SoCalHunt San Jacinto Hunting Report 10/30/19

If you’ve been following SoCalHunt for a while you know it has been just over a year since I’ve been able to get out on San Jacinto Wildlife Area and pursue the wily waterfowl.  This was due to a variety of reasons, which I won’t bore you with, but suffice to say today I was FINALLY back at it.

My 2019/20 Waterfowl Season started with a solo afternoon refill hunt. Wind was predicted along with temperatures in the mid-60s which translated into good conditions for pursuing the web-footed critters so I figured I would give it a try.  Coupled with the fact that Mystic Lake is still very much in existence it looked to be good chances for a few ducks, at least.

When I drove up Davis Road towards the Check Station, I was kind of expecting to see a lot of hunters’ trucks in the check station lot as their owners waited for refill spots.  I figured the poor counts at Wister and the windy conditions would attract some of the Wister hunters to SJ. To my surprise, there were only about 7 or 8 trucks in the lot as I pulled in, so chances looked good for a spot already.  When I walked into the Check Station to put my name on the refill list, I first deposited my toy donation for the Bryant Park Head Start Preschool in the donation box.  This is a great cause and gives hunters a chance to show they have a heart.  (details for the Bryant Park Preschool Toy Drive can be found here… ).  Once that was done I signed in on the refill list on the number 6 spot, and two hunting parties had already refilled so I was, in essence, in the fourth position.  There were already a few blinds available, so I figured I’d wait a bit and see what came in.  As I waited, the wind, which was whipping at about 30 miles an hour at least, stirred up dust in the check station lot.

About noon I was ready to pick a spot and get started when the hunters from one of the blinds I was hoping for came in.  I hadn’t hunted this blind for several years and I figured I’d give it a shot as the last time Mystic Lake was around it was a pretty good spot to be as the birds traded back and forth between the Wildlife Area and Mystic Lake.

When I reached the blind, I was kind of disappointed to see that the pond was fairly overgrown with tules and there was very little opened water.  I would have to be careful picking my shots so as not to lose any birds I might drop in the reeds.

It wasn’t long until I had my first opportunity, a hen Shoveler passed right over the blind well within range and I fired three shots at her.  She climbed and kept going, untouched.  The strong wind, while stirring up the birds and keeping them moving, was also throwing a big complication into lead estimates.

As I waited it was a big contrast to the afternoons the last couple of seasons.  I don’t think more than 15 or 20 minutes went by that I didn’t see some ducks flying in the immediate area.  I could also hear shooting from various parts of the Wildlife Area off and on all afternoon.  Another interesting thing was the variety of other things flying around SJ today.  Due to the Southern California fire situation lately several (but not all) of the non-waterfowl flying things were firefighting aircraft.

Unfortunately, due to the overgrowth of the pond, there were several ducks I had to let pass that I probably could have harvested (if I could have hit them, LOL) because they would have fallen into the tules and would have been unrecoverable.  I’m not going to kill a bird if I know I can’t retrieve it.

I did have a few other chances but blew those also, a couple just plain missing them and one by tripping over something in the blind as I stood up to shoot at a beautiful trio of Mallards, well within range.

So, today I considered a success.  Not because of the birds I shot, because I failed at that pretty bad, but because I actually got to do a little shooting today and got to enjoy watching quite a few ducks flying in the area all day long.  It beat the hell out of staring at the empty sky like I did most of the times I went the last couple of seasons.  I also considered it a success because I was able to get out there and actually hunt, unlike last season.

As quitting time rang on the cell phone alarm, I started picking up my gear for the walk back to the truck.  Once again, San Jacinto displayed a beautiful sunset.

So, there’s my start to the 2019/20 season.  A success in a couple respects but no so much in the bird department, but I can’t blame that on lack of waterfowl this time.  I’ll be back soon to give it another try, maybe I’ll see you out there.



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