Archive for the 'Announcements' Category

DFW Releases Wildlife Area Operational Changes for COVID-19

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has released its general rules for operational changes at their Wildlife Areas due to COVID-19 restrictions.  I’ll provide a few “highlights” and then provide a link below so you can read the entire thing.

All staff and members of the public are required to wear masks and maintain a minimum of six feet distance from others while conducting check station business and participating in recreational programs, including hunting.

Most non-portable restrooms will be closed to the public. Portable restrooms will be provided.

Handwashing and/or hand sanitizer stations will be provided near all restrooms. Please bring your own supplies for use in areas where stations are not available.

Please plan to carry out your own trash – (NOTE FROM ME – YOU SHOULD BE DOING THIS ALREADY ANYWAY!!)

(sweatline) Lottery hours may be adjusted and coordinated to facilitate this change across all regional check stations.

Controls will be established in the check station area and parking lots to increase physical distancing among hunters and staff. Controls may include parking markers, directional signage, requiring hunters to remain in vehicles, plexiglass barriers, extended counter tops, ground markers, etc.

To allow for slower processing times, check-in for hunters holding reservations and for lottery or First Come First Served (FCFS) opportunities may begin earlier than usual. These times will be posted on the informational web page.

To minimize the number of hunters congregating around the check stations, lottery and FCFS check-in will begin at a set time as opposed to immediately after reservation-holders are checked in (e.g. 1.5 hours before shoot time).

Hunters will be asked to remain in their vehicles until called by staff to check in or check out by number.

Controls for hunter/visitor check-out will be in place to minimize contact between hunters and staff, which may include drop boxes for collecting permits and harvest report cards.

Staff inspecting harvested birds will wear masks and gloves and maintain appropriate distance from hunters.

Each hunter should carry and present their own bird strap to facilitate safe check-out procedures.

These measures may result in delayed posting of harvest results. (Meaning SoCalHunt’s hunt result reports may be later than usual this season).

And, for those of you who may want to utilize the Wister Campground…

CDFW will accept RV Camping applications, where applicable, for the 2020-2021 hunt season. However, a final decision about whether to allow RV camping has not yet been made. If the decision is made to cancel camping, applicants will be contacted in advance of the season.

RV Camping operations, if allowed, will be consistent with local, state, and federal public health guidelines.

There is much more in there, these are just some highlights.  I’d encourage you to pull up the info via the link below and check it for yourself.   There are still some things that the individual Wildlife Areas have to determine due to the unique configuration and operations of each Area and when more info is posted regarding operations of our three So. Cal. Hunting areas (San Jacinto, Wister, and Kern) SoCalHunt will pass it on as soon as possible.

Here’s the link to view the full message on the Wildlife Area COVID-19 Operational Changes…

https://wildlife.ca.gov/Lands/COVID-19

 

“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.

https://www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp/e-stamp.php

 

 

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…

www.socalhunt.com/maps-and-downloads.html

…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.

https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2020/08/20/cdfw-warns-of-continued-fraudulent-license-sales-operations/

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…

www.socalhunt.com/maps-and-downloads.html

…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!

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…)

https://www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales/CustomerSearch/Begin

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).

https://www.calwaterfowl.org/donate/duck-stamps/?fbclid=IwAR3L4AVgKZs8lvZSQ0CyIJLshE4UIVVsYR0xOkG_vQyPm9CXHOHJawUwdr0

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.

https://www.calwaterfowl.org/join/

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…

https://store.usps.com/store/product/stamp-collectors/black-bellied-whistling-ducks-2020-2021-souvenir-sheet-S_336304

…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.

 

 

August 1st – San Jacinto Wildlife Area Volunteer Clean Up / Brush Up Work Day

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that the first volunteer work day for the upcoming season at San Jacinto Wildlife Area will be Saturday, August 1st.  This work day will be primarily for cleaning up the hunting area, to start brushing up the area’s blinds, and to build a few new blinds for the coming season. Due to state COVID-19 policies masks will be highly encouraged and we will adhere to social distancing, working in small groups. Tom advised that volunteers should meet at the check station at 5:30 am and anyone coming out to volunteer should bring gloves, shovels and/or hoes, wire pliers, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, lots of water since it’s expected to be hot and, of course, a mask.

Also, if anyone has access to palm fronds, they need a good supply 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 pizza restaurant “Marcello’s” 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 a good turnout so we can get the blinds brushed up for another waterfowl season.  As I always say, the more the merrier (and the less work for each person).

After this long break we’ve all suffered through hopefully we’ll have a great turnout for the work day.  Obviously, we’ve gotten a late start due to the lockdown so it’s all that more important to get a good turnout of volunteers to get the blinds and the Wildlife Area in top condition for the upcoming season and another great year of duck hunting.

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.

 

Info Regarding Camping Spots on DFW Property (Wister Campground Drawing)

FYI for anybody that might want to get a camping spot at Wister this coming season I received the following from Scott Sewell, Senior Fish Wildlife Habitat Supervisor, Department of Fish and Wildlife…

COVID-19 update
CDFW will accept Recreational Vehicle Parking Draw Applications, where applicable, for the 2020-2021 hunt season. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are uncertain at this time, whether or not RV camping will be allowed, or what limitations will be in place, at our Wildlife Areas during the 2020-2021 season. We will make a final determination based on State guidance concerning camping prior to the relevant upland game/waterfowl seasons. If the decision is made to cancel camping, applicants will be contacted in advance of the season. Please note that any potential limitations on camping would not affect hunting on our wildlife areas.

Valerie Termini
Chief Deputy Director
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

2020 California Game Warden Stamp Now Available

Well, it’s that time of year again.  The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announces the 2020 edition of the Warden Stamp is now available.  Unless you’ve been in a coma or something for the last seven years, you’re probably aware that the Department of Fish and Game changed its name on January 1st, 2013 to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.  With that change our good old Game Wardens were designated as “Wildlife Officers”, and it even says so on the Warden Stamps since 2014, but most hunters and fisherpersons still call them “Wardens” and the DFW is still calling this the “Warden Stamp”.

The new Warden Stamp, for 2020 is now available for purchase online via the CDFW online license services (ALDS).  To purchase the new Warden Stamp, just follow the link below to purchase via the ALDS system.

Click on the below link to go to the Warden Stamp page and follow the instructions to buy it online:

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Warden-Stamp

The Game Warden Stamp isn’t really a “stamp” for your license, such as your federal duck stamp is, although the name might lead you to believe that, rather it’s a roughly 3” x 3” decal.

The 2020 version of the stamp is a deep blue background with a Warden’s badge and a drawing of a Dorado, one of our prized migratory game fish that are caught offshore in Southern California almost every summer, in case you’re not familiar with them.  (see picture below)

The DFW still has its entire series of Warden Stamps available.  If you like a prior year’s design better than this year’s or would like to collect the entire series, they are all still available, from the first one in 2010 up through this year’s stamps.

The 2010 version is a green shield with a Warden’s badge and an elk silhouette on it.  The 2011 version is a light blue background with a Warden’s badge and a silhouette of a trout or salmon on it. The 2012 version has a dark brown background with a Warden’s badge and a silhouette of a California quail on it. The 2013 version has a gold background with a Warden’s badge and a silhouette of a duck landing on it. The 2014 version has a red background with a Warden’s badge and a silhouette of a lobster on it. The 2015 version of the stamp has a wood grain background with a Warden’s badge and the shadow of a bear on it. The 2016 version has a blue background with a Warden’s badge and the silhouettes of two bighorn sheep on it. The 2017 version of the stamp is a green background with a Warden’s badge and drawing of a sturgeon. The 2018 version of the stamp is an orange background with a Warden’s badge and a drawing of a Warden K9. The 2019 version of the stamp is a dark blue background with a Warden’s badge and a drawing of two snow geese flying.  (See pictures below). If you like them all you could buy one, or more, of each one if you want to.

The stamps are $5 each and the funds go into a special account. The money is used to provide our Game Wardens with additional equipment, training and new programs, such as new communications and surveillance devices, protective equipment, training in specialized areas, new law enforcement programs to assist them in their duties.

Due to State budget cuts, non-hunting / fishing politicians feel that the DFW is a “painless” way to cut back on the budget by giving the DFW less to do more with.

Quoting the DFW website on the Warden stamp:

” The Warden Stamp Program was initiated in 2010 to address the need for better equipment and training for the state’s wildlife officers and to provide funding for special law enforcement programs. All funds raised from the sales of the stamp go to purchase necessary equipment for wildlife officers and to support CDFW’s K-9 program.

“Those who purchase the Warden Stamp – hunters, anglers and non-consumptive users – appreciate and want to conserve our state’s amazing natural resources,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Purchase of the stamp demonstrates public support of wildlife officers and allows them to do their jobs more safely and efficiently.”

Approximately 465 wildlife officers patrol and protect 159,000 square miles of California’s natural habitat and 200 miles out to sea. Though their primary function is to enforce California’s Fish and Game Code, they may be called upon to enforce any of California’s laws.

Wildlife officers patrol on foot, on horseback, by plane, boats and in a variety of vehicles. They investigate reports of violations, collect and preserve evidence, write reports and testify in court.

Wildlife officers are also expected to promote and coordinate hunter education programs, collect and report information on the conditions of fish and wildlife and their habitat and represent CDFW at local schools, meetings of hunting and fishing clubs and other community events.”

Now – back to me…

As I’ve said every year that I’ve written about the Warden Stamp, the important point here, in my opinion, is getting the money to the “boots on the ground”.  If your $5 (or more, if you can afford it) results in some equipment, training or what have you that helps catch a poacher in your area the payoff may be more game or more fish for you and yours to legally harvest.  And, the bottom line is, that’s what’s important.  As for the “stamp”, stick it on your truck, ammo box or tackle box, stick it in a drawer, throw it away if you want, do whatever you want with it.  The important thing is to help give our Wardens the tools they need to protect our hunting and fishing heritage.

Now, as I have done every year since 2010, excuse me while I pull up the ALDS on my computer and order this year’s Warden Stamps.

 

Wednesday, December 25th – All State Wildlife Areas and Federal Refuges Closed for Hunting

As I write this it’s 16 days until Christmas.  I figured it was a good time, for planning purposes, to remind everyone that on Wednesday, December 25th, Christmas Day, our two So Cal State Wildlife Areas, San Jacinto Wildlife Area and Wister, along with our Federal Refuge, Kern NWR, as well as all other refuges and wildlife areas in the State, will be closed to hunting.  This is just a reminder as I’m sure most hunters were aware of this already.  So, if you get a new shotgun, pair of waders, or a new duck call from Santa or any other kind friend or relative you’ll have to wait until the next Saturday, December 28th, to try them out.  Here’s wishing staffs at San Jacinto, Wister, and Kern a Merry Christmas and a well-deserved day off with family and friends.  SoCalHunt would also like to wish all who read this a wonderful Christmas day and good luck when we get back to hunting on the 28th.

 

Shotgun Raffle at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga to Benefit San Jacinto’s 26th Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt

Once again, Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga, along with Quail Unlimited are sponsoring a raffle to raise money to purchase prizes for San Jacinto’s 26th Annual Junior Waterfowl hunt, which will be held on Saturday, February 8th, 2020.   Raffle tickets are available at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga (see below for a Google Maps link to Bass Pros Shop’s location):

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Bass+Pro+Shops/@34.1128172,-117.5291929,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x80c34a185980b999:0x55a12fc2ca27c64a!8m2!3d34.1128128!4d-117.5270042?hl=en

There will be two winners in this raffle and each winner will take home a brand-new Remington 870 Express shotgun.  All the money raised by this raffle will go to purchase prizes for San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt.  Tickets are only $5 each! The drawing for the shotguns will be held on December 23rd, 2019 and winners need not be present to win.

In addition, if you’d like to support this great event for our Junior Hunters by donating prizes of your own you can do that by following the procedure laid out in the SoCalHunt post at the link below:

https://socalhunt.wordpress.com/2019/09/04/san-jacinto-wildlife-areas-26th-annual-junior-waterfowl-hunt-giveaway-donations-needed/

If you’d like to donate a prize or two (or more) for the Junior Hunt don’t let a little paperwork scare you.  It’s not that hard, I know, I’ve done it.

So, here’s a great chance to get a nice shotgun for a few bucks and support a great event for our Junior Hunter, the future of our sport.

 

San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Annual Bryant Park Head Start Preschool Toy Drive Launches

San Jacinto Wildlife Area has begun their Annual Toy Drive to benefit the Bryant Park Head Start Preschool!  Tom Trakes and San Jacinto WA Staff are once again conducting a toy drive for the kids at the Bryant Park Head Start Preschool.

SoCalHunt encourages all the hunters that hunt at San Jacinto in the next several weeks to bring along a new, unwrapped toy to donate for the kids.  This is a chance to show the general public that hunters really do have a heart.  Hunters should bring in toys for the Head Start Preschool that are intended for 3 to 5-year-old boys and girls.

Donations for the Bryant Park Head Start Program will be accepted until December 18th. Santa Claus and the San Jacinto Staff will deliver them to the children shortly after.  These donations do not need to go through the state procedures for donations (such as the donations for the Junior Hunt) as San Jacinto is not receiving the donations but is just a collection point for them.

Please take this opportunity to show that hunters really have a heart and do care. Donate to the San Jacinto Annual Toy Drive and support this great effort.

For further details please contact Tom at (951)-236-3040 or the San Jacinto Wildlife Area Office at (951)-928-0580.  Toys can be donated at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area Office at 17050 Davis Road, Lakeview, CA 92567.

Thank you for your support!

Report on Wister Conditions – Access via highway111 – Version II – Update as of 10/17/19

This is a follow-up report to update the report SoCalHunt posted on 10/12/19 with new information on Wister and Highway 111. Anybody going to go to Wister for the opener of the waterfowl season Saturday (10/19/19) here is updated information as of 10/17/19 at about 4 PM regarding conditions at Wister and the road conditions that might affect your ability to get there.

Scott Sewell, Senior Fish and Wildlife Habitat Supervisor with the Department of Fish and Wildlife gave the following information and reported the conditions for the Wister Unit of the Imperial Wildlife Area:

“I would like to thank you all for your support and I appreciate the feedback. First off, Hwy 111 is open and there is access from the north and south. As many of you know we have been faced with challenges at IWA and as I have said before “we will overcome them”. Even with Wister being 80-85% full we are still higher than the majority of WLA’s in the State in the flooding to acreage ratio. The ponds that are filling will provide new habitat and forage for the coming months. Social media has not accurately described our current position and forecast. Wister does have vegetation management issues but overall is looking good and will be ready for the season. Some of the comments made are simply inaccurate. We have very hard-working employees that are doing the best they can. I currently have a smaller crew than usual, but I have just hired 2 new FWT, I still have 1 FWT out on leave, I will be hiring a new WHS1, and I will be hiring a new seasonal or two. We will rebuild and will be stronger. Thank you for your support and good luck this weekend and season.

Wetland Units
514 ponded
513 ponded
413 East ponded
413 West 1&2 ponded 3 finishing 4 filling
312 A &B ponded C filling
115 A, B & C ponded
114 A &B ponded
Y15 A ponded B 2&3 ponded 1 filling
Y16 A 1&2 ponded B ponded
W11 A reservoir ponded B 1&3 ponded
W11 D 2 &4 ponded, 1&3 dry and will fill, 5 filling
U10 ponded
U12 ponded with 1 filling
U14 2,3,4&5 filling
T10 water ordered for Green feed 2&4
T10 1,3&5 will pond after Green feed
T12 ponded
T14 2,3,4&5 filling
S20 ponded
S22 2&4 filling
Hazards all ponded
Green Feed Fields
413 dry wheat
312 A Dry wheat
115 B 2&4 Rye irrigated
U10 2&4 Rye irrigated
S20 2&4 Rye water ordered
T10 2&4 Millet water ordered
Y14 1st Rye, prepping the next phase”

As for the concerned about access to Wister due to the “mud volcano” that appeared a while back in an area across highway 111 from the check station, Scott reported that Highway 111 will be opened with access to Wister from north and south.  SoCalHunt checked with the CalTrans website and as of 9:15 PM on 10/17/19 CalTrans is reporting:

Highway 111 – 1-WAY CONTROLLED TRAFFIC AT VARIOUS LOCATIONS FROM 7.8 MI NORTH OF CALIPATRIA /AT BUGWASH BRIDGE/ TO 8.3 MI NORTH OF CALIPATRIA /AT NILAND CREEK BRIDGE/ (IMPERIAL CO) FROM 0400 HRS TO 1000 HRS THURSDAY THRU FRIDAY THRU 10/18/19 – DUE TO MAINTENANCE”

So, it sounds like CalTrans will be finished Friday night but, worse case, even if they aren’t done it appears the worst there will be a slight delay due to traffic control so you might want to give yourself a little extra time if you can.

If you want to check of the current conditions for highway 111 before you leave for Wister you can check on the CalTrans Road Conditions web site at:

https://roads.dot.ca.gov

Just enter “111” in the box for the highway number or you can call and get recorded info at 1-800-427-7623.

If SoCalHunt learns of anything further regarding Wister or anything about the road conditions on highway 111 which may have an impact on hunters’ ability to get there we’ll try to get the info to you if time permits.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area Ready for the 2019/2020 Season – New Maps Available – Info for Opener

Once again, due to the efforts of the best Staff of any Wildlife Area in the state, the San Jacinto Wildlife Area is primed and ready to go for the 2019/2020 waterfowl season.  At 3 am, Saturday, October 19th the first reservation holder will belly up to the bar, so to speak, and pick their spot kicking off another great season at San Jacinto.

Tom Trakes, Wildlife Habitat Supervisor at San Jacinto Wildlife area wanted me to pass along a few tips and get the info out there that there are additional blinds this season (thanks to Mystic Lake) and provide a download link for anyone wishing to get a copy of the maps and area regulations.

First off, due to the extra blinds this season, it will be important for the reservation line, and the sweatline after that to move through the check station as quickly as possible.  It is important, to speed things along, that hunters have their fed stamp signed and their type A day pass filled out when they come up to the counter to pick their spot.  A table and pens will be provided just outside the check station for hunters to fill out their type A waterfowl passes and to make sure the federal duck stamp is signed before entering the check station.  Also, if you have a fishing license and maybe a deer tag or a pig tag it would also speed things along if those were separated into another part of your wallet, or wherever you keep that stuff, so you don’t have to dig through a pile of those skinny l-o-n-g license forms to find your hunting license and type A pass.  The more efficient everyone is the quicker they can get out to the blinds to set up.  This will be even more important after the time change when start time will be an hour earlier.  There are 65 blinds this season compared to the 50 we had last season and some of them are a good distance from the check station so it’s important to get everybody going in the morning.

Tom also wanted me to mention that they’ll have a coffee pot going for the opener and anyone that wants to bring a box of donuts or some muffins or whatever to share should feel free to do so.

Also, Tom provided SoCalHunt with new blind maps for San Jacinto’s usual duck hunting area along with a detailed map of the new Mystic Lake blinds and the access roads/trails to each of them.  Also, for the Mystic blinds Tom provided a page of GPS locations for the blinds so you can use a GPS to get to the exact spot. (Last year’s GPS page for the regular blinds is still the same).  You can download a copy of everything at SoCalHunt’s web page at:

www.socalhunt.com

…got to the “Maps and Downloads” page and scroll down to find what you need.  Just click on them to download a copy.

Everything is ready to go at SJ and its t-minus about a day and a half until the ducks begin to fall as I write this.  Hope you have a great season out at good old San Jacinto Wildlife Area!

 

 

 

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. 

 

San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s 26th Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt Giveaway – Donations Needed

Due to the extended regular waterfowl season this year the last regular hunt day at San Jacinto Wildlife Area is Wednesday, January 29th, 2020.  A week and a half after the last regular season hunt day, on Saturday, February 8th, 2020, the Junior Hunters will have a unique opportunity to end their season with a bang by participating in the 26th Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt.  SoCalHunt will post more details about the actual hunting opportunity for the Junior Hunters at a later date, this post will be more about some important preparation for the Junior Hunt and what you can do to help if you’re so inclined.

Besides the hunting, one of the things our Junior Hunters look forward to at the SJWA Junior Hunt is the lunch and giveaway at mid-day.  The Junior Hunters hunt cards are entered into a drawing for all kinds of great prizes and usually there’s enough to go around that the Junior Hunters walk away with at least two giveaway prizes each!  The San Jacinto Staff puts in a great deal of work on the Junior Hunt as do many volunteers. The SJ Staff and the volunteers truly believe the annual San Jacinto Wildlife Area Junior Hunt is an important event to keep the Junior Hunters interested and create memories for the Junior Hunters, who are, in fact, the future of our sport.

This year is the 26th Annual Junior Hunt and it would be great to have a copious amount of donations for the giveaway prizes to make a really memorable event for our wonderful Junior Hunters.

In 2015 there was a change in state policy regarding donations for the annual Junior Hunt.  Per the change in policy, by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, donations of money, food or merchandise cannot be accepted unless the donations go through a formal acceptance procedure. (You can read SoCalHunt’s post on the 2015 donation procedures change at this link:

https://socalhunt.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/new-procedures-for-donations-for-the-annual-junior-hunt-at-san-jacinto-wildlife-area/     This post has been edited to reflect this season’s dates and info.)

Attached below are two letters from Scott Sewell, Senior Fish and Wildlife Habitat Supervisor for the area, regarding the purpose of the Junior Hunt event and detailing some more information regarding Junior Hunt Donations:

 

 

I should note that this donation procedure will not affect San Jacinto’s Annual Toy Drive for the Bryant Park Preschool as, in that case, they are just collecting the toys for the preschool and the donated toys are not being donated to the DFW, they are just the middle-man in that situation so the toy box will be at the check station as usual.  There is not formal acceptance procedure required for the Toy Drive donations.

So, if you are of a mind to contribute anything to the Annual Junior Hunt, which will be held on Saturday, February 8th, 2020 this season, you need to contact Tom Trakes at either his phone at 951-236-3040 or email at Thomas.Trakes@wildlife.ca.gov  by the deadline of January 8th,  2020. Tom wanted me to make sure I noted that this information is not a solicitation for any donations but information for anyone who may want to contribute.

To make it simple for anyone wanting to donate prizes for the Junior Hunt, SoCalHunt has cut through the red tape for you.  I’ve have tried to make it as simple as possible if you’d like to donate a prize or two, or more.  What the bottom line turns out to be is simply sending Tom Trakes a simple email (at his email address above) detailing what you intend to donate.  To make it easy I’ve included a link below to the SoCalHunt website’s “Maps and Downloads” page.  Scroll down to the very bottom of this page I’ve posted a link to a MS Word file of an example email to send to Tom Trakes, so you can make your donation.  Just follow the instructions at the top of the Word file. Just copy and paste this into an email and plug in what you’re donating and the details in the underlined sections.  The Donation Email MS Word file will be found at the very bottom of the SoCalHunt website “Maps and Downloads” page. Just click on it to download the Word file to your computer.

http://www.socalhunt.com/maps-and-downloads.html

Hopefully this season’s Junior Hunt will be another record event, both in birds bagged and giveaway prizes donated.  This is a wonderful opportunity to show our Junior Hunters how much they are valued as they are the future of our sport.  Hopefully you are able to contribute to this great event.

Thanks in advance to all who can donate and/or volunteer this season!

Another Volunteer Blind Brush Up Work Day Set for San Jacinto Wildlife Area September 21st

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that the next volunteer work days for San Jacinto Wildlife Area would be Saturday, Sept 21st.  This work day will likely be the last before the season and will be focused on brushing up the blinds on SJ that didn’t get taken care of on the last work day and to build some more new blinds for the upcoming season.  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 and lots of water since it’s expected to be hot. Also, if anyone has access to palm fronds, they need a good supply of these, all they can get.  After the work is done, we will get together at a local pizza restaurant “Marcello’s” for a well-deserved lunch (each person responsible for their own bill).

When it comes to palm fronds, we can’t have too many so if you can bring some along, please do.  They can be dropped off at San Jacinto any time before the work day, or the day of the work day if you’re coming out to help.  If there are too many palm fronds to utilize on the work day, that’s not a problem as the extra will be used to make repairs as the season progresses.  Just contact Tom or the SJ Staff at the numbers below and they’ll make arrangements for you to drop them off.  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 another great turnout, like the last work day, so we can get the remaining blinds brushed up, and some new blinds placed, for another waterfowl season.  As I always say, the more the merrier (and the less work for each person).

So, looking forward to a great crew of volunteers answering the call again for this work day and getting the blinds in ship shape for the upcoming season in preparation for some great duck hunting to come.

If you have any questions, or want to drop off some palm fronds, contact Tom Trakes at the San Jacinto headquarters at (951) 236-3040, or the San Jacinto staff at (951) 928-0580.

Another Blind Brush-up Day Coming Soon! – More Palm Fronds Needed at San Jacinto WA

Tom Trakes of San Jacinto Wildlife Area is 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.  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.

With the fantastic turnout at the last blind brush-up day the entire supply of SJ’s palm fronds was used up.  More are needed for the next brush-up volunteer work day to finish the work on September 21st, and for repairs to the blinds as the season progresses.  If you’re bringing palm fronds to SJ you don’t have to wait for the work day, you can make arrangements with Tom to drop them off any time.

If you’d like to help out and attend the next Volunteer Work Day you can find the info here at SoCalHunt soon.  Watch for a post on the September 21st work day coming soon.  The more volunteers we have the better as we can get more work done easier with a good turnout.

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.

Thanks in advance for any palm fronds anyone can bring in.

 


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