SoCalHunt San Jacinto Hunting Report 1/18/17

SoCalHunt ventured out again to brave Davis Road and try for an afternoon refill hunt at San Jacinto.  After the recent rains, and with the incoming series of storms predicted I figured this might be the last chance to get out this season as Davis Road may not be able to take much more.  Also, I was hoping at least, that the last series of storms had brought more ducks down, although, with all the standing water in the area there was a possibility they might be distributed far and wide.  I also figured with the access problems on Davis Road it would probably keep some away, allowing a better choice of blind to refill.  So off I went because, as I always say, you can’t shoot um sitting on the couch.

My last time out Davis Road was in really bad shape and this time was even worse than last time.  There was even more standing water on the road and the ruts and bumps hidden below were deeper and rougher.  Tom Trakes, the boss at San Jacinto, had previously recommended four-wheel drive vehicles only on Davis Road and to be sure and stay in the middle of the road.  Tom and his crew, as usual, went above and beyond and had gone to the trouble of marking off the very worst places so they could be avoided.  After another slower and bumpier ride up Davis Road, I arrived at the check station to find, surprisingly, only one truck in the parking lot.

I walked up to the check station to put my name on the refill list I was totally surprised to see only one other name on the refill list above me, and that hunter had already refilled a blind and gone out. There were already several blinds available but I decided, since I had the first choice, even if someone came in behind me, to wait a while and see if I could get the exact blind I wanted.

As luck would have it the blind I wanted was available at about 1:00 o’clock and I grabbed it and headed out and set up.  Once everything was in place I was hunting by about 1:45.  As I drove out I could see that there were only three other trucks parked in the area, meaning that most of the blinds in the area were probably vacant.

Although there had been mostly clear skies during the time I was waiting to refill, once I was out there it started to cloud up in advance of the storm predicted for tonight.  The clouds were, at first, light but would thicken up as the day progressed.

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About 3:15 pm a couple of Teal flew into the pond, just out of range.  They went to the far end of the pond and turned, looking like they might be coming back to the decoys, but then turned quickly and dropped into the far end of the pond.

As I waited for more ducks I observed the usual residents of the marsh.  The ever-present Ruddy Ducks swam by and the numerous Coots were especially feisty today and put on a couple of long energetic fights.  The usual Red Wing Blackbirds filled several of the trees in the area.

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A short time later I was taking care of something that required me to be outside the blind when I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye.  It was two ducks jetting down the pond and passing the blind well within range.  I had, fortunately, taken the shotgun out of the blind with me and I quickly picked it up and swung at the birds.  I fired at the trailing bird and it folded and dropped behind a stand of tules in the pond.  I had no shot at the other bird as a tree blocked me from swinging the shotgun further.  I quickly went after the downed bird, as I didn’t know if it was down for the count or not, and fortunately found it pretty fast, right about where I figured it would be.  Good thing I had hit it hard as if it had been a cripple I’d probably never of found it.  The bird turned out to be a Hooded Merganser hen, a bird I’ve never taken before.

The clouds over San Jacinto continued to thicken as the approaching storm got closer but the birds didn’t seem to be cooperating again.

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Things were exceeding slow again and there didn’t seem to be many ducks in the area.  One drake Shoveler had snuck by me, flying over my shoulder and out, before I could even pick up the shotgun.  A short time after that an adjacent blind opened up on something and another Spoony, apparently spooked by the shots, came into the pond, flying by at just about maximum range.  I knew this bird was on the way for the hills (so to speak) because of the gunfire and there was no way it would work the decoys so I tried for him but didn’t connect.

Well, that was the last action for the day.  Once again pretty slow.  But, at least I got one today.  Although I’ll have to admit I have a little trepidation about this “fish duck” but I guess I’ll finally find out how a merganser tastes.

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So, another hunt in the books.  As I picked up the clouds thickened and darkened and it looked like it would rain pretty soon.  Once I was packed up I got out of there ASAP so I could leave before the rain started.  As I was walking out towards the truck I wondered if I’d have the opportunity to get back out before the season ends on the 28th.  With the access problems on Davis Road right now it could be a problem, especially with the predicted series of storms coming in tonight.  It looks like about 5 days of rain from what I’ve see of the weather predictions so we can only hope it doesn’t cause too many problems.  Hopefully, I’ll see you out there.  If it turns out that this is it for me this season maybe I’ll have to say I’ll see you out there next season.

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