Archive for the 'General' Category

San Jacinto’s August 24th Volunteer Blind Clean Up / Work Day a Great Success

Saturday, August 24th, was the second volunteer clean-up/blind brush-up day for San Jacinto Wildlife Area.  About 35 volunteers arrived bright and early at the SJ check station parking lot eager to get to work.  After a short briefing, Tom sent the volunteers out to various locations in the Wildlife Area to brush-up and even in some cases completely rebuild several of the hunting area’s blinds.

Several people had answered the call in that last few weeks to drop off palm fronds at the San Jacinto parking lot and all of them were utilized in building and brushing-up the blinds today.  Tom says more palm fronds are needed for the next volunteer work day and for maintenance of the blinds as the season progresses so if you can get a hold of any palm fronds any time before the work day you can drop them off at San Jacinto. Just call Tom at 951-236-3040 and he’ll make arrangements for someone to be there so you can drop them off.  Some hay bales were obtained also, and these were utilized to provide seating in some of the area’s blinds.  Extensive work and rebuilding was done on D-2, Walker 5, 10 & 12 and E-4 blinds as well as general brushing-up of many of the other blinds in the area.

Some of the volunteer crew

Hay bales for the blinds

Working on D-2

SJ’s backhoe in action!

After working hard all morning some of the volunteers who didn’t have to head off to other obligations and the SJ Staff headed over to Marcello’s Pizza in Nuevo for a well-earned lunch.

PIZZA…yum!

Once again, Tom and his team at San Jacinto (as well as myself) would like to give a big thank you to everyone that came out and worked hard to get the blinds ready for the fast approaching waterfowl season.

One more blind brush-up/work day is to be scheduled to finish getting things in good order for the coming waterfowl hunting season. The next work day is scheduled for Saturday, September 21st.  I’ll make a separate post with all the details for the September 21st work day when I get all the info and the flyer from the SJ Staff, but mark it on your calendar now so you can keep that date opened.  The September 21st work day will concentrate on working on and brushing up more of the blinds, so palm fronds are needed (check above for details on bringing in palm fronds to use for the SJ blinds).  Please make sure you don’t bring in the type of palm fronds with the thorns on their stalks, unless you’re willing to strip off the thorns first. Those things wreak havoc with waders if the thorns aren’t removed.  Watch SoCalHunt for the “official” announcement and details of the next blind brush-up/work day.

So, things are coming together at San Jacinto.  Mystic Lake is back big time, which should help things immensely this season.  There are also plans to possibly put some blinds on the Mystic lake shoreline, increasing your opportunity to draw a blind.  Most of the duck hunting area has been cleaned up and the SJ Staff, best in the state in my humble opinion, is continuing to plant food for the birds and has started flooding the ponds.  It should be a banner season at SJ this year.  Hope to see you out there some time.

 

 

 

 

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US Fish and Wildlife Reports Nationwide Duck Numbers Down slightly for the 2019/2020 Waterfowl Season

Since 1955, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service have reported the results of their joint breeding population and habitat survey.  Total duck numbers for this year were down slightly compared to last year’s count and, in fact, most species dropped to some degree with the exception of Mallards, Gadwall and Green Wing Teal which all went up slightly and Widgeon, which stayed the same as last year.  With the exception of Pintail and Scaup all species where actually up from their long-term averages, with Redheads actually right at their long-term average. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at: https://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/pdf/surveys-and-data/Population-status/Waterfowl/WaterfowlPopulationStatusReport19.pdf

reported:

“In the traditional survey area, the total duck population estimate, (excluding scoters, eiders, long-tailed ducks, mergansers, and wood ducks) was 38.9 million birds. This estimate was 6% lower than the 2018 estimate of 41.2 million and 10% higher than the long-term average (1955–2018).  The total pond estimate was 5.0 million, which was similar to the 2018 estimate of 5.2 million and the long-term average of 5.2 million. In general, habitat conditions during the 2019 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey (WBPHS) were similar to or declined relative to 2018, with a few exceptions.  Much of the Canadian prairies experienced below-average precipitation from fall 2018 through spring 2019. The U.S. prairies experienced average to above-average precipitation over most of the region. Habitat conditions were generally drier near the North Dakota border with Canada.”

The report revealed that Mallards were up to approximately 9.4 million, which was a slight increase from the 2018 estimate of 9.3 million, yet still 19% above the long-term average.  Blue Wing Teal numbers are approximately 5.4 million, which is 16% below the 2018 estimate of 6.5 million but 6% above the long-term average. Green-winged teal are down to 3.2 million, which is up 4% from the 2018 estimate of 3.0 million which make them 47% above their long-term average. The estimate for American Wigeon is 2.8 million which is level with the 2018 estimate of 2.8 million and 8% above the long-term average. Estimated numbers of gadwall are 3.3 million which is up 13% from the 2018 estimate of 2.9 million bringing Gads up to a whopping 43% above their long-term average. Scaup (both greater and lesser) were at 3.6 million, which is a 10% decrease from the 2018 estimate of 4.0 million making them 28% below the long-term average. Northern Shoveler (an SJ favorite) are estimated at 3.7 million which is 13% down from the 2018 estimate of 4.2 million but still a sizeable 39% above the long-term average. Redheads are at 0.7 million which is 27% below the 2018 estimate of 1.0 million and right at the long-term average. Canvasbacks came in with 0.6 million which was down 5% from the 2018 estimate of 0.7 million but still 10% above the long-term average. Pintails were estimated at 2.3 million, which was down 4% below the 2018 estimate of 2.4 million and, sadly, 42% below the long-term average.  (Note – all numbers rounded off).

So, it looks like, unfortunately, this coming season will present hunters with a slightly fewer birds but still, despite this, we might have the potential to get a crack at good numbers since most waterfowl, with the exception of Scaup and Pintail, are still above their long-term averages.

As always what will be more important to waterfowl hunters in the Southern California area over small fluctuations in nationwide duck numbers is the weather.  What Southern California duck hunters really need is some weather up north to spur the available birds into migrating into our area.  Another thing we Southern California duck hunters have to consider is that the California DFW’s own state breeding population survey shows duck numbers in our state are actually down 14% over last year’s state numbers.  (You can check out DFW’s report on the California Waterfowl Breeding Survey here:  https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2019/06/28/cdfw-completes-2019-waterfowl-breeding-population-survey/ )

As of this report it’s 61 days until the season opens here in Southern California.  It’s a great time to start getting all your duck hunting gear ship shape and maybe go shoot a few rounds of trap or skeet to tune up. Despite the lower duck numbers in both the USFW survey and the DFW breeding survey the bigger factor for us down in this part of the state is to get the birds moving our way.  Hopefully we’ll get the weather and the birds will migrate early, and we’ll have another great season at San Jacinto!

 

San Jacinto’s Volunteer Blind Clean Up / Work Day Well Attended, Saturday, July 13th – Boy Scout Eagle Project Also Accomplished

On Saturday, July 13th, about 25 volunteers showed up at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area check station parking lot bright and early at 0700.  In addition to the volunteers some of the Boy Scouts from Troop 337 were in attendance to work on Riley Garrett’s Eagle Scout Project, which was to repair and upgrade the kiosks next to the check station parking lot.  Tom sent the volunteers out across the Wildlife Area to clean-up several of the hunting area’s blinds.  In addition to the general clean-up and trash and shell pick up some of blinds required trimming of natural growth that was overgrown and cleaning out tumble weeds and other plants that had taken over the inside of a few of the blinds. Due to this past winter’s heavy rains there was an unusual amount of vegetation this year.

Heading out to the blinds

Getting ready to work on Marsh A

Mystic Lake lookin’ good!

Working on the kiosks.

After working hard all morning the volunteer crew, Scouts and the SJ staff retired to the awning at the check station parking lot for a great lunch of Carne Asada, rice and beans along with soft drinks provided by the Boy Scouts.

A well-deserved lunch…yum!

Once again, Tom and his team at San Jacinto would like to give a big thank you to everyone that came out and worked hard to start the process of getting things ready for the upcoming waterfowl.  Also, a big thanks to Riley Garrett and the other Scouts for their hard work upgrading the kiosks along with a big thanks to Shane Tucker and Carlos Gutierrez for lending their expertise and assistance on the hot roofs of the kiosks.   And finally, a big thanks to the Scouts again, from everybody, for providing a great lunch.

There will be at least two more blind brush-up/work days to finish getting things in ship shape for the coming waterfowl hunting season. The next one is scheduled for Saturday, August 24th and the one after that in late September (date to be announced).  I’ll make a separate post with all the details for the August 24th workday when I get all the info and the flyer from the SJ Staff, but for now, go ahead and mark it on your calendar.  The August 24th workday will concentrate on working on and brushing up the blinds, so palm fronds are needed.  If you can get a hold of any palm fronds any time before the work day you can drop them off at San Jacinto. Just call Tom at 951-236-3040 and he’ll make arrangements for someone to be there so you can drop them off.  Please make sure you don’t bring in the type of palm fronds with the thorns on their stalks, unless you’re willing to strip off the thorns first. Those things wreak havoc with waders if the thorns aren’t removed.  Watch SoCalHunt for the “official” announcement and details of the next blind brush-up/workday.

2018/2019 Season Waterfowl Take Review For California From the California Waterfowl Association

The California Waterfowl Association (CWA) has published a California Season Review in their Summer 2019 magazine issue.  Some interesting numbers were revealed by the review.

The CWA published numbers for all refuges and wildlife areas in the state with comparisons to years past and to other refuges and wildlife areas.  I’ll just concentrate on the three areas that SoCalHunt regularly reports on, San Jacinto, Wister and Kern along with some general numbers of interest to us from throughout the state.

Starting with San Jacinto Wildlife Area CWA reported that the number of Cinnamon Teal bagged at SJ was #2 for the state with 967 birds.  Wister did really well in the state numbers race with Wister showing up #1 for Cinnamon Teal with 1,357 birds, #2 for Green Wing Teal with 2,287 birds and #2 for Pintail (despite a 2 bird limit this season past) with 1,893 sprig taken.  Kern didn’t make the top three for any bird species for the state.

For the Southern California Area, which includes the three areas SoCalHunt reports on, some of what CWA calls “notables” were Pintail were up 40%, Green Wing Teal were up 34% and Shovelers were up an incredible 100%!  CWA also noted that only Southern California had an increased harvest and an increase in average harvest per hunter for the 2018/2019 season.

As for geese statewide it was a dismal year.  White geese were down 70% with 2,650 harvested statewide, Specks were down 48% with 2,762 bagged statewide, and Canadas were down 38% with only 649 taken statewide.  This was a big hit in our part of the state for Wister as they usually do pretty good on the snows at Wister most years.

CWA also provided a graph of the last five seasons reflecting the weekly take of waterfowl for all wildlife areas and refuges in the state.  Not surprisingly it shows a spike the first week of the season then a nosedive the next week that gradually improves, for the most part (with slight exceptions here and there) as the season progresses, until it gets close to the take for opening week on the last week of the season.

The CWA also show a graph for the last five seasons showing the percentages for the top seven species throughout the state.  On that chart the take for the state for this past season was the second lowest of the five years, with the 2016/2017 season showing lower total numbers (by only 985 birds total) then this past season.  Both those seasons (16/17 & 18/19) had substantially lower numbers then the other three years on the graph.

So, the takeaway from all this is that Southern California did somewhat better this past season than the rest of the state, especially with the good old spoonies, which had a 100% increase.  Although, statewide, this past season was slower than others in the last five years.

If you’d like to see the entire report on the 2018/2019 season stats from CWA you have to get a copy of their Summer 2019 magazine.  As far as I can find this information is not online.  You can get a copy of the CWA magazine by joining the California Waterfowl Association by clicking on the link below.  It’s $35 for an annual membership and $15 for a Junior Member (12 and under) and includes four quarterly issues of the CWA magazine.  Money well spent IMHO.

https://www.calwaterfowl.org/

 

2018/2019 Season Sunrise / Sunset Recap (ah…sort of)

Since the 2010/2011 season, SoCalHunt has posted an article with pictures of the sunrises and sunset experienced throughout the season.  This season due to a series of different incidents and circumstances I only got out one time, the Wednesday after the season opener.  I’ll not bore you with the details of why, it wasn’t all bad, I got a new grandson out of it, but it wasn’t all good either.  I’m posting this basically so anybody that follows the SoCalHunt blog won’t wonder why I didn’t post as I usually do.  I’m sure you already noticed the lack of Hunting Reports during the season just past.

Well, ‘nuff said about that.

As traditional for SoCalHunt at the end of every season, here are the (no) sunrises and (1) sunset for the 2018/2019 season just past, along with the daily (no) clouds we observed during each day.

Presented for your enjoyment:

(Click on the image for a full-sized picture)

10/24/18 Sunset. (BTW – those birds aren’t ducks, just a flock of blackbirds).

Yup…that’s it.  Sorry.  Hopefully, SoCalHunt will have a bunch of pictures to post next season, along with some hunt reports to go with them during the season.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Annual Toy Drive for Bryant Park Preschool a Big Success!

Once again, the San Jacinto Wildlife Area Staff is putting out A BIG THANKS to all the hunters who were able to donate toys to the Annual Bryant Park Head Start Preschool Toy Drive.   As always, the SJ hunters came through Big time and provided the toys needed to make this event a success for the kids.

60 of the preschool’s kids were presented two toys each by Santa plus there was even enough toys to give one to the preschoolers’ siblings too.  It was a wonderful time for the kids and the adults in attendance and some great food and desserts were brought in by the parents too!

Once again, the San Jacinto Staff (and me too) would like to extend a big thanks to the San Jacinto hunters for all their very generous toy donations to make this all possible.  SJ hunters, as they always do, have proved they have a heart and really care.

Thanks once more for all the generous toy donations!

Here’s a few pictures from the event to tell the story:

Notes on Kern National Wildlife Refuge and the Shutdown

Just before the current Government Shutdown went into effect SoCalHunt reached out to the Kern National Wildlife Refuge regarding the effect the shutdown would have on their hunting program due to Kern NWR being a Federal Refuge.  On 12/20/18 at 9:49 am SoCalHunt was advised by a Kern Staff Member, via Facebook messaging, that…“the government shutdown will not affect the hunting program. The hunting program is run by the State, so hunting will still be allowed.”

Not surprisingly SoCalHunt hasn’t received any hunt result information from Kern since the shutdown.  Although I don’t have any definite information on this, I surmise that the hunt results are compiled by the Federal Employees of Kern NWR, as they come in a different form from those that SoCalHunt receives from San Jacinto and Wister.

This morning (12/26/18) the following was posted on the Kern NWR Facebook page…“Due to the federal government shutdown, this account will not be active until further notice. More information at www.doi.gov/shutdown.”

The link for more info above doesn’t really clarify the situation regarding the hunting program at Kern (but you can look it over if you want).  Although, if the information SoCalHunt received on the 20th is accurate, which I have no reason to doubt, the hunting program should not be affected.

In an effort to ensure SoCalHunt is putting out accurate information we reached out to a California DFW Senior Official and was told “Last I heard on a managers coordination call Kern is supposed to still operate its hunt program but nothing else. No phone calls no nothing except staff working the hunter check station. That was the last I heard heading into the shutdown.”  He also went on to say, “I’m suggesting to those that call me is to go and not lose a reservation opportunity. So far nobody has called me back saying it was closed on Saturday.”

So, the best information SoCalHunt has is that Kern NWR is still going to be hunting but we’re not going to get any hunt result reports from them until after the Government Shutdown.  Obviously, we can only report on what we are told so just be aware of this when relying on this information to decide on making the drive to Kern.

This is the latest info SoCalHunt has on the Kern NWR during the Government Shutdown.  If SoCalHunt gets any further or different info you can be assured it will be posted here ASAP.  We always strive to put out accurate information to our fellow hunters, which is why we went to the trouble of contacting a Senior DFW Official to attempt to confirm it.

Of course, whenever Kern NWR starts to release their hunting results reports we will catch up on those reports as the info comes in.  Thanks for your patience on this.

 


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