SoCalHunt San Jacinto Hunting Report 1/1/14

Once again SoCalHunt was in attendance at San Jacinto Wildlife Area for another solo afternoon refill hunt.   My usual hunting partners weren’t available and with the season winding down into the last month I’m trying to make it out as much as possible.

I left a little earlier today in hopes of getting a little better spot on the refill list.  When I arrived at the parking lot there didn’t seem to be too many trucks in the lot.  I was kind of expecting more hunters to be there, due to the New Year’s Day holiday, but it looked about like a typical mid-week crowd today based on the number of vehicles.

I went to sign in and ended up a little more then half way down the 2nd page of the refill list.  As I waited for a good spot the morning hunters coming in were carrying some nice straps of birds.  One came it with a limit that included two beautiful Redheads and another hunter came in real early with a full 7 bird limit which he said took him about 15 minutes to collect this morning.  So, it looked like the day was shaping up pretty good, at least based on the morning hunters checking out.

Being where I was on the refill list I was thinking if I held out I could probably score one of the better blinds on the refuge.  Of course, if you’ve been reading SoCalHunt this season, you know I got burnt trying to do this a little earlier this season and got completely shut out on one of my prior hunt days by being too picky.

Finally, about 12:45 two good blinds checked in and I opted to take one of these. In fact, the blind I chose is sometimes a number one pick for reservation holders, but that’s only when Mystic Lake is holding water.  Although its still a pretty good blind when Mystic is dry (like it is now).

As I walked out to the parking lot to head to the blind the wind suddenly picked up to about 15 MPH and I though this might be a good sign for the afternoon.  When I finally got out to the blind, got set up and got my decoys placed it was 1:45, just a little over 3 hours of hunt time to go.  The wind was blowing steady and sending wind-waves down the length of the pond.

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As I waited for the ducks to arrive the local Ruddy Ducks and coots filled in around my decoys.  (For those that may not know Ruddy Ducks and Coots are less desirable species of waterfowl and most hunters, including me, won’t shoot them, at least on purpose).

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About 45 minutes after I occupied my blind a drake Shoveler swooped in, cupped his wings and headed in towards the decoys.  I swung on the Spoony and folded him cleanly with one shot.  He splashed down in the pond about 25 yards from the blind and, fortunately, snagged in some light vegetation sticking up from the surface of the pond.  This was a good thing as with the wind blowing the way it was it would probably have been a long wade to get him if he hadn’t snagged in the weeds.

Perhaps an hour later I noticed a Green Wing Teal hen swimming down the edge of the pond right towards the blind.  She apparently didn’t notice anything amiss and continued on until she was only about 25 yards out.  I stood up in the blind and she jumped to fly.  I missed her with the first shot but dropped her with the second, however she hit the water swimming, right next to the edge of the pond.  I tried to give her a finishing shot on the water but as I did she disappeared into the 8 to 10 inch tall weeds at the edge of the pond.   I hurried over to attempt to locate the bird but gave up after a good 15+ minute search.  I hate loosing birds like that!  As I’ve said before, I’d rather miss them clean then to have that happen, but it will happen occasionally no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

I sat back in the blind hoping for a few more opportunities but that was it for the afternoon.  So I collected my Spoony drake, packed up my gear and, as the sun set, headed for home.

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As it has been all season so far it was again extremely slow in the afternoon, despite the apparent good shooting in the morning (based on what I was seeing coming into the check station from the morning hunters).  My situation this season means I’m only doing afternoon refills so hopefully things will pick up a little in the next few afternoons.  Whether it does or not SoCalHunt will be out to try it again soon.


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