Archive for December, 2011

SoCalHunt Hunting Report for 12/31/11

SoCalHunt hit San Jacinto Wildlife Area once again for an afternoon refill hunt. Upon our arrival at the check station there appeared to be a smaller than average number of hunters waiting to refill. We put our names on the refill list and began the wait for a blind.

As the time went by hunters from the morning reservations and sweatline trickled in to check in their birds and leave. This process seemed unusually slow today as, for some reason, the morning hunters were staying out in their blinds, despite the fact that it was over 70 degrees with bluebird conditions and, judging by the amount of shooting we could hear, hunting was slow. As the morning hunters came in one by one some had decent straps, some only had a bird or two and some even came in empty-handed. It appeared, judging by the hunters we saw coming in, the bird or two and the empty handed hunters were far more common then the ones with decent straps. We were far enough down the refill list that when a good blind checked in someone ahead of us took it and after waiting about 2 ½ hours we decided to take a blind that no one ahead of us wanted, just to get out and do some hunting before we ran out of time.

When we got to our blind we set our decoys and set up our gear and settled in to wait on the ducks….and wait…and wait…

We were dealing with bluebird conditions and a light wind of about 10 miles an hour. We were hoping that would be enough to get the ducks moving but as it turned out, it wasn’t.

After about 2 hours a group of teal flew by and I swung on the trailing bird and shot just as the tip of my barrel hit the glare of the late afternoon sun. Well, guess what? Of course since all I could see was the sun I missed. Maybe an hour later a spoony drake flew by and I wasn’t able to connect on that bird either. Well, that was it. Only two opportunities and I couldn’t make it happen. We saw maybe a total of 15 ducks in the approximately 4 hours we hunted this afternoon and I’m talking about from the two I shot at to as far as we could see around us. They just weren’t flying this afternoon. I’m guessing they were sitting on Mystic Lake getting a suntan today. Well, at least the sunset was worth it, as it usually is at San Jacinto.

So, not too successful of an afternoon refill. I think back to near this date last season and we were walking out from the check station, wading / hiking for an hour through a foot and a half of water covering the refuge roads, hunting in the rain and (usually) shooting at least a few birds. Just shows you that conditions and results can vary widely but, of course, we do call it hunting, not shooting (of course I don’t miss the long hikes). We’ll be back again soon. We can only go up from here I guess. Oh, and Happy New Year!

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SoCalHunt Hunting Report for 12/28/11

SoCalHunt was fortunate enough this morning to be checking in at San Jacinto Wildlife Area with a low reservation number. My first reservation draw of the year. I had about four blinds in mind for my pick and one of those was still available when my turn came at the check station counter. Tom checked my partner and I in and we headed out to our blind assignment.

Because we were on a low reservation number we had plenty of time to set up our blind and place our decoys. When we were done we still had over an hour and a half before legal shooting time.

About 8 minutes before legal shoot time someone to the south of us opened up and the ducks we had sitting amongst our decoys departed for parts unknown.

A little editorial comment here:
I just marvel at the selfishness of some. They are so desperate to bag a duck that they are willing to ruin what is, at times, the best opportunity of the day for their surrounding fellow hunters by shooting early. If everyone would cooperate and wait for legal shoot time the refuge average would likely go up substantially as everyone on the refuge would have an opportunity to bag a bird or two at start time instead of just those that are willing to violate the law and shoot early.

Okay, off the soapbox now…

After start time we had a few quick opportunities and muffed the first few. A short time later my partner winged a spoony hen, which sailed into the field east of us. I headed over to the field quickly to attempt to find the bird and after a short search I saw what appeared to be an extra large dirt clod sitting in the field. It turned out to be the spoony hen, trying to blend in with the background, and I quickly collected her and added her to the bag.

Just before sunrise a flock of speckled belly geese, likely the same geese I had seen last Saturday, fly by us, out of range of course. They circled into the same field as I saw them circle into on Saturday, between Marsh X and the B / C ponds. The sunrise, a few moments later, was typical San Jacinto gold.

As the day progressed we had a few more birds come by and missed most of these, either with our shots or just plain missed seeing them come in until it was too late. My partner did connect with a shoveler drake but we failed to see where he dropped and couldn’t find him. Not long after that the specks we had seen earlier got airborne again and passed by us at about 100 yards. They circled the field just to the east of us a couple times and set down there to feed. We now had about 35 or 40 geese sitting in a field just about 100 yards from our blind!

The geese fed on the green shoots in the field and leapfrogged back and forth across the field. We held off shooting on several ducks that came by while the geese were in the field hoping that we might have a chance to bag one (or more) of the geese when they departed. When the geese were at the far end of the field, perhaps 200 yards away, a neighboring blind shot at some ducks and it seemed to have no effect on the specks so we decided that we could risk some duck hunting while waiting to see what the geese would do, as long as they were at the far end of the field. My partner was soon able to drop a beautiful drake green wing teal that buzzed the decoys and we added him to the bag.

As we watched the geese we saw the drake spoony my partner had splashed earlier, that we had been unable to locate, climb out of our pond and walk over the dike into the field full of geese. Normally one of us would just go collect the wounded bird but we didn’t want to risk spooking the geese so we kept track of the spoony as he waddled across the field. A short time later the geese decided to depart and headed out, directly away from us of course, giving us no opportunity for a shot. My partner went out in the now empty field to look for the shoveler and, as he approached the brush at the far end of the field a hawk flew up, scattering feathers as he flew away. He looked at the spot the hawk had just vacated and there was the shoveler. The hawk had apparently just dispatched it and my partner had disturbed his lunch. He collected the duck and included it in our bag. We always hate to wing and loose a duck and it was kind of nice to recover one we had thought we had lost.

We continued hunting and about 11:30 am the wind came up, blowing at about 10 to 15 miles an hour, which got the ducks moving again. We flubbed a few more shots and I was finally able to connect on a hen spoony that was to only bird that showed any real interest in the decoys today. A short time later it seemed that the ducks quit flying and we decided to call it a day. We collected our four ducks and packed up our gear for the trip home.

So, another nice day at San Jacinto. We had a real close opportunity at some nice speckled belly geese. Although that didn’t work out in the end it was exciting to see these geese close up. We’ll be back again soon.

Hunt Results for San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Wednesday – 12/28/11

The per gun average take for Wednesday jumped up again, compared to last Saturday’s average, at San Jacinto Wildlife Area. Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, reported that the waterfowl count for Wednesday, 12/28/11, was as follows:

138 adult and 11 junior hunters checked in with 111 Northern Shovelers, 4 Wigeon, 11 Canvasbacks, 4 Cinnamon Teal, 38 Gadwall, 198 Green Wing Teal, 5 Mallards, 1 Merganser, 23 Pintail, 1 Redhead and 10 Ruddy Ducks. There were no geese taken at San Jacinto on Wednesday. 10 coot were also bagged on Wednesday. This figured out to a per hunter average of 2.79 waterfowl. Tom advised that out of 50 reservation holders 26 arrived 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’re 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 12/24/11

This Christmas Eve morning SoCalHunt was once again at San Jacinto Wildlife Area for the sweatline draw. This time I was doing a solo morning hunt (hopefully anyway, if the sweatline draw was kind) as everyone else I usually hunt with was working or had other obligations today. The crowd seemed a little lighter then usual and I was fortunate enough to be drawn early. I picked my spot and headed out to set up.

Once at the blind I set out the decoys, set up my gear in the blind and waited for start time. Today was pretty unique as I didn’t hear anyone shoot early, however that may have been because there wasn’t anything to shoot at. The sky was clear and the winds were calm and there were ducks here and there but not in the numbers you would expect at this point in the season. As the sun rose higher it didn’t reveal the numbers of birds I would have liked to have seen.

I had a couple of opportunities not long after start time but missed them both. About
7:30 am a shoveler hen came right into the decoys and I fired at her. She turned and flew away, seemingly untouched, but after flying about 100 yards she suddenly folded up and crashed in the pond. That made for a long retrieve, especially since I had to cross a real soft mud bank that normally wouldn’t be a problem if the birds would drop in, or just outside, the decoys instead of flying 100 yards first.

I put the spoony on the strap and then sat back and waited for more ducks to appear. While I was waiting a flock of geese began to circle over the fields to the south of the B & C ponds, looking like they wanted to land, which it appeared they finally did. I don’t know when they left or how they got out of there as I didn’t see them leave and, as far as I know, no one bagged a goose today. (sorry about the blurry close up picture but I was trying to get a shot with a long lens in low light.)

As the clocked ticked away I had one more chance when a drake shoveler landed just outside my decoys. I stood up and he jumped but I was off and missed him clean. I did see a few more birds but they wanted into the far corner of the pond I was on, an area where there is no blind, and as they came and went they didn’t present a shot to anyone in that pond. It did sound like the hunters in the area of the G pond or maybe Marsh y & z were getting some consistent shooting but that’s just a guess by the shots I was hearing throughout the day. At about 11:30 I decided to call it a day. I picked up and took my lone duck home.

Well, a little slow for me today, but at least I got an opportunity to get out and still be home in time for Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas to all!

Hunt Results for San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Saturday – 12/24/11

Saturday’s per hunter average rebounded somewhat from Wednesday’s season low average at San Jacinto Wildlife Area. Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, reported that the waterfowl count for Saturday, 12/24/11, was as follows:

125 adult and 7 junior hunters checked in with 93 Northern Shovelers, 1 Bufflehead, 4 Cinnamon Teal, 34 Gadwall, 99 Green Wing Teal, 3 Mallards, 21 Pintail, 3 Redheads and 4 Ruddy Ducks. There were no geese bagged on the refuge on Saturday. 3 coot were included in the count on Saturday. This figured out to a per hunter average of 2.01 waterfowl. Tom advised that out of 50 reservation holders 21 arrived 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’re 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 12/21/11

SoCalHunt headed to San Jacinto Wildlife Area to try another afternoon refill hunt. We arrived at about 10:00 am and there appeared to be a lot of hunters waiting to refill. When we put our names in we saw we were way down on the refill list. We checked the board and I noticed that one of my favorite blinds was available. Since no one wanted that blind, and we were far enough down the refill list that I didn’t think we could do better, we decided to give it a try.

My hunting partner today brought his dog along and we were hoping for a decent afternoon shoot so we could get the dog some retrieving work. After setting our decoys and setting up the blind we settled in hoping for the birds to come pouring in. It was a dead calm bluebird day and after a couple hours of seeing nothing flying hope was fading. At least we had some beautiful views with the mountains in the background covered in snow.

After a while a pair of teal flashed by the blind and I knocked the trailing bird down with one shot. She hit the water swimming and headed for the shoreline brush and tules only about five feet away. My partner sent his Springer over to the area but after about 10 minutes of searching and kicking numerous coots out of the brush and tules the teal eluded the search.

About an hour or so later another pair of teal came by and I dropped another one. She crashed behind some shoreline tules to the west of where the first bird went down and the search was on again. Once more the bird was able to escape, despite the dog’s efforts, and we were still empty handed. Very disappointing to loose two ducks in a row like that, especially since we even had the assistance of a well-trained dog today. Unfortunately the sun set and those were the only two opportunities we had today.

Even though my shooting was 100%, dropping two birds with two shots, we still weren’t able to put them in the bag. Well, that’s why it’s called hunting and not shooting. Disappointing, but we’ll be back and hopefully do better the next time.

Hunt Results for San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Wednesday – 12/21/11

This Wednesday’s average waterfowl take took a nose-dive from Saturday’s average at San Jacinto Wildlife Area. Hunting under blue-bird skies resulted in the lowest average of the season so far. Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, reported that the waterfowl count for Wednesday, 12/21/11, was as follows:

153 adult and 10 junior hunters checked in with 92 Northern Shovelers, 1 Wigeon, 3 Bufflehead, 1 Canvasback, 7 Cinnamon Teal, 35 Gadwall, 40 Green Wing Teal, 5 Mallards, 27 Pintail and 15 Ruddy Ducks. There was a single snow goose taken on the refuge on Wednesday. No coot were reported in the count on Wednesday. This figured out to a per gun average of 1.39 waterfowl. Tom advised that out of 50 reservation holders 22 arrived 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’re 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.


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