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).


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