SoCalHunt Hunting Report for 11/23/11

Today SoCalHunt decided to change things up and do an afternoon refill hunt. This was one of the rare times I went solo, as none of my regular hunting partners were available today. Also, I’d just come in from an out of state trip yesterday so getting up at 0130 to make the sweatline drawing didn’t sound like a real good idea.

As I drove up Davis Road towards the check station I had a little trepidation as the report from this past Saturday at San Jacinto indicated that a record number of hunters had shown up to hunt. This meant, if today was anything like Saturday, I might have a problem getting a spot as the refill list would be l-o-n-g.

When I turned into the check station I was relieved to see that there was only about a dozen or so trucks in the parking lot. I walked up to the check station and put my name on the refill list, noting there was just a little over a dozen hunting parties listed on the refill list, and some of these had already gone out and refilled. I waited about 45 minutes and a group of hunters checked in from one of my favorite blinds. No one ahead of me on the refill list wanted this blind so I grabbed it and headed out. It was a beautiful day with mild temperatures, a slight breeze and wispy clouds coloring the sky.

I rolled my gear out to the blind in my Ducks and Bucks cart and set my decoys and was hunting by 12:30. About 20 minutes later I had my first opportunity as a pair of teal swooped low over the blind and I dropped a nice green wing hen. As the afternoon progressed I had several opportunities on shovelers, gadwalls, pintails and wigeon but, I am almost embarrassed to say, I was practicing what I call “catch and release” hunting. This is when the ducks fly in, I shoot three holes in the sky and the birds fly away. After several C & R sessions another teal zoomed in and I hit her, sailing her to the far end of the pond. She hit the water swimming and I figured I would have a chase on my hands but after swimming just a few feet she expired and I only needed to do a long retrieve on the bird.

A couple more larger birds presented themselves but again I blew these opportunities. It seemed that I could hit teal flying by in afterburner but I couldn’t hit large ducks flying by at moderate speeds, go figure. As the day wound down another teal decided that my decoys looked pretty good and landed in the decoys about 30 yards from the blind. I stood up and she took off but she only got about 10 feet high before I splashed her back into the decoys. As quitting time drew near the sun ducked behind the hills and my pond was entirely in shadow for about the last 45 minutes of shoot time.

With 8 minutes of legal shoot time left a nice hen pintail swooped low over the decoys, turned and circled back and put the landing gear down, just like its supposed to work. I finally did my part on this larger duck and she splashed in between the decoys and the blind. Quitting time came around and the day was over, except for picking up. I had 3 green wing teal and a nice pintail for my efforts, not too bad for a quick afternoon shoot, although a limit was certainly within my reach if I had been “on” today. So it was another typical nice day at San Jacinto Wildlife Area with some nice ducks to show for the afternoon.

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