SoCalHunt San Jacinto Hunting Report 1/28/17

Well…I almost didn’t want to do it…almost.  But, since it was the last regular hunt day of the 2016/17 season I couldn’t resist.  So, for the final time this season SoCalHunt headed to San Jacinto for another afternoon refill hunt.  The reason I almost didn’t want to do it was because of the last trip down Davis Road, on the 18th, I almost lost the fillings in my teeth!  But, like I said, it was the last opportunity to duck hunt until late October so, like I said, I couldn’t resist.

I figured how much worse could it be…right?  After this last series of storms, which really dumped on Southern California, there was one advantage that I was hoping to exploit.  Mystic Lake was starting to fill again!  It’s not a lot, but it’s something and in the past, when Mystic is there, the afternoon hunts were usually at least fair and some were great.  But, I was soon to find out how bad it could be.  If you got the impression from my last report that Davis Road was in bad shape, well, it was a freeway the last time compared to this time.  I put the truck in 4 low and crawled up Davis Road.  It took probably a full 15 minutes to make the approximately 2 miles from Ramona Expressway to the SJ check station.  The ruts, and the water filling them, was so deep that the truck ended up covered with mud top to bottom.  Once at the check station Tom told me that 5 trucks had got stuck on their way in that morning.  Apparently, the tow truck(s) had just finished clearing the road just before I got there.  I snapped a picture of one of the trucks in the parking lot just to give you an idea of how bad Davis Road really is.

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When I went into the check station I found that I was 5th on the refill list and 3 of the 4 hunters ahead of me on the list had already refilled, and the other one had left to eat an early lunch and was coming back later.  So, I was effectively first on the list!  There were already a few blinds available but I decided, since I had first choice again, to hold out for a while and see if I could get one of the better blinds.

It wasn’t long before one of the blinds I wanted came in and off I went for the last hunt this season.

The skies today were completely clear today and there was some wind kicking up.  I was hoping the wind would increase and get the ducks moving but as the day progressed the wind would come and go but it never really got up over about 12 MPH or so, not really enough to get um moving.  The surrounding mountains had a good covering of snow from the last series of storms.

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Not long after I set up a Green Wing Teal drake slipped by me coming from behind me and gone before I could pick up the shotgun.  Unfortunately, the ducks weren’t moving much again and the skies remained pretty much devoid of ducks.  As always there were other wildlife area residents in attendance.  There must have been some extra mosquitos in the air today, although they weren’t bothering me, as there seemed to be more swallows flying around than usual.  Several Common Yellowthroats were flitting around the bushes surrounding the blind, picking at unseen insects in the bushes.  Several Hawks were also patrolling the marsh looking for an easy meal.

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A short while later I noticed a pair of Shovelers swimming in my pond, but out of range.  If I had seen them sooner I might have had a shot but by the time I saw them they were out of range.  If I had tried to jump them at this point I’d have only sent them away from me so I hunkered down for a while hoping something would spook them back in my direction.  That never happened and I lost sight of them when they swam around a stand of tules.

After a while, an adjacent blind started firing and I saw another Shoveler, maybe one of the ones I saw swimming earlier, flying towards my blind.  Since he’d already had his wings singed (so to speak) he was climbing as he came towards me.  When he got over my blind he was at probably at maximum range but I knew he wasn’t going to stick around to work the decoys and he was headed out of the pond towards the next pond, which I knew was hunterless, as I had seen them leave earlier, so I gave it a shot.  It was a low percentage and I got the expected results as he disappeared over the trees behind my pond, untouched and still climbing.

The only other action that came along was a beautiful drake Canvasback that rocketed through my pond at about 20 feet high.  I, of course, was looking the wrong direction and didn’t even have time to pick up the shotgun before he was by me and gone.

So, that was it for my day, and my season.  I saw one more flight of 4 ducks probably about 300 yards away headed out towards another pond but they didn’t have any interest at all in my pond.  Quitting time rolled around and I picked up as the sun dipped behind the Bernasconi Hills.

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The next thing up for San Jacinto Wildlife Area is the 23rd Annual Junior Hunt and Raffle next Saturday, February 4th.  Tom tells me he’s working on some alternate access, due to Davis Road’s problems, so the Juniors can get in for the hunt.  If this works out and as soon as Tom knows anything about this, I’ll post the info on the SoCalHunt blog and Facebook page.  Look for the info probably early this coming week.


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