Archive for August, 2020

Update on Kern NWR for the 2020/2021 Season

The California Waterfowl Association just published an update for Kern National Wildlife Refuge for the upcoming 2020/2021 Waterfowl Season.  According to the CWA, the water allocation for Kern was cut this year by 5,000 acre-feet to only 17,000 acre-feet.  CWA says this is 8,000 acre-feet less than Kern’s full allocation.  CWA says this will give Kern the ability to flood about 3,500 to 4,000 acres of the refuge when fully flooded in December.

CWA advised that Kern is estimating they will be able to handle 35 – 45 hunters for opening day.  Kern anticipates no changes to their hunt program from last season.

The California DFW (who runs the hunting program at Kern) is working on check station operations for COVID restrictions.  DFW will release these procedures on their website when they are approved.

You can read CWA’s report on Kern NWR here…


“E-Stamp” Federal Duck Stamps Now Available

If you happen to be a procrastinator and remember you need to buy your federal duck stamp the night before opening day you can now purchase it much in the same way you can purchase your state hunting license.  Online as an “E-Stamp”.  I know that for several years now you could buy your federal duck stamp online, but you had to wait for the actual stamp to arrive in the mail before you could go hunting.  With the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s “E-Stamp” program, you can buy your federal duck stamp and immediately print the certificate and go out hunting.  That’s even better than California’s online hunting license because you can use it right away instead of waiting for it to show up in the mail like your hunting license.

Obviously, if you’re a procrastinator, this is ideal for you as you could actually buy your federal stamp just before you go to bed for opening day and you’d still be good to go in the morning.  The only minor complication in this program, for we California hunters, is that the California DFW hasn’t signed up for the federal duck stamp “E-Stamp” program.  HOWEVER, since a federal duck stamp is good in all 50 states you can purchase the “E-Stamp” from another state and it would still be good here.

The “E-Stamp” version of your federal duck stamp is only good for 45 days from the date of purchase or until your actual stamp shows up in the mail.  It is actually a “certificate”, not a stamp, that must be carried with your state license. They will still send you the actual stamp to use through the mail.  It is just to get you by until they send you the actual physical stamp through the mail.  From the USFWS web page… “As soon as you receive your physical stamp, you must sign it and use it for hunting.  Your “E-Stamp” certificate is no longer valid once you receive your physical stamp.  Regardless of whether you receive your physical stamp, after 45 days from the date of purchase, the “E-Stamp” certificate is no longer valid.  You must carry your current, signed federal duck stamp while hunting.”

The link below will take you to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s web page containing info on the federal duck stamp “E-Stamp”.  Also, if you scroll down a bit on that page there are links to the 25 states participating in the program where you could purchase one.



October 3rd – San Jacinto Wildlife Area 2nd Volunteer Clean Up / Brush Up Work Day in Preparation for Duck Opener

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that the second volunteer work day for the upcoming season at San Jacinto Wildlife Area will be Saturday, October 3rd.  This work day will be primarily for brushing up some of the area’s blinds which weren’t finished on the last work day, and possibly rebuild any blinds that need it for the coming season. Due to state COVID-19 policies masks will be worn and 6-foot physical distancing maintained along with working in small groups. Tom advised that volunteers should meet at the check station at 6:00 am and anyone coming out to volunteer should bring gloves, shovels and/or hoes, wire pliers, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, lots of water since it may be hot and, of course, a mask.

Also, if anyone has access to palm fronds, they still need more of these, all they can get.  When it comes to palm fronds, we can’t have too many so if you can bring some along, please do.

After the work is done, we will get together at a local restaurant (if opened) for a well-deserved lunch (each person responsible for their own bill).

In the meantime, if you have any palm fronds you want to donate you don’t have to save them for the workday.  You can call Tom or the SJ staff at the number below and make arrangements to drop them off before the workday.  Make sure the palm frond are either the type with no thorns or, if you want to strip the thorns off before you bring them in, that kind is ok too.

Hopefully, we’ll have as good turnout as the August work day (which was a record I believe) so we can get everything ship-shape at SJ for another waterfowl season.  As I always say, the more the merrier (and the less work for each person).

Remember this work day is only 3 weeks before the opener so this would be an excellent chance to do some scouting just before the season and to scope out what blind you might want to try to get for opening day.  Conditions should be fairly close to what you’ll see when the season opens so it would be worth coming out just for that.

If you have any questions contact Tom Trakes at the San Jacinto headquarters at (951) 236-3040, or the San Jacinto staff at (951) 928-0580.


CORRECTION – New Upland Game Area Map Available for San Jacinto Wildlife Area

The new map of the Upland Hunting Area at San Jacinto Wildlife Area that was published by SoCalHunt on August 19th contained a mistake, please disregard that map.  The area indicated as available for upland hunting that is in front of the Lake Perris dam should not have been indicated as part of the Upland Hunting Area.  A corrected map can be seen below and is also available for download on the SoCalHunt website Maps and Downloads Page.  Sorry for any confusion this may have caused.  If you know the area I think you’d figure out that probably isn’t a place you’d want to hunt anyway.  Just in case anyone looks at the original post for the map the corrected map is now in that post also.

This map (pictured below) is also available to download in .pdf format on SoCalHunt’s website Maps and Downloads Page at…

…You’ll have to scroll about 2/3 of the way down the page to find it.  Click on the picture of the map and the .pdf will open, and you can download it from there.

Once again I hope this helps anyone going to SJWA after dove after Thursday, September 3rd to keep you on the legal Upland Hunting Areas of the Wildlife Area.  Sorry for the error on the first map.  Good Luck!

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Warns of Fraudulent License Sales

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has put out a warning about unauthorized websites selling hunting and fishing licenses and tags.  Per the DFW so far the unauthorized website sales have been limited to charging excess fees, however, be aware you are giving some unknown website some of your sensitive information, and we all know where that can lead.  Also, the DFW warns that there is no guarantee the license and/or tags you receive will be valid.  The DFW advises that there are only four ways to be sure you’re getting a valid license.  #1 – the DFW’s automated license data system, #2 – over the phone through DFW’s authorized telephone sales agent at (800) 565-1458, #3 – through DFW’s license sales offices (although most are currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions), and #4 – through an independent license sales agent, which most of us are familiar with like Big 5, Walmart, Turners, etc.  The DFW has links within their article on this to the ALDS, the license sales offices, and a search engine for their independent license sales agents.  Click below for the DFW article regarding the fraudulent license sales and to get the links to the legitimate license sales locations.

Dove season is fast approaching so if you still haven’t got your license you need to get on it and get it done.  Just be sure you’re getting it from a legitimate source.



New Upland Game Area Map Available for San Jacinto Wildlife Area

With dove season fast approaching SoCalHunt has obtained from the SJWA Staff an updated map of the areas on San Jacinto Wildlife Area that are opened to Upland Game hunting.  As is usual, the first three days of dove season this year will find the ENTIRE Wildlife Area opened to dove hunting, including the waterfowl areas, however, after that if you’re going to chase dove on SJWA property the Waterfowl Areas will be closed to hunting and you can only chase the little buff birds in the designated Upland Areas.

This map (pictured below) is also available to download in .pdf format on SoCalHunt’s website Maps and Downloads Page at…

…You’ll have to scroll about 2/3 of the way down the page to find it.  Click on the picture of the map and the .pdf will open, and you can download it from there.

Hope this helps anyone going to SJWA after dove after Thursday, September 3rd to keep you on the legal Upland Hunting Areas of the Wildlife Area.  Good Luck!

Record Crowd of Volunteers at San Jacinto’s Volunteer Blind Clean Up / Work Day Saturday, August 1st

About 50 volunteers, (a record number!), showed up bright and early on Saturday, August 1st at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area check station parking for this year’s first volunteer clean-up/blind brush-up work day.  Due to expected hot temperatures Tom Trakes, of San Jacinto Wildlife Area, set the start time for this work day extra early, at 0530 to hopefully get things done before it really got warm.  Tom sent the volunteers out across the Wildlife Area to clean-up, repair, and brush-up several of the hunting area’s blinds.  In addition to the general clean-up and trash and shell pick up some of blinds required trimming of natural growth that was overgrown and cleaning out tumbleweeds and other plants that had taken over the inside of a few of the blinds. Several blinds were also repaired and brushed up with palm fronds either brought in by the volunteers or dropped off in the last several weeks at the SJ check station parking lot.

As always, Tom and his team at San Jacinto would like to give a huge thank you to everyone that came out and worked hard to start the process of getting things ready for the upcoming waterfowl season.

There will be at least one more blind brush-up/work day to finish getting things prepared for the coming waterfowl hunting season. The next one will be scheduled probably the first or second Saturday in September (date to be announced).  Watch here for details and the date of the work day when the date is finalized.  The September work day will concentrate on finishing brushing up the blinds, so palm fronds are needed.  If you can get a hold of any palm fronds any time before the work day you can drop them off at San Jacinto. Just call Tom at 951-236-3040, or the San Jacinto staff at (951) 928-0580, and they’ll make arrangements for so you can drop them off.  Please make sure you don’t bring in the type of palm fronds with the thorns on their stalks unless you’re willing to strip off the thorns first. Those things wreak havoc with waders if the thorns aren’t removed.

This year, as never before, the volunteers on these work days are essential.  Due to COVID restrictions and the fact that the SJ staff is short-handed this year, (just Tom and two staff members), it more important than ever to have another great turnout to make sure everything gets ready for the opener.   Watch SoCalHunt for the “official” announcement and details of the next blind brush-up/workday.



San Jacinto Wildlife Area 2020 Dove Season Opener – Tuesday, September 1st

The opening day of dove season in California is Tuesday, September 1st.  Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, just advised SoCalHunt that the entire wildlife area, including the waterfowl areas, will be opened to dove hunting for the first three days of dove season.  From the opener on Tuesday, September 1st, through Thursday, September 3rd, hunters will be allowed to hunt doves on both the upland area of San Jacinto and SJ’s duck hunting areas.  After Thursday, for the remainder of the dove season, from September 4th until September 15th, dove hunting will only be permitted on the upland side of San Jacinto.  There will be no dove hunting on the waterfowl side of SJ after September 3rd.

Tom also wanted SoCalHunt to remind everyone that due to Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations only non-toxic shot may be used to take any game anywhere in California.  Lead shot has been banned on State Wildlife Areas for the last three years, however, the no-lead restriction went into effect a year ago statewide for ALL hunting.   So, just remember, even if you don’t choose to hunt doves at San Jacinto WA or any of the other DFW Wildlife Areas, you still need UNLEADED anywhere you hunt in California.  DFW Wardens, as always, will be checking for lead shot and possession of even one round will result in you receiving a citation.  So, be sure to check your hunting vest thoroughly to make sure an old round of lead shot from a couple years ago, or from your last visit to the trap range, isn’t kicking around in one of your pockets.  Also, don’t forget that your 2019/2020 hunting license expired at the end of June.  Be sure you have your 2020/2021 hunting license, including your upland endorsement on your license.

The regulations covering doves are as follows, Mourning Dove and White-Winged Dove have a daily bag limit of 15 in combination, up to 10 of which may be white-winged dove. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. There are no limits on Spotted Dove and Ringed Turtle Dove, although these two varieties have the same season dates as Mourning Doves (September 1st -15th).  Hunting for Eurasian Collared Dove is legal year-round and there are no limits on them.  Note: There is no open hunting season on common ground-doves, ruddy ground-doves, and Inca doves.

Tom told SoCalHunt that the SJ Staff has planted several fields with dove-attracting crops on the Wildlife Area and they are seeing a good amount of dove on around this year.  Of course, San Jacinto isn’t Niland or Brawley or any of the other traditional “hot-spot” dove hunting areas and you’re unlikely to limit out in an hour, but you do have a good chance of bagging a few birds a lot closer to home.

So, hopefully, there won’t be any end of August thunderstorms that might chase the birds south and then there should be at least a fair chance of bagging a few.  If you’re want to try your luck at San Jacinto things are looking fairly good for opening day, Tuesday, September 1st.

Also, don’t forget, there is another volunteer blind brush-up work day coming up, probably the first or second Saturday in September.  SoCalHunt will have details on this as soon as the date is finalized.  A bonus here, if the work day is on the first or second Saturday in September, is that after lunch you can come back to SJ and get in a late afternoon dove hunt on the upland side!  Watch SoCalHunt for info on the work day soon.

And, before I go, Tom asked me to ask everyone to keep an eye out for palm fronds to utilize on the upcoming blind brush-up day.  If you can get any of them any time before the work day you can make arrangements to drop them off at San Jacinto by calling Tom Trakes at the San Jacinto headquarters at (951) 236-3040, or the San Jacinto staff at (951) 928-0580.  Of course, if you’re going to come out for the work day you could bring them along with you then too.


2020/2021 Federal Duck Stamp Now Available Online

In this time of restrictions, store shutdowns, and just nobody really knows what’s next, online purchases may be the way to go for your hunting gear and license.  I think we’re pretty much all aware that our general hunting license, upland, and waterfowl “stamps” can be purchased online and mailed to us.  You just have to give them about 10 to 14 days to get it to you before you go hunting.  At this point that shouldn’t be a problem, even if you intend to go dove hunting since that’s still 26 days away and duck season is still 79 days away.  (Here’s the login link for the DFW online license sales if you still need to do that part…)

The one thing you may still be missing though is your Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or, as everybody calls it, the Federal Duck Stamp.  US Post Offices are supposed to carry them but many times they either don’t have any or had just a few and are sold out.  And besides that, do you really want to go stand in line at the Post Office under the current conditions?  Many sporting goods stores carry a supply of the stamps as a convenience to their customers, but you never know when their supply will run out too and do you really want to go into a sporting goods store right now either…if they’re even allowed to be opened since that could change from day to day in some places.

The California Waterfowl Association (CWA) may be the solution is to get your Federal Duck Stamp.  As a convenience to hunters every year the CWA has online sales of the stamps for hunters.  The cost is $34.95 which includes a $9.95 handling fee but there’s no need to run around town looking for one then, it just shows up in your mailbox in about a week or so.

CWA will sell non-members the stamp too but if you’re not a member then while you’re at CWA’s website buying your stamp why not sign up as a CWA member.  You’ll receive their bi-monthly magazine with your CWA membership and you’ll also be helping ducks and duck hunting in California.  If you’re a duck hunter in California, you should be a member of CWA.

But, just to be sure you’re all legal and ready to go when the season starts order your stamp ASAP.  CWA doesn’t have an unlimited supply of Federal Stamps, so get yours soon.  Since it’s coming in the mail make sure to give CWA enough time to send it to you.  Ordering a week before the season might be a problem if you intend to hunt the opener.  Better to get your stamp now and you’ll have it in plenty of time.  Below is the link for CWA’s page for online sales of the Federal Waterfowl Stamp. You’ll also notice that CWA has some checkboxes on the page that allow you to buy the stamp and add a donation to CWA which, if you do, avoids the $9.95 handling fee and you’ll receive some nice premiums like a hat, knife, or multi-tool.  (see the page for details).

Also, while you’re there buying your stamp, if you’re not already a CWA member, here’s the link to the page to join CWA.  Membership is $35 a year or, for Junior hunters (under 18 years old) $15 well spent.

Now, I would encourage you to buy your stamp through CWA and join up while you’re there (if you’re not already a member) but in these times where some are pretty strapped for funds, there is an alternative that’s a little less expensive.

You can also purchase your Federal Duck Stamp online from the US Post Office. You can go to…

…and purchase your Federal Duck Stamp directly from the post office.  If you’re in the general Southern California area the Post Office will hit you up for $1.30 for shipping but that brings your total to $26.30 for the stamp.  Now, I don’t know what the Post Office’s lead time is for shipping you the stamp but I’m pretty sure you’ll have plenty of time to get it before the season starts if you order one soon.

So, get your Fed Stamp, and don’t forget to sign it, and you’ll then be ready for the 2020/2021 duck season.  Hope to see you for the duck opener with all your licenses, stamps, and passes so no one has to get turned away at the check station.



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