Archive for August, 2022

Kern NWR 2022/23 Season Opener Will be Delayed Again

Ok, I think we all expected this but here’s the “official” announcement. Pretty much the same as last season. I’ll just quote the Kern NWR website again (nothing more to say)…

2022-2023 Waterfowl Season Update:

Due to extreme drought conditions, Kern National Wildlife Refuge was allocated significantly less water than a normal year. This reduction in water allocation will have a direct impact on the flooded habitat we can provide, and the hunt program. Given the current water allocation, Kern NWR will not be able to have enough wetland acreage flooded to have the hunt program begin on October 22, 2022, the Southern San Joaquin Valley Zone opener. Therefore, Kern NWR will delay the hunt opener until November 19, 2022.

This delay will give Kern NWR the time to flood the acres needed to support healthy waterfowl habitat and a waterfowl hunt program. If you have any questions, please contact our office at 1-800-344-WILD (1-800-344-9453) or go to the contact page on Kern’s USFW web page at…

…and fill out the contact form.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area August 20th Volunteer Clean-Up / Brush-Up Workday Successful

About 15 volunteers arrived bright and early on Saturday, August 20th at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area check station parking for the volunteer clean-up/blind brush-up workday. The volunteers fanned out across the Wildlife Area to clean up, repair, and brush up several of the hunting area’s blinds. Many of the blinds were brushed up in preparation for flooding and a little general clean-up was accomplished. Some 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.

After the work was finished many of the volunteers and the SJ Staff gathered at Marcello’s Pizza Restaurant in Nuevo for a well-deserved lunch.

(I’ll post some pictures below)

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/workday to finish getting things in preparation for the coming waterfowl hunting season. The next one is already scheduled for Saturday, September 10th (mark your calendars!). The September 10th work day will concentrate on finishing brushing up the blinds, so palm fronds are needed. If you can bring in 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 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.

Again, I’ll emphasize it’s important to have a great turnout in September to make sure everything gets ship shape for the opener. Watch SoCalHunt for an “official” reminder announcement and details of the next blind brush-up/workday as the date approaches.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area 2022 Dove Season Opener – Thursday, September 1st

The opening day of dove season in California is Thursday, September 1st. Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, has advised SoCalHunt to pass along that the entire wildlife area, including the waterfowl areas, will be opened for dove hunting the first four days of dove season. From the opener on Thursday, September 1st, through Sunday, September 4th, hunters will be permitted to hunt doves on both the upland area of San Jacinto and SJ’s duck hunting areas. After Sunday, for the remainder of the dove season, from September 5th 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 4th.

Hunters trying SJ for dove need to remember to self-check-in and out at one of the three new prefab metal permit booths that were just installed at San Jacinto. There is one across Davis Road from the check station, another is in the dog training area which is closer to Ramona Expressway, and one way around on Bridge Street. The Bridge Street booth will come in handy for anyone wanting to hunt the Bridge Street area of SJWA. Now you won’t have to drive all the way up Davis Road to check in and then backtrack to Bridge Street and then, after hunting, drive back around to Davis Road again to check out. It can all be done right there at Bridge Street.

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 five years, however, the no-lead restriction went into effect three years 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 few 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 2021/2022 hunting license expired at the end of June. Be sure you have your 2022/2023 hunting license, including your upland endorsement on your license.

The regulations covering doves is 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.

As usual, the SJ Staff has planted some fields with dove-attracting crops on the Wildlife Area and they’ve been seeing a few dove around SJ so far this year. Of course, San Jacinto isn’t Niland or Brawley or any other traditional “hot-spot” dove hunting area and you’re unlikely to limit out in an hour, but you have a fair chance of bagging a couple birds a lot closer to home. SJ is a good place if you just have a few hours and would like to try to get a shot or two at the dove.

So, hopefully, there won’t be any end-of-August thunderstorms in the area that might drive the birds south, and if so, there should be at least a fair chance of bagging a few. If you want to try your luck at San Jacinto things are looking fair for opening day, Thursday, September 1st.

Also, don’t forget, another volunteer blind brush-up workday is coming up, Saturday, September, 10th. SoCalHunt will post information on the September 10th workday here soon. Keep an eye out for it. One advantage of going to the September 10th workday is that dove season is still on that weekend so you could give it a try in the afternoon after the workday is over.

Tom also asked me to ask everyone to keep a sharp 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 workday 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 workday you could bring them along with you then too, or even drop some off if you come out to try your luck at dove hunting SJ in September.

US Fish and Wildlife Reports Nationwide Duck Numbers Down for the 2022/2023 Waterfowl Season

As you probably already know, if you’ve followed SoCalHunt for the past few years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service canceled their 2020 and 2021 Waterfowl Population Survey, supposedly due to Covid. This year the USFWS reinstated the survey, and the results were just released.

Since 1955, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service have reported the results of their joint breeding population and habitat survey. Total duck numbers for this year were down 12 percent compared to 2019’s count. Most species dropped to some degree with the exception of Blue Wing Teal and Redheads, with Scaup showing no increase or decrease. As for the long-term averages, out of the species surveyed 5 were down from their long-term averages, and 4 were above their long-term averages with Green Wing Teal right on their long-term average.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Report on Waterfowl Population Status, 2022 can be viewed at:

In the summary of this report, it states “In the traditional survey area, which includes strata 1–18, 20–50, and 75–77, the total duck population estimate (excluding scoters [Melanitta spp.], eiders [Somateria spp. and Polysticta spp.], long-tailed ducks [Clangula hyemalis], mergansers [Mergus spp. and Lophodytes cucullatus], and wood ducks [Aix sponsa]) was 34.2 ± 0.6 million birds. This estimate was 12% below the 2019 estimate of 38.9 ± 0.7 million, which was the last year a survey was conducted and 4% below the long-term average (1955–2019). Estimated mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) abundance was 7.2 ± 0.2 million, which was 23% below the 2019 estimate of 9.4 ± 0.3 million and 9% below the long-term average of 7.9 ± 0.04 million. In the traditional survey area the 2022 estimate for blue-winged teal (Spatula discors; 6.5 ± 0.3 million) was 19% above the 2019 estimate and 27% above the long-term average of 5.1 ± 0.04 million. Estimated abundance of gadwall (Mareca strepera; 2.7 ± 0.1 million) was 18% below the 2019 estimate and 30% above the long-term average of 2.0 ± 0.2 million. The 2022 northern shoveler (Spatula clypeata) estimate of 3.0 ± 0.2 million was 17% below the 2019 estimate iii of 3.6 ± 0.2 million and 15% above the long-term average of 2.6 ± 0.02 million. The estimated abundance of green-winged teal (Anas crecca) was 2.2 ± 0.2 million, which was 32% below the 2019 estimate of 3.2 ± 0.2 million and similar to the long-term average, while the canvasback (Aythya valisineria) estimate of 0.6±0.05 million was similar to the 2019 estimate and the long-term average. Estimated abundance of redheads (A. americana; 1.0 ± 0.1 million) was 35% higher than the 2019 estimate and 36% higher than the long-term average of 0.7 ± 0.01 million. Northern pintail (Anas acuta) abundance (1.8 ± 0.2 million) was 21% below the 2019 estimate of 2.3 ± 0.1 million and 54% below the long-term average of 3.9 ± 0.03 million. The abundance estimate for American wigeon (Mareca americana; 2.1±0.1 million) was 25% below the 2019 estimate and 19% below the long-term average of 2.6 ± 0.02 million. The combined estimate of lesser and greater scaup (A. afnis and A. marila; 3.6 ± 0.2 million) was similar to the 2019 estimate and 28% lower than the long-term average of 5.0 ± 0.04 million. A time series for assessing changes in green-winged teal, ring-necked duck (A. collaris), goldeneye (Bucephala clangula and B. islandica), merganser, and American black duck (A. rubripes) population status in the eastern survey area is provided by breeding waterfowl surveys conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) in Maine and eastern Canada. The estimate of goldeneyes was 0.7 ± 0.2 million, which was similar to the 2019 estimate and 1998–2019 average. Ring-necked ducks (0.6 ± 0.1 million) and green-winged teal (0.3 ± 0.07 million) were similar to their 2019 estimates and the long-term averages. The estimate of mergansers was 0.9 ± 0.1 million, which was 13% above the 2019 estimate and 19% above the long-term average. The 2022 estimate of American black ducks in the eastern survey area was 0.8 ± 0.09 million, which was similar to the 2019 estimate of 0.7 ± 0.07 million and the 1998–2019 average. The black duck estimate at the plot survey scale, which is used for management, was 0.57 ± 0.04 million. Eastern mallard population status is derived by integrating data from the eastern survey area and ground plot surveys conducted in the northeastern U.S. states of Virginia north to New Hampshire. The estimated abundance of mallards in 2022 was 1.2 ± 0.16 million, which was 15% above the 2019 estimate and similar to the long-term average.”

Below I’ll include a graphic on this survey that was put out by Ducks Unlimited as it’s probably a little easier to understand than lines and lines of numbers.

As of this report, it’s 63 days until the season opens here in Southern California. It’s a great time to start getting all your duck hunting gear ship-shape and maybe go shoot a few rounds of trap or skeet to tune up. Despite the lower duck numbers in the USFW survey the bigger factor for us down in this part of the state is to get the birds moving our way will be the weather. Hopefully, we’ll get the weather and the birds will migrate early, and we’ll have another great season at San Jacinto!

Lake Perris Draw Results Posted

Lake Perris posted the results of their drawing for their Wednesday waterfowl hunts for the coming season. They also added a Sunday hunt on opening weekend. Click the link to go to their hunting program page and, once there, click the link for “Award List for 2022-2023 Waterfowl Season”. Hope you got picked if you put in for a hunt.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area Volunteer Blind Brush-Up Workday set for Saturday, August 20, 2022

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that the first volunteer workday for the upcoming season at San Jacinto Wildlife Area has been scheduled. The date is Saturday, August 20th. The workdays will be primarily for building, repairing, and brushing-up blinds and cleaning up the general hunting areas around them. Tom advised that volunteers should meet at the check station at 6:30 AM and anyone coming out to volunteer should bring work gloves, sturdy boots or shoes, Shovels, wire cutters, pliers, etc, and waders if you have them. Some of the ponds may still be flooded. Also, obviously, the weather will be HOT so bring lots of water, sunscreen & mosquito repellent.

Tom is also requesting that anyone that has access to palm fronds and would like to get rid of them to drop them off at San Jacinto Wildlife Area any time. The palm fronds are needed to brush up the wildlife area’s blinds for the upcoming waterfowl hunting season as well as to have some on hand for repairs to the blinds throughout the season. Anyone who is trimming palm trees and wants to bring them around to San Jacinto to get rid of them or knows someone who is trimming palm trees and wants to save the fee the dump would charge them, give Tom a call at 951-236-3040 and he’ll make arrangements for someone to be there so you can drop them off. He also wanted me to remind people that they DO NOT want fronds that have the thorns on them. Don’t bring the wader-rippers but other, non-thorny palm fronds are welcome. The thorn-laden fronds are okay to use, however, if you’re willing to strip off the thorns prior to bringing them in.

After the work is done, we will get together at Marcello’s Pizza Restaurant in Nuevo for a well-deserved lunch. (Each person responsible for their own bill).

Hopefully, we’ll have a great turnout so we can get the blinds and hunting area prepped for another waterfowl season. SJ is very short-staffed right now and needs all the help they can get to get ready for the season. As I always say, the more the merrier (and the less work for each person).

A second volunteer blind brush-up day is tentatively set for Saturday, September 10th, 2022. Mark your calendar and watch for details here at SoCalHunt soon!

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.

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