SoCalHunt San Jacinto Hunting Report 11/5/14

SoCalHunt was back at San Jacinto Wildlife Area today to, once again, give the sweat line a try to get out on a long overdue morning hunt.

I had made arrangements to meet one of my regular hunting partners out at SJ and, as luck would have it, we arrived at almost exactly the same time. We walked up to the check station and settled in to wait for Tom to come out and give his “Morning Speech”. Once Tom made all the morning announcements and pronouncements the reservation holders quickly formed their line and the new sweat line sign up sheet was brought out. I signed us up and crossed my fingers that the random number generator on the computer would be kind to us.

At 3:30 the sign-up sheet went into the check station and in short order the sweat line draw results were posted on the check station window. We were a little disappointed to find we were a little more then halfway down on the sweat line draw list. Far enough down that we might not get a spot but far enough towards the top that there was a chance anyway.

Finally our number was announced and we went inside the check station to see what blinds, or should I say blind, was left. We were the last sweat line number to get a morning blind, which meant, of course, we had to take the one blind that was left. Although it traditionally isn’t a great blind at least we were getting out in the morning as the afternoons, so far this season, have been almost totally dead as far as any action. Hopes were high that we might get a couple on the initial fly off at start time.

Also, being last, we had about an hour before start time to get in our blind and get set up. We got out to the parking area, which, fortunately isn’t far from this blind, and quickly got our gear and guns out to the blind. We decided, since this blind is isolated in its own pond, and we had about 10 minutes until start time, to skip setting any decoys out this morning. On a pleasant note the blind we occupied was very clean with not even a stray shotgun shell around. Kudos to the prior hunters for doing the right thing and keeping the place clean.

We arranged our gear, loaded our shotgun and hunkered down to wait for start time. At 5:40 the alarm on my cell phone went off and, at almost the same instant Shane blew the starting horn indicating it was game on! I’d like to note here that no one on the wildlife area or the adjacent clubs shot early this morning, proof that it can be done.

The shooting seemed to start off slow but seemed to pick up over the next few minutes. Almost immediately a larger duck flew within range and, as tradition seems to dictate, I missed the first duck of the day. A lot of coots were flying in the early morning light and we had to be careful not to mistake them for ducks. We also had a few teal jet by quickly, there and gone before we could raise our shotguns.

About 45 minutes into the hunt day my partner spotted a duck out of the corner of his eye and quickly swung on it. The bird crumpled and fell but hit the water swimming, headed right for a patch of tules. My buddy ran down the dike and was able to administer the finishing shot with one round. He then waded out to claim his prize. He waded back in and returned to the blind carrying a big beautiful hen mallard!

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Not long after that we witnessed something that I hadn’t seen since the end of the 2012 / 2013 season, sunrise over Mount San Jacinto. (As you may remember, if you follow SoCalHunt, due to work I didn’t get any morning hunts in last season). That was nice to see for a change and I plan on doing a few more this season.

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Not long after my partner settled back in the blind another pair of teal flew over and I fired. Neither bird was hit and I attempted a second shot…nothing. I checked my shotgun and discovered that the trigger was somehow locked back and hadn’t reset for the next shot. I tried cycling the action but the trigger was still locked. I finally had to, after carefully unloading the gun, knock the pins out of the receiver and pull the action out. I was able to free the trigger and re-assemble the gun and was back in action. This shows how important it is to be familiar with your shotgun so problems like this in the field won’t end your day.

As it turned out, although my gun was back in action there was no more action to be had. We saw an occasional duck at great distances but no more legal targets came into range. Of course, as always, there were other fowl flying in the area, and we were visited by some, as we waited and hoped for some ducks to come into range.

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Ibis

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Marsh Hawk

So, as the sun climbed in the sky, and the temperature climbed with it, we decided to call it a day. Although between us we had one bird in the bag we could have had 3 or 4 and even a slow day beats not getting out on the marsh. Beside, for my hunting buddy, collecting a large mallard for dinner was well worth it too.

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As we headed home we made plans to meet again in a couple weeks when we both can do another morning hunt. In addition, I planned to make a stop on the way home. At the local gunsmith, to get my shotgun checked out so I don’t have a problem on the next hunt. If I get it back in time I might try a refill next week, we’ll have to wait and see.

Or I could just use my old duck gun…hummmm.


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