SoCalHunt Hunting Report for 1/18/12

SoCalHunt ventured back to San Jacinto Wildlife Area for another solo afternoon refill hunt. On Saturday I refilled and ended up firing two shots for one bird but, as I always say, you can’t bag any ducks sitting home on the couch so here I am again. I rolled into the parking lot about 9:40 and signed in on the refill list at the check station. Probably due to the season record low average Saturday there were only a handful of hunters waiting to refill today. About 10:30 a hunter checked out from one of the, usually, premium blinds (and one of my favorites) with no birds bagged. This was probably a lucky break for me (although not too lucky for the guy that didn’t bag any birds) as none of the hunters ahead of me on the refill list wanted the blind. I took the blind and was on the way out pretty early for my refill hunt.

I arrived at my blind at about 11:00 and started to set up. As an experiment today I went with a very small decoy set up and a new “experimental” jerk string tip up rig I made. While I was putting out my decoys I used my Ducks and Bucks cart, since it floats, to transport the decoys and, since it was legal shooting time, I took my shotgun with me. As I was putting out the last of the decoys a pair of teal swooped in and I grabbed the shotgun out of the Ducks and Bucks cart and fired a couple of shots. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to connect but it was a good sign of things to come. As I settled into the blind it was already getting warm and it was another bluebird day at San Jacinto.

Once I got settled into the blind the birds started coming. It was mostly teal, and the first several got by me without so much as a feather falling out of the sky. I was beginning to think that they forgot to put shot in the shells at the factory. I guess I need to put in some range time in the off-season. Anyway, I digress, as they say. After a while a green wing drake landed just outside the decoys on the west side of my blind and swam towards the blind. I stood up and the bird jumped and I quickly dropped him with one shot. A short time later I had an exact repetition on the east side of the blind and there was two green wing drakes in the bag. The next hour a few more teal came by and survived my mediocre shooting. I decided to exit the blind to utilize the nearest bush, if you get my drift, and as I went to leave the blind I noticed a drake shoveler sitting in the pond about 30 yards out in the corner of the pond. I grabbed the shotgun and he jumped to fly away and I splashed him in the corner of the pond.

As time went by the teal started to be mixed with an occasional shoveler or pintail. Most of the pintail stayed out of range with an occasional one coming close enough for a shot but they didn’t drop. A while later a group of five teal streaked in and I managed to drop one of the trailing hens. Maybe a half hour later I noticed yet another sponny swimming in the pond on the east side of the blind. I jumped up and so did the bird but one shot brought him down. As the sun lowered in the sky a few more pintail flew over, many of them landing in the far end of the pond. They seemed to like the end of the pond, out by the next blind, which was now empty as the hunter utilizing that blind had left at about 2:30. Finally a nice bull sprig swung in to inspect my tip up decoy and I knocked him down with a couple of shots. He hit the water swimming and the chase was on. I tried to stop him with a couple more shots on the water but, as most hunters probably know, it extremely hard to kill a bird on the water. Any time I got near the bird he would dive and swim away. The hunters in the blind across from me, which I was fast approaching as I chased the bird, saw my predicament and one hunter came to help. We were able to team up and approach the bird from two sides and he was able to grab it as it dove and tried to swim by him. I thanked the hunter for his assistance and headed back to my blind with a nice drake pintail. The sun was now behind the Bernasconi Hills to the west and legal shoot time was winding down. 12 minutes before quitting time a drake shoveler came over the blind and I was able to drop him but he also hit the water swimming and another chase ensued. I was finally able to get close enough to the bird to give him the coup de grace with a finishing shot on the water and that finished my full limit of seven ducks!

So I wouldn’t blow the last few minutes of legal shoot time for the adjacent blind I didn’t start to pick up until shoot time was over. It was, as it seems to almost always be, another gorgeous sunset and San Jacinto.

What a difference four days make. Last time I fired two shots for one bird this time…well I’m not going to admit how many shots I fired, but let’s just say the ammo companies like me…a lot. But it did result in a full limit of seven ducks. Where else can you leave home at 8:00 am, bag a full limit of nice ducks and be home by 8:00 pm, even with a stop for dinner on the way home? I’ll be back again soon, only a few more days left in the season.

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