Archive for the 'General' Category

California Department of Fish and Wildlife 2018 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey Shows Duck Numbers Up!

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released the results of their 2018 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey and, for the first time in 6 years, the total population of waterfowl in California is now over half a million.  That’s a 39% increase over last year!

I’ll just give you a couple highlights since there’s really no reason to plagiarize DFW’s entire report:

(from the DFW report on the survey)…“The 2018 breeding population of mallards increased from 198,392 in 2017 to 272,859 (an increase of 38 percent). Mallards are the most abundant waterfowl species in the state, followed by gadwall (102,637) and cinnamon teal (78,498).

Other ducks that increased in number include northern shovelers, wood ducks, redhead and canvasback. Overall, the total number of ducks increased from 396,529 to 549,180 (an increase of 39 percent).”

If you want to read DFW’s entire report on the survey you can access at the following link…

If you’d like to read the entire Breeding Population Survey Report you can access that at the link below…

So, good news for the coming season.  Hopefully, we’ll get some weather early in the season to drive the birds down to our end of the state and this will bode well for a great season at San Jacinto.

Don’t forget the upcoming Volunteer Work Days at San Jacinto on Saturday, August 18th and Saturday, September 22nd.  With the increased bird populations, it’ll be more important than ever to get the Wildlife Area and the blinds ready for the upcoming season.  You can get details on these upcoming workdays in SoCalHunt’s report at the link below…

Hope to see you out there!


Annual Hunter’s Education Class at San Jacinto’s Wildlife Area Well Attended / Light Turnout for the Volunteer Clean-Up Day, But the Job Got Done

Saturday, April 7th San Jacinto Wildlife Area held their Annual Hunter’s Education Class.  Tom Trakes, of San Jacinto Wildlife Area, reported that there were 52 new hunters in attendance to study for and take their Hunter’s Education test.  Their well-earned Hunter’s Education Certificate makes the students eligible to be fully licensed hunters in the State of California.  The class was a mix of youth and adults and they will all be joining us as part of our hunting community.

Valley Wide provided the tables and chairs for the event and the students were provided with a nice lunch of chicken, sandwiches, and chips at the noon break.

The class working hard

Lunch Time!

The Volunteer Clean-Up Day was also held at San Jacinto today and the turnout was pretty light for this event.  Less than 10 volunteers showed up to assist the San Jacinto staff in getting the refuge’s blinds cleaned up from the recently ended waterfowl season. Volunteers met at the check station at 7 am then scattered throughout the wildlife area, plastic bags in hand, to clean up all the spent shell, wads and other miscellaneous trash they could manage to find in and around the blinds.  Besides the usual spent shells and wads there were other things found like flashlights, batteries, a decoy keel with line and weight attached, half a wading pole, and even an old car wheel just to name a few.


SoCalHunt was in attendance for the Clean-up day and pitched in with my trusty shell stick to clean up around at least 8 of the area’s blinds today.  It was nice to see that most blinds I hit were in pretty clean condition so the clean-up wasn’t as labor intensive as it has been some other years.  This was a good thing as it allowed the small group of Volunteers to pretty much get the job done despite the light turnout.


As always at SJ there were other rewards.  There were a lot of ducks using the wildlife area.  I saw more waterfowl in the first 5 minutes I was there then I saw all last season.


And, of course, it isn’t all about ducks at San Jacinto, especially in the offseason, as there were a great variety of other birds utilizing the refuge too.  And, as always, the scenery was outstanding!

There was even a small bonus today as March Air Force Base was having an air show, so we got to see a few of the aircraft flying around the area for that, including a B-2 Stealth Bomber (Sorry didn’t have the camera ready when that one flew by).  I was able to snap a shot of a pair of FA-18 flying over though.

The next volunteer work day will likely be scheduled for some time in June and will be a Blind Brush-up day, to start preparing the blinds for the next waterfowl season in October.  When the date is set SoCalHunt will have it posted here so you can mark the date on your calendar.


San Jacinto’s 24th Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt Event a Huge Success, February 3rd, 2018

(Don’t forget to check the photos at the bottom of this page – Click on the picture for a full-sized image)

Before we dive into this report I want to say that there were so many great sponsors and so many that supported the Junior Hunt event with prizes, assistance, and food that if I miss someone please forgive me and know that it wasn’t intentional.

With that out of the way…

SoCalHunt wasn’t able to attend this year’s San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Junior Waterfowl Hunt Event.  It was an outstanding event and the Junior Hunters in attendance not only had some pretty good waterfowl hunting, beating the per gun average of the adults for most of the season, they also made out with some great prizes at the lunch raffle at mid-day.

Everyone was treated to a nice breakfast of pancakes and sausage with coffee and hot chocolate available also.  A big thanks goes out to Quail Forever who sponsored the breakfast.

Once all the Juniors and their accompanying adults ate their fill they headed out to the Wildlife Area to set up and wait for the starting horn to sound.  The hunting was pretty good this year and some of the Juniors even scored limits this time.  One Junior even downed two Canada Geese!

(In case you missed it you can read the hunt results here… )

When lunchtime rolled around everyone gathered back at the Check Station workshop for lunch and the raffle.    Lunch was a veritable feast consisting of Pizza (donated by George’s Pizza in Hemet), some amazing tri-tip (donated and cooked up by Paulo Linhardt and Paulo Veronese of Pipe Dream Plumbing), pork-butt sandwiches with special BBQ sauce (provided by D-Boys BBQ), sub sandwiches (provided by the San Jacinto Walmart), and some wonderful cakes provided and decorated by Tom Trakes’ wife and daughter, Cindy and Bonnie. Wow, I’m stuffed just reading this.

This year’s Junior Hunt was dedicated to the memory of Brian Fraser, one of the SJ regulars, that was tragically killed at the Las Vegas mass shooting on October 1st.  The program started off with Junior Hunters Lucas and Trina Rizzotto playing an amazing rendition of the National Anthem on saxophone and trombone.  Pastor Jessie gave the invocation.    After that, the event everyone was waiting for, the raffle was conducted.  There was so much support for this year’s Junior Hunt that all the Junior Hunters received four raffle prizes each!  The prizes ranged from gun cases, decoys, fishing rods, blind bags and other assorted hunting and outdoor gear.  Needless to say, all the junior hunters went away happy.  There were several “Grand Prizes” a pair of shotguns, a rifle (donated by Kyle Tibbits of Turners Outdoors), a layout blind, decoys, a one-year membership to WRSP (Wren’s Ranch Sportsmen’s Park – donated by Matt Johnson) and a plethora of other prizes.  I’m sure all the Juniors went away happy this year.

Jim Matthews of the Outdoor News Service had a special booth set up at the event showing the Juniors how to make their own quail calls and another booth where Dale from Cabaw Decoys made a spinning wing wind decoy for each of the Junior Hunters.  In addition, the California Waterfowl Association gave each Junior Hunter a free membership.

After the raffle, most of the Junior Hunters went back to their blinds to finish out the day hunting.  This year’s there was a special raffle to encourage the Juniors to go back out and finish up the day hunting.  Chaz Prato of Ludas Prato German Shorthair Pointers donated several prizes including a shotgun, layout blind, and decoys, to mentions just a few, and each junior earned points for the birds they brought in.  The prizes were awarded for the points earned.  A big thanks to Chaz for these donations and running this special raffle!

The Junior Hunt was an even more outstanding event than usual this year. As I’ve always said the Juniors are the future of our sport so it is vital to keep them interested and involved in waterfowl hunting.  San Jacinto’s Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt definitely fills that bill every year.

Tom told me he’d like to thank, as well as I would myself, everyone who donated prizes, food, labor or anything else towards this event.  We all should also thank the San Jacinto crew, Josh, John, Carlos, Aurelio, Ryan, Scott and Lizzy for going the extra mile to help make this event happen we all appreciate all your hard work.  Also, thanks go to our local Game Wardens Rick, April, Dustin, and Walter for helping hand out the prizes at the Junior Hunt event.

Tom also asked me to extend a special thanks to Bob Minor from Bass Pro Shops.  Tom told me that this event might not even happen without Bob’s help and support.  Bass Pro made several donations, assisted with the shotgun raffle prior to the event to raise money for prizes, donated the shotguns for the Junior Hunt raffle (with co-sponsorship on the shotguns by Quail Forever) and sent Bass Pro Shop Pro Staffer Mike Bouman to assist at the event.

Tom also wanted me to give a special thanks to Valleywide Recreation for the tables, chairs, heaters, and griddles to cook the breakfast on.

Tom also wanted me to thank all the Hunters that came out to help cook the breakfast and assist with the event.

Once more, a big thanks to all the sponsors, Evan’s Gun World, Ramona Duck Club, (of course), John Liechty, Mark Bower, Ghulana Yazdan, Wren’s Ranch, Ron Patrick, Taylor Macy, Jim Matthews Signature Calls, John Segoria, Edward Cortez, Gilbert Hernandez, Blue Collar Firearms, 411 Printing, H&H Construction, David Salem Photography, Valleywide Recreation, and Pipedream Plumbing.  (Hope I got them all!)

So, another Junior Waterfowl Hunt is in the books.  Check out the pictures below, which is only a small example of this great event.  Of course, due to space, I couldn’t post every picture but hopefully these will give you a really good idea of how this wonderful event for our Junior Hunters went down.

San Jacinto Hunters Come Through Again! San Jacinto’s Annual Bryant Park Toy Drive a Big Success!

Once again, the hunters at San Jacinto Wildlife Area came through with toy donations for SJ’s Annual Bryant Park Head Start Preschool Toy Drive.  A BIG THANKS to all hunters who were able to donate toys to this great cause.

Santa stopped by the party and gave out two toys to all 60 of the preschool’s kids, plus there were even enough to give a toy to the preschoolers’ siblings.  A great time was had by all!  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!

I’ll just let the pictures tell the story:

San Jacinto’s Volunteer Blind Brush Up / Work Day, Saturday, September 30th a Big Success

On Saturday, September 30th, San Jacinto Wildlife Area held its third volunteer blind brush-up / work day.

About 30 volunteers worked on finishing up brushing blinds and clearing overgrown brush on some of the dikes on the Wildlife Area.

SoCalHunt was privileged to be able to attend this work day and lend a helping hand.  I was assigned to a group clearing brush from some on the routes to the blinds and doing any general cleanup needed.

The weather cooperated and it was pretty mild and pleasant conditions to work under for this work day.

Even more ducks are showing up at SJ every day and things are looking promising for the season opener in just a few weeks.  Mystic Lake is still holding on with about half of its surface area still there and this should make for a lot better conditions for this season’s hunting.

After a hard morning’s work, many of the volunteers gathered at Marcello’s Pizza in Nuevo for a great lunch.

As always, Tom and the Staff at San Jacinto would like to give a big thank you to everyone that came out and worked hard to get things ready for the upcoming waterfowl.

One more note…IMPORTANT!!  The Riverside Planning Commission, at the October 4th hearing, continued the hearing on their decision on the Lewis Homes project until October 18th.  They will still take public comment at that hearing and it’s important that we hunters give them a “show of force” and attend this meeting to show that we will fight this development, and the possible destruction of San Jacinto Wildlife Area to the bitter end.  (details here: )

Tom briefing the work parties

SJ Scenery – always beautiful!

Clearing brush from a dike



Another Great Turnout for San Jacinto’s Volunteer Blind Brush Up / Work Day, Saturday, August 26th

On Saturday, August 26th, another great turnout of about 30 volunteers arrived ready willing and able to get to it for SJ’s second volunteer blind day.

The volunteers built or re-build several blinds and brushed up even more of them, including the Mobility Impaired blinds.  In addition, some general clean up as done around and inside some of the blinds.

There are more ducks utilizing the wildlife area every day and things are looking good for the upcoming season.

After a hard morning’s work, many of the volunteers retired Marcello’s Pizza in Nuevo for a great lunch.

Once again, the crew at San Jacinto would like to give a big thank you to everyone that came out and worked hard to get things in ship shape for the upcoming waterfowl.

Palm fronds for the blinds!

Building another blind.

Tools for the job.

Limited Mobility blind brushed up.

A view from inside.




Much Accomplished on the Volunteer Work Day, Saturday May 13th, at San Jacinto

On Saturday, May 13th, about a dozen volunteers, along with the San Jacinto Wildlife Area staff, gathered in the check station parking lot at 6:00 AM for the much-delayed volunteer clean-up day.  Due to the access problems on Davis Road Tom couldn’t schedule this work day as early as usual but now that Davis Road has been repaired access is no longer a problem.

Tom advised the assembled volunteers the good news that it appears that the Riverside County Department of Transportation is intending on doing more work on Davis Road, hopefully, to perfect the drainage and prevent the type of damage the road suffered this past season from happening again.  Tom said they were out surveying the road just recently.

One problem that the delay in this work day created was that we weren’t able to go out to the blinds and do the clean-up we were expecting to do.  Since we are now well into the nesting season on the wildlife area there are too many ground nesting birds nesting around the blind areas and it was feared our activities might inadvertently damage some nests and eggs.

However, the day was not a waste by any means.  Two of the volunteers, Terry and Frank, volunteered to stucco the new wall surrounding the restroom building and brought their tools and expertise to accomplish this.  There were also areas around the check station that needed to be cleared of weeds and rocks and leveled in preparation for gravel that will be brought in to cover the area.  With the assembled man (and woman) power these tasks were accomplished in short order.

Stucco Work

Leveling around the walkways

I was able to get out into the wildlife area and check things out before we left.  SJ, as usual, looks great.  There is a lot of food growing and a lot of birds, ducks and other types, using the area.  And, great news, Mystic Lake is back and appears to be big enough that it should still be around by the time the season opens again.  If history holds true Mystic should be a game changer for SJ and will improve hunting there quite a bit.

Eared Greb

Tri-colored Blackbird


Duck Food!

Mystic Lake

SJ Scenery, Beautiful as Usual

After the work was completed the SJ Staff and the volunteers met at George’s Pizza on Florida Street in Hemet for a well-deserved lunch before they parted ways for the day.  The San Jacinto Staff and the volunteers would like to say thank you to the owners of George’s Pizza for generously providing lunch today after our work day with the best pizza in town! Thank you for all your support.

The Staff at San Jacinto would like to extend a big thanks to everyone that came out and worked hard to clean up good old SJ.  Also, a special thanks to volunteers Terry and Frank for their expertise and great work on the wall today.

The Volunteers and George and his Wife From George’s Pizza (Thanks again for the Pizza!)

Tom told me he’s going to schedule another Blind Clean-up Day after the nesting season is over so we can get out there and do the necessary clean-up.  That will likely be in late June or early July.  As soon as the date is set we’ll announce it here at SoCalHunt.

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