SoCalHunt San Jacinto Hunting Report 12/2/15

Today SoCalHunt was lucky enough to get, what I believe was best described by another hunter as, a Wonka Golden Ticket. That’s right, a hunting reservation at San Jacinto Wildlife Area. And not just a reservation, but a very, very low number reservation, ensuring we could get almost any blind we wanted on the entire Wildlife Area.

It’s been a while since either myself or my hunting partners have drawn a reservation. So, both of them made arrangements to join me on the hunt today, which would make it that much better!

We arrived at SJ early, as we had to be sure to be there on time for a reservation number that low. Due to the ongoing construction on the 91 Freeway we were a little concerned we might run in to a detour so we gave ourselves plenty of time. As it turned out there was no detour this morning and it was smooth sailing all the way and we arrived well before time for the SJ staff to open the gate.

Once inside and parked we walked up to the check station to deposit our toy donation for SJ’s annual toy drive for the Bryant Park Head Start Preschool (which is a cause I strongly encourage everyone hunting at San Jacinto to contribute to) and gathered around for Tom’s morning speech. We listened as Tom outlined the rules and regulations for San Jacinto and Tom even had to remind people that there are no boats allowed at SJ as, apparently, they actually had someone rowing a kayak around one of the ponds a couple weeks ago. Now that’s something that never even would have occurred to me to place on the rules sheet. I guess they’ll have to include it on next season’s rules.

Once Tom’s morning speech was done we went inside the check station to get our spot. If you’ve never been to San Jacinto Tom will give you great info on what blind you might want to pick, he won’t steer you wrong. In our case, since we’ve been going there for quite a while, we knew the spot we wanted and, with that great reservation number, we got it.

We headed out onto the wildlife area towards our spot with plenty of time to set up for our day of hunting. Once at our blind we went about setting decoys and setting up our blind. It wasn’t long before we were ready to go and we settled back in our chairs to wait for start time, which was still more then an hour away. While we waited I marveled at the clear night sky. San Jacinto isn’t way out away from city “light pollution”, but is far enough away from it that you can see many more stars then you could around my neighborhood. The Big Dipper was easy to pick out and Orion also brightly graced the sky. Also interesting to see was the waning Moon, Jupiter, Mars and Venus in a nearly straight line from top to bottom in the western sky. As the clock ticked down to start time the sky brightened and the stars and planets faded from sight.

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We enjoyed a great treat for breakfast as one of my hunting buddies had bagged an Elk in Utah a month or so before. We were treated to some great elk jerky for our blind breakfast to go along with the coffee.

Just before start time we could see ducks flying around our pond. One landed in our pond near the blind, only a couple minutes before start time, and began to swim around in the decoys.   At 6:06 Shane blew the start time horn and my buddy on my right stood, as the bird was on his side of the blind, and it flew, but not very far. One bird in the bag, seconds after start time.

We had several ducks come by our blind and we burnt up a few shells before my partner on my right connected again on a Shoveler that splashed down far out into the pond. As the birds were flying, and our ducks we’re going anywhere, we opted to leave them floating for a while until the action slowed a bit.

In short order a flight came swooping in low and I dropped one of the birds and its momentum caused it to skip across the water and pile up in the short vegetation not far from the blind. This was followed shortly by another flight wrapping the blind from which I managed to scratch down another bird. This one wasn’t hit hard and sailed a ways to the north/west section of the pond.

At this point things slowed a bit and we decided, especially since my last bird may be swimming in the low vegetation it would be a good idea to retrieve our birds. My hunting partner on the left held down the fort, so to speak, while my other buddy and I headed out to get the ducks. I grabbed the bird that I had splashed near the blind, which was a nice hen Ring Neck, and then headed to the duck my partner had dropped at start time. This one turned out to be a nice drake Widgeon.

My partner went out and grabbed the Shoveler he had dropped and then over towards where my other bird had sailed. When he got in the area the duck I had clipped jumped and tried to fly again but he foiled that escape with one shot. Upon his return to the blind he added the Spoony and a beautiful hen Gadwall to the strap.

As the morning progressed we had a few more opportunities that we blew, again practicing what I like to call “catch and release” hunting. My partner on the right managed another Shoveler in short order and then things began to slow down a little more. My other hunting buddy had yet to score but this was remedied in short order as a group of Green Wing Teal rocketed in and as one of the drakes pulled up into a climb he nailed it good, the bird helicoptering down into the pond just a few feet away from our blind.

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Things began to slow even more as the sun rose in the sky. We again had a couple more chances at ducks and, of course, the inevitable looking right when the birds came in from the left and vice-versa scenarios. The sky remained clear with just a few wispy cirrus clouds.

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At one point we were debating on calling it a day and the wind started to come up so we decided to wait a while as, if it blows hard enough, that will usually get the birds moving. We saw a few flying but none were coming in range. We could see, from where our blind was, that many of the hunters on the wildlife area were already heading for home, leaving many ponds open for occupation by the ducks with no incentive for them to leave. The wind kept blowing but, apparently, not quite hard enough to get things moving, so we finally called it a day. Six ducks on the strap, and it should have been more, but bottom line is we had a great time with great friends that I really don’t get to hunt with enough so it was a “10” in my book!

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After we picked up and we were heading in one of my partners realized that it was about 1:30 pm. This meant that we’d never make it back to the check station by the 2 pm cutoff time for refills, if someone wanted to refill our blind. He quickly called the check station and told them we were checking out if anyone wanted the blind. As it turned out, just as we got back to the truck, another truck pulled up and a couple hunters got out to prep their gear for a walk out to the blind we’d just vacated. I would encourage any hunter leaving a blind near the cutoff time to call the SJ check station and let them know, as a courtesy to your fellow hunters. Sometimes it’s hard to get a good refill blind and a little cooperation and consideration might just make someone’s hunt day.

Hopefully our replacements had a great hunt, we know we did. As we drove towards the check station we were already thinking about when we’d return. We’ll have to see how everybody’s calendar works and hopefully get a few more hunts in together this season. Hopefully the reservation gods will be kind and at least one of us will pull another reservation before the season ends. At any rate we’ll be back soon, reservation or not.

 

 

 


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