SoCalHunt Hunting Report for 11/5/11

This morning SoCalHunt headed out to San Jacinto Wildlife Area for the sweatline drawing once again. Several hunters were waiting to fill the sweatline bucket with their names in hopes of getting onto the refuge for a hunt. After Tom’s usual morning briefing the reservation holders chose their blinds. Once all the reservation holders were on their way to their blinds the sweatline bucket came out and everyone tossed their names in the bucket for the drawing.

Once again we lucked out and were drawn quickly out of the bucket. We chose our spot and off we went to set up.

The blind we chose was a pretty good walk from the parking area and since it had rained the day before the levees were slick with mud. Most of the mud was just on the surface of the levees but there were a few low spots that had puddles that were deeper mud. The mud was sticky and kept building up on the wheels of our Ducks & Bucks Cart, making us stop a few times to knock the excess mud off the wheels. As we walked out to our blind it was a little foggy but just after we arrived and started setting out our decoys the fog thickened and we couldn’t see very far. The combination of the darkness and the fog was very disorienting and we had to guess as to the orientation of our decoys in relation to our blind as once we were more then about 30 feet from the blind (which was an island blind) we couldn’t see it. When we were finally set up we set back in the blind waiting for start time.

Just before start time the fog lifted somewhat and we were able to see a good distance again. It appeared that there were more birds flying this morning then last Saturday and we had a few opportunities early but were unable to connect. A group of wigeon flew by, with one of them slightly lower then the rest and my partner knocked the hen down in our pond.

We had a few more shots and either missed or let the duck sneak by when we were looking left and they came in from the right and vice-versa. After a while the fog again thickened and we were only able to see about 40 yards max. This made it very hard to see any birds coming and we missed opportunities on a few that came out of the fog and were gone before we could react. The fog did make for an interesting sunrise this morning.

After about an hour the fog started to burn off and we were finally able to get a good look at our surroundings. Due to yesterday’s storm the mountains behind us were covered with a heavy dusting of snow.

Of course, besides the ducks, there is always other wildlife on the refuge to observe. There was a large white pelican swimming around in our pond and, at one point, a cattle egret decided to land in a small tree in the water just a couple yards behind our blind.

Once the fog burnt off we could finally see how we had set our decoys and decided to go out a move a few around and make some adjustments to try to make the spread look a little better. A while later a hen shoveler came by and I was able to drop her as she turned to look at the decoys. A while later my partner was able to pick out a nice gadwall hen from a group of ducks and knock her down. Throughout the day there were ducks in the air probably at most every 15 minutes, sometimes several flying in several different directions. We had a few other shots but blew all of those. At one point a group of about 20 or so speckled belly geese came off the field south of us and flew directly at us. They had to clear one blind to get to us but the hunters in that blind took a few shots at them but didn’t connect (no blame on those hunters as the geese were in range, I would have done the same). By the time they came over us they were out of range.

About 12:30 it was getting slower and we decided to call it a day. We had three birds between us and, of course, we only had ourselves to blame for not having at least double that number.

Depending on schedules we may try it again Wednesday. If so, you’ll see a report on that hunt here also.
(Click on pictures for a full size view).

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