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.

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