SoCalHunt San Jacinto Hunting Report 11/18/15

Once again SoCalHunt traveled to San Jacinto Wildlife Area for another refill hunt. The usual hunting partners weren’t available so I was on my own again. I was hoping to snag a particular blind, which usually hasn’t been too popular in the past, due to some info I had that it might actually be a sleeper this year.

As I approached the check station parking lot there were only 4 trucks in the lot indicating that I would be getting out somewhere for sure! I dropped my toy donation in the Bryant Park Preschool Toy Drive box and signed in on the refill list. I was only a few down on the refill list when I signed in but my original plan was already dashed as when I looked on the board in the check station my intended blind had checked in and had already refilled. Tom told me that the morning hunters came out of that blind with limits so it looks like my info was good but my timing wasn’t.

I checked the board for another spot and there were several available but I opted to wait a short time to see what came in. A couple of blinds came in but after considering options I decided to try a blind that was already available which I’d never been in before. This blind was sort of in the middle of the area but it looked like several blinds nearby were already empty so there would be several flyways into it where the birds wouldn’t be shot at before they got to my pond.

I walked out to the check station lot and got into my truck, then decided I’d use the facilities at the check station lot before I headed out to the blind. When I got back to my truck, what did I see? My keys dangling from the ignition and the doors locked…wonderful… Luckily, due to my doing this just a few (really just a few) times in the past, I have a plastic “credit card” key in my wallet from the Auto Club. This comes in real handy for opening the truck’s door when I pull a bonehead move like this. Its one of the advantages of an Auto Club membership, they give them to members free. So, what could have been a major hassle turned out to be a minor inconvenience that only delayed me a couple minutes.

With that potential disaster averted I ventured out to my blind. Once in the blind and set up it was just a little before noon, meaning I had about 5 hours of hunting ahead of me. It wasn’t too long before the first bird flew by…

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…however I don’t believe these are in season and it was a little out of range…

Anyway, just a couple minutes after getting everything set I was, as seems to be my habit, looking right when I should have looked left and a widgeon flew right over the blind well within range but was gone before I could even think about grabbing the shotgun. I seem to actually be getting pretty good at identifying birds from the rear as they are flying away.

It wasn’t long before the weather started to warm to the point of almost being uncomfortable. Things were dead still and thin, wispy cirrus clouds gave a little definition to the sky with their brush stroke like appearance.

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Probably due to the dead calm and hot conditions not much was moving and I could see quite a few hunters vacating their blinds and calling it a day, leaving many areas where the ducks could sit undisturbed for the rest of the day. As usual when things are slow, duck wise, there is still lots to look at in the marsh. The usual complement of ruddy ducks and coots were cruising the pond, occasionally diving for a bite to eat. A black phoebe flitted around the blind, chasing insects and a bushtit landed in the adjacent brush for a quick rest before flying off towards the next pond.

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About 2:30 a flight of about 8 ducks skirted the pond and headed towards the Walker ponds. They were way out of range for me but low enough if they passed over an occupied blind. By the lack of any shots being fired, I presumed they made it safely to wherever they were going without doing so.

After that the sky remained devoid of ducks and about an hour before quitting time I decided to pull the decoys so I’d at least have that part of the pick up out of the way when quitting time rolled around. Since I was on a solo hunt this time I’d only put out about 10 decoys so it didn’t take too long to pull them in.

I settled back into the blind, figuring that it was probably all over except for the quitting time alarm on my cell phone. About 20 minutes before quitting time a hen shoveler wrapped in over the pond, past the blind and then turned and came back with wings cupped and landing gear down, just like she was coming into the decoys that were no longer there. I swung through the spoony and she folded with one shot and crashed into the pond. Finally, a bird down and, unusual for me lately, with one shot.

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After wading out to pick up my duck it was only a few minutes and the quitting time alarm went off so I set about picking up my gear. No other ducks had come anywhere near my blind in the last few minutes so I ended the day with a single shoveler on the strap. Still, considering conditions and the few birds I did see, I was extremely happy to get the one. As I conducted my pick up and then headed for the truck I was again treated to another signature SJ sunset.

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So, due to family obligations around Thanksgiving the next hunt will probably be in a couple weeks. I’m already looking forward to it and hopefully conditions will be more “ducky” by the time SoCalHunt heads out again. Maybe we’ll see you out there.


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