl season SoCalHunt would like to remind everyone of a few things for this year’s season, some if it old info everyone should know, some of it new info.

First and foremost DO NOT forget that you will need to purchase your 1 day, 2 day or season pass BEFORE you arrive at the check station. This is one of the big changes for this year. The check stations at all the refuges WILL NOT be selling any permits or handling any money. Your pass may be purchased on-line at the DFG web site, however, if you do buy your permit on line you have to wait for DFG to mail it to you. If you haven’t already got your permit then it is way to late to purchase it on-line for the opener tomorrow. You can, however, buy it in person at any of the DFG offices or “license agents” (AKA: sporting goods stores, Wal-Mart, etc.). If you do not have a permit when you show up at the check station tomorrow morning you cannot hunt and you will be asked to leave. Don’t blow a good reservation or a good sweatline draw just because you forgot to get your permit!

A little related note is in order here. If you’re going to San Jacinto they have, in the past, relied on change from permit sales to fill the 5-gallon water bottle on their counter with donations for the Junior Waterfowl Hunt at the end of the season. Since they are no longer handling any money this will dry up the source of this change for the bottle. Please, if you can afford it, bring a buck or two or three for the Junior Hunt bottle.

Secondly, regulations for the Southern California Zone (which will cover San Jacinto and Wister) is as follows:

Ducks (including Mergansers):

Season: From the fourth Saturday in October extending for 100 days. (October 22 – January 29)
Scaup: From the first Saturday in November extending for 86 days. (November 5 – January 29)

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).
Possession limit: double the daily bag limit.

Geese:

Season (San Jacinto Area for all geese & Wister Area for Dark Geese): From the fourth Saturday in October extending for 100 days. (October 22 – January 29).
Wister Area (Special Management Area) for white geese only: From the first Saturday in November extending for a period of 86 days (Regular Season – November 5 – January 29) and from the second Saturday in February extending for 16 days (Late Season – February 4 – February 19). During the Late Season, hunting is not permitted on public areas (AKA Wister).

Daily bag limit: 8
Daily bag limit may include:
6 white geese.
3 dark geese.
Possession limit: double the daily bag limit.
During the late season, in the special management area, the daily bag limit is 6 white geese.
Possession limit: double the daily bag limit.

Shooting hours are ½ hour before sunrise until sunset. VERY IMPORTANT – ½ hour before sunrise is 30 minutes. NOT 35 minutes, NOT 38 minutes, NOT 41 minutes, NOT even 31 minutes. The legal shooting time for the area you are hunting will be posted at the check station – WRITE IT DOWN. Set you cell phone alarm to go off at the specified time if you can’t trust your watch or something. Just don’t shoot early. It ticks off your neighboring hunters, especially if they have birds sitting in their decoys, and you are subject to citation if the Warden happens to be in the area. Sometimes, during slow periods early in the season, the first few minutes of the day can make or break a hunt and its really disappointing to have someone ruin it just because they couldn’t wait 5 or 6 minutes until legal shooting time.

Along these lines is the subject of skybusting. Skybusting, for those that may not know, is shooting at birds that are basically out of range. 40 yards is about the maximum effective range for shooting at waterfowl, maybe 50 if you’re real good (which I am not). Can you down birds at 50, 60 or 70 yards? Yes, you can get lucky and get that “golden BB” in a bird and drop it but it’s a low percentage shot and, again, it’s a real good way to tick off you neighboring hunters, especially if the birds are working your neighbor’s decoys. Also, you are more likely to wound a bird and have it fly off to die later when shooting at extreme distances which isn’t good for the resource and not fair to the game we hunt. If you don’t know what 40 yards looks like go to your nearest high school and stand on the 40 yards line of the football field and see how far the goal line is from you. Maybe even take a decoy out there with you and put it on the goal line and look at it from the 40 yard line and see how big it looks and how good you can see the colors and the eyes of the decoy. Burn those images into your memory and then, when you’re hunting, imagine what that looks like in your mind and don’t shoot beyond that. Please don’t skybust. It may not be illegal but it is unethical and a real good way to have every hunter in the area ready to ride you outta there on a rail.

Also, don’t forget the 25 shell limit on the refuges. You can only have 25 shells in possession while hunting. Make sure there are no stray shells in your pockets or your blind bag or anywhere else. In addition, make sure that you have non-toxic shot (steel, bismuth, heavy-shot, tungsten) and NO lead shot in your possession. These are also a citable offense that Mr. Warden will take a dim view of either too many shells in possession or any lead shot in possession, even if it’s a stray shell in your hunting vest from quail hunting last weekend.

Don’t forget basic equipment such as, your shotgun, waders, ammo, decoys and what have you.

Well, that’s all for now. Here’s wishing everyone a great opening day and a great season to come. We’ll see you out there in the sweatline at 0300!


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