SoCalHunt San Jacinto Hunting Report 11/14/12

SoCalHunt was once again in attendance at San Jacinto Wildlife Area for an afternoon refill hunt. My usual hunting partner was available today and we arrived at good old SJ just before 10 am. There seemed to be a few more trucks in then lot today vs. the last time I was there and this was confirmed when we signed up on the refill list and found we were down on the bottom of the second page.

We waited for a good blind to check in and as the hunting parties trickled in the hunters were checking in mostly from one to four birds, with a few hunters bagging near limits. Being down on the list most of the blinds that had scored well in the morning went to hunting parties above us on the list. About 11:30 we decided to give a blind adjacent to one of the blinds that had checked in good numbers of birds a try. We headed out and were set up and hunting at about 12:20.

It was another still day but with some nice clouds painting the sky. At one point there was a sort of double rainbow in the clouds above the Barrasconi Hills, making for an interesting sight.

A short while later a group of 4 wigeon and 3 pintail swooped in and landed in the pond between us and the adjacent blind, out of range of both blinds. The birds swam around in the pond for maybe 45 minutes and finally departed, giving us no shots when another blind in the area shot at another bird. We had more movement in the sky today as compared to last Wednesday as ducks flew over the pond, or at least in the general area, off and on. A short time later a mallard drake came out of the sky and headed in for a landing in the pond behind us. Our blind was about 20 yards from the dike dividing our pond from that one and my partner was able to drop the mallard in the adjacent pond. He retrieved the greenhead and waded back to the blind with the biggest mallard drake I’ve seen in a long time. This duck looked as big as a small goose!

A while later the adjacent blind got a nice sprig to decoy in and they dropped the bird, however the duck was only winged and began swimming quickly towards our blind. The bird found a clump of bulrush and hid so, having a great aversion to loosing any downed waterfowl, I went out to see if I could help the hunter retrieve the duck. When I reached the bulrush I heard a small splash behind me and turned to see the sprig swimming low in the water trying to slip out behind me. I let him get out a ways and then finished him off with a shot when the background was clear. The grateful hunter came over and collected his bird. He was a nice guy and offered to replace my expended shell but that wasn’t necessary as it was only one round.

About 3:10 a small flock of sprig swung in towards our blind at maximum range and I was able to scratch down one of the hens that came in the closest. She hit the water swimming strong and it was obvious that directly chasing her would be useless. She appeared to be heading towards the southeast corner of our pond so I opted to let her swim over to the corner and then try to cut her off from the dike. My partner and I kept an eye on the bird with our binoculars (another reason I always carry binos) and about 10 minutes after I dropped her she appeared to be in a position where I could sneak up on her for a finishing shot. I walked down the dike and found that the duck was just about to cross the dike in to the adjacent pond. She saw me and turned around and swam back into our pond. I let her get out far enough and, when the background was clear, I was able to finish her off, although it took four shots (they are tough to kill on the water some times). This was a relief to me as, in my humble opinion, winging a bird and loosing it is just about the worst thing that can happen during a duck hunt. I would much rather miss them clean then wound them and let them get away.

So after that we saw a few birds flying but none came into range and we finished with a nice pintail hen and a gorgeous, giant sized, greenhead mallard. Not too bad for an afternoon refill.

As shooting time ended we were treated to another outstanding San Jacinto sunset, in my humble opinion this one was even better then usual.

Anyway, another SJ hunt in the books for SoCalHunt and we have a reservation for next Wednesday so, barring any unforeseen circumstances, we should be back for our first morning hunt of the season Wednesday.

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