Info for Kern National Wildlife Refuge Waterfowl Opener, Saturday October 19th

Kern National Wildlife Refuge Staff has released info on the expected conditions for the 2019/2020 waterfowl season opener on Saturday, October 19th. This information appeared on the Kern Refuge website on 9/26/19 at:

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Kern/visit/Hunt-Program.html 

“Please see the waterfowl opener quotas, blinds, and units open to hunting. Due to this year’s lower water allocation, our hunter quota numbers are also lower than last year. As we flood up more habitat the quota numbers will change, so continue to check the website for updates. 

***The following is a projection of what is going to be open for the opener. Hunting areas and quotas are subject to change.***

Free Roam: 2 

Space Blinds: 11, ADA 1

Assigned Ponds: 2 and 4

Hunter Capacity: 42

Number of Reservations: 7”

SoCalHunt reached out to Kern National Wildlife Refuge Complex Project Leader Nick Stanley regarding their water allocations and projections for the coming season and Mr. Stanley was kind enough to get back to me within just a couple of hours with the following information:

 “This upcoming waterfowl opener is going to be exactly the same as last year, this is all based off of our annual water allocation which is given to us from the Bureau of Reclamation. The amount of water available to the Bureau of Reclamation for this area this year is about 19,000 acre-feet. For us, this is an average/normal water year with that amount of water. We start fall flood up in August and we will continue to flood habitat until late January. During this flood up period as we flood more habitat, more areas will open for hunting opportunities. When we are fully flooded this year, we are projecting the hunter quota will be between 120-130 hunters and we will continue to refill until 2 pm. Thanks for your time and let me know if you have any other questions good luck this waterfowl season.”

So, there you have it. It looks like, due to the water allocation from the Bureau of Reclamation, Kern is going to have to start out with only a few areas opened by October 19th but will continue flooding throughout nearly the entire season, opening areas and increasing hunter quotas as the flooding progresses, and will eventually be around or at their full capacity at some point.

This sounds like an improvement over last season as we didn’t really get most of our rain until after the season ended and near the end of the season the most hunters accommodated any one hunt day at Kern was 120. Considering that probably a few of these were refills it sounds like they might have had a capacity of around 100 at the most. Of course, we did have the federal government shutdown in mid-December, which may have affected the hunter capacity also.

Fortunately for the Kern hunters, the California DFW actually runs the hunting program at Kern, so hunters were still allowed access to hunt, but most other things there didn’t get done during the shutdown. If you followed SoCalHunt’s hunting results reports last season you already know that Kern did not submit any reports from the middle of December until after the shutdown ended, which was after the season ended, as the hunt results reports are one of the things that the federal staff handles there.

If you’d like to see what areas are proposed to be opened for the October 19th opener, SoCalHunt has the current Kern hunting map, I’ll post a screen capture of it here.  You can also go to the SoCalHunt webpage maps and downloads page if you want to download a copy. Just scroll down near the bottom of the page and you’ll find it. You can view it there or click on it to download a copy if you’d like. Go to:

www.socalhunt.com

…and go to the “maps and downloads” page. SoCalHunt will try to keep this updated on the “maps and downloads” page with new maps as Kern NWR opens new areas and issues new maps.

Bottom line, checking last year’s stats on Kern it appears they started out with about the same, or just slightly higher, hunter quota as proposed this season. The 2018/2019 season opener had 63 hunters accommodated and then they went down to 53 the next Saturday (as we all know there’s always more hunters for the opener than a regular hunt day). Considering some of these were almost certainly refills it looks like they’re starting out nearly the same as last season. If projections hold (and the government doesn’t go through another shutdown this season) it sounds like there will eventually be a little more room to hunt at Kern than last season as the season progresses. 

 

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