Archive for the 'Announcements' Category

Reminder – San Jacinto Wildlife Area Volunteer Blind Brush-Up Work Day – Saturday, September 18th, 2021

SoCalHunt already announced this work day, along with the August 14th work day (which was a great success BTW – thanks for all who came out) but I’m, posting this as a reminder since that announcement was back on July 10th.

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that the third volunteer work day for the upcoming season at San Jacinto Wildlife Area have been scheduled.  The date is Saturday, September 18th.  The work days will be primarily for building, repairing and brushing-up blinds and cleaning up the general hunting areas around them.  The SJ Staff is asking that you please comply with current State COVID-19 precautions in force when these dates come up.  Tom advised that volunteers should meet at the check station at 5:30 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 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).

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.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area 2021 Dove Season Opener – Wednesday, September 1st

The opening day of dove season in California is Wednesday, 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 Wednesday September 1st, through Friday September 3rd, hunters will be allowed to hunt doves on both the upland area of San Jacinto and SJ’s duck hunting areas.  After Friday, 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 four years, however, the no-lead restriction went into effect two 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 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 2020/2021 hunting license expired at the end of June.  Be sure you have your 2021/2022 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 several fields with dove-attracting crops on the Wildlife Area however they aren’t seeing many dove around SJ so far 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 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 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 fair for opening day, Wednesday September 1st

Also, don’t forget, there is another volunteer blind brush up work day coming up, Saturday September, 18th.  Check SoCalHunt’s post on the August 14th (already past) and September 18th work days here.  https://socalhunt.wordpress.com/2021/07/10/san-jacinto-wildlife-area-schedules-two-volunteer-blind-brush-up-work-days-august-14-and-september-18-2021/  SoCalHunt will also post a separate reminder announcement for the September 18th work day in the next few days.  Watch SoCalHunt for that announcement 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 or even drop some off if you come out to try your luck at dove hunting SJ in September.

Imperial Valley DFW Public Dove Field Map Now Available

For those of you who might want to spend the dove opener on September 1st, or any other time during the season, in the Imperial Valley area the Department of Fish and Wildlife has put out a map detailing several public access dove fields hunters can utilize.  There are 17 fields available for hunters to use in their quest for the little gray rockets.  Also, the DFW put out a page with all the regulations for the imperial valley area.  Don’t forget, one of the big ones is UNLEADED ammo only.  Check you pockets and all so you don’t inadvertently have a shell or two left over from the trap range.  Big ticket if the Wardens find any on you.  So, no matter where you plan on going for the dove opener, or any time during the season after the opener, be safe, have fun, and good luck!

2021/2022 Federal Duck Stamp Now Available Online Through California Waterfowl Association

As you well know, if you’ve ever hunted waterfowl before, one of the legal requirements is to have in your possession, as part of your license, a Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or, as everybody calls it, a Federal Duck Stamp.  Sometimes these are hard to find.  US Post Offices are supposed to carry them but many times they either don’t have any or have (or had) very few and are sold out.  In addition, many sporting goods stores will carry a supply of the stamps, but you never know when they might run dry on them too. 

The solution is to get your Federal Duck Stamp online from the California Waterfowl Association (CWA).  As a convenience to hunters every year the CWA has online sales of the stamps for members and non-members alike.  The stamp itself is $25.00 and there is an option on the CWA Duck Stamp Page to cover the mailing fees for your stamp, which is a mere 88 cents, but even that is optional, although I would encourage it since CWA is a conservation organization and uses donations for habitat restoration in California.

Speaking of sales to non-members, if you’re not a member then while you’re at CWA’s website buying your stamp it would be a real good idea to sign up as a CWA member.  Besides a great bi-monthly magazine they usually have some type of promotion they’ll send along to you (right now it’s a nice CWA t-shirt) and you’ll also get the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping ducks and duck hunting in California specifically.  If you hunt ducks in California, you should be a member of CWA.

Just remember that CWA doesn’t have an unlimited supply of Federal Stamps, although I’m sure they buy a big block of them, so don’t wait too long to get yours.  You’ll also have to make sure to give them enough time to send it to you in the mail so like a week before the season might present a problem if you’re going to hunt the opener.  Get it now and you’ll have plenty of time.  Below is the link for CWA’s page for online sales of the Federal Waterfowl Stamp. 

https://calwaterfowl.org/product/MISC-FED-21-1/2021-22-federal-duck-stamp

Also, like I said before, since you’re there, here’s the link to the page to join CWA.  $35 a year.  Money well spent.

https://calwaterfowl.org/memberships/join

Hope to see you out there opening day with all your licenses, stamps, and passes so no one has to get turned away at the check station.

Kern NWR 2021/22 Season Opener Will be Delayed

I’ll just quote the Kern NWR website (nothing more to say)…

2021-2022 Waterfowl Season Update:

Due to extreme drought conditions, Kern National Wildlife Refuge was allocated significantly less water than last 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 23, 2021, the Southern San Joaquin Valley Zone opener. Therefore, Kern NWR will delay the hunt opener until November 20, 2021.

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 miguel_jimenez@fws.gov

San Jacinto Wildlife Area Schedules Two Volunteer Blind Brush-Up Work Days – August 14 and September 18, 2021

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that the second and third volunteer work day for the upcoming season at San Jacinto Wildlife Area have been scheduled.  The two dates will both be on Saturdays, August 14th and September 18th.  These work days will be primarily for building, repairing and brushing-up blinds and cleaning up the general hunting areas around them.  The SJ Staff is asking that you please comply with current State COVID-19 precautions in force when these dates come up.  Tom advised that volunteers should meet at the check station at 5:30 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 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).

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.

Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, advised that the second and third volunteer work day for the upcoming season at San Jacinto Wildlife Area have been scheduled.  The two dates will both be on Saturdays, August 14th and September 18th.  These work days will be primarily for building, repairing and brushing-up blinds and cleaning up the general hunting areas around them.  The SJ Staff is asking that you please comply with current State COVID-19 precautions in force when these dates come up.  Tom advised that volunteers should meet at the check station at 5:30 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 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).

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.

US Fish and Wildlife Cancels Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey for Second Year

For the second year in a row the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service have canceled their annual joint Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey.  Despite the falling number of cases, and the now widely available vaccinations, the stated reason for the cancelation is due to safety concerns over Covid-19.

The survey, which historically has been taken every year in the spring from 1955 to 2019, is used to estimate breeding populations and make management decisions for waterfowl.

This will have no effect on the 2021/2022 season regulations.  Since no survey was conducted last year, as it was canceled for the 2020/2021 season, the regulations were based on habitat conditions and population estimates from the 2019 breeding season. 

To set regulations for the 2022/2023 season the USFWS will utilize the long-term data and models to predict the 2021 spring populations and habitat conditions instead of the survey data.

The USFWS expects that the 2022/2023 regulations will be, in general, similar to the 2021/2022 season based on the long-term averages however, in some cases changes may be appropriate and the USFWS will work with the Flyway Councils to identify populations of special concern. 

I would expect this, for us at least, will translate into pretty much identical regulations for the 2022/2023 season as we already have set for the 2021/2022 season, with some possible exceptions if some “special concerns” come up.  Once again, I’m pretty sure we can expect a one Pintail limit.  No chance for an increase there until the 2023/2024 season now.

For further details you can check the questions and answers document posted by the USFW explaining the reasons for the cancellation.

So, once again no Breeding Population and Habitat Survey to check out this summer for a preview of the upcoming season.  We can only the ducks will do what nature intended and produce a bunch of those little fuzz-ball ducklings that will grow up and be ready for us by the time the season begins.

California Fish and Game Commission Sets 2021/22 Season Regulations

The California Fish and Game Commission, during their April 14th meeting, adopted changes to the waterfowl season dates and regulations for the 2021/22 waterfowl season. 

Regulations adopted for the Southern California Zone (which will cover San Jacinto Wildlife Area):

Seasons: Ducks and Geese: October 23, 2021 through January 31, 2022.

Special Youth Hunt Days: February 5 and February 6, 2022. (San Jacinto’s Annual Youth Hunt will be February 5th, 2022).

Special Veteran/Active Duty Military Hunt Days: February 12 and February 13, 2022 (San Jacinto’s Annual Vet/Active Duty Hunt will be February 12th, 2022)

Limits: Ducks: Daily bag limit: 7. Which may consist of 7 Mallards, of which only 2 can be female; 1 Pintail; 2 Canvasback; 2 Redheads; 2 Scaup.  (Scaup may only be taken November 7th, 2021 through January 31st, 2022 – so again, be careful the first two weeks of the season this year). 

Geese: Daily bag limit: 23 of which 20 may be White Geese and 3 may be Dark Geese.

Possession Limit Ducks and Geese: Triple the daily bag limit.

Black Brant (Although a “sea goose” I’ll add this because occasionally a few seem to show up at San Jacinto): November 9, 2021 – December 15, 2021.  Daily bag limit: 2 per day.  Possession limit triple the daily bag limit. 

“Electronic” Spinning wing decoys (AKA – mojos) will be allowed from December 1st until the season ends (statewide) – non-motorized /wind-powered mojos are allowed all season. (NOTE – Again, as far as I could find this was not mentioned in the season regulation changes at the Commission meeting so I’m listing the dates based on last season’s regulations (assuming no changes). This has been December 1st for as long as I can remember but check with the official regulations once they are posted on the DFW web site when they come out, probably in a couple of months but still well before the season).

Once again we have an extended end date for the season, to January 31st.  This season January 31st is on a Monday so the last actual hunt day at SJ will be January 29th.  The Brant seasons will be increased from 27 days to 37 days.  Not a real big concern for SJ hunters but there’s a very slim chance one will show up at SJ so it would behoove you to know what they look like.  Other than that, most other regulations stayed pretty consistent with last season’s regulations. 

So, there it is.  The regulations are set, and Tom and the entire SJWA Crew are working hard to get San Jacinto Wildlife Area in tip top shape for the upcoming 2021/2022 waterfowl season.  So far it looks like we won’t have any COVID-19 restrictions this year (fingers crossed – but who knows…this is California after all).  The SJ Staff should be able to get a couple more clean up/brush up days scheduled soon to assist in getting things ready for the season.  When the clean up/brush up work days get scheduled try to pitch in and help if you’re able – Info will be posted here on SoCalHunt when I receive it.  Also, it looks like at least some of Mystic Lake is still going to be there which is usually a big help to enhance the hunt results at San Jacinto!

This above information is provided as a general guide only. Although they haven’t updated it to the newly adopted regulations yet when they do, probably in a month or two (still well before the season) please check the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website at:

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations

Now, as with every year, all we need is to get some weather up north at the right time, hopefully early in the season, to drive the birds down to us and we can all look forward to another great season at San Jacinto Wildlife Area.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area Volunteer Clean-Up Work Day Postponed until March 27th

The volunteer clean-up work day at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area scheduled for Saturday, March 13th has been postponed due to recent rains. Everything else mentioned in the original post about this work day applies except SJWA needs a chance to dry out for a while before the roads will be in shape to use.

Hope that all that had planned on working at the original date can make the March 27th date. See you there!

March 13th – San Jacinto Wildlife Area Volunteer Clean-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, March 13th.  This work day will be primarily for cleaning up the blinds and the general hunting areas around them.  Due to state COVID-19 policies masks will be used and we will adhere to social distancing, 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, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, lots of water since it may be warm and, of course, a mask.

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

Hopefully, we’ll have a good turnout so we can get the blinds and hunting area cleaned up to get started on preparations for another waterfowl season.  As I always say, the more the merrier (and the less work for each person).

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.

2021 California Game Warden Stamp Now Available

I know.  If you’ve followed SoCalHunt for any length of time I’m going to sound like a broken record here.  (For any millennials that might be reading this, records were black vinyl disks that we bought our songs on if they got scratched they’d sometimes skip repeating part of the song over and over).

Yup, it’s that time of year again.  The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announces the 2021 edition of the Warden Stamp is now available.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the desert somewhere or something for the last eight 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 2021 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 2021 version of the stamp is a dark green background and features the sesquicentennial CDFW wildlife officer badge and silhouettes of California conifer trees along with the CDFW bear that has been used on badges and department logo shields for decades.  (see picture below)

The DFW still has their 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. The 2020 version of the stamp is a deep blue background with a Warden’s badge and a drawing of a Dorado on it.  (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.  Oops, I don’t have to…I already did!

Ok…That Sucked…I’ll Try to Get Y’all Caught Up

I’m sure most of you noticed that SoCalHunt hasn’t posted the hunt results that past couple of weeks.  Well, those health problems I’ve mentioned in the recent past caught up with me and I spent a while I the most expensive hotel in the world (the hospital). Anyway, I’ve been liberated from there and I’m back home, so I’ll try to get y’all caught up with the bird counts.  For sake of simplicity I’m just going to post the numbers but I’ll hopefully get back to my usual format with tonight’s reports.

On a side note, and weirdly coincidently, Kern has not published a hunt result report since 12/19/20 so, at this point, there won’t be any catch-up report for Kern.  I have reached out to them regarding this and I suspect it may be their computer problems popping up again perhaps coupled with the holiday schedule through this period. So, onward and upward.  Hopefully no more “interruptions” this season, although things might not be quite as timely as they’ve been in the past, but I’ll try.

Camping Closed at Wister Due to COVID-19

The state has closed Wister to camping due to the spike in COVID-19. San Jacinto was included in the camping ban even though there is no camp ground at SJ. Below is the text of the notice sent out by Scott Sewell, Senior Fish Wildlife Habitat Supervisor…

Hello all,

We have received formal direction from Sacramento that we are to not allow camping at any of our wildlife areas that include Wister and San Jacinto. This is a direction from the Governor’s office through our Directors Office and NOT of our regional management. We do not have a timeline for this closure but will certainly let you all know if and when it gets lifted. Your cooperation in this matter is greatly apricated, thank you.

Scott Sewell

Senior Fish Wildlife Habitat Supervisor

Department of Fish and Wildlife

WLM, R-6/IDR, Staffed Lands

SJWA (951)928-0580

IWA (760)359-0577

Scott.Sewell@Wildlife.ca.gov

…Let’s hope that’s all they close. Please wear your masks at the check station while checking in or out , no matter your view on them, so they don’t have an excuse to close things down completely.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Annual Toy Drive Begins

San Jacinto Wildlife Area has begun their Annual Toy Drive, this year to benefit the Knotts Family Agency Foster Program. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions the Bryant Park Head Start Preschool was not able to participate with SJWA as they usually would.  Tom Trakes and San Jacinto WA Staff are still conducting their annual toy drive, but this time it will benefit the kids at Knotts Family Agency Foster Program.

SJWA is dedicating this years Toy Drive in memory of Reverend Jessie Martinez who passed away this past September 25.  Many of you know Reverend Jessie from his invocations at SJWA’s Junior Hunt each year.  Reverend Jessie was always an integral part of SJ’s annual toy drive, playing Santa and giving the toys out to the kids for many years.  In addition, Reverend Jessie and his wife fostered and eventually adopted two children from The Knotts Family Agency’s Foster Program.

Knotts Family Agency was established in 1992 by Gwen and James Knotts as a safety net strategy for homeless teens and their babies. With a track record of more than 20 years, the organization evolved from an exclusive focus on foster care to now supporting safe, stable families and communities. Knotts Family Agency has emerged as a leader in providing evidence based comprehensive support and services to promote the emotional, social, physical, intellectual, cultural well-being and development of children, youth, adults and families.

Knotts Family Agency population served are ages 0-20 in Riverside and San Bernardino County.

Their special programs are:

• Foster to adopt

• Adoption ·

• Short term and Long-term Foster Care

• Respite Care

• Temporary Emergency Program

• Commercially Sexualized Exploited Children

There are over 60,000 children in foster care in California, with approximately 5,000 in San Bernardino; 4,200 in Riverside; 3,000 in San Diego; 2,000 in Orange County; and 30,000 in neighboring Los Angeles county. The need is great! You are needed today more than ever.

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.  The focus of the Toy Drive is for the younger children so hunters should bring in toys that are intended for the younger preschool to about kindergarten or 1st grade aged boys and girls.

The usual Toy Box is present and ready to go at the SJ check station.  Donations for the Knotts Family Agency Foster Program will be accepted at San Jacinto until December 19th. Santa Claus and the San Jacinto Staff will deliver the toys 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!

San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s 27th Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt Giveaway – Donations Needed

The last regular hunt day at San Jacinto Wildlife Area is Wednesday, January 31st, 2021.  A week after the last regular season hunt day, on Saturday, February 6th, 2021, the Junior Hunters will have a unique opportunity to end their season with a bang by participating in the 27th 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 27th 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, this year to benefit The Knotts Family Agency Foster Program as, in that case, they are just collecting the toys for the Foster Program 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 6th, 2021 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 6th, 2021.

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!

Ready, Set…Oops! I’ve Got to Go Back to My Truck. Morning Check-in Please Be Ready

As we all know, this year’s a little different.  Due to that check station operations at San Jacinto Wildlife Area have been affected.  Tom Trakes asked me to post a reminder for everybody that they need to be totally ready to go when they reach the check station counter. 

Tom requested that I pass along the necessity to be completely ready to check in and quickly pick you hunting spot so that everybody has time to get out on the Wildlife Area and get set up before start time.  Be sure that everybody in your party is with you, that everybody has their licenses, required stamps, and your type A pass (and that the pass is filled out and signed) before you get to the counter.  There have been instances lately where folks have left licenses or passes in their trucks and have to go back to the parking lot to get them, many instances of the type A day pass not being filled out and even some instances where a member or two of the hunting party checking in isn’t with the other members that are at the counter checking in.

All this slows things down and results in delaying everyone from getting out to their hunting spot with time to set up.  It could even adversely affect your hunt as, even if you were a low draw and got out with plenty of time to set up, the guys in the neighboring blind might be just getting there a few minutes before start time and spook all those nice big birds that were sitting on your pond just waiting for the start horn. 

So, bottom lining it, please have all your ducks in a row (pun intended) before your turn at the check station counter and it will be a big help with things going smoothly and getting everybody out to their hunting spots with time to spare.

Toxic Algae Found at San Jacinto Wildlife Area – Use Caution – Leave the Dog at Home

Tom Trakes of the San Jacinto Wildlife Area advised that water testing done at the Wildlife Area has shown elevated levels of toxic Algae in the ponds at SJWA and also on Mystic lake.  This algae can be dangerous and has the potential to harm people and kill animals.  Tom advised me that the algae tested within dangerous levels at the southeastern end of Mystic lake, near Bridge Street, and within Caution levels on the rest of Mystic Lake and just about all the ponds on SJWA. 

The most important message here, for now, is that hunters with dogs will probably want to leave their furry hunting partners at home if you’re hunting in the next few weeks.  Hunting will still be allowed on the majority of the Wildlife Area, but caution needs to be exercised.  Due to the elevated levels in the southeast end of Mystic Lake the three blinds nearest Bridge Street will be closed but the rest of the blinds at San Jacinto will still be opened.  Obviously you don’t want to drink any of the water from the ponds (like anybody would want to do that anyway).  Please refer to the photos of the caution and danger signs posted here for details. 

Water testing will be ongoing, and Tom expects that the problem will clear in a few weeks as the weather cools down a bit.  Tom will keep hunters advised at the morning briefing on each hunt day.  I’ll post updates here as Tom advises me.

Bottom line here is, keep your dog at home for the next couple of weeks.  Hopefully this will clear fast and we can get back to business as usual as far as hunting goes at SJWA.

So…2020 hits again.  I’m just waiting for the man-eating Piranha/Mallard hybrids to migrate down here to make the year complete.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Releases 2020 Waterfowl Hunting Newsletter

The DFW has released an informational newsletter for the upcoming 2020/2021 Waterfowl season.  This newsletter will answer many questions about the upcoming 2920/2021 waterfowl season.  Some of the topics covered are Changes to Wildlife Area and Refuge Operations due to COVID-19 restrictions, adjustments to check-in times due to COVID-19 Guidelines, Temporary closures of DFW license sales offices, Veteran and Active Duty Military special hunt days, Junior Hunt days, a Hunter Checklist for your licensing requirements, and much more.

You can check it out at the link below.  You can read it online or print it up so you can have the info with you in the field if you want.  Hopefully, this will answer a lot of the questions hunters have about the upcoming season which promises to be, shall we say, “different”.  Check it out here…

https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=70409&inline=1

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

 

 


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